Dr Val Curtis

Reader in Hygiene

About Val Curtis

Book: Don't Look, Don't Touch, the Science behind Revulsion, OUP, 2013


Val is Director of the Hygiene Centre, a multidisciplinary group dedicated to improving hygiene and sanitation. She is trained in engineering, epidemiology and anthropology and studies human behaviour from an evolutionary perspective. 




Val organises the Design of Disease Control Programmes in Developing Countries MSc Module. She also teaches on the Tropical Environmental Health Study Module and gives an annual public health lecture on hygiene and sanitation.


Val pioneers a new approach called Behaviour Centred Design, which couples Darwinian behavioural theory with marketing practice to improve health related behaviour. She has helped to develop and test successful handwashing programmes in Africa and Asia and is now also working on improving infant feeding, diarrhoea control and sanitation-related behaviour. SuperAmma is a recent successful handwashing promotion programme in India.

The evolution and function of disgust and its relationship to hygiene and manners is a particular area of interest. 

Val helped found the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap, is on the steering committee of the Toilet Board and advises public and private sector organisations on behaviour change.

Blog: The Disgustologist on Psychology Today

Clip: Huffington Post Disgust interview

Research areas

  • Behaviour change
  • Hygiene
  • Sanitation
  • Water


  • Anthropology
  • Epidemiology

Disease and Health Conditions

  • Diarrhoeal diseases

Other interests

  • Evolution
  • Human Behaviour
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