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’m worked with Saami reindeer herders in the county of Finnmark, Norway (published in Behavioral Ecology, or you can read more about that on my blog). 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, Næss, M W, Bårdsen, B-J, Mace, R. (2015). Saami reindeer herders cooperate with social group members and genetic kin. Behavioral Ecology. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/beheco/arv106
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. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jeb.12613