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Department of Human Behavior, Ecology and Culture

Deutscher Platz 6
04103 Leipzig

phone: +49 (0)341 3550 - 315
fax: +49 (0)341 3550 - 333

e-mail: cissewski@eva.mpg.de

Richard McElreath


Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Department of Human Behavior, Ecology and Culture
Deutscher Platz 6
04103 Leipzig

phone: +49 341 3550 301
fax: +49 341 3550 333
e-mail: richard_mcelreath@[>>> Please remove the brackets! <<<]eva.mpg.de

office: level 1, room u1.10

personal web page: http://xcelab.net/rm/

Curriculum Vitae

I am an evolutionary ecologist who studies humans. My main interest is in how the evolution of fancy social learning in humans accounts for the unusual nature of human adaptation and extraordinary scale and variety of human societies. Humans are more widespread and successful than any other vertebrate. Simultaneously, humans are unlike any other animal in that we cooperate in very large groups of unrelated individuals. I and my colleagues use formal evolutionary models, experiments and ethnographic fieldwork to address these puzzles.

Curriculum Vitae

Personal Information

AddressMax Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Deutscher Platz 6
04103 Leipzig
E-mail‍richard_mcelreath@[>>> Please remove the brackets! <<<]eva.mpg.de
BornApril 18, 1973 in Landstuhl, Germany
CitizenshipUnited States

Education and Employment

2015–presentDirector, Department of Human Behavior, Ecology, and Culture
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig
2014–presentProfessor, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Davis
2006–2014Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Davis
2002–2006Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Davis
2001–2002Post-doctoral researcher, Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin
2001Ph.D. Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles
1995B.S. Anthropology and Human Biology, Emory University, Atlanta GA

Professional Activities

2014–2015Chair, Evolutionary Anthropology, UC Davis
2007–2009Strategic Planning Committee, UCD Letters and Science
2007–Field researcher, AHRC Culture and the Mind project
2006–2012Trainer, CLIMB (Collaborative Learning at the Intersection of Math and Biology) undergraduate training program, UC Davis
2006–Member and PhD advisor, Population Biology Graduate Group, UC Davis
2004–Chair, Human Ecology Area of Emphasis, Graduate Group in Ecology, UC Davis
2002–Member, Animal Behavior Graduate Group, UC Davis
2001–Member, Graduate Group in Ecology, UC Davis


GameWebA bundle of code for running multi-participant experiments, with process-tracing, based on Mouselab Web. Used in a number of laboratories, as well as in field locations, using handheld computers.
rethinkingAn R package for conducting custom Bayesian data analysis, using MAP estimation as well as Hamiltonian Monte Carlo. Allows for arbitrarily complex multilevel models.
glmer2stanThis R package provides a function, glmer2stan, to build a Stan (mc-stan.org) model from a glmer/glm formula or list of formulas. Available model families are "gaussian", "binomial", "poisson", "gamma", "ordered" (ordered logit), as well as any combinations of these. For example, combining binomial with poisson produces a zero-inflated poisson multilevel model. Computes DIC and WAIC.

Grants and Awards

2015NSF grant (co-PI Jeremy Koster) to fund analytical work on foraging lifespan data
2014NSF grant to fund collaboration with Dr. Tom Flamson, doing field research in Brazil on the micro-foundations of group formation and cooperation.
2013NSF DDIG awarded to PhD student Karl Frost for field research in Canada.
2012NSF grant to fund field research with Dr. John Bunce on the formation and maintenance of ethnic boundaries in the Peruvian Amazon.
2010NSF post-doctoral research grant, in support of Dr. Kari Schroeder
2009NSF grant for pilot ethnographic work in the Faroe Islands, Denmark.
2008NSF DDIG awarded to PhD student Timothy Waring for fieldwork in India.
2007Elected UCD Chancellor’s Fellow, $25,000 research award.
2005Small grant in aid of research, Committee on Research, UC Davis, $2000.
2005Studying cultural dynamics in laboratory microsocieties, NSF, ($140,000; Co-PIs Peter J. Richerson and Mark Lubell)
2004Empirical Implications of Theoretical Models: Studying cultural evolution in laboratory microsocieties, NSF, ($80,000; Co-PIs Peter J. Richerson and Mark Lubell)
2003Junior faculty research improvement grant, $3000.
2002-2005NSF grant, “Foundations of human sociality”, supporting ethnographic work ($8500)
2001-2002Max Planck Institute post-doctoral fellowship, MPI for Human Development, Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition, Berlin
2000-2001Chancellor’s dissertation year fellowship, UCLA
2000MacArthur Foundation grant in experimental economics, $19070
2000International Studies and Overseas Programs (Ford Foundation) doctoral research grant, $5000
1998MacArthur Foundation grant for economic field research, $8000
1996Pre-doctoral research grant, International Studies and Overseas Programs (ISOP), UCLA, $6000
1995National Science Foundation pre-doctoral research grant, $5000

Past PhD Students and Post-Doctoral Trainees

Tim WaringPhD Ecology, focusing on common pool resource management in irrigation systems in Southern India. Now Assistant Professor of Social-Ecological Systems, University of Maine.
Adrian BellPhD Ecology, focusing on cultural transmission within ongoing Polynesian diaspora. Fieldwork in Tonga. Now Assistant Professor, University of Utah.
Bret BeheimPhD Ecology, focusing on population dynamics and demography of cultural transmission. Regional focus Japan and China. Now post-doctoral researcher at University of New Mexico, Tsimane Health and Life History Project.
Kari Britt SchroederPost-doctoral trainee, focusing on urban ethnography, survey, and laboratory experiments and biomarkers for cooperation and punishment behavior. Now post-doctoral researcher at Boston University.
Matthew ZimmermanPhD Ecology, focusing on large-scale institutional dynamics and evolutionary ecology. Now post-doctoral scholar at NIMBioS.
Ryan BaldiniPhD Ecology, focusing on mathematical life history theory and cultural transmission. Now post-doctoral researcher at Stanford University, working on the evolution and dynamics of human birth weight.
John BuncePost-doctoral trainee, focusing on dynamics of ethnic identity and cultural variation among Matsigenka of Peruvian Amazon. Now Visiting Assistant Professor at Indiana Bloomington.
Paul SmaldinoPost-doctor trainee, focusing on population dynamics of scientific discovery.


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