The Network

Meet Our Network

Victoria Dickenson

Dr Victoria Dickenson is Professor of Practice, Rare Books and Special Collections, McGill Library and Principal Investigator (PI) for the Gwillim Project. Her research centres on history of natural history and she benefits from the rich holdings of the Blacker Wood Natural History Collection at McGill. She is former director of the McCord Museum in Montreal and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Ontario.

Anna Winterbottom

Dr Anna Winterbottom is a historian of science, medicine, and the environment. She works mainly on the period 1500-1800 CE and her focus is on the countries around Indian Ocean and European settlements in the region. She is currently Research Associate and Project Manager on the Gwillim Project. Anna was previously a British Academy Research Fellowship at the Centre for World Environmental History at the University of Sussex and a postdoctoral fellow at the Indian Ocean World Centre, McGill University.

S. Subramanya

Dr S. Subramanya, known as ‘Subbu’ in birding circles in India, was Professor of Entomology at the University of Agricultural Science in Bangalore. He has been studying birds in India for over four decades. Presently, he volunteers with the State Wildlife Department in Karnataka, India to support its bird conservation initiatives. As a visiting faculty at McGill University, Montreal, he examined the watercolours of birds by Lady Gwillim and wrote on her artwork (Newsletter for Birdwatchers, 1994).

V. Sriram

V. Sriram is a chronicler of the social and musical history of Madras, now Chennai. He is the editor of the Madras Musings, a fortnightly that is devoted to the city’s heritage. An expert on Carnatic Music and musicians, he is a contributing writer to Sruti and India Today, Madras edition.

Abdul Jamil Urfi

Dr Abdul Jamil Urfiis Associate Professor at Department of Environmental Studies, University of Delhi, India. He has been involved with environmental education as a staff scientist at CEE, Ahmedabad wherehealso carried out studies on reptiles and snakes. As a Fulbright Scholar, he also studied colonial waterbirds in Florida Everglades, USA. Urfi’s other books are Birds Beyond Watching (2004) and Birds of India, A Literary Anthology (2010).

Gwyn Campbell

Gwyn Campbell is a Canada Research Chair In Indian Ocean World History. He holds degrees in economic history from the universities of Birmingham and Wales and has previously taught in India and at universities in Madagascar, Britain, South Africa, Belgium and France. Director of McGill’s Indian Ocean World Centre, Gwyn Campbell is a specialist in the economic history of the Indian Ocean region. 

Lauren Williams

Lauren Williams is the liason librarian for the Blacker Wood Natural History Collection at McGill University Rare Books and Special Collections. Lauren holds a Masters of Library and Information Science from the University of Toronto along with a BA from Concordia University.

Patrick Wheeler

Patrick Wheeler is a retired Specialist Hospital Physician with an academic and clinical background in Oxford, London and Southeast England. He is now an independent historian and author on Indian history, particularly the British period. Wheeler is also the transcriber of the Gwillim-Symonds letters, now published as A Tale of Two Sisters, Life in Early British Colonial Madras: The Letters of Elizabeth Gwillim and Her Sister Mary Symonds from Madras 1801–1807 (Peter Lang, 2021).

Arthur MacGregor

Arthur MacGregor was formerly a curator in the Department of Antiquities at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. His interest in India has developed in his retirement. He is presently an Andrew W. Mellon Visiting Professor at the Victoria and Albert Museum Research Institute, with the aim of producing a web presentation on the East India Company’s museum (1798-1879). He continues to edit the Journal of the History of Collections, which he co-founded over thirty years ago.

A. Srivathsan

Prof. A. Srivathsan is an architect and urban designer, and currently the Executive Director, Centre for Research on Architecture and Urbanism, CEPT University Ahmedabad. His research and writing include the themes of urban history and planning and contemporary architectural practices. . His current work includes a book on Chennai’s planning history.

Deborah Thiagarajan

Deborah Thiagarajan is the founder and director of the DakshinaChitra Heritage Museum. She is interested in the art, architecture, lifestyles, crafts and performing arts of South India, and curating and promoting inclusive representations of these cultures.

