Research Interests

I am a qualitative health researcher, with training in the social and political sciences, bioethics, journalism, and literary criticism. I love to collaborate on creative trans-disciplinary research and knowledge mobilization projects, with colleagues from faculties of science, medicine, arts, and education. The socio-cultural, ethical, and policy dimensions of emerging health technologies – notably genome science, human tissue biobanking, assisted reproductive technologies, international surrogacy and gamete donation – have been focal research areas to date.

Ethnography, deliberative democracy, theories of narrative and discourse, digital storytelling, and arts-based approaches – especially poetic inquiry – all shape my work methodologically, along with traditional tools such as interviews and focus groups. I am driven to innovate through inclusion – of oppressed voices, marginalized perspectives, and alternative forms of knowledge. And I am increasingly drawn to action-research, seeking partnerships with clinicians and organizations to advance the bio-psycho-social-spiritual health of individuals and communities.

Recently, I am excited by interpersonal neurobiology and human attachment, research on parent-child relationships, narrative approaches to trauma, bio-psycho-social approaches to mental health and addiction, trans-disciplinarity, and the arts in research and knowledge mobilization.


Research Projects

Canada and the transnational human egg trade: Implications for women’s agency and global social inequalities (2012-2015)

This research was begun as a SSHRC Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in Sociology at UBC. It entwines the literary arts with methodological innovation in qualitative research, and conceptual frameworks from bioethics, medical sociology, and anthropology – in an effort to understand and evoke the rapidly shifting terrain of Canadian reproductive tourism, and transnational egg donation. The research involved analysis of online discussion forums and in-depth interviews with clinicians, policymakers, medical tourism agents, scholars, and Canadian women traveling to Mexico for third-party eggs. ‘Found poetry’ became central to this project, during a creative writing collaboration with Professor Susan Cox and Professor Carl Leggo at UBC. From a deeper listening to participant stories, to evocative research outputs that engage both heart and head – poetic inquiry proved to be a space of uncommon innovation, energy, critical power, and beauty.


Genomic citizenship: The design, facilitation, and evaluation of a deliberative public consultation about biobanking in British Columbia (2005-2010)

This ESRC-funded PhD research was conducted at CESAGen (Lancaster University, UK) and supervised by Professor Brian Wynne, Dr. Paul Oldham, and Professor Michael Burgess. The research was conducted as a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Applied Ethics at UBC, and as a member of an interdisciplinary team working on the Genome Canada-funded Biobanking in BC project. This was a paradigm-shifting project, using theories of deliberative democracy to engage the BC public in empirical bioethics and policy around biobanking. My doctoral thesis interwove democratic theory, bioethics, STS, cultural poetics, and Laclau’s discourse theory to develop a methodology of ‘deliberative witnessing’ in public engagement with an emerging and ethically contentious technology.


Genomics, ethics, and social justice: Laying foundations for a study of biobanks and  benefit-sharing in Canada (2003-2004)

This ESRC-funded Master’s research was supervised by Professor Ruth Chadwick (CESAGen, Lancaster University) and applied theories of social justice to develop a ‘three-tiered framework’ for the just compensation of participants in genomics research.


Teaching / Supervision

Instructor, Qualitative Research Methods – SOCI 382 (2012 – 13) Department of Sociology, University of British Columbia

Guest Lecturer, Anthropology of Gender (2014) Department of Anthropology, University of British Columbia

Faculty Instructional Skills Workshop (2012) Centre for Teaching and Learning Technology, University of British Columbia

Master of Journalism Thesis Second Supervisor, Magally Zelaya (2011) Graduate School of Journalism, University of British Columbia

Master of Journalism Thesis Second Supervisor, Ryan Elias (2010) Graduate School of Journalism, University of British Columbia

Guest Lecturer, Ethics in Molecular Biotechnology (2007) Simon Fraser University

Guest Speaker, Genetics and Ethics graduate seminar (2006) University of British Columbia

Lecturer in Online Journalism (2004 – 2005) NCTJ-accredited BA in Journalism, EdgeHill University, UK


Consulting / Knowledge Mobilization

I have worked as a writer, editor, and public/stakeholder engagement consultant for Mayo Clinic, Public Health Agency of Canada, City of Vancouver, Genome BC, Planned Lifetime Advocacy Networks (PLAN), Vancouver Coastal Health, UK Institute of Development Studies, and UBC Graduate School of Journalism. In a past life I was a staff writer for Internet Magazine, the website editor for Greenpeace UK, and a freelance journalist for The Independent and Independent on Sunday newspapers, all in London, UK.



Walmsley, H., Cox, S., & Leggo, C. (2015). Listening deeply: Understanding experiences of reproductive tourism through poetic inquiry. Creative Approaches to Research, 8(3).

Schurr, C. & Walmsley, H. (2014). Reproductive tourism booms on Mexico’s Mayan Riviera. International Medical Travel Journal.

Walmsley, H. (2013). Review of: Knecht, M., Klotz, M., and Beck, S. (eds.). (2012). Reproductive technologies as global form: Ethnographies of knowledge, practices, and transnational encounters. Journal of Comparative Family Studies.

Walmsley, H. (2011). Stock options, tax credits or employment contracts please! The value of deliberative public disagreement about human tissue donation. Social Science and Medicine,73(2), 209-216.

Walmsley, H. (2010). Varying discursive logics of deliberation. Public Understanding of Science, 19(4), 452-468.

