Fay Dennis

Fay Dennis is currently a research fellow in the Sociology department at Goldsmiths, University of London.

What was the focus of your work?

Entitled ‘Making drug-using bodies matter: a sociological exploration of drug use and addiction beyond “the body”’, my project sought to disentangle and reconfigure the many ways that knowledge on drug use, in particular injecting drug use, is constructed and embodied, with the view to interfere in these relations. This resulted in a varied and experimental ‘dissemination’ picture, with the use of workshops with young mothers who use drugs/alcohol, public engagement science at a music festival, ethnography at a theatre company for people who identify as having experiences of addiction, and creating a ‘film’ from participants’ drawings in my doctoral work with people who inject drugs.

What did the Mildred Blaxter fellowship offer you that you would not otherwise have been able to do?

The fellowship has been an amazing opportunity to both disseminate and expand on my doctoral research. As well as giving me the creative freedom to develop as a researcher, and experiment with ideas and methods, it has provided me with the time to turn my (very much altered) thesis into a monograph: Injecting bodies in more-than-human worlds. I am thrilled that this was recently published in the Routledge Series on the Sociology of Health and Illness. With the time to focus solely on research, I have been able to collaborate with some wonderful people (including co-editing a journal special issue) and co-convene workshops, seminars and conferences that I would not otherwise have been able to do, all the while building in confidence as a researcher and in excitement for the work we do as sociologists of health and illness.

What are you doing now?

During my time as a Mildred Blaxter fellow, I applied for and was awarded a Wellcome Trust Fellowship in Social Science and Bioethics. The Mildred Blaxter fellowship gave me the time to make this application: develop ideas, pilot methods and build relationships with researchers and professionals in the field. I chose to stay in the sociology department at Goldsmiths as I found my mentors’ interests and those of the department closely aligned to my own. Because of this continuity, I have found the transition from a Mildred Blaxter postdoctoral fellow to a Wellcome Research Fellow pretty seamless and the department has always been extremely helpful.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of applying for a Mildred Blaxter fellowship?

Enjoy it, it’s a fantastic opportunity. And also try to make the most of it in terms of long-term planning. It is well worth using the paid time to apply for other fellowships or jobs.

After the award…

You can find out more about Fay’s work on her institutional webpage and her pages on Academia.edu and ResearchGate. She Tweets from @fay__dennis Outputs supported by her Mildred Blaxter fellowship include: