Speaker Biographies and Abstracts

The Modern Conflict Research Symposium is a blend of student, academic and professional research. Find out more about our speakers below. All available abstracts are linked within each speaker’s biography.

Hanna Smyth 

Hanna Smyth is a PhD candidate in Global & Imperial History at the University of Oxford, supervised by Adrian Gregory and Jeanette Atkinson, and is the Winston Churchill Scholar of Exeter College, Oxford. She is 2017-18 convenor of Oxford’s Globalising and Localising the Great War research network, Graduate Public Engagement Coordinator for The Oxford Research Centre for the Humanities (TORCH), lead researcher on the 2017-18 Global War Graves Leicester project, and researcher/writer for the 2018-19 University of Oxford exhibition Oxford: The War and the World. Her co-edited book War Time: First World War Perspectives on Temporality (Routledge) is forthcoming in 2018. She holds prior degrees from the University of Leicester (MA Museum Studies, 2015) and the University of British Columbia (BA Classical Archaeology and History, 2014).

Read Hanna’s abstract here: Hanna Smyth – ‘His six feet of ground’ The Empty-Graves Proposal for the Missing of the First World War


Louise Bell

Louise Bell is First World War Diverse Histories Researcher at The National Archives. A wide-ranging role, her primary research lies within medicine and disability – with the main focus being on those men who lost limbs during this conflict.

Read Louise’s abstract here: Louise Bell- New Limbs for Old – Prostheses and Rehabilitation in the First World War


Victoria Taylor

Victoria is a first-year NECAH-funded PhD student at the University of Hull, where she is currently examining the Nazification of the German Luftwaffe (1933-1945) under the supervision of Dr. Peter Grieder (Hull) and Professor Matthew Stibbe (Sheffield Hallam). She also completed her undergraduate on the bombing of Dresden and Masters in Historical Research (MRes) on Britain’s wartime and post-war mythologization of Operation CHASTISE at the same institution, having recently been filmed by the R.A.F. Museum on the latter topic. Her specialisation is in the history of airpower, particularly with regards to technological innovation and the ethical questions provoked by aerial warfare’s astonishingly rapid development during the twentieth century.

Read Victoria’s abstract here: Victoria Taylor – Death and the Dambusters – Memory and Commemoration of Operation CHASTISE in Britain and Germany


Lt Con Rob Page

Rob Page is a Lieutenant Colonel in the British Army and a part time MPhil/PhD student with Kings College London.  In his first year of research he is focussing on counter-monumentalism and its role in the commemorative activity of the First World War.

Read Rob’s podium presentation abstract here: Rob Page – Mission or the soldier- the role of the individual in modern conflict

Read Rob’s poster presentation abstract here: Rob Page – How do I make this go viral- Commemoration, counter-monumentalism and the centenary of the FWW


Lucie Wade

Lucie Wade is a PhD candidate at Leeds Beckett University, funded by the AHRC Heritage Consortium. Lucie graduated from Leeds Beckett University in 2015 with a BA (Hons) in History, for which she was awarded the Dean’s Prize for Outstanding Student Achievement in History. Lucie completed an MA in Social History in 2016, developing her research interests in the history of crime and criminality. Whilst her doctoral research focuses on juvenile crime in West Yorkshire 1856-1914, Lucie’s side project, The Clean British Tommy has continued to develop.

Read Lucie’s abstract here: Lucy Wade- The Clean British Tommy- Personal Hygiene and Civilian Perceptions of Soldier Masculinity in the FWW


Timothy Ellis

I am currently working as a PhD student and Graduate Teaching Assistant at Teesside University, in the North East of England. My PhD is entitled ‘Visual culture and political power in the Irish Free State, 1922-39.’ It explores the significance of visual culture and visuality, that is to say; visual images, seeing, looking, visibility, invisibility and surveillance in obtaining, consolidating and contesting political power in a transformative period in Irish history. The project will analyse a source base of photographs to highlight the various ways in which visual culture contributed to and challenged political power in the Irish Free State.


