About Us

The Challenging Research Network began with a series of seminars and a workshop at Birkbeck, University of London. The Network was established in January 2020 by Louise Hide to provide a safe space where scholars in the humanities and social sciences could discuss challenging aspects of their research and develop new ethical frameworks. We also seek close working relationships with academic institutions and funders to improve support for researchers.

Meet our steering group

Ruth Beecher is the operational director of the Wellcome-funded Sexual Harms and Medical Encounters team at Birkbeck. She is interested in the histories of childhood, gender and the social sciences/medicine in the US and the UK. Her current research examines health practitioners’ responses to child sexual abuse in the UK since the 1970s, using archival sources and new oral histories.

Emily Bridger is an Associate Professor in History at the University of Exeter. Her research explores histories of gender, violence, and memory in apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa. She is currently PI of the UKRI-funded project South Africa’s Hidden War: Histories of Sexual Violence from Apartheid to the Present.

Jana Králová is a Researcher and Social Work academic at Edinburgh Napier University, as well as Visiting Fellow of the Centre for Death and Society at University of Bath. Jana’s research challenges the conceptualisation of human rights and the notion of social exclusion in public policy. Jana’s research into social death produced an innovative theoretical framework which enables ‘inclusion by default’ of all human beings and give rise to ‘humane rights’. 

Allison McKibban is a researcher of sexual violence, colonialism, and law at Birkbeck, University of London. She is currently the Public Engagement & Events Coordinator for the Wellcome Trust-funded Sexual Harms and Medical Encounters research group at Birkbeck. Her research explores how U.S. federal policy utilizes colonial discourse to (re)produce sexual violence against Native American women.

Cora Salkovskis is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Danish Institute for International Studies on the project ‘Wars, Pandemics and the Human Mind.’ She is working on trauma and mental healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic. She has previously worked in roles coordinating public engagement and research integrity, and she is committed to fostering a positive research culture, supporting researchers in navigating ethically complex and emotionally demanding research. She has just completed her doctoral project at Birkbeck, funded by the Wellcome Trust, entitled ‘“Queer mind and body’: reflections on the interpretation, communication and experience of the body in the British Asylum, c.1840-1914.’

Rhea Sookdeosingh is the Public Engagement & Events Coordinator for the Wellcome Trust-funded Sexual Harms and Medical Encounters research group at Birkbeck. She supports engaged research practices across The SHaME Project and is particularly interested in creative leadership and cultural programming, as well as Humanities-driven research and innovation. Her first monograph on anorexia nervosa in the nineteenth century is forthcoming with OUP. Rhea is also currently the Co-Chair of Birkbeck’s staff diversity network, REACH (Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Heritage).

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