Spotlight on... Dr Alex Tasker

This week we meet Alex, who is Teaching Fellow in Human Ecology and Biological Anthropology at UCL Anthropology. Alex has developed an online cross-disciplinary summer school to support veterinary students during the Covid-19 restrictions - and chats to us about it here.

What is your role and what does it involve?

I am a Teaching Fellow in Human Ecology and Biological Anthropology at UCL Anthropology. My role is primarily an Undergraduate and Postgraduate teaching and supervisory post, but there are plenty of opportunities to engage in other projects - I’ve recently got more involved in UCL’s Widening Participation programme with London schools to engage non-traditional university applicants, and right now I’m working with a few groups on Covid-19 projects.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

I started my post in September 2019, but did actually do my MSc in Anthropology, Environment, and Development here back in 2011. Prior to coming here, I was a Visiting Fellow at the University of Oxford Refugee Studies Centre. Throughout this time I’ve also continued to practice as a vet, and work with the Pastoralism, Uncertainty and Resilience (PASTRES) Project at the Institute of Development Studies.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

There are lots of things I’m very proud of going on right now, but off the top of my head probably planning and running a three-week online cross-disciplinary research summer school for veterinary students with some amazing academics from within and outside of UCL. The programme finished last Friday and there is already massive appetite for another one!

Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list?

Given Covid’s impact across our working and personal lives, like most people I’m juggling a few bits! My biggest project at the moment is probably working on if - or how - anthropology can contribute to any upcoming Contact Tracing initiatives. This has to be squared with reworking all of my teaching material for potential online delivery this September, and home-schooling both of my children.

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

My favourite album is probably Exile on Coldharbour Lane by Alabama 3 for the memories it brings back. Favorite film is possibly The Big Lebowski (with the caveat of kids meaning I’ve not watched much since 2014...), and novel - American Gods by Neil Gaiman.

What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?

Q: What’s the best thing about Switzerland?
A: I don’t know, but the flag is a big plus.

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

Barbra Hepworth, Graham Greene, Ada Lovelace, Ernest Hemmingway, and my wife.

What advice would you give your younger self?

You can keep looking for new ideas, even when they may seem like old ideas.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

That I work as a volunteer Search and Rescue Crewman on a Thames RNLI Lifeboat team.

What is your favourite place?

With my children.