I am the director of the ecco lab and an associate professor of evolutionary anthropology at Arizona State University. The goal of my research is to explain human cognition and behavior by integrating learning and culture into an evolutionary framework. My work involves a range of different approaches including lab experiments, theoretical simulations, mathematical models and, most recently, large-scale online experimentation.
I completed my PhD in 2013 at the University of St Andrews working with Kevin Laland. From 2014 to 2016, I worked as a postdoc with Tom Griffiths in the computational cognitive science lab at UC Berkeley. I joined the Institute of Human Origins at ASU in 2016.
I completed my BSc in Psychology at Newcastle University and my PhD at Durham University (supervised by Rachel Kendal, Jeremy Kendal & Julie Van-de-vyver). Broadly, I am interested in human behaviour and behavioural science. In particular, applying (cultural) evolutionary theory to help us understand how and why certain kinds of behaviours may evolve or spread. To date, I have focused mostly on social behaviour, including cooperation, spite, and the influence of social learning and social norms. I am also interested in exploring ways to apply behavioural science to real-life contexts. I take a variety of approaches in my work, but primarily use online experiments and agent-based models.
Like many people, I am interested in why people do what they do and how we got to this point. My background in mathematics drives my interest in how different mechanisms can produce different behaviors in cultural evolution. With full knowledge that "All models are wrong" I hope to find models that are useful enough to talk about what mechanisms are important for cultural (in)stability.
I joined the PhD program in Anthropology at SHESC in August 2021. I'm broadly interested in the evolution of human behavior and culture-gene coevolution. More specifically, I'm interested in studying the diversity of social structures we observe around the world and how they influence and shape human behavior. With a background in computational biology, I intend to conduct research by developing theoretical evolutionary models and validate them through empirical work. Most of my motivation to do research in this field comes from a desire to gain a deeper understanding of why people behave the way they do, which I believe to be a crucial step in inducing social change. Coming from a poorly-researched part of the world, I hope my work will shed light on such topics in regions where political turmoil and corruption are deeply rooted in society.
past lab members
I have always been captivated by evolutionary biology, specifically sexual section. In my undergraduate education I focused on studying mate choice mechanisms in orb-weaver spiders. After earning my BS in Biology from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, I became interested in studying mate choice behaviors in humans. Specifically, I am focusing my studies on the social influences acting upon female mate choice and the phenomenon of mate choice copying.
As an experimental social scientist, I investigate the unique biological, psychological, and cultural factors that establish and maintain human relationships. In particular, I have used laboratory experiments to understand the role of religious experiences as well as third-party monitoring in promoting human cooperation. In addition, I am interested in using modeling and historical database methods to test how cooperation may arise when culture capitalizes on features of the human autonomic nervous system (ANS). Currently in the ECCO lab, I use large-scale online experimentation to investigate the emergence and persistence of collective identity through the lens of cultural evolution.
I am interested in understanding human behaviour, learning, and culture from an evolutionary perspective using a broad set of methods. I have a background in linguistics, artificial intelligence, and biology, and I have used theoretical and large-scale experimental approaches to study the dynamics of cumulative cultural evolution in my PhD with Luke Rendell at St Andrews. I am currently working in the Ecco lab on questions related to cumulative improvement and innovation.
Leonid completed his PhD in Anthropology in December 2018, co-advised by Daniel Hruschka and Thomas Morgan. He went on to a 5 year postdoctoral position with Daniel Lakens at Eindhoven University of Technology. His research focuses on ways to increase the efficiency and reliability of science. Including how various factors, such as competition between scientists and study-population diversity, affect scientific inference. He is especially interested in strategies for improving theoretical progress in the social sciences.
Open Science Framework Profile: https://osf.io/u97k3/