UCL Anthropology

Dr Emily Emmott

Dr Emily Emmott

Senior Teaching Fellow

Dept of Anthropology

Faculty of S&HS

Joined UCL
9th Apr 2016

Research summary

My research expertise surround extended and institutional childrearing in the UK, and how different aspects of the childrearing system influences parenting behaviours as well as 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 (parents, step-parents, grandparents, siblings, teachers, friends, and more). In my research, I investigate the nature and consequences of such cooperative childrearing in the UK with focus on non-maternal caregivers, including immediate kin, extended kin, and institutional support (such as educational institutions and children's social care). I take an interdisciplinary approach to my research, building on a human behavioral ecological framework.

Current research projects:

  • Adolescent Sociality Project: We are laying the foundations for an ambitious project on adolescent sociality across cultures, with focus on adolescent social networks and communication. Using participatory methods, we are currently establishing 4 field sites across Japan and the UK, and designing a cross-national survey to be piloted in the next phase of our project. (Co-PIs: Emily Emmott, UCL, Masahito Morita, University of Tokyo. Funding: ESRC-AHRC) See our website: www.adolescentsociality.com See our OSF page: https://osf.io/ntph2/

  • Maternal experiences of social support and infant feeding: While the public health literature demonstrates a positive association between social support and breastfeeding, it has broadly overlooked the different types of support (such as informational, emotional and practical) and the different sources of support (partners, parents, friends, professionals). We are investigating how the different types of support from different people are associated with breastfeeding outcomes, including the subjective experiences of infant feeding. (Co-PIs: Emily Emmott, Abigail Paige, Sarah Myers, UCL. Funding: European Human Behaviour and Evolution Society) See our OSF page: https://osf.io/dybup/

Past research projects:
  • Understanding engagement between health and social care services for managing vulnerable children (PI: Jenny Woodman, UCL IoE. Funding: Association of Medical Sciences and Wellcome Trust)
  • 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

For 2019/20, I teach on the following courses at UCL Anthropology:

  • Methods and Techniques in Biological Anthropology (BSc)

  • Biosocial Approaches to Childrearing (BSc)
  • Being Human (BSc)
  • Current Themes in Evolutionary Anthropology: Applied Evolutionary Anthropology (MSc)
  • Biosocial Medical Anthriopology (MSc)
I am also the dissertation project tutor for BSc and MSci Human Sciences.

In previous years, I have taught the following courses:

  • Human Behavioural Ecology (BSc/MSc)

  • Human Behavioural Ecology of Hunter-Gatherers (BSc)

  • Behavioural Ecology and Socio-biology (BSc)

  • Evolution and Human Behaviour (BSc)

I also supervise BSc, MSc and PhD projects at UCL Anthropology. For more information on the courses I currently teach, please visit the UCL Anthropology website (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/anthropology/study).


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.