Former Post-Docs

Dr. Cristina Moya
Senior Research Scientist in the Department of Human Behavior, Ecology, & Culture, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

Assistant Professor of Anthropology at University of California, Davis

I research how humans adapt to culturally-structured environments, particularly in the domain of social behavior. To this end I focus on two lines of work:
1) How do people process, and interact across, ethnic boundaries? I study intergroup relations and social cognition using ethnographic, experimental, and developmental psychological methods, including long-term fieldwork among agro-pastoralists in the Peruvian altiplano along the Quechua-Aymara linguistic border.
2) How, and why, do social processes influence human reproductive decision-making? I use theoretical modeling and secondary data analysis to understand both within- and between- population effects of social relations on fertility outcomes, and how they interact with ecological and cultural factors.

For more information see my website.  

Cristina is currently working at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. She has accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Anthropology at UC Davis, starting next year. 

Dr. Benjamin Purzycki
Senior Researcher in the Department of Human Behavior, Ecology, & Culture, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

Benjamin Purzycki works on the evolution of religious systems and religious cognition, particularly how people make sense of their gods’ minds. He has conducted fieldwork in the Tyva Republic (Tuva) and has published works in a variety of journals including Cognitive Science, Religion, Brain and Behavior, Journal of Cognition and Culture, and Skeptic Magazine. (Website)

Dr. Michael Muthukrishna

Assistant Professor of Economic Psychology, London School of Economics

 Broadly, I am interested in the psychological and evolutionary processes that underlie culture and how culture is propagated, maintained, and modified. My goal is to gain a better understanding of the dynamic relationship between cultures and individuals, where "cultures" emerge from the interactions of individuals over time, who are in turn shaped by the emergent cultures they constitute. I use a two-pronged methodological approach in my research, combining my training in computational modeling (social network analysis, evolutionary models, complexity theory, etc.) and my training in experimental psychology. (website)

Dr. Myriam Juda

Post Doc in the Department of Psychology, UBC 

The origin of our big brain and sophisticated cognitive abilities remains an evolutionary puzzle. The social theory of intellect from the 1960s proposed that social demands drove the evolution of primate intelligence, challenging the then traditional view that the brain evolved to solve ecological problems. The social brain hypothesis postulates that the increased brain size of primates derived from complex social pressures involving cooperation, competition, and strategies for manipulation. The cultural brain hypothesis, on the other hand, holds that the increased brain size in humans results from pressures on social learning for the proficient storing and transmission of cultural information. My research interest lies in examining the function of theory of mind in terms of solving problems of cooperation and/or cultural learning. For this, I am conducting studies with children (3-6 years old) and adults, both in Canada and Fiji.

Dr. Jonathon Lanman

Assistant Director, Institute of Cognition and Culture, Queen’s University at Belfast

 Jonathan Lanman was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Coordinator at the Centre of Anthropology of Mind at the Univesrity of Oxford and a Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow in Psychology at UBC. He taught as a Departmental Lecturer for the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology and as a College Lecturer for Keble College from 2009-2011.

He is interested in applying the theories and tools of both social and cognitive anthropology to issues in the study of religion, atheism, morality, and intergroup relations. His DPhil research yielded both a descriptive and explanatory account of atheism in the contemporary West, which he is writing up as a monograph. At present, he is collaborating with anthropologists and psychologists on an ESRC Large Grant, entitled, Ritual, Community and Conflict, to ascertain the effects of ritualized behaviour on ingroup cohesion and intergroup relations across a range of contexts.

Dr. Jonathan Lanman now works as the Assistant Director of the Institute of Cognition and Culture at Queen's University in Belfast. (website)

Dr. Miriam Matthews

Behavioral & Social Scientist, Faculty Member, Pardee RAND Graduate School

Miriam Matthews was a post-doctoral researcher with the Centre for Anthropology and Mind at the University of Oxford. Her research involves applying social psychological models to the understanding of intergroup and intragroup attitudes, emotions, and behaviors.

In previous research, she has examined the effects of threats on political attitudes, the factors that influence support for anti-Western jihad, the influence of acculturation ideologies on intergroup attitudes, the factors that contribute to negative intergroup attitudes and emotions among Americans and Middle Easterners, and the role of ritual in intergroup and intragroup relations. 

Dr. Miriam Matthews now continues her work as an associate researcher at the nonprofit global policy thinktank RAND corporation (website).

Dr. Sarah Brosnan

Associate Professor of Psychology, Philosophy, & Neuroscience, Georgia State University

My research interests lie in the intersection of complex social behavior and cognition. More specifically, I am interested in mechanisms underlying cooperation, reciprocity, inequity, and other economic decisions in nonhuman primates from an evolutionary perspective. This includes, but is not limited to, questions of what decisions individuals make and how they make these decisions, how their social or ecological environments affect their decisions and interactions, and under what circumstances they can alter their behaviors contingent upon these inputs.

Dr. Sarah Brosnan is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at Georgia State University and a member of the Neuroscience Institute. (website)