UCL Anthropology

Dr Emily Emmott

Dr Emily Emmott

Lecturer (Teaching)

Dept of Anthropology

Faculty of S&HS

Joined UCL
9th Apr 2016

Research summary

My research expertise surround extended and institutional childrearing in developed populations, and how different aspects of the childrearing system influences parenting behaviours & children and young people's health and wellbeing. I am particularly interested in the role of wider social support and how this influences 1) infant feeding behaviour and 2) adolescent health-related behaviours.

Humans evolved as "cooperative and communal breeders," where children are raised collectively by many caregivers. In my research, I investigate the nature and consequences of such cooperative childrearing in the UK. I take an interdisciplinary approach to my research, building on a human behavioral ecological framework.

Current research projects:

  • Adolescent Sociality Across Cultures: The social environment around us during our formative teenage years can have life-long implications for health and behaviour - but how this happens may be different between cultures. In this project, we are establishing a cross-cultural collaborative research programme on adolescent sociality, initially focusing on Japan and the UK. (Co-PIs: Emily Emmott, UCL, Masahito Morita, University of Tokyo. Funding: ESRC-AHRC) See our website: www.adolescentsociality.com 

  • Maternal experiences of social support and infant feeding: We run multiple research projects investigating how the different types of support from different people are associated with breastfeeding outcomes, including the subjective experiences of infant feeding. (Key collaborators: Emily Emmott, Abigail Paige, Sarah Myers, UCL. Funding: European Human Behaviour and Evolution Society; British Academy; Leverhulme) See our OSF page: https://osf.io/dybup

  • Raising a Child Without the Village? Social Support and Maternal Wellbeing in the Time of COVID-19: The COVID-19 pandemic creates a situation where support is more likely to be important for new mothers, but access to such support may be severely limited. This study will collect social network, support, and wellbeing data in the UK, capturing the impact of social distancing measures on maternal social support and wellbeing. (PI: Sarah Myers, Co-I: Emily Emmott. Funding: UCL SHS Strategic Initiatives Seed-Funding and BA Special Research Grants) See our OSF page: https://osf.io/sr6d5/

Past research projects:

  • A Time of Change? Harmonising the meaning of ‘adolescence’ between young people and health researchers (PI: Emily Emmott. Funding: UCL Grand Challenges)

  • Allomaternal care and child outcomes in the UK (PhD Supervisor: Ruth Mace, UCL Anthropology. Funding: ESRC, MRC, ERC)

Teaching summary

I lead on the following modules at UCL Anthropology:

  • Biosocial Approaches to Childrearing (Intermediate Module)

  • Applied Evolutionary Anthropology and Public Health (Advanced Module; N.B. not running 2022/23)

  • I am also the dissertation tutor for BSc and MSci Human Sciences, and the Connected Learning (online teaching) Lead for UCL Anthropology.

I also teach/have taught on the following modules:

  • Anthropological Research Methods
  • Methods and Techniques in Biological Anthropology
  • Introduction to Biological Anthropology
  • Human Behavioural Ecology

  • Human Behavioural Ecology of Hunter-Gatherers

  • Behavioural Ecology and Socio-biology

  • Evolution and Human Behaviour

I also supervise BSc, MSc and PhD projects at UCL Anthropology which take a biosocial, biological or evolutionary anthropological approach. Projects tend to focus on topics around reproduction, family, women's health, child and adolescent health and development. I am particularly interested in supervising and supporting students wishing to work on the following topics:

  • Adolescent social networks
  • Children and young people as caregivers
  • Parental and grandparental investments


I am a Human Behavioural Ecologist, broadly defined as an evolutionary social scientist interested in how the social and physical environment (or ecology) influences human development and behaviour. Human Behavioural Ecology is a sub-discipline of Biological Anthropology, sitting at intersection of Life and Social Sciences.  

My academic interests focus on extended and institutional child-rearing systems (such as parenting, grand-parenting, schooling and social care provisions) and its implications for health and wellbeing (including health-related behaviours). I have research experience working in academia, charities and the public sector, as well as teaching research methods and human behavioural ecology at university. I am a mixed method researcher with specialism in complex data analysis - such as surveys, censuses and cohort studies.