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Centre members



Dr Alberto Acerbi Dr Alberto Acerbi
Lecturer in Psychology
I am a researcher in the field of cultural evolution. I am interested in particular to contemporary cultural phenomena, and I use a naturalistic, quantitative, and evolutionary approach with different methodologies, especially individual-based models and quantitative analysis of large-scale cultural data. I recently wrote a book for Oxford University Press: Cultural evolution in the digital age, and an open access manual: Individual-based models of cultural evolution. A step-by-step guide using R. I am currently (2021/2022) involved in the following modules (material at the links available only to Brunel staff/students!): PY1701: Statistics - module leader (BSc Psychology first year) PY3622: Psychology of Social Media - with Nelli Ferenczi (BSc Psychology third year) PY5613: Cross-cultural and Evolutionary Research Methods - team taught (MSc Psychology, Culture and Evolution) PY5614: Evolutionary Perspectives on Culture - team taught (MSc Psychology, Culture and Evolution) PY5615: Special Topics in Culture and Evolution - team taught (MSc Psychology, Culture and Evolution)
Dr Lora Adair Dr Lora Adair
Senior Lecturer in Psychology (CCE)
My research primarily focuses on topics within the domains of social and evolutionary psychology, particularly models of decision making about interpersonal relationship events. Specifically, my work applies feminist and evolutionary theory to investigate decisions relevant to sexuality as social reasoning. Investigated topics within my research include mate choice and attraction, intrasexual and intersexual conflict and competition, reactions to relationship threats and defection, sexism and sex/gender based discrimination, sexual exploitation and intimate partner violence, reproductive decision-making, and abortion. I joined the Centre for Culture and Evolution at Brunel University London in the Fall of 2019. Before joining Brunel University London, I served as an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Central Arkansas (Fall 2017-Spring 2019) and Lyon College (Fall 2015 - Spring 2017). My research primarily applies a Darwinian Feminist approach to interpersonal relationships, fertility, and sexuality. I am interested in sexually and romantically exploitative tactics, intrasexual competition, mate attraction, infidelity, fertility desires and intentions, the relationship between local environment and reproductive decision making, as well as abortion decisions/experiences. Further, I am passionate about representing the experiences of women in domains where their experiences have been largely neglected or ignored, and I am interested in questioning assumptions about women's sexuality. Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021: PY2601 Conceptual and Historical Issues in Psychology
Dr Micheal De Barra Dr Micheal De Barra
Senior Lecturer in Psychology
My research is concerned with health and behaviour, and it often takes an evolutionary approach. I have examined how infectious disease shaped cognitive evolution, how behaviour alters infection risk, and how maladaptive ideas about health and healing spread and persist. I have a particular interest in the social and cognitive processes that drive overtreatment (the use of ineffective medical therapies).
Dr Nelli Ferenczi Dr Nelli Ferenczi
Senior Lecturer in Psychology
I am a Lecturer in Psychology. As a cross-cultural social psychologist, I am interested in applying a cultural lens to identity, our close relationships, and how we engage with others. My main research interests are currently centred in three areas: cross-cultural psychology, bicultural identity, and engagement with social media. Please see my Research section for more information, or contact me with your ideas and proposals: as an interdisciplinary researcher I am always open to discussions of novel research ideas within the general theme of culture and its intersection with social psychology. Some questions that my research focuses on: What individual differences (e.g., attachment orientations, self-construal) predict whether bicultural and migrant individuals experience rejection from their heritage culture? How does rejection of their heritage culture identity link to their well-being? What is the role of nostalgia as a method of coping for bicultural and migrant individuals? What individual differences predict online prosocial and antisocial behaviour? What role does culture play in forensic settings?
