I am an Evolutionary Anthropologist based at the University of Cambridge interested in applying evolutionary theory to explain diversity in behaviour and cognition across the entire spectrum of human societies. Currently, I'm particularly focussed on developing the field of evolutionary psychiatry.
Most of my research thus far has explored the evolution of social behaviour and cooperation in our species, and is based upon my fieldwork with BaYaka hunter-gatherers who reside in the rainforests of northern Congo. To shed light on the role social relationships have played in our evolutionary history, I examined how individual differences in social integration and cooperative networks affect health, mating patterns and fertility. As part of a large research team working with hunter-gatherer societies, I have also been involved in projects related to the evolution of cumulative culture, life-history trade-offs, and statistical methods for the ageing of individuals in small-scale societies.
Currently, alongside a team at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, I'm thinking about how evolutionary perspectives can advance our understanding of the aetiology of mental illness. I plan to investigate the prevalence of various mental disorders among hunter-gatherers, and evaluate the extent to which they are 'diseases of modernity' caused by a 'mismatch' between modern lifestyles and those more typical of our species' evolutionary history. My other new project is focussed on examining how specific features of social cognition - paranoia, threat detection, and in-group bias - respond flexibly to local socio-ecological conditions across London neighbourhoods; and whether dysregulation of these responses may increase the risk of schizophrenia.