I graduated with a First class Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of Oxford (St Hugh’s College) in 2014. After a year out of academia, where I travelled and worked (in order to support further study), I studied for the degree of Master of Arts in History at Queen’s University Belfast. I was able to do so, having been generously supported by the J. C. Beckett Bursary in Irish History. My MA dissertation was entitled ‘Women, gender and masculinity in Irish political cartoons, 1922-39.’ I was awarded a distinction for my MA in November 2016


My MA study encouraged me to think about the relationship between political power and visual culture in Interwar Ireland more broadly, and has thus inspired my current PhD project. I am now going into the second year of my PhD and have recently drafted its first chapter which explores the significance of visual culture in the Irish Civil War. In May this year, I was awarded a travel bursary by the British Association of Irish Studies, which allowed me to travel to Dublin over the summer, and spend a month working in archives researching this first chapter. I was able to work with much material relating to military history through the Irish Military Archives, at Cathal Brugha Barracks in Dublin. I have now written a first draft of this chapter, and am awaiting comments from my supervisor.

Read Timothy’s abstract here: Timothy Ellis – Fighting Grave indiscipline with a camera- photography and the Irish Civil War 1922-3

Peter Doyle

Peter Doyle is a geologist and military historian who specialises in the understanding of military terrain, with reference to the two world wars. Based at London South Bank University, he is also an author specialising in the British experience of war, and the material culture of war. A member of the British Commission of Military History, and secretary of the Parliamentary All Party War Heritage Group, he is the author of many works of military history and the material culture of warfare. A regular keynote speaker, he is an occasional visiting lecturer at the US Military Academy, West Point (2007, 2014).

Read Peter’s abstract here: Peter Doyle – Disputed Earth

Mark Connolly

Professor Mark Connelly, one of the UK’s leading experts on WWI, is head of Kent’s new Engagement Centre, known as ‘Gateways to the First World War’. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in conjunction with the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the engagement centres connect academic and public histories of WWI as part of the commemoration of the war’s centenary in 2014.

Professor of Modern British History, Mark Connelly is also a contributor to the BBC’s World War One at Home project, academic adviser to the Institute of Education-led battlefields tours for schools projects, adviser on the First World War to the Joint Services Command Staff College, Shrivenham, and a member of the academic steering committee of the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War and Operation War Diary projects.

Mark will deliver a 10 minute video presentation entitled ‘Engaging the wider community with the First World War Centenary: a view from Gateways to the first World War’. You can read more about the Gateways project here: http://www.gatewaysfww.org.uk/

Karina Croucher

I have been at the University of Bradford since 2012 and thoroughly enjoy teaching and researching in such a world-leading department. I am interested in inter-disciplinary approaches, as evidenced in my recent Arts and Humanities Research Council Project, ‘Continuing Bonds: exploring the meaning and legacy of death through past and contemporary practice’, which unites Archaeology with End of Life Care (www.bradford.ac.uk/continuingbonds).

I have lectured at Manchester and Liverpool Universities and have worked for the University of Manchester’s Widening Participation Team, and for the Higher Education Academy’s Subject Centre for History, Classics and Archaeology (based at Liverpool University), where I researched and worked on topics including diversity and inclusivity, fieldwork, employability and enterprise, and sustainability.

My research focuses on mortuary practices and funerary archaeology, predominantly of the Neolithic of Southwest Asia (the Near East). Taking a social perspective, I investigate themes such as identity, gender and personhood in the past, examining the lived body as well as the body through death. I have also researched identity in Polynesian prehistory, with the Landscapes of Construction Project (UCL and University of Manchester), and I am currently exploring past and contemporary attitudes towards death, dying and end of life care.

Lindsey Büster
I am a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Bradford with a specialism in the later prehistoric archaeology of Britain and Europe.  This is a period, in Britain especially, where the secular and the sacred appear more closely intertwined than at other times, and so I am interested in the ways in which ritualised behaviour is incorporated into the practices of everyday life.
I am currently working as a researcher on the Continuing Bonds Project, where I use archaeological and ethnographic case studies to demonstrate the wide range of death practices which have taken place in the past, and the diversity of attitudes towards the dead today.

