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Dr Emma Garnett

Dr Emma Garnett

Senior Lecturer in Human Geography

 Amory c406


Amory Building, University of Exeter, Rennes Drive, Exeter, EX4 4RJ , UK


I have an interdisciplinary background and much of my work speaks to the field of science and technology studies. Through my research I employ ethnographic and engaged methods to investigate the knowledge and material politics of science. I am particularly interested in how problems of air quality and atmospheric composition challenge conventional biomedical and technical responses, and the ways they are in turn demanding new transdisciplinary approaches to human and environmental health. These ideas have been informed by a series of funded projects exploring environmental pollution in connection to practices of sensing and embodiment; the politics of data and citizen science; experiences of breathing and respiratory health; and changing notions of causality and exposure.

Broad research specialisms:

  • Health Geographies 
  • Feminist technoscience
  • Critical public health
  • Critical data studies
  • Digital sociology
  • New materialisms


BA Hons in History, Newcastle University

MA in Social Anthropology of Development, School of Oriental and African Studies

PhD in Social Studies of Science, The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine


I joined Exeter Geography as a Senior Lecturer at the end of 2022. I previously held research and teaching positions in the School of Population Health and Environmental Sciences at King’s College London and the Faculty of Public Health and Policy at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. At King’s College London I led an ESRC New Investigator Award that involved working with computer scientists, air quality scientists, clinicians, and epidemiologists to understand urban air pollution exposure and how the health risks it poses are experienced in the daily lives of young people with asthma in India and the UK.

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Research interests

  • Health Geographies
  • Feminist technoscience
  • Critical public health
  • Critical data studies
  • Digital sociology
  • New materialisms

Research projects

PI Sensing bodies: air pollution exposure and asthma in London and Delhi. ESRC New Investigator Award (2018-2021)

Co-I Waste management during the COVID-19 outbreak: Investigating a critical sector in crisis. ESRC/UKRI COVID-19 scheme (2020-2021). PI: Angeliki Balayannis.

PI Organising participation with air pollution data: towards an interdisciplinary approach. King’s Together Seed Grant (2020-2021).

Co-I Digital Encounters in the City. Wellcome Trust KCL-LSHTM Acceleration Grant (2018). PI: Judith Green.

PI Mildred-Blaxter Post-Doctoral Fellowship. Foundation for the Sociology of Health and Illness (2016-2017).

Foundation for the Sociology of Health and Illness Workshop Support Grant (2015), with Sarah Milton, Joanna Reynolds and Judith Green.

Bloomsbury DTC Student Seminar Series, Social Theory and Methods (2014-2015), with Fay Dennis.

PhD NERC Scholarship (2011-2015). 

Research networks

Affiliate member of Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health 

Life Geographies

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Reynolds J, Milton S, Garnett E (2018). Ethnographies and health: Reflections on empirical and methodological entanglements. Abstract.
Reynolds J, Milton S, Garnett E (2018). Introduction: Entangling ethnography and health.

Journal articles

Garnett E, Balayannis A, Hinchliffe S, Davies T, Gladding T, Nicholson P (2022). The work of waste during COVID-19: logics of public, environmental, and occupational health. Critical Public Health, 32(5), 630-640.
Garnett E (2020). Breathing Spaces: Modelling Exposure in Air Pollution Science. BODY & SOCIETY, 26(2), 55-78.  Author URL.
Balayannis A, Garnett E (2020). Chemical Kinship: Interdisciplinary Experiments with Pollution. Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience, 6 Abstract.
Hodges S, Garnett E (2020). The ghost in the data: Evidence gaps and the problem of fake drugs in global health research. Glob Public Health, 15(8), 1103-1118. Abstract.  Author URL.
Green J, Romanovitch A, Garnett E, Steinbach R, Lewis D (2020). The public health implications of telematic technologies: an exploratory qualitative study in the UK. Journal of Transport and Health, 16 Abstract.
Calvillo N, Garnett E (2019). Data intimacies: Building infrastructures for intensified embodied encounters with air pollution. SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW, 67(2), 340-356.  Author URL.
Garnett E, Green J, Chalabi Z, Wilkinson P (2019). Materialising links between air pollution and health: How societal impact was achieved in an interdisciplinary project. HEALTH, 23(2), 234-252.  Author URL.
Garnett E (2019). Quantified lives and vital data: exploring health and technology through personal medical devices. ANTHROPOLOGY & MEDICINE, 26(3), 360-363.  Author URL.
Green J, Steinbach R, Garnett E, Christie N, Prior L (2018). Automobility reconfigured? Ironic seductions and mundane freedoms in 16-21year olds' accounts of car driving and ownership. MOBILITIES, 13(1), 14-28.  Author URL.
Sanderson M, Allen P, Gill R, Garnett E (2018). New Models of Contracting in the Public Sector: a Review of Alliance Contracting, Prime Contracting and Outcome-based Contracting Literature. SOCIAL POLICY & ADMINISTRATION, 52(5), 1060-1083.  Author URL.
Garnett E, Baeza J, Trenholm S, Gulliford M, Green J (2018). Social enterprises and public health improvement in England: a qualitative case study. PUBLIC HEALTH, 161, 99-105.  Author URL.
Garnett E (2017). Air Pollution in the Making: Multiplicity and Difference in Interdisciplinary Data Practices. SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY & HUMAN VALUES, 42(5), 901-924.  Author URL.
Allen P, Osipovič D, Shepherd E, Coleman A, Perkins N, Garnett E, Williams L (2017). Commissioning through competition and cooperation in the English NHS under the Health and Social Care Act 2012: evidence from a qualitative study of four clinical commissioning groups. BMJ Open, 7(2). Abstract.  Author URL.
Garnett E (2017). Enacting toxicity: epidemiology and the study of air pollution for public health. CRITICAL PUBLIC HEALTH, 27(3), 325-336.  Author URL.
Garnett E (2016). Developing a feeling for error: Practices of monitoring and modelling air pollution data. Big Data and Society, 3(2). Abstract.


Garnett E, Ruckenstein M, Venturini T, Ziewitz M (2022). Doing Data Ethnography: a Moderated Conversation and Reflection. In  (Ed) .
Garnett E, Bhatnagar S (2022). Figuring Out Exposure: Exploring Computational Environments and Personalisation in Interdisciplinary Air Pollution Research. In  (Ed) Figure, Springer Nature, 197-219.
Garnett E (2018). Experimenting with data: ‘Collaboration’ as method and practice in an interdisciplinary public health project. In  (Ed) Experimental Collaborations: Ethnography through Fieldwork Devices, 31-52.
Garnett E (2018). Knowledge infrastructures of air pollution: Tracing the in-between spaces of interdisciplinary science in action. In  (Ed) Ethnographies and Health: Reflections on Empirical and Methodological Entanglements, 233-252.

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Wednesday 1-2pm and Friday 9-10am

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