Research

13086727_825005114310784_5250647740909033720_oMy research examines the co-evolution of human social structure, life history, economics, and health. This work combines ethnographic research, cross-cultural analysis, and theoretical and computational modeling. I conduct fieldwork with Tsimane’ forager-farmers in Bolivian Amazonia, and with Tyvan nomadic pastoralists in southern Siberia.

My work has two principal goals. The first goal is toDSCN2805 explain the origin of the core traits that define our species, such as extraordinary lifespan, heavy reliance on learning, intensive parental and grandparental investment, and extensive altruism and cooperation. The second goal is to explain variation in behavior, health, and demography across individuals and across human societies. Why, for example, do some people have few children, and others have many? Why is polygyny common in some parts of the world, but absent in others?
Why do
some groups share food widely, while others do not? Why do some conditions foster the emergence of social hierarchies, while other conditions promote egalitarianism?

Primary areas of active research include:

My approach to this diversity of topics is anchored by the core unifying themes of energetics and metabolism, natural selection, and strategic adaptation to local socioecological context.