Evolutionary Medicine


I teach the Evolutionary Medicine Master’s course as part of the Human Behaviour and Evolution (HBE), and BioSocial Medical Anthropology Master's programmes at UCL.


In this module, we explore  questions such as “Why do we get sick?”, “Why hasn’t natural selection eliminated the genes causing schizophrenia?” and “Why do we age?”. We do so by exploring the applications of the tools and concepts of evolutionary biology to human health. Incorporating examples from my ongoing research on extant hunter-gatherers, we cover a range of topics including:

  • Evolution and human-microbe interactions

  • Hunter-gatherers as models in public health

  • Subsistence transitions, evolutionary mismatches and non-communicable diseases

  • Human life-history, development and reproductive health; 

  • Evolutionary perspectives on mental health and wellbeing; 

  • Applied evolutionary medicine: COVID-19, future of medicine and how evolutionary thinking can be applied to current health problems.

More information at UCL module catalogue.  








Graduate students have opportunities to conduct research with me on the topic of their interest, broadly using evolutionary approaches to human health and behaviour.

Students and researchers have also joined me in fieldwork in Congo. If you are interested, please get in touch! Fieldwork in Congo requires: Being adventurous and open to other cultures, and a good level of spoken French.

Deniz, a BaYaka participant, Gaurav (MD) and Sarai (UCL MSci student) collecting health data in Congo '18

Current and previous MSc students:

Abi Bevan (MSc HBE '19-20): Behavioural responses to future uncertainties caused by COVID-19 

Ji (Coco) Zhi (MSc HBE '19-20): Social interaction networks and transmission of plant knowledge in BaYaka

Luke Kretschmer (MSc HBE '18-19, now a PhD student at UCL): Physical activity patterns in BaYaka hunter-gatherers 

Gray Wirtanen (MSc HBE '18-19): Childrearing practices in hunter-gatherers and Western societies and developmental outcomes

Inez Derkx (MSc HBE '17-18): Social networks and disease transmission in BaYaka

Sarai Keestra (MSci Human Sciences '17-18): Meal patterns and dietary transitions in BaYaka

Jairo Bouer (MSc HBE '17-18): Development of social learning and play in BaYaka children