UCL Anthropology


Human Evolutionary Ecology Group (HEEG)

The Human Evolutionary Ecology Group, located in the Department of Anthropology at UCL and led by Ruth Mace, is one of the largest groups of researchers investigating human evolutionary ecology in the UK. We study human behaviour and life history as adaptations to local environments - which includes human behavioural ecology, evolutionary demography, evolutionary medicine and cultural evolution.

Areas of interest include human reproductive scheduling and life history, patterns of parental investment, the origins of human marriage and kinship systems, cultural phylogenetics and the evolution of social institutions, and the evolutionary ecology of co-operation. We are running a range of projects including those based on field studies ranging from rural African and Asian populations to post-industrial, urban populations in the UK and Europe, and some that are making use of existing historical or modern medical or demographic datasets.

  • Sex-specific demography and the evolution of gender-biased harmful cultural practices (ERC-funded project EvoBias)
  • The evolutionary ecology of matrilineal kinship
  • The evolutionary ecology of contraception and fertility decline
  • Family structure and child development
  • The behavioural ecology of monks and nuns and religious practice
  • Hunter-gatherer life history

Our funders include: European Research Council, The British Academy, The Wellcome Trust, UKRI Economic and Social Research Council, UKRI Arts and Humanities Research Council, The Academy of Medical Science, UCL Social and Historical Sciences, European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association.

Human Evolutionary Ecology Group (HEEG) Funders Logos


UCL HEEG_Ruth Mace

UCL HEEG_Deniz Salali

UCL HEEG_Emily Emmott

UCL HEEG_Mark Dyble

UCL HEEG_Megan Arnot

UCL HEEG_Alberto Micheletti

UCL HEEG_Sarah Peacey

UCL HEEG_Sarah Nila

PhD Students

UCL HEEG_Luke Kretschmer

UCL HEEG_Olympia Campbell

UCL HEEG_Yuan Chen


Previous members

  • May Zhang (Akrivia Health, Oxford)
  • Eva Brandl (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig)
  • Juan Du (Lanzhou University)
  • Andrea Migliano (University of Zurich)
  • Kit Opie (University of Bristol)
  • Abigail Page (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)
  • Nikhil Chaudhary (University of Cambridge)
  • Matthew Thomas (British Red Cross)
  • Dan Smith (ALSPAC, Bristol)
  • Ting Ji (Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing)
  • JiaJia Wu (Lanzhou University)
  • Heidi Colleran (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig)
  • Caroline Uggla (University of Stockholm)
  • Antonio Silva (The Behavioural Insights Team, London)
  • Nicolas Montalva (Universidad Mayor)
  • Tom Currie (University of Exeter)
  • David Lawson (University of Santa Barbara)
  • Shakti Lamba (University of Exeter)
  • Alexandra Alvergne (University of Montpellier)
  • Rebecca Sear (London School Of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)
  • Fiona Jordan (University of Bristol)
  • Mhairi Gibson (University of Bristol)
  • Alejandra Nunez-de-la-Mora (Universidad Veracruzana)
  • Gillian Bentley (Durham University)
  • Laura Fortunato (University of Oxford)
  • Eshetu Gurmu (University of Addis Ababa)

Taught Courses

The Department of Anthropology at UCL offers a taught MSc in Human Evolution and Behaviour, which includes courses on human and primate behavioural ecology.

Research Degrees

The Department of Anthropology also offers MPhil and PhD research degrees and we welcome enquiries from interested students. Please contact Ruth Mace, Emily Emmott, Deniz Salali and Mark Dyble directly.


Follow our staff and students on Twitter and find our stories on the UCL Evolutionary Anthropology blog.