UCL Anthropology


Dr Carrie Ryan

Lecturer (Teaching)

Dept of Anthropology

Faculty of S&HS

Joined UCL
15th Nov 2019

Research summary

Carrie's research in the United States and the United Kingdom focuses on ageing and care.

Carrie's anthropological research is informed by her extensive work experience as an Activities Director in nursing homes and retirement communities in the United States. These experiences led her to research end-of-life care decision making during her MPhil degree and to conduct ethnographic fieldwork in a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Los Angeles for nearly two years during her DPhil. Carrie is turning her doctoral research into her first monograph, which explores how social practices in the retirement community - from communal eating, to daily activities like bingo, to resident governance, to friendship - helped older residents find meaning in their ageing trajectories and shaped their biosocial health and wellbeing. Carrie is also currently writing articles on the biosocial impact of older people's loneliness in care homes during covid-19, the politics of facial hair grooming in adult social care, and the importance of play to ageing wellbeing.

Inspired by her research on the importance of bingo in ageing care, Carrie has recently turned her research attention to the impact of play and games on ageing wellbeing. She has developed a Grand Challenges and Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) funded, global, interdisciplinary research network called the Ageing Playfully Network, which gathers scholars and private and public sector actors interested in the place of play and games in old age. The Network aims to examine why games and play are neglected topics in ageing research and calls for a 'ludic turn' in the anthropology of ageing and in gerontology. 

Teaching summary

Carrie teaches biosocial, medical, social, and applied anthropology through a range of topics, including: ageing, care, loneliness, wellbeing, play, games, end-of-life care, gender, kinship, friendship, time, rhythm, affect and emotion, chronic disease, embodied inequalities, critical medical anthropology, nursing, public health, institutional ethnography, participatory and creative methods, and more.

Carrie convenes:

  • Aspects of Applied Medical Anthropology (UG/PG)
  • Biosocial Medical Anthropology (PG)
  • Biosocial Anthropology, Health and Environment (PG)

She also teaches on: 

  • Being Human (UG)
  • Introduction to Medical Anthropology (PG)
  • Anthropology for Medical Students (UG)
  • Theory, Ethnography, and Professional Practice (PG)
  • Nutrition, Health, and Culture (UG/PG)

Carrie situates student engagement, inclusion, and diversity at the heart of her lectures, seminars, and tutorials. For her commitment to creative and immersive teaching, Carrie was recognised as a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in 2020. Carrie has received two UCL ChangeMaker grants to include students in pedagogical development for UCL's Department of Anthropology and UCL's Faculties: 'Applied Medical Anthropology: An Interview Series' in 2021 and 'Utilising Authentic Assessment to explore UCL's historical links with eugenics in Medical Anthropology' in 2023. Carrie has also facilitated the publication of over twenty student Advocacy Letters, written as an assessment for the module Aspects of Applied Medical Anthropology, through the 'Advocacy Letter Series' on UCL's Medical Anthropology blog. She supervises UG and PG dissertations every year on a variety of topics, including ageing, gender and health, games, play and sport, bioethics, creative wellbeing, and more, and serves as a Personal Tutor for UGs and PGs.


University of Oxford
Doctorate, PhD |
Diploma of HE, BA |
Masters, MPhil |


Carrie is a Lecturer (Teaching) in Biosocial Medical Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology at UCL. Since 2022, Carrie has convened the MSc in Biosocial Medical Anthropology programme.

Carrie received her DPhil (PhD) in Anthropology from the University of Oxford in 2019, her MPhil in Social Anthropology from the University of Oxford in 2014, and her B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Sewanee: The University of the South in 2012. Carrie is trained in both social and cultural anthropology, works across biosocial, medical, social, and applied anthropology, and researches topics relating to the broad themes of ageing and care.

Carrie also serves as an Associate Editor for the journal Anthropology & Medicine and for the Journal of Biosocial Science.

Before joining UCL, Carrie was a Tutor in Anthropology at the University of Oxford (2017-2019) and an Associate Lecturer in Anthropology at Oxford Brookes University (2017-2019). She also conducted research (2019) at the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing on a project examining the intersection of ageing wellbeing, loneliness, and the arts.