I’m current doing a postdoc split between two research organisations — the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) and the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA) — as part of the project, “ReiGN: Reindeer husbandry in a Globalizing North”.
I did a PhD in anthropology, as part of the Human Evolutionary Ecology Group at UCL in London. My thesis was called ‘The Dynamics of Human Cooperative Groups’. I used a mixture of theoretical models and actual, real-life fieldwork to look at how people cooperated (or not) in households, families and larger groups.
For the theoretical bit, I made mathematical models and computer simulations of evolutionary dynamics to look at how mortality in the environment and competition between siblings shape birth patterns (published in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology).
For the empirical bit, I worked with Saami reindeer herders in the county of Finnmark, Norway (published in Behavioral Ecology and Human Ecology). I used experimental economic games and statistics to understand how Saami people worked together in herding groups. I’ve also looked at how kinship, reputation and reciprocity affect how Mosuo farmers work together in southwestern China (we’re working on publishing this at the moment).
Thomas, M G, Shanley, D P, Houston, A I, McNamara, J M, Mace, R & Kirkwood, T B L. (2015). A dynamic framework for the study of optimal birth intervals reveals the importance of sibling competition and mortality risks. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. [paper] [data] [source code] [analysis code] [summary]