Akash Muralidharan

Akash Muralidharan is an Architect and Food Designer from Chennai, India. Currently, he works with The Center for Genomic Gastronomy as a Researcher and Designer. He loves food and is keen on understanding its impact on culture. Akash aims to explore Food, Architecture, and its cultural background as a creative process and come up with innovative solutions for future scenarios.

Vinita Damodaran

Prof. Vinita Damodaran is a historian of modern India, interested in sustainable development dialogues in the global South. Her work ranges from the social and political history of Bihar to the environmental history of South Asia, including using historical records to understand climate change in the Indian Ocean World. She has an M.Phil from JNU and a PhD from Cambridge. She is the director of the Centre for World Environmental History at the University of Sussex, and is also the author of numerous articles in established journals.

Ulrike Al-Khamis

Dr. Ulrike Al-Khamis is the first to hold the position of Director of Collections and Public Programs at the Aga Khan Museum.  She holds a PhD in Islamic Art from the University of Edinburgh, and most recently served as Co-Director at the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization as well as Senior Strategic Advisor to the Sharjah Museums Department in the United Arab Emirates 

Kate Smith

Kate Smith is Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Eighteenth-Century History at the University of Birmingham, UK. In 2011 Kate Smith worked as Research Fellow on the Leverhulme Trust-funded East India Company at Home, 1757-1857 project (2011-2014).

Marika Sardar

Dr. Marika Sardar is an independent researcher and former Curator at the Aga Khan Museum, having previously worked at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar, the San Diego Museum of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Satwinder Bains

Dr Satwinder Kaur Bains is the Director of the South Asian Studies Institute at the University of the Fraser Valley and an Associate Professor in Social Cultural Media Studies. Satwinder’s critical analysis of India’s multilingual policy and planning, has fueled her interest to study the impact of language policy, culture and identity on South Asian Canadian migration, settlement, and integration. Her research includes and intersects cross-cultural education with a focus on anti-racist curriculum; race, racism, and ethnicity; identity politics; Sikh feminist ideology; migration and the South Asian Canadian Diaspora and Punjabi Canadian cultural historiography.

Ben Cartwright

Dr Ben Cartwright is an independent researcher and writer, and former Collection Curator at The South Asia Collection Museum, Norwich, UK. Dr Ben Cartwright’s work on The Gwillim Project in Norwich is supported by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.

Anna Rogers-Butterworth

Anna Rogers-Butterworth is a Digital Collections and Copyright Librarian at McGill University. She is currently working at the Nehum Gelber Law Library. Ana is involved with the Gwillim Digital Museums of Canada project.

Richard Laurin

Richard Laurin is an independent museum project developer. He is currently the Project Co-ordinator for the Gwillim Virtual Museums Project. He earned his Master’s of Museum Studies from the University of Toronto.

Alexandra Kim

Alexandra Kim is a dress historian and museum professional. She has worked at the Ashmolean, Chertsey Museum, and Buckinghamshire County Museum and was most recently a curator at Kensington Palace, UK. She now combines research and writing with her work as an editor of Costume for the journal of the UK Costume Society.

Jane Ruddell

Jane Ruddell is the archivist at the Mercers Company, who made available to the project her mother’s research notes and transcriptions. Rosemary Ruddell was a Canadian anthropologist with a deep interest in the Gwillim family and the correspondence.

Jennifer Garland

Jennifer Garland is Assistant Head Librarian, Rare Books and Special Collections at McGill University. She holds a Master’s of Library and Information Studies from McGill University and a BA from NSCAD University.

Minakshi Menon

Minakshi Menon is a visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. Minakshi Menon studied medieval Indian history at Jawaharlal Nehru University and the University of Delhi, and then took her PhD in History of Science and Science Studies at the University of California San Diego.

Christopher Lyons

Christopher Lyons is the Head of Rare Books and Special Collections at McGill University. He joined the Osler Library in 2004 as Liaison Librarian, before being appointed as Head Librarian of Osler in 2012.

