This week I had meetings with Mike Tomasello and several members of his lab, including Robert Hepach, Marco Schmidt, and Bailey House at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. It was a great pleasure to also visit the Institute’s primate research facility at the Leipzig Zoo.
This week I visited my alma mater, The University of Queensland, Australia. Mark Nielsen and Thomas Suddendorf (both of whom I was lucky enough to take classes with as an undergraduate) invited me to present my paper on how “Sociality Influences Cultural Complexity” and my chapter on Cultural Evolution. The chapter, coauthored with Maciek Chudek and Joe Henrich, will be appearing in the new Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology. I presented the research to the Evolutionary Psychology group, which I took great pleasure in, being a member of the group as an undergraduate.
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.
I was recently appointed the Technical Director of the The Database of Religious History (DRH). The DRH is one of the flagship initiatives of the Cultural Evolution of Religion Research Consortium (CERC). The DRH aims to bring together, in a standardized, systematic form, data on religious systems (and later more general historical variables) from across the world and throughout history, from the earliest archaeological records up to approximately 1500-1600 CE. By creating a quantitative database of social complexity, warfare, ritual, religion, and resources from across the globe and throughout history in a manner that will allow systematic statistical analysis, we hope to discover new patterns in world history, and test of novel hypotheses about the evolution of social complexity.
As Technical Director, I am responsible for the creation of the database system and general infrastructure.
I was recently appointed as one of two Department Statistical Consultants. As a Statistical Consultant I will provide advice and assistance to faculty and graduate students on the research design and statistical components of their research.