Current Research

Evolution of Human Reproductive Strategies

This project examines how evolutionary theory can help us understand decision-making related to human mating and parenting. It combines empirical and theoretical approaches, including quantitative ethnography, experiments, cross-cultural comparison, and optimality modeling.

The project has been funded by the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, National Science Foundation (USA), and National Institutes of Health (USA).

Publications have appeared in: (a) peer-reviewed journals including Royal Society Open Science, PLoS One, Human Nature, Evolution and Human Behavior, Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, American Journal of Physical Anthropology, American Journal of Human Biology, and Journal of Biosocial Science; and, (b) elsewhere including Oxford Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology and Parenting, and Encyclopedia of Evol Psychol Science.

Evolution of Norms and Social Institutions

This project examines the evolution of human norms and institutions including cousin marriage and land tenure. It includes quantitative ethnographic research in Indonesia as well as cross-cultural comparison using cultural phylogenetic and multivariate statistical methods. It is collaborative with researchers in anthropology, biology, natural resource management, and linguistics.

Funding for the project has come from the Fulbright Scholars Program, American Institute for Indonesian Studies (AIFIS), and National Science Foundation (USA).

We have published the results of these studies in Evolution and Human Behavior, Human Nature, and Royal Society Open Science.

Diet, Excercise, and Obesity in the Solomon Islands

This developing project in evolutionary-informed public health research examines the dietary and activity-related factors in the emerging obesity and non-communicable disease crisis in the Solomon Islands. Research to date has been conducted in a number of Melanesian and Polynesian communities in Malaita and Rennell-Bellona provinces. The project is a collaborative effort with staff members from Solomon Islands National University (SINU) and the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medicine.

To date, the project has been conducted with funds from ANU College of Arts and Social Science, and ANU Research School of Humanities and Arts.

Initial results were presented at the Annual Meeting of the Australasian Society for Human Biology (ASHB), and the first publications are in preparation.

Collaborative Cross-Cultural Studies

This project includes my contributions to multiple large-scale collaborative efforts to test evolutionary hypotheses about the cognitive foundations of culture and morality, jealousy and infidelity, income inequality with reference to social networks, and assortative mating with data collected using standardized cross-cultural field experimentation. The collaborative efforts of this project are highly interdisciplinary, with scholars from anthropology, biology, psychology, economics, and philosophy.

Funding for these projects has been provided by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK), and the National Science Foundation (USA).

Publications for these projects has appeared in Nature Human Behaviour, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), and Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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