Dr Stanley Gaines Dr Stanley Gaines
Senior Lecturer in Psychology
Research interests span aceoss the fields of relationship science (e.g., impact of traits, values, attitudes, and other aspects of personality on interdependence processes in close relationships, ethnic studies (e.g., links among aspects of ethnic attitudes and ethnic behaviour among members of various ethnic groups), and international development (e.g., psychometric properties of scales that were designed to measure aspects of inner wellbeing among individuals in various nations). I am a social psychologist who examines individual differences in various aspects of social behaviour, especially (though not exclusively) within close relationships. Not only do I conduct empirical research on personality and social behaviour; but I also write theoretical books on personality (and, usually, social behaviour within close relationships). Undergraduate Programmes Module convenor Personality and Close Relationships (Yr 3)
Dr Will Gervais Dr Will Gervais
Reader in Psychology (Behavioural Genetics)
I'm a cultural and evolutionary psychologist who studies what people believe about the world. I'm curious about a lot things that fall under the cultural/evolutionary psychology umbrella, but I'm especially interested in atheists. What do atheists teach us about belief, morality, and what it means to be human? Atheists; Religion; Morality; Theory-Based Methodological Reform
Dr Matthew Gervais Dr Matthew Gervais
Lecturer in Psychology
I'm an evolutionary and cultural psychologist with a background in anthropology. My research takes a multi-level approach to human sociality, seeking to understand the mutual constitution and co-evolution of human emotions, social relationships, and social structures. I use a range of descriptive and confirmatory methods, including long-term participant observation, semi-structured interviews, cultural domain analysis, economic games, and social psychological surveys. I maintain an active field site working with indigenous iTaukei communities in the Fiji Islands. I also collaborate on multi-site comparative studies investigating human psychological and behavioural variation. Emotions, sentiments, folk affect concepts, contempt & respect, love & hate, laughter & social play, psychopathy, social norms, hierarchy, power, morality, cooperation & coordination, risk management, social networks, gene-culture co-evolution Fall 2021: Qualitative Research Methods (PY5609) Fall 2020: Qualitative Research Methods (PY2606, PY5609) Previous classes taught: Cultural psychology, Social psychology of emotions, Primate behaviour
Dr Toshie Imada Dr Toshie Imada
Senior Lecturer in Psychology
I received my PhD in psychology from the University of Michigan in 2008, where I also participated in the Culture & Cognition Program. I then undertook postdoctoral fellowships at the Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota (funded by the NIMH) and the Department of Psychology at Wesleyan University. During those years, I examined cross-cultural differences and similarities of various psychological tendencies in North Americans and East Asians. I joined Brunel University London as a lecturer in 2012. Qualifications: PhD Psychology (University of Michigan) MSc Psychology ((University of Michigan) BA Psychology (Wellesley College) My research focuses on the interplay between individuals’ psychological processes and their cultural contexts. These processes include conscious levels of thoughts, memories, and beliefs as well as relatively more unconscious, automatically produced reactions. In addition, my research investigates cultural reproduction mechanisms by examining cultural products, narrative communication, and historical context. Through my research, I address the importance of understanding psychological processes in cultural contexts because psychological qualities that are considered as normative, functional, and desirable could vary across cultures. Undergraduate Programmes Module contributor Cross-Cultural Psychology (L-3)Postgraduate Programmes Postgraduate Programmes Module convenor Foundations of Cross-Cultural Psychology (L-5) Advanced Topics in Cross-Cultural Psychology (L-5) Module contributor Cross-Cultural Research Methods (L-5)AdministrationPsychology Work Placement I Convener (L-2)
Dr Michelle Kline Dr Michelle Kline
Senior Lecturer in Psychology
Dr Kline studies human behavior and development through the lens of cultural evolutionary theory. Her research focuses primarily on social learning, in places and communities beyond Western societies. Dr Kline's current field site is in the Yasawa Islands, Fiji. She is also starting projects working with parents and immigrants in the UK . The evolution of social learning, including: informal teaching, in humans and other animals how learning patterns shift across the lifespan fidelity (or lack thereof) in copying The cultural evolution of material culture The cultural evolution of sustainable ecological systems Innovation in cultural learning
