UCL Anthropology


Matilda Brindle

Matilda Brindle

UCL Email: matilda-jane.brindle.14@ucl.ac.uk
Websites: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Matilda_Brindle; https://london-nerc-dtp.org/profile/brindlem/; https://twitter.com/Matilda_Brindle
Year of start: 2017
Supervisors: Volker Sommer, Guy Cowlishaw
Subject: Evolutionary Biology

PhD Research

Autosexual Behaviour in Primates: Form, Function and Phylogeny

Autosexual behaviour, or masturbation, is a common and widespread aspect of the sexual repertoire of many primate taxa, including humans. Nevertheless, its potential evolutionary significance has only recently become a subject of scientific interest and has, therefore, not yet been comprehensively studied. This project will compile and categorise the, as yet, scattered information about the distribution and forms of masturbation across hundreds of species of primate, from lemurs, lorises and tarsiers to monkeys and apes, aiming to develop testable hypotheses about potential mechanisms and functions. For this, the data will be examined for trends between and within species, as well as for relationships with socio-ecological variables, such as mating system, breeding seasonality and social hierarchy. Bayesian phylogenetic analyses will reconstruct the evolutionary history of autosexual behaviour and test broad adaptive hypotheses. Together, the results of this project will increase our understanding of a very common, but little understood, behaviour.

Research interests

  • Phylogenetic Analysis
  • Evolutionary Theory
  • Sexual Selection
  • Primatology


Presentations & Conferences

  • 2019 Keynote Speaker: The Brilliant Club Scholar’s Programme Graduation Ceremonies
  • 2018 Primatology Guest Talk: Bangor University
  • 2018 Invited Speaker: Perspectives for an Inclusive Sex Education Conference
  • 2018 Joint DTP Conference: A Changing Planet
  • 2018 Royal Society, Sexual Selection: Patterns in the History of Life Conference
  • 2018 Primate Society of Great Britain, Spring Meeting
  • 2016 Primate Society of Great Britain, Spring Meeting

Teaching Experience

  • 2019 The Brilliant Club Scholar’s Programme (KS3 students)
  • 2018 Teaching Assistant, UCL: Primate Behaviour and Ecology
  • 2017, 2018 Teaching Assistant, UCL: Introduction to Biological Anthropology
  • 2017, 2018 Teaching Assistant, UCL: Methods in Biological Anthropology

Education History

  • 2014-2015 MSc, Human Evolution & Behaviour, UCL (Distinction)
  • 2011-2014 BSc, Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London (First Class, Honours)

Honours, Awards & Funding

  • 2018 Critics Choice, Best Poster Presentation (Conference: A Changing Planet)
  • 2017 NERC Research Training Support Grant
  • 2016-2020 London NERC Doctoral Training Partnership Funding                       
  • 2015 UCL Research Travel Bursary
  • 2014 Dame Mary Douglas Award