Read Karina & Lindsey’s abstract: Karina Croucher and Lindsey Buster – talking death archaeology human remains and public engagement

Andrew Featherston

Andrew Fetherston is the Archivist for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), a position he has held since May 2013.


With a degree in Archaeology from the University of Reading, and post-graduate qualifications in Museum Studies (University of Leicester) and Archives and Records Management (University of Dundee), Andrew has worked continuously in the heritage sector for the last 16 years. This has included periods at London Metropolitan Archives, the National Trust, the National Archives and the Museum of London.

He has most recently curated a public exhibition on the first 100 years of the CWGC, and has managed the release of a new online catalogue of the Commissions archive.

Andrew’s presentation is entitled “Lt. Arthur Conway Osborne Morgan – a case study in battlefield recovery from the CWGC Archives”.

You can read more about The Commonwealth War Graves Commission archive collection here: https://www.cwgc.org/history-and-archives/cwgc-archive

Phil Murgatroyd

After 11 years in the computer industry, Phil started an Archaeology degree at Bradford. Since then he has worked in a commercial archaeology unit and for the GG-Top project at the University of Birmingham. His work has included data visualisation, geophysics and computer simulation. He has been part of a series of multidisciplinary research projects, including the Anglo-American Project in Pompeii, the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes project, GG-Top, Medieval Warfare on the Grid and is now part of the Lost Frontiers project.
Phil is currently managing the computer simulation aspects of the Lost Frontiers project, using agent-based modelling to test hypotheses regarding the environment and human inhabitants of Mesolithic Doggerland. He is also working on a book about the Medieval Warfare on the Grid project.

Read Phil’s abstract here: Phil Murgatroyd- Byzantine logistics, George Armand Furse and the Battle of 73 Easting

Peter Masters

Peter’s presentation is entitled “From Training Ground to Frontline: Recording the Archaeology from the Great War 1914-18″.

Dickie Bennett

Dickie is the Project Director of Breaking Ground Heritage, a Community Interest Company (C.I.C) created by ex-military personnel, to assist in the MOD’s Operation Nightingale project.

BGH have since developed as an independent entity and are able to facilitate a recovery pathway for injured service personnel and veterans. BGH can also provide a spring board for anyone in the service community, who may be interested in the heritage sector as a potential new career pathway.

Dickie has extensive experience in field archaeology, and has recently completed his MA in Archaeology at the University of Exeter.
You can read more about Breaking Ground Heritage here: http://www.breakinggroundheritage.org.uk/

Dickie’s presentation is entitled “No man left behind: How conflict archaeology of the First World War has helped modern day soldiers recover from battlefield trauma.

Simon Verdegem

Simon is an archaeological project leader for Ruben Willaert BVBA. Simon has always had a genuine interest in history in general, but visiting the Ypres Salient in High School had a big impact on him. The First World War became his biggest interest and he wanted to research this subject in his professional life. He first finished his Masters in History followed by a Masters in Archaeology (thesis: Caesar’s Nose excavation) at Ghent University. Starting work as an archaeologist in 2008, he gained experience while excavating all over Flanders, researching all periods (Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman Period, Middle Ages). The first big World War 1 dig he directed was at Messines where his team found amazing and well preserved relics. The excavation, of which a documentary was made for Channel4, launched his career as a battlefield archaeologist and in the following years he excavated and directed digs of varying sizes at First World War sites in the Ypres Salient and the Yser Front. Biggest were the pipeline excavations (2014-2016) where the team researched 24km which resulted in 87 excavations which were conducted by a team of more than 30 archaeologists. Simon is also one of the organisers of an annual conference on Conflict Archaeology and is working on an exhibition on FWW archaeology in the IFFM (feb-jun 2018). In his spare time he also excavates World War 2 crash sites in cooperation with BAHAAT and Plane Hunters Recovery Team.

