I’m an interdisciplinary scientist based in the Department of Anthropology at Boston University. My research studies how humans build complex social systems: what unique alchemy of biology, psychology, and sociology allowed us to go from small hunter-gatherer groups to the large-scale, highly interdependent societies that we have today? Can knowledge of the social and cognitive factors that fueled this transition help us understand and anticipate changes in the contemporary world? I also study the role of war and peace in our evolutionary history. I've done extensive field research on inter-tribal warfare and urban political violence in east Africa. My larger interests include reducing the distance between the social, life, and psychological sciences and understanding how and why humans do the fascinating things we do.
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Postdoctoral Research Scientists
Maud is a postdoc at Boston University whose research interests focus on the evolution of cooperation and aggression in humans. She obtained her Ph.D. in anthropology at the University of Minnesota and she was a research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST) in France. She previous research compared the reproductive strategies of our two closest living relatives, bonobos (Pan paniscus) and chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). This involved fieldwork with wild bonobos at the Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve (Republic Democratic of Congo) and wild chimpanzees at the Gombe National Park (Tanzania). Her current focus centers on investing within- and between-group cooperative behavior in humans. Specifically, she is interested by the influence of women on cooperation and conflict resolution. She also maintains her interest in our closest living relatives, with a particular focus on male-female social dynamics. Beyond her academic pursuits, Maud is also a French novelist and published two novels aiming to teach anthropology through science-fiction.
Dithapelo Medupe is a graduate student at Pennsylvania State University. She is curious about human social organization and how societies develop in different environments. She is also interested in Africanist research that corrects misconceptions about Africa or celebrates African heritage. Dithapelo grew up in Botswana. She received a BA from Stanford University and an MD from St George's University in Grenada and London. Before starting her PhD she worked as a medical doctor in Botswana for five years. She is happiest when playing with her children at any park but coming up with out-of-the-box theories about human behavior and human social organization comes a close second.
Brooke is a PhD student in anthropology at Boston University interested in social network development during childhood and adolescence. She wants to understand the role of family members, community institutions, and individual characteristics in influencing how children identify their important social relationships. Her current research investigates characteristics of children’s friendship networks in Utila, Honduras. Brooke’s interest in social development stems from her experiences in childcare and education. She sees early life as a fascinating period of change during which children establish skills and relationships that carry on throughout their lives.
Bhavya is interested in studying collective behavior across species. She is fascinated by leadership and how communication and conflicts of interest affect the collective decision making of decentralized human societies. Bhavya has a BS and MS in science from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali. She majored in Biology and has a minor in Science and Society Studies. She previously worked on the collective escape dynamics and leadership of Indian antelope herds in response to simulated predatory threats. Her dissertation research will integrate more robust statistical and network analysis to understand complex decision-making in groups.
Jonathan is a undergraduate studying sociocultural anthropology and psychology. His main interests are at the intersection of culture and clinical psychology, particularly how culture can affect the rates of mental disorders/illnesses. Currently, Jonathan is working on a UROP Project looking into the correlations of PTSD and post-combat purification rituals. In the future, he is hoping to turn this project into a Senior Honors thesis. Outside of academics, Jonathan is involved in the martial art and music. He hopes to attain a black belt this spring, and is currently mastering the trumpet.
William Buckner has written for Foreign Policy, Quillette, and Nautilus and writes at traditionsofconflict.substack.com/. William is interested in studying factors that promote or inhibit conflict and cooperation across cultures. He spends most of his time reading ethnographies, and he can play the flute...poorly.
Navdeep is a Ph.D. student at the University of Otago studying the interaction of culture and social cognition focusing on how social and environmental changes transform religious beliefs. Navdeep’s interest in psychological research took shape while building forts with her father, negotiating over french fries with her brother, and listening to the ‘stories of gods’ by her mother.