Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Department of Human Behavior, Ecology and Culture
Deutscher Platz 6
My background is in human sciences and evolutionary anthropology, and I usually refer to myself as a human behavioural ecologist (and occasional evolutionary demographer!). My research focuses on female reproductive decision making, primarily in high income contexts. My PhD research took an evolutionary approach postnatal depression, highlighting novel causes and consequences of the condition. In 2016, I was awarded the George C. Williams prize for my work documenting the relationship between postnatal depression and reproductive success in low fertility settings. My current work centres on the importance of social support in maternal investment among mothers in the UK, via two main projects: I am co-PI on a project exploring how different forms of social support relate to maternal experience and infant feeding behaviour. 2020 also saw the launch of a new project, intended to map the flows of support through maternal social networks during face-to-face interviews with south London mothers – needless to say, the covid-19 pandemic resulted in some rapid rethinking! Instead, I ran an online survey study assessing the impact of social distancing regulations on maternal social networks and mental health in London. Having recently secured a Covid Special Research Award from the British Academy, I am now in the process of scaling this survey up into a longitudinal, UK-wide study which will follow maternal social support access, mental wellbeing, mother-infant bonding and infant feeding trajectories over the course of the next year.