Dr Nicholas Pound Dr Nicholas Pound
Divisional Lead / Senior Lecturer in Psychology
Biological and Evolutionary Psychology (Centre for Culture & Evolution) After a BSc in Psychology at the University of Leeds I completed my PhD at McMaster University in Canada under the supervision of Martin Daly and Margo Wilson. Following periods of postdoctoral work in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Liverpool and the University of East Anglia working with Matt Gage, I worked briefly at the University of Stirling with Ian Penton-Voak before joining the Department of Psychology at Brunel in 2004. Much of my research focuses on the psychological and physiological responses of males to various forms of competition, and the effects of socioeconomic inequality. In addition, I use traditional anthropometric and modern geometric morphometric techniques to examine associations between facial morphology, health and endocrine status. Undergraduate Programmes Module Convenor PY3610 Animal Behaviour PY3618 Drugs, Hormones & the Brain Postgraduate Programmes Block Convenor PY5704 Foundations of Evolutionary Psychology
Dr Michael Price Dr Michael Price
Senior Lecturer in Psychology
I conduct research in evolutonary psychology, a synthesis of cogntive psychology and evolutionary biology. Evolutionary psychology approaches the mind/brain as a bundle of information-processing mechanisms, functionally specialised to solve adaptive problems encountered by our evolutionary ancestors. My main topic of interest is currently the biological and biocultural evolution of religio-spirituality. Qualifications: PhD (Center for Evolutionary Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara) BA (Psychology, Duke University) My past research has focused mainly on evolutionary moral psychology, including investigations of: The relationship between moral orientation and bodily condition (usually drawing on anthropometric data, collected via 3D body scanner) The relationship between male parental investment and cultural attitudes about sexual morality Whether leader-follower relations represent a form of evolved n-person reciprocity Evolved solutions to the free-rider problem in collective actions More recently, my primary research interests have been: The biological and biocultural evolution of religio-spirituality: Why is human nature predisposed towards religious/spiritual belief, and how is the expression of this predisposition shaped by cultural evolution? 'Universal Darwinism', which investigates the anti-entropic, creative power of Darwinian selection across all natural domains, from physics to biology to culture Undergraduate Programmes Module convenor Evolutionary Psychology (UG year 3) Postgraduate Programmes Module convenor Evolutionary Psychology (MSc) Administration Convener, MSc Culture and Evolution
Professor David Schmitt Professor David Schmitt
Professor - Psychology
Prof. Schmitt serves as Director of the Centre for Culture and Evolution at Brunel University London. Research Interests: Evolutionary and cross-cultural approaches to understanding personality, sexuality, gender/sex differences.
Dr Nicole Wen Dr Nicole Wen
Lecturer in Psychology
Dr Aiyana Willard Dr Aiyana Willard
Senior Lecturer in Psychology
Aiyana Willard is a Lecturer (psychology) in the Centre for Culture and Evolution at Brunel University London and a research associate at the Institute for Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology at Oxford. Her research interests are in the cultural evolution of religion, karma, witchcraft and other supernatural beliefs. Academic career: Lecturer in Psychology, Brunel University London, 2018-current. Postdoctoral researcher, Oxford, 2017-2018 Postdoctoral researcher, University of Texas at Austin, 2015-2017 PhD in Psychology, University of British Columbia, 2015 MA in Psychology, University of British Columbia, 2011 The primary focus of my research is the cultural evolution of religion and other supernatural beliefs. This includes looking at why humans as a species are prone to religion, spiritual, and superstitious beliefs, and how culture has shaped these beliefs over time. I am particularly interested in the social and economic impacts of these beliefs. Much of my past work has focused on how the belief in gods who care about human morality and punish moral violations have aided in building larger, more parochially cooperative societies, (i.e. cooperating with other group members), and supports cooperation among anonymous strangers within the same faith. My current work is focused on the cooperative benefits of karma beliefs, and the social and economic consequences of witchcraft and evil-eye beliefs. I conduct much of my work in the field. I have worked in Fiji, Mauritius, and the Czech Republic and am currently working on a project collecting data on karma beliefs in Singapore.