Walmsley, H. (2010). Review of Digital media ethics, by C. Ess. Media, Culture and Society, 32(4), 713.

Walmsley, H. (2010). Review of Story circle: Digital storytelling around the world, by J. Hartley and K. McWilliam (Eds.). New Media and Society, 12(2), 334-336.

Walmsley, H. (2009). Mad scientists bend the “frame” of biobanking governance in British Columbia. Journal of Public Deliberation, 1(5), 1-26.

Walmsley, H., Burgess, M., Brinkman, J., Hegele, R., Wilson-McManus, J., & McManus, B. (2009). Ethics of biomarkers: What are the borders of investigative research, informed consent, and patient protection? In M. Bleavins, C. Carini, M. Jurima-Romet, & R. Rahbari (Eds.). Biomarkers in drug development: A handbook of practice, application and strategy (pp.625-641). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Walmsley, H., & Hinton, R. (1997). A performative dimension to participatory techniques: Implications for PRA and anthropology. Anthropology in Action 4(2).


Conference Presentations

Cox.S., Walmsley, H., & Leggo, C. 2015. Reproductive tourism: Listening though poetry to the experiences of a Mexican egg donor. 5th International Symposium on Poetic Inquiry, Vancouver, BC, October 8-10.

Walmsley, H., Cox, S., & Leggo, C. 2014. Listening deeply: Understanding experiences of reproductive tourism through poetic inquiry. 20th Annual Qualitative Health Research Conference, Victoria, BC, October 21-23.

Walmsley, H. 2014. “Man plans, God laughs”: Experiences of Canadian reproductive travel in online forums. 20th Annual Qualitative Health Research Conference, Victoria, BC, October 21-23.

Walmsley, H. 2013. From biobanks to gametes: Qualitative methodologies, tissue “donation” and global ethics. ESRC Genomics Network Conference, Genomes and societies: Global challenges around life sciences, London, UK, April 30-May 1.

Walmsley, H. & Secko, D. 2010. Reporting in the future tense: Challenges and potential for science journalism in a promissory bio-knowledge economy. Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) Annual Meeting, Tokyo, August 25-28.

Walmsley, H., Burgess, M., O’Doherty, K., & McCaffrey, V. 2010. Scientific uncertainty in public engagement on biobanks. Objectivity in Science, UBC, Vancouver, June 17-20.

Walmsley, H., & Secko, D. 2010. Reporting Genozymes: Mapping a deliberative model of science journalism. Ten Years After – Mapping the Societal Genomics Landscape, Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam, May 27-28.

Burgess, M., Walmsley, H., & O’Doherty, K. 2009. When public engagement leads to controversial conclusions. Public Participation Conference, Banff, September.

Koenig, B., Burgess, M., Walmsley, H., O’Doherty, K., & Hudson, K. 2008. Deliberative democracy and biobanks: Involving the public in policy formation. Translating the Ethical, Legal and Social Implications of Genomics International Conference. Cleveland, Ohio, May 1-3.

Secko, D., Burgess, M., Badulescu, D., Davidson, H., Hartell, D., Longstaff, H., Maclean, S., O’Doherty, K., Preto, N., Walmsley, H., and Wilcox, E. 2008. Innovative designs in public engagement: The case of the BC Biobank Deliberation. First Annual Canadian Human Genetics Conference. St. Saveur, Quebec, April 9-12.

Walmsley, H. 2007. Difference, deliberation and biobanking in British Columbia: Integrating perspectives from anthropology, STS and political science. CESAGen Lunch Seminar, Institute for Advanced Studies, Lancaster University, UK, December.

Hartell, D. & Walmsley, H. 2007. Poster presentation, Canadian Conference on Dialogue and Deliberation, Vancouver, BC, November.

Walmsley, H., Abadie, R., Hartell, D., Burgess, M., & Koenig, B. 2007. What interests and values should guide biobanking? Lessons from two experiments in deliberative public consultation. American Society of Human Genetics Meeting. San Diego, CA, Oct 23-27.

Walmsley, H. Biobanking in British Columbia: A deliberative public consultation. Oral presentation, HUGO’s 12th International Human Genome Meeting, May 2007, Montreal, Quebec, May.

Walmsley, H. Burgess, M., Badulescu, D., Davidson, H., Hartell, D., Longstaff, H., Maclean, S., …Wilcox, L. 2007. What interests and values should guide biobanking in BC? A deliberative public consultation. Poster presentation, HUGO’s 12th International Human Genome Meeting, Montreal, Quebec, May.

Burgess, M., & Walmsley, H. 2007. Resource Allocation and Emerging Genetic Technologies: Scoping the Issues. Alberta Health Law Institute and Genome Alberta. Banff, Alberta, March 15-17.

Walmsley, H., & Wilcox, E. 2006. Information for inclusive (not coercive) deliberation. Invited presentation, Deliberative Democracy and Biobanks Workshop, Vancouver, November.


PhD in Sociology (Genetics and Society) (2010) Centre for Economic & Social Aspects of Genomics (CESAGen), Lancaster University, UK

MA in Environment, Culture, and Society – with Distinction (2004) CESAGen, Lancaster University, UK

Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism – Emap Peter Bolt Scholar (2001) PMA Editorial Training, UK

MA in English Literature (Postcolonial and Critical Theory) (1999) Sussex University, UK

MA in Social Anthropology – First Class Honors (1997) Edinburgh University, UK