Rosemary Raza

Rosemary Raza is a former diplomat. She researches and writes on the Indian subcontinent, particularly on art and the work and lives of women writers.

Jenn Riley

Jenn Riley is Associate Dean, Digital Initiatives at McGill University Library. She holds an MLS from Indiana University, an MA in Musicology from Indiana University, and a BM in Music Education from the University of Miami (FL). Prior to arriving at McGill in 2013, she held positions in digital libraries and metadata at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Indiana University.

Ann Wass

Ann Wass is a costume historian, speaker, and educator specializing in early 19th century American costume and social history. She is interested in discerning the history of 17th-19th century British and Indian costume.

Gita Hudson

Gita Hudson is the current Program Officer at the DakshinChitra Heritage Museum. Gita Hudson is also a film-maker who has made 23 documentary films on art and legendary artists.

Alexandra Kohn

Alexandra Kohn is head of the Office of Copyright Compliance and Digital Collections at McGill. Alex leads the team in McGill’s Digital Initiatives department in their work on developing the Spotlight platform for use in the Digital Museums of Canada virtual exhibition project.

Nathalie Cooke

Nathalie Cooke is Professor and Associate Dean of ROAAr (Rare & Special Collections, Osler, Art and Archives). Nathalie Cooke’s publications focus on the shaping of literary and culinary taste in Canada, England and the United States. Her current project scrutinizes the relationship between food and cryptic communication practices, including riddle dinners, conundrum suppers and enigmatical bills of fare. She was born in Madras and spent childhood years in Kerala.

Henry Noltie

Henry Noltie worked at Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh from 1986 to 2017 as a curator and taxonomist. From 2000 his work was on historical aspects of the rich herbarium and illustrations collections of the RBGE, especially relating to India. This resulted in a series of publications on Scottish East India Company surgeons, and the botanical drawings they commissioned from Indian artists in the late 18th and early 19th century.

Jacquelyn Sundberg

Jacquelyn Sundberg works with the special collections units at the McGill University Library on public programming, content development, and project management. She holds Master’s degrees in English Literature and Information Studies.

Madhav Badami

Professor Badami has a joint appointment in the School of Urban Planning and the Bieler School of Environment at McGill. After having studied mechanical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, he spent nine years in diesel engine development in the Indian truck and bus industry. He holds a Master’s degree and a PhD.

Jeffrey Spear

Prof. Jeffrey Spear retired from the English Department of NYU where he taught Victorian Studies including literature, visual art, and aspects of British India. His publications on Indian topics include Knowing the Dancer: East Meets West, with Avanthi Meduri, in Victorian Literature and Culture (2004), and A South Indian Gate from Gwalior to Nowhere, in SEL(2008) among many others.

Toolika Gupta

Toolika Gupta is the Director of the Indian Institute of Crafts and Design, Jaipur. With a Ph.D. in History of Arts (Dress and Textiles) from Glasgow University, UK; In Textiles and Clothing from MSc Lady Irwin College, New Delhi, India; Her collaboration as a PhD fellow with the Textile Research Center, Copenhagen, Denmark, and a short course in ‘Archaeological Textiles’ from the University of Oxford, UK, she has gained experience as a researcher in this field

Vikram Bhatt

Prof. Vikram Bhatt is a Professor of Architecture, McGill University, where he teaches courses in urban design and housing. Born and raised in India, Bhatt graduated from the prestigious Ahmedabad School of Architecture, Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT University) in 1973. He obtained his Masters of Architecture from McGill University in 1975. After, briefly from 1977-78, working for the International Development Research Centre he rejoinedthe School of Architecture at McGill, where since 1988, he has also led the MCHG activities focusing attention on the shelter problems of poor.

John Bosco Lourdusamy

John Bosco Lourdusamy is an Associate Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. His latest academic interests center around the history of tea plantation is India with specific focus on the evolution and transfers of technology in the tea industry. More generally, he is interested in the history of global circulation of (other) crops and commodities and is a historian of science, technology, and medicine in colonial India.