Dr Peggy Froerer Dr Peggy Froerer
Reader - Anthropology
I found my way into anthropology after studying politics, completing my PhD in Social Anthropology at the London School of Economics in 2002. My doctoral research on the emergence of Hindu nationalism within adivasi communities in central India became the subject of my first book, Religious Division and Social Conflict. I joined Brunel’s Anthropology department in 2004, following postdoctoral work on the inculcation of nationalist ideologies in educational settings. Since then, I have returned regularly to India to pursue research on education, learning and schooling; childhood and youth; poverty and development; and inequality and social mobility. Currently, I am working on my second book, which considers how marginalized young people’s differentiated engagement with school education articulates with their livelihood options and aspirations for a better future. I have also been co-Investigator on a collaborative, multi-regional research project (ESRC-DfID, 2016-2018) which examines education systems, aspiration and learning outcomes in remote rural areas of India, Lesotho and Laos. I have directed an ethnographic film (Village Lives, Distant Powers; produced by Margaret Dickinson), which is based on my research on development, the state and corruption in central India. Qualifications: PhD Anthropology (LSE) MSc Anthropology (LSE) MA Political Science (Jawaharlal Nehru University) BA Political Science (University of Utah) I am a social anthropologists with nearly 25 years of research experience in India on subjects ranging from nationalism and ethno-religious politics, poverty and social mobility, childhood and youth, and education and schooling. Much of this research has been driven by my interest in the relationship between education and social reproduction, and the specific role that schooling plays in the reproduction of social inequalities amongst marginalised communities in rural India. I am currently completing my second book monograph on Education, Aspiration and Social Mobility in India. Programme convenor MSc Anthropology of Childhood, Youth and Education MSc Anthropology of International Development and Humanitarian Assistance Module convenor Anthropology of Education and Learning Critical Perspectives on International Development Undergraduate Dissertation Additional teaching Understanding Childhood and Youth Fieldwork Encounters Administration Director, Postgraduate Research, Department of Social Sciences, Media and Communications (2014-2021) Director, Centre for Anthropological Research on Childhood, Youth and Education (CARCYE) (2009-2014) Convenor, Undergraduate Dissertations (2012-present) Admissions Tutor (2004-2011)
Dr Jinsheng Kang Dr Jinsheng Kang
Honorary Senior Lecturer
Jinsheng joined Brunel Design as a Lecturer in Design in 2003. He is a Chartered Engineer (CEng), Member of IMechE, and Fellow in The Higher Education Academy. He obtained his BEng degree in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering in China in 1982 and his PhD degree in Mechanical Engineering in the UK in 2001. After completing his PhD, he was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Bournemouth University from 2001 to 2003 before he joined Brunel University London. He was an Assistant Lecturer (1982-1986), Lecturer (1988-1993), Associate Professor (1993-1996) in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Xinjiang Institute of Technology (Now, School of Mechanical Engineering, Xinjiang University) in China. He was an Academic Visiting Scholar in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle, USA from 1986 to 1988, in the Department of Manufacturing Engineering, Loughborough University, UK from 1996 to 1997, and in the Center for Human Modelling and Simulation (HMS), University of Pennsylvania, USA in summers 2008 and 2009. Professional qualifications BEng, PhD, CEng, MIMechE, FHEA DM2319 Dynamics, Mechanisms and Stress Analysis DM3601 Computer Based Design Methods
Dr Emma Norris Dr Emma Norris
Senior Lecturer in Public Health
Dr Emma Norris is a Senior Lecturer in Public Health, within the Department of Health Sciences and Co-Chair of the Health Behaviour Change Research Group. Dr Norris is a researcher in behaviour change and health psychology, exploring evidence synthesis of behaviour change interventions, as well as development and assessment of physical activity, smoking cessation and digital interventions. Before joining Brunel, Dr Norris was a Research Fellow at the Centre for Behaviour Change at University College London working on the Human Behaviour-Change Project: synthesising published literature on behaviour change using machine learning and Artificial Intelligence. Dr Norris' PhD tested Virtual Field Trips as physically active lesson interventions for primary-school children. Dr Norris is also an advocate for Open Science. She established and Chairs Brunel's Open Research Working Group and is Brunel's UK Reproducibility Network (UKRN) Local Network Lead. She is also interested in designing behaviour change interventions to facilitate Open Science behaviours in researchers. Dr Norris is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA). She is Co-Chair of the European Health Psychology Society’s Open Science Special Interest Group. Emma sits on the Editorial Board for BMC Public Health & Cogent Psychology. Follow Dr Norris' research and updates on Twitter: @EJ_Norris Behaviour change, Health psychology, Intervention development, Physical Activity, Evidence synthesis, Ontologies, Open Science, Meta-Science


Doctoral research members 

Kathryn Ford
Limor Gottlieb
Tavis King
Jaye McLaughlin
Vania Rolon Arevalo
Nour-e-Nachita Rosun
Maria Spanoudaki
Tristan Agtarap
Tristen Allen
Isabel Holmes
Ondrej Cerha