Simon’s presentation is entitled “Excavating the missing of the First World War in Flanders Fields. Now or Never?

James Wearn

Dr James Wearn FLS is an ecologist and historian. James leads polemobotany (war botany) research at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, with a particular focus on the First World War. He has published more than 70 papers in both academic journals and popular magazines, and has carried out fieldwork in Europe, Africa and South-East Asia. His multidisciplinary expertise has led to collaboration with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, bringing together the sciences and humanities to explore the environmental legacies of international conflicts. James was elected a lifetime Fellow of the Linnean Society in 2010.

Read James’ abstract here: James Wearn – Life Beyond Death – an environmental perspective on post-conflict landscapes of the First World War

Rob Janaway

Rob is a Lecturer in Archaeological Sciences at the University of Bradford, and course leader for the MSc Forensic Archaeology and Crime Scene Investigation Programme. Rob has more than 35 years experience of Archaeology in both the field and the laboratory.

He originally qualified in Archaeological Conservation and specialised in the relationship between materials degradation and depositional environments. He has worked on a range archaeological sites including, peat bogs, desert sites, and deep stratified urban deposits. He is a specialist on the taphonomy of inhumation burials and has worked on material from cemeteries, crypts and mausoleums.

In addition to a traditional archaeological role he acts as a Forensic Archaeologist. He has worked on more than 25 criminal cases for a variety of British police forces in a variety of roles including excavator and taphonomy consultant. He has acted as an expert witness in court.

Eddy Faber

Eddy has researched and worked in archaeological science since 1995. He has been part of research groups at the University of Sheffield, the Laboratory of Archaeometry at the National Centre for Scientific Research ‘Demokritos’ in Athens, the University of Nottingham and at the University of Bradford. While his primary focus has been on electron microscopy of inorganic archaeological materials using SEM and EPMA (electron microprobe), he also has gained significant experience of working with optical microscopy and Neutron Activation Analysis. As part of his roles at both ‘Demokritos’ and the University of Nottingham, Eddy has worked on many projects analysing inorganic materials from a range of scientific sectors.

Eddy has strong interests in military history and the conservation of the material culture of War

Rob & Eddy will deliver the joint presentation “Rust never sleeps – Corrosion and finds from WW1 contexts”.

Richard Osgood

Richard Osgood is a senior archaeologist for the Defence Infrastructure Organisation.Richard has worked for the Ministry of Defence since 2004, now leading their team of archaeologists. He has worked on conflict archaeology from 1989 and has excavated sites from Bronze Age to second world war date. He Co founded Operation Nightingale in 2011, this programme working on many military sites with veterans of more recent conflicts.

To read more about Operation Nightingale, click here:  http://www.army.mod.uk/royalengineers/units/32526.aspx

Richard will deliver the final keynote presentation, title TBC

Daniel J. Leahy

Daniel J. Leahy has been researching military aircraft losses of the Royal Australian Air
Force for over fifteen years, visiting numerous sites in Australia and Papua New Guinea in
the process. Between 2015 and 2017 he studied a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University
of New England, where he majored in Archaeology and History. He currently lives in
Albury, New South Wales, Australia and administers the website, AviationHeritage.org.

View Daniel’s abstract here: Daniel Leahy – Their Duty Nobly Done – examining practices of memory at the Deniliquin War Cemetery

Alison Starr

Alison is a doctoral candidate in the School of Architecture at the University of Queensland, Australia. Alison works in the public sector as a built heritage specialist, and her doctoral studies are focussed on war memory, post-war reconciliation and military mortuary practices of the Asia Pacific War.

View Alison’s abstract here: Alison Starr- War cemeteries and enemy remains

Dwayne Beckers

Dwayne Beckers (Roermond, The Netherlands, 1991) studied archaeology at the University of Leiden, followed by a MA Military History at the University of Amsterdam. In both studies he specialised in the archaeology of the Second World War. He is currently working as a historian and archaeologist in a EOD company. He is also chairman of the War Heritage Foundation Midden- Limburg (Stichting Oorlogserfgoed Midden-Limburg), which focussus on executing and supporting archaeological and historical research on the Second World War in the area of Midden-Limburg.

