Category Archives: General

Cultural Evolution and How Sociality Influences Cultural Complexity at University of Queensland, Australia

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.

While at Queensland, I also caught up with my Honours supervisor, Penny Sanderson, and my former colleagues, Morgan Tear and Matt Thompson.

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.

Technical Director of The Database of Religious History

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.