UCL Anthropology


Katrina Holland

Email: katrina.holland.11@ucl.ac.uk
Year of start: 2015
Supervisors: Dr Sahra Gibbon and Dr Rebecca Empson
Subject: Social Anthropology

PhD Research

Human-dog relationships at the nexus of dog training and scientific research

At both undergraduate and masters level I have studied human-dog relations from an anthropological perspective. My undergraduate research project investigated how relationships between humans and dogs are shaped and experienced in the absence of a shared verbal language. This research placed an emphasis on the co-evolution of the two species for their remarkably sophisticated modes of interspecies communication. For my MRes research project I explored how pet dogs can affect autistic children and their families, illustrating how the incorporation of a pet dog within the family home can enable both autistic children and their parents to become new kinds of beings.

My doctoral research explores how human-dog relations are shaped in-and shape-the nexus of dog training and scientific research. This research is based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in the U.K. and U.S.A, in the spaces where dogs are trained to detect the odour of human disease. I ask questions surrounding interspecies relating and knowledge production, asking how the information offered by a detection dog becomes transformed into legal or scientific evidence that is meaningful in human relations.

Research Interests

  • Human-animal relations
  • Multispecies ethnography
  • Medical anthropology
  • Science and technology studies


2017: Body work and the cultivation of "response-able" relations at the nexus of dog Training and animal research. 'Working with animals': British Animal Studies Network meeting, University of Southampton.

Public Engagement

2017: Contributor to 'The Museum of Ordinary Animals' Exhibition, Grant Museum of Zoology (UCL)

2017: Panel discussant, 'Let's talk About dogs', Grant Museum of Zoology (UCL)

Education History

  • 2015-present: PhD Candidate, Social Anthropology - UCL
  • 2015: MRes Anthropology (Distinction) - UCL
  • 2014: BSc (Hons) Anthropology (First) - UCL

Honours, Awards & Funding

  • 2015: Research Poster Competition Runner Up for the poster "Sniffing Out Cancer with Man's Best Friend: An Ethnographic Study of Knowledge Production and Interspecies Relationships with Cancer-Detection Dogs", UCL
  • 2015: Dean's List for academic excellence, UCL
  • 2014: 1+3 studentship, UK Economic and Social Research Council
  • 2014: Dean's List for academic excellence, UCL
  • 2014: Gay Clifford Bursary, UCL