Jonathan Crago

Jonathan Crago is the Editor in Chief for McGill-Queen’s University Press. He is reponsible for the acquisition edits for Canadian and Quebec history, art history, architecture, communication studies, film, drama, & musicology, and anthropology & folklore.


Research Assistants and Associates

Hana Nikčević

Hana Nikčević worked as an RA from 2019-2021, writing case studies and helping with the newsletter. Her work dealt primarily with the art of Mary Symonds. She is a graduate of the Masters programme in Art History at McGill, where she researched contemporary artists’ responses to ecological loss. She is currently the Public Programming & Outreach Assistant at the Art Museum at the University of Toronto.

Saraphina Masters

Saraphina Masters worked as an RA from 2019-2021, writing case studies and helping with the newsletter. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Art History and Classical Studies from Smith College. For her Master’s graduate thesis at McGill, she focused on the history paintings of Angelica Kauffman in 1770s England. Her experience with this time period and the work of female artists now informed her work for the Gwillim Project. She is currently Assistant Curator of Engagement, Sheldon Museum of Art, University of Nebraska.

Emilienne Greenfield

Emilienne Greenfield worked as an RA from 2019-2020 and 2021. She first worked on the project helping to transcribe Elizabeth Gwillim’s letters, and then returned to help with cataloguing. Emilienne is a PhD candidate in McGill’s Department of History and Classical Studies. Her research focuses on domestic gardening in France and England during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Rebekah McCallum

Rebekah McCallum worked as an RA from 2019-2020, helping to transcribe Mary Symonds’ letters. Rebekah received her PhD from McGill University in History and was affiliated with the Indian Ocean World Centre. Her research examined the rise of contemporary bondage networks and structures in South Asia, through a study of international (colonial and post-colonial) business policies and local legislation. She is currently a Humanities in the World/Just Transformations Postdoctoral Scholar at Penn State.

Nora Shaalan

Nora Shaalan worked as an RA for the project in 2020 and helped organize the Gwillim Project’s research symposium. She is currently a PhD student at Columbia University in English and Comparative Literature.

Emily Zinger

Emily Zinger worked as an RA in 2020, helping to organize the virtual symposium Gwillim Project Online. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in English and Psychology from the College of William & Mary and her Master’s of Information Studies from McGill University. She currently serves as Southeast Asia Digital Librarian at Cornell University and supports management of the Southeast Asia Digital Library for the Committee on Research Materials on Southeast Asia.

Myles Browne

Myles Browne worked as an RA on the project from 2020-2021, working as a digital humanities assistant and helping with the website. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a minor in Law & Society from Concordia University (Montreal). He is a graduate of the Master’s of Information Studies programme from McGill University. He is currently working with the federal government.

Maryam Rahimi Shahmirzadi

Maryam Rahimi Shahmirzadi worked as an RA in 2021 and helped with the newsletter. She received her Master’s degree from McGill University in the Department of History and Classical Studies.

Anmol Gupta

Anmol Gupta worked as an RA from 2021-2022, during which time he helped with maintaining and updating the website. Anmol is a second-year Master’s student in the Information Studies programme at McGill. His research interest is on User-Experience design.

Qianru Wang

Qianru Wang worked as an RA from 2021-2022, developing interactive maps based on Elizabeth Gwillim’s bird paintings, and Mary Symonds’ Madras Album paintings. Qianru is a Master’s student in Geography at McGill University, where her research is focused on examining large-scale peatland patterns in the Hudson Bay Lowlands. She previously completed a Bachelor’s degree in Remote Sensing and GIS.

Ciel Haviland

Ciel Haviland worked on the project as an RA in 2022, helping with the newsletter. She is a Master’s student in History at McGill University, studying the colonization of plants with a particular emphasis on decorative blooms. She is writing her thesis on Elizabeth Gwillim’s interest in botany.

Carleigh Nicholls

Carleigh Nicholls worked on the project as an RA in 2022, helping to catalogue, update the website and write case studies. She recently obtained her PhD in History from McGill University. Her thesis focused on late seventeenth-century Scottish politics, religion and the law.