Current Lab Members

Principal Investigator

Dr. Joe Henrich
Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University
 
 
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Post-Docs and Research Associates

 
Dr. Damian Blasi
Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University
I study the cognitive, behavioral, and cultural underpinnings of the languages of the world, not only as they exist now but also as they unfolded over the course of the Holocene. I rely primarily on the statistical and computational analysis of diverse observational data, from grammars of endangered languages to ethnohistorical descriptions, paleoanthropological evidence, and massive corpora. (website)  
 
 
 
 
MaxDr. Max Winkler
Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University
My primary research interests are in political economy, economic history, economic development, and cultural economics. I study the determinants of cultural change and how social and cultural factors drive long-run economic development. In particular, my recent papers study the origins and effects of cultural tightness, beliefs in supernatural protection, racism in media, and socio-cognitive diversity. I have specialized in measuring the evolution of cultural traits using “big” text-data from 300 years of U.S. local newspapers. (website)
 
Ivan Kroupin
Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University
The structure of human cognition is underdetermined by our genetic makeup to a unique degree - evident from our species' unparalleled diversity of cognitive and behavioral repertoires. It follows that determining which repertoire an individual human ends up developing with must involve non-genetic mechanisms. Specifically, culture - cumulatively developed across generations and individually learned in ontogeny - plays a central role in helping to determine the structure individuals' minds. 
My general interest is in developing representational, cognitive accounts of what it how it is that cultural experience structures cognition. I pursue this issue across a variety of topics, with a particular interest in basic cognitive capacities - abstract, analogical reasoning and executive function. The research program is fundamentally interdisciplinary, combining a background of philosophy and developmental cognitive science with emerging work with anthropological and ethnographic insights and methods.
 
Dr. Joseph Dexter
Data Science Fellow, Harvard University
A computational biologist by training, I have broad interests across data science, and I am particularly enthusiastic about research that brings together traditionally quantitative and qualitative disciplines. To that end, most of my research is concentrated in two interdisciplinary areas: the Digital Humanities, including computational text analysis for Latin, ancient Greek, and other premodern traditions and the cultural evolution of literature, and systems biology and mathematical modeling for biomedicine. I am the co-founder and co-director of the Quantitative Criticism Lab

 

 

HelenDr. Helen Elizabeth Davis
Research Associate in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University
I use theoretical perspectives from behavioral ecology and cultural evolution to better understand cognitive development and cognitive decline in humans. In particular, I am interested in how variable access to resources, different learning environments, and ecological variation can affect cognition across the lifecourse. I work with the Tsimane of Bolivia and the OwaTwa & Himba of northern Namibia. (website). 

Graduate Students

 
Graham Noblit
G6 in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University
I aim to understand the evolution of political institutions and why they vary across the world. In particular, I am interested in how variation in institutions produces and stems from psychological variation. To answer these questions, I make use of mathematical models alongside psychological and economic experiments. I consider my research to entail both positive and normative aspects. My applied interests focus on the design of political-economic institutions and developing a more general applied cultural evolutionary science.

Ze (Kevin) Hong
G6 in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University
I am broadly interested in human behavior and culture, and currently have three lines of research:Magic, divination, and epistemic norms in small scale societies. Through both formal modelling and fieldwork, I investigate psychological and social factors that maintain false beliefs and ineffective technologies, especially from a cultural evolutionary perspective. My current field sites include the Yi and the Wa in southwest China, where I am particularly interested in divination using eggs and chicken thigh bones. Reporting biases in the transmission of instrumental practices. I take advantage of the digitized history record of Chinese dynasties and explore the extent to which negative outcomes are under-reported and the potential factors that explain such under-reporting. I am especially interested in rainmaking (求雨), dream divination (梦占), and fetal sex prognostication (辨胎).Theoretical modeling of the transmission of culture. Building upon a rich literature in cultural evolution, I use analytic modeling and agent-based simulation to explore the possibility of individuals combining different transmission biases (i.e. payoff, conformist, etc.) adaptively to achieve higher fitness benefit. I have a particular interest in the transmission of medical treatments in human societies.I also think there’s something to neoclassical economics. (Website)
 
 
TommyTommy Flint
G5 in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University

Broadly I am interested in synthesizing ethnographic and historical accounts to develop insights into human behavior and culture. I’m currently working on a dissertation that investigates the transition from adolescence to adulthood, from evolutionary and cross-cultural perspectives. Guiding questions include: What factors influence the timing at which young people begin their reproductive careers? How do different societies manage the emergent sexuality and reproductive potential of maturing adolescents? How and why does our behavior change when we marry and have children?

Peter S. Park
G5 in the Department of Mathematics, Harvard University
I study the evolution of cooperation, innovation, and learning. For example, my recent paper evolutionarily investigates cognitive biases (in the context of learning from high-variance environmental observations). Specifically, it finds that several cognitive biases may be simultaneously rooted in the primarily social nature of ancestral human learning. My professional website can be found here.
 
 

Cammie

Cammie Curtin
G4 in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University
I am interested in understanding how human cultural practices evolve and, relatedly, how they shape psychology and behavior. In particular, I study how social norms and institutions– such as those governing kinship, economic exchange, and community structure– impact how people think and behave. My research combines cultural evolutionary theory with methods from anthropology, psychology, and behavioral economics. Recently, I have begun working with the Zapotecs of the Sierra Norte of Oaxaca, Mexico.
 
TCTian Chen (TC) Zeng
G3 in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University
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Visiting Scholars

Dr. Patricia Greenfield
Distinguished Professor of Psychology, UCLA
Visiting Scholar, Culture, Cognition, and Coevolution Lab & Harvard Department of Human Evolutionary Biology
My central theoretical and research interest is in the relationship between social change, cultural evolution, and human development – both ontogeny and phylogeny. With collaborators in the U.S. and around the world, I explore shifts in human development as ecologies and cultures change over spans of time ranging from months to centuries. With my collaborators, I have also explored the relationship between ontogeny and phylogeny through cross-species comparisons in the clade consisting of humans, bonobos, and chimpanzees. (See linked bibliography for work in both these areas.) In the coming academic year, I very much look forward to exchanging ideas with members of the Culture, Cognition, and Coevolution Lab!
Websites:
Greenfield laboratory for Culture and Human Development
Weaving Generations Together: Evolving creativity in the Maya of Chiapas
Children’s Digital Media Center @ Los Angeles

Lab Manager

CammieMona J. Xue
Culture, Cognition, & Coevolution Lab Manager
In 2021, I earned a B.S. in Biology and B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Washington, Seattle. During this time, I completed a senior honors thesis through the Anthropology Departmental Honors program where I modeled the evolutionary plausability that mating behavior and sex-typical behavior are evoked or learned. Additionally, I led research projects within the Anthropology department, including a project looking at the relationship between telomere length and anti-müllerian hormone. Presently, I am interested in applying dual-inheritance frameworks to sex and gender.