Skip to main content

Professor Tessa Pollard


Professor in the Department of Anthropology
Fellow of the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing
Fellow of the Institute for Medical Humanities


Tessa uses approaches from medical anthropology, public health and epidemiology to investigate relationships between everyday physical activity practices and health and wellbeing. She is particularly interested in using ethnographic methods to explore the impact of interventions to promote physical activity, and to understand how socioeconomic inequalities affect the impact of interventions. She leads the Department of Anthropology’s Physical Activity Lab, a group of postdoctoral researchers and PhD students using a range of methods, including accelerometry, in a diverse set of anthropological projects around everyday physical activity.

Tessa currently leads an ethnographic study evaluating the impact of social prescribing, with a focus on referral into walking and gardening groups, and another on the impact of childhood diet and physical activity interventions across socioeconomically diverse areas of London, both funded by the National Institute for Health Research. She also leads a project using ethnographic methods to evaluate policies to promote active and sustainable travel in rural coastal areas, funded by the School for Public Health Research.  These projects involve collaborations with colleagues at Newcastle University, the University of Exeter, the University of Cambridge and City University. For more information please see the Physical Activity Lab.

Tessa is interested in supervising PhD students in areas broadly related to physical activity and health, with a particular focus on interventions and everyday activities, especially walking, cycling and gardening.

Research interests

  • Walking and walking groups
  • Using ethnography to inform interventions
  • Understanding the place of physical activities in everyday lives
  • Evolutionary perspectives on physical activity
  • The health of migrant populations


Authored book

Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article

Supervision students