Humans have a diverse set of settlement strategies, ranging from high-mobility foraging characterized by ephemeral shelter to high-density urban living in permanent settlements. Starting with experiments with sedentarism in the early Holocene, humans have now become a mainly urban species, with almost 60% of the global population living in urban environments. Yet, our understanding of where urban environments came from, how and why they persist, and why they spread is still in its infancy.
My doctoral research, under the supervision of Richard McElreath, Anne Kandler, and Bret A. Beheim, aims to develop an understanding of urbanisation that is in keeping with Human Behavioral Ecology (HBE). To do this, I am working on extending theory in HBE to account for urbanisation processes, as well as conducting an empirical study in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. In Ulaanbaatar, I work in the rapidly expanding regions of the city (the so called "ger districts") which provide an appropriate context in which to explore differential investment in housing given the heterogeneity of the built environment.