Congratulations to Philippa Monk, DPhil student in History, who has been announced as one of the joint winners of the Jane Willis Kirkaldy Senior Prize. The annual prize recognises outstanding essays in the field of the history of science, medicine, and technology at the University of Oxford. 

Philippa’s doctoral research uses the differentiation of yaws and syphilis in international health discourses to explore ideas related to civilisations, race, and hygiene in colonial and postcolonial South Asia. She is particularly interested in the spaces of the plantation and the lab. Her work is funded by the Corpus Christi Clarendon Watts Studentship.

Philippa’s prize-winning essay, “Policing, Treating, and Constructing Venereal Disease in the Vietnam War”, was drawn from her MPhil Dissertation in World History, completed at the University of Cambridge. It details the continuation of regulated sex work by the US military during the Vietnam War, focusing on the ways in which antibiotic treatments and global geopolitics shaped policy and discourse around STDs. 

The prize has run since 1936 and is named in honour of Jane Willis Kirkaldy (1867/9-1932), one of the first women to achieve first-class honours in natural sciences at the University of Oxford. Kirkaldy became a researcher and science educator following her degree, becoming a tutor to female students in the School of Natural Sciences, Director of Studies at all five of the women’s colleges, and an Honorary Fellow of Somerville College. She died in 1932, endowing the prize in her will. 

“I am very happy to have won the Jane Willis Kirkaldy prize, particularly in the first year of my DPhil,” said Philippa. “It feels like a particular honour as someone who has only recently pivoted towards the field of the history of science, medicine, and technology. This is a real endorsement of a piece of work I am very proud of—all those hours in the archives in Maryland now feel worth it! I am now looking to turn it into a conference paper and perhaps an article, so I can share it more widely.”