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Sam Martin

Thesis topic: Health, Social Media and the Gut: How Coeliacs Share Health-related Knowledge.
Supervisor/s: Dr Emma Uprichard (CIM) & Prof. Simon J Williams (Soc)

Academic Profile

2013 – 2016: Ph.D. Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Warwick, UK
2011 – 2012: MSc (Distinction) Digital Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK
1994-1997: LLB (Oxon) Law and Jurisprudence, Oxford University (Merton College), UK

Research Interests

Data Science and Health; Quantified Self; Qualified Self; Data Visualisation; Data Art; GIS; Mapping Health; Apps for Social Good.


I am a doctoral candidate in the Centre of Interdisciplinary Methodologies at the University of Warwick. Prior to pursuing my PhD, I worked extensively in the field of E-Learning and Web Development at University College London, Manchester University (where I am an Honorary fellow) and Kings College London. I specialise in Data Mining, Data Visualisation, Digital Cartography, and the impact of Health in the use of Social Media in the City. I have also created several mobile health apps aimed at helping patients with Coeliac Disease find Gluten Free food in London and Paris. My app, Coeliac Sam - uses visualisation and gameplay to teach children how to spot gluten free food when out and about. While my most recent app, 'Spoonie Living', acts as a visual therapy tool (and research tool kit) that uses photographs and Social Media to help chronic illness sufferers share their lived experience of long-term illness. I have also researched the rise in abusive patterns of behaviour on Twitter.

Doctoral Research

My doctoral research explores how individuals’ online interactions inform their health-navigation of the city. The working title of my study is: 'Health, Social Media, the City and the Gut: Re-Writing The City Landscape With Health-related Knowledge'. With the case study of Coeliac Disease, my research aims to understand and visualise the way patients share information on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram about where to find gluten free food in the daily self-management of their chronic illness.

I use data mining techniques to mine the Twitter, Instagram and Facebook APIs for health-related hashtags that include key terms that Coeliac patients use when discussing their gluten free diet or seeking advice via Social Media. These include the hashtags: #coeliac #celiac #glutenfree and other related terms. Data will be harvested from a 15 km radius of the cities of London and New York, and my research will include a comparative analysis of the knowledge and food-seeking behaviour of Coeliac patients between the two cities.

My research uses co-word and sentiment analysis to quantify to what extent patients use Social Media as a knowledge finding, decision-making or risk aversion tool. I visualise this flow of patient interaction through Social Media by using GIS and digital cartography techniques to create virtual maps of health annotations that compare behaviour in the cities of London and New York. My research is co-funded by, a Warwick University and WCPRS Collaborative Studentship; a Postgraduate Research Fellowship from Coeliac UK; and is in partnership with New York University’s CUSP (Centre for Urban Science and Progress).

Awards and Fellows

2013: WCPRS Collaborative Research Studentship, University of Warwick and Coeliac UK - PhD Fellowship: 'Coeliac disease, social media and health; rewriting the city landscape with health knowledge'

2003: Honorary Research Fellow, Manchester University

Conference Papers

November 2015: 'Self management of long term conditions within big social data: a study in the use of apps to help with the burden of Coeliac Disease', Quantified Self Symposium on Pain, Singularity University, San Francisco, CA

September 2015: 'Twitter, Instagram, the City and the Gut: Learning how to self-manage chronic illness through gamification', Medical Sociology Conference: British Sociological Association, University of York

September 2015: 'The Digital Patient: From New Expert to Digital Quantifier and Qualitative Image Diarist', 25 Years of Public Health Criticism: Critique and Nostalgia in Public Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

June 2014: ‘Twitter, the City and the Gut: How Coeliacs find Food & Re-write the City Landscape With Health-related Knowledge’, CIM Research Day, University of Warwick

April 2014: ‘Big data, Twitter and your health explored’, Science Showoff (Communicating Science Chaotically), University of London

September 2013: ‘The Digital Coeliac, Twitter and Coeliac Disease, Patterns and Sentiment’, Association of European Coeliac Societies (AOECS), Amsterdam


Sam Martin


Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies
University of Warwick


British Library Case Study (2016):
Multimedia PhD Research & Non-text Theses Case Studies

Coeliac UK Conference (2016):
Most highly commended poster abstract:
Visualising the Self-Care of Coeliac Disease

Press Release: Data mining study identifies Twitter as lifeline for people with Coeliac Disease