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Durham University

Department of Anthropology

Anthropology of Health Members

Dr Ian Rickard, BSc (Glasgow), PhD (Sheffield)

Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology

(email at

Research Interests

I am an evolutionary biologist and I am interested in what makes people different from one another. How are these two things related to one another? My reasoning is that the study of differences between individuals of a species is the domain of biology, and biology only really makes sense when understood from an evolutionary perspective. So if you want to understand individual human differences at a very basic level, you need to apply evolutionary thinking.

Evolutionary thinking has become progressively more common in the human sciences over the last few decades. Scientists are using evolutionary ideas to try to understand why someone’s environment in the womb affects their risk of getting diseases like diabetes many years later, or why social environment in childhood influences the rate at which an individual becomes sexually mature and starts a family. An evolutionary approach is essential to understand why we see patterns such as these, because the way we respond to our environment has been shaped by millions of years of natural selection in humans and our ancestors. I carry out research aimed at understanding questions such as these.

Recently, I have been investigating a different evolutionary question: How does environmental change (including demographic change experienced all over the world over the past few hundred years) affect evolutionary processes in humans, and what will the consequences of these be?

I believe that not only do the answers to all of these questions hold a great deal of intrinsic interest, they also they have important consequences for understanding human biology and behavior.

Research Groups

Research Interests

  • Evolutionary ecology
  • Human biology
  • Individual variation
  • Life history theory
  • Natural selection

Selected Publications

Chapter in book

Journal Article

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