Category Archives: Awards

Omni Shoreham

2016 CGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award in the Social Sciences

On Thursday, I was at the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) Annual Meeting in Washington, DC to receive this year’s CGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award in the Social Sciences. The award ceremony was held in the Regency Ballroom of the beautiful Omni Shoreham. The press release with more details can be found here:

It was an unexpected honor, but also validation of my research agenda and approach to science. My acceptance speech was a brief summary of my dissertation and Dual Inheritance Theory and Cultural Evolution more generally.


UBC Alumni profile: Michael Muthukrishna’s quest to understand the human puzzle

LSE Q&A with Dr Michael Muthukrishna, Assistant Professor of Economic Psychology

Templeton Foundation Grant for The Database of Religious History: Data Science Approaches to Religious Cultural History ($215K; 18 months)

I was recently awarded an 18 month grant (with Co-PI Ted Slingerland) for “The Database of Religious History: Data Science Approaches to Religious Cultural History” ($215, 050). The grant will enable us to continue a critical period in the project’s development. We are hoping to secure additional funds to ensure a self-sustaining future for the project.

Part of this period was improving the data entry and browsing interface. If you’re a historian, please let us know if you would like to contribute. For everyone else, I encourage you to browse through our data:


SSHRC Impact Awards Talk in Ottawa, Ontario

As a Top 5 winner of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada’s (SSHRC) Research for a Better Life: The Storytellers challenge, I was invited to present our research on the Database of Religious History at the SSHRC Impact Awards ceremony in Ottawa, Ontario.

It was an honor to meet the the Governor General of Canada, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Lloyd Johnston, SSHRC’s Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, Ted Hewitt, SSHRC’s Associate Vice-President, Future Challenges, Ursula Gobel (who I previously met at SSHRC Congress), CBC host of Ideas, Paul Kennedy, and the winners of the SSHRC Impact AwardsBeverley DiamondThomas LemieuxNico TrocméWendy Craig, and Kirk Luther.

You can watch my talk below:

The Database of Religious History has been featured in several places, including See my previous News post for more details.

SSHRC Impact Awards

Top Row (Left to Right): Robin MacEwan, Michael Muthukrishna, James O’Callaghan, Ted Hewitt (Executive Vice President, SSHRC), Hon. David Johnston, Ursula Gobel (Associate Vice-President, Future Challenges, SSHRC), Vineeth Sekharan, Marylynn Steckley

Bottom Row (Left to Right): Thomas Lemiux (Insight Award), Nico Trocmé (Connection Award), Beverley Diamond (Gold Medal), Wendy Craig (Partnership Award), Kirk Luther (Talent Award)


SSHRC Storytellers Competition Top 5 Winner, St Catharines, Ontario

As one of the 25 finalists, I spent the last few days at Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences 2014 at Brock University in St Catharines, Ontario. My talk on the Database of Religious History was selected as one of 5 winners of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada’s Research for a Better Life: The Storytellers challenge. The research was featured on the Federal Government’s official website, (image below).

I was invited by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to elaborate on the vision and achievements of the Database of Religious History, complementing the winning video, which you can watch below:

The panel of 4 judges included Shari Graydon, author, journalist and founder of Informed Opinions; Antonia Maioni, president of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences; Pierre Normand, Vice-President, External Relations and Communications at the Canada Foundation for Innovation; and Bruce Wallace, editor of Policy Options magazine and former foreign editor for the Los Angeles Times.

I will be presenting the same talk to a VIP audience at SSHRC’s 2014 Impact Awards ceremony in early November.


SSHRC Storytellers Competition

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada announced the winners of of their Research for a Better Life: The Storytellers challenge. Our entry was one of the winners. We presented the broad vision of The Database of Religious History. I am the Technical Director of the project, but this project was done unofficially in my capacity as a researcher and writer. My friend and collaborator, Jordan Levine, was the narrator. The talented Risto Turunen, created the animations. Mike Woods wrote the score.

Our projects have since diverged, but credit for the concept and vision also goes to Seshat: The Global History Databank led by Peter Turchin, Harvey Whitehouse, and Pieter Francois. The Database of Religious History is led by Ted Slingerland and Mark Collard.

I will be presenting the entry at Congress 2014 in May and we will be presenting The Database of Religious History at the Digital Humanities Conference in Lausanne, Switzerland in July.

You can watch the video below:


Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar

I was awarded the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship. Launched in 2009, the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship (Vanier CGS) Program’s goal is to strengthen Canada’s ability to attract and retain the world’s top-tier doctoral students by providing successful candidates with significant freedom to pursue and complete doctoral studies. Vanier scholars demonstrate leadership skills and a high standard of scholarly achievement. The award is worth $150 000 over 3 years.

This award will fund my research for the next 3 years and hopefully raise the profile of research on the role and evolution of culture in human evolution.

Liu Institute for Global Issues

Liu Scholar

I was recently made a Liu Scholar by the Liu Institute for Global Issues. The Liu Scholar Program brings together doctoral students from various disciplines whose research intersects with global issues. As a Liu Scholar, I hope to collaborate with researchers and other stakeholders to explore how the science of culture and cultural evolution can be applied to issues, such as sustainability, security, and social justice.


Runner Up in Elsevier’s Peer Review Challenge

Elsevier recently ran a competition where researchers around the world were asked How do you see the future of peer review?. I submitted an idea that leverages the power of reputation. My idea involved an anonymous reputation point system inspired by public peer-reviewed forums like Reddit,, StackOverflow, and You can read a summary of my entry here. The winner of the competition, Simon Gosling, had a similar suggestion, but with a greater focus on badges. Simon and I are now working with Clare Lehane and Elsevier to pilot our ideas on an Elsevier journal.

This is actually the second Elsevier competition I have won. In 2009, our CSIRO team was one of three finalists in the Elsevier Grand Challenge.