I study and teach human evolutionary genetics – how genetic variation builds up within human groups, and what we can infer about the past from current genetic diversity. This ranges from thinking about where people’s ancestors were from, to which genes may have offered an evolutionary advantage in the past, to understanding signals of contact with ancient hominin groups such as Neanderthals and the enigmatic Denisovans. I’m particularly interested in the evolutionary and behavioural/social processes that drive genetic diversity, such as kinship practices and mobility among humans. I learn about these things by combining massive genetic datasets, anthropological data, and computational modelling.
Here at Cambridge, I’m part of the Department of Archaeology, where I teach courses about the genetic history of our species. I previously worked at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and maintain close research links with universities in India and Indonesia, my main regional foci. Although my lectures here are about human variation, I’m also interested in animals – Indian cattle and cheetahs – and the microbiome. Indeed, one of the most exciting projects that I’m involved in will look at the connection between social behaviour and microbiome variation in Indonesian communities who were traditionally hunter-gatherers.