View Dwayne’s abstract here: Dwayne Beckers – Finding executed Ostarbeiter in the Dutch-German border region


Gary Ball

Gary Ball is the Coordinator for Project Zero. Gary has a passion for the past and enthuses about sharing this with others, either as a live presentation, to the camera or in writing and pictures. He specializes in heritage interpretation and volunteer management in a crusade to make the past accessible to all and for over 3 decades has combined a love of archaeology and historical reenactment with the pleasure in recreating a sense of the past., either as an experiential event or a faithfully recreated historic artefact. He has built medieval furniture, weapons, wagons, siege ladders and boats to bring the past to life, alongside managing archaeological and heritage projects in his local area and beyond including Cheshire, Herefordshire, and recently Staffordshire.

Previous and current projects have focused on the medieval period, with a particular interest in the Wars of the Roses, medieval Wales, and timber castles, early watercraft, and ancient woodcraft. Project Zero, a recent departure is researching the interpretation of war in the air 1914-18 and the role of the airship in Wales during the First World War, which aims to reconstruct an airship control car as part of the centenary commemoration, as a centrepiece for a touring exhibition and unique experiential archaeology experiment.
Gary Ball lives in Montgomeryshire, Mid Wales and can be contacted at historymattersonline@gmail.com

View Gary’s abstract here: Gary Ball – History and Learning from the Past

Karen Abi-Ezzi

Karen Abi-Ezzi lectures on Middle East politics and theories of conflict resolution at the Peace Studies and International Development department at the University of Bradford. Dr. Abi-Ezzi joined the department in 2002 having worked as a researcher in Lebanon and prior to that as an education officer for an NGO in London which worked closely with members of parliament on issues related to the Middle East. Her research focuses mainly on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and on the theory of social constructionism and explores how this theory could be applied to explore how third party interventions and mediation processes can either serve to crystallise existing social and political representations or constructions underpinning a particular conflict or they can bring about subtle or at times significant change. Her forthcoming book with Routledge is entitled Peacemaking Strategies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

View Karen’s abstract here: Karen Abi-Ezzi – the ‘so what do you see’ web project

Dr Robert Clarke & Simon Cleggett,

Robert is a research manager in post-excavation at Wessex Archaeology. He has more than 20 years experience in archaeology, and has completed a Doctoral thesis which which investigated the role of secrecy in the landscape and introduced a new theoretical approach to the material culture encountered on once-secret sites. Robert’s research interests are 20th century landscapes of order and power; the material culture of conflict; aviation archaeology; the Wiltshire Landscape and making archaeology as accessible as possible to as many members of the population as possible.

Robert is a member of the editorial team for the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine, currently covering reviews and excavation and fieldwork reports, and was, until 2016, subject matter expert for Ex Historia, the in-house journal of the University of Exeter. He has received commissions to author for Tempus Publishing, The History Press and Amberley Publishing, mainly on aspects of the archaeology of the 20th century.

Simon is a project manager within the WA South fieldwork team at Wessex Archaeology. Simon graduated from Bournemouth University, having studied Archaeology, in 1999, and has since then amassed considerable experience within the archaeological sector, both throughout the UK (including a year at WA) and abroad. Although focusing on fieldwork, Si has been a temporary curator for Dorset County Council museum service, lectured at both Yeovil College and Bournemouth University, and was a Research Assistant. For over a year, Si was based in Basingstoke, working as an Archaeological Consultant for WSP Environmental.

Simon went on to accept a position as Head of House at Winton Community Academy, based in Andover. Whilst at Winton, Si was responsible for the academic progress and well-being of a large number of young students and, running the Winton Community Academy Archaeology & Cultural Heritage Society. Si will continue with the Archaeology Society whilst with Wessex Archaeology.