Institute of Health & Society

Staff Profile

Dr Vicki McGowan

Research Associate


Vicki has a BSc (Hons) in Medical Anthropology; an MA in Research Methods (Anthropology); and a PhD in Medical Anthropology (2015), all from Durham University. Her doctoral thesis focused on the impact of school meal legislation on child body mass index from 1908 to 2010; supervised by Professor Gillian Bentley (Anthropology), Dr Louisa Ells (Teesside University) and Dr Michael Nelson (formerly, Children's Food Trust).

She joined the Institute of Health and Society in March 2017 as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate.  Her research interests focus on inequalities and the social determinants of health. Specifically, she is interested in the impact of legislation on child health (such as school meals) and community based initiatives to reduce health inequalities.

She is currently leading the evaluation of Darlington Healthy New Towns; an NHS England initiative which aims to shape the health of communities by working with housing developers to rethink how health and care services can be delivered. She also works on several health inequalities projects funded by the NIHR School for Public Health Research.

Follow Vicki on twitter @drvjmcgowan


Research Interests:

  • Health inequalities
  • Child malnourishment (obesity/underweight)
  • Impact of legislation on child health
  • School meals
  • Community based initiatives
  • Qualitative/Quantitative methodology
  • Complex systems


Co-Investigator (2018-2019) NIHR PHR: The long-term health and wellbeing impacts of Healthy New Towns (HNT): a six-month baseline and feasibility study of HNT demonstrator sites in England (£40,169.57)

Principal Investigator (2018-2019): Evaluating the impact of the Healthy New Towns Programme in Darlington (£38,739.86).

Principal Investigator (2017): Designing an evaluation approach for Darlington Healthy New Towns (£10,000).

ESRC CASE (1 3) Studentship (2009-2014): Policy in Perspective: Assessing the impact of school meal legislation on child malnourishment (£93,160). 

Professional activities:

Chair Researchers' Network Committee: NIHR School for Public Health Research (2016-19).

All Party Parliamentary Group on School Food.

School liaison: outreach programme, Department of Anthropology, Durham University (2012-14).

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths (STEM) Ambassador (2010-14).

Researcher in Residence: Harton Technology College (2010-11).


I am happy to supervise students with an interest in child health, inequality, and community based initiatives.