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Durham University

Email and Telephone Directory

Staff Profile

Professor Rachel Kendal (nee Day)

Personal web page

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41627

(email at


Welcome to my Durham University staff profile page. Please see my personal web page to find out more about my research.

Research Interests Summary: I am an interdisciplinary researcher with overlapping interests in cultural evolution, animal behaviour and primatology. My focus is on cultural transmisison, specifically social learning and behavioural innovation in a range of species from fish to monkeys to humans with a view to understanding the evolution of human culture. My approach emphasizes the importance of maintaining ecological validity, the integration of empirical and theoretical work and applications to societal isseus and public engagement. I have worked with, or am currently working with, laboratory populations of fish (guppies, mollies and sticklebacks) , captive (callitrichids, capuchins, lemurs, chimpanzees, Barbary macaques), and wild (lemurs, capuchins) nonhuman primates, as well as children in UK schools and science centres and communities in Indonesia.

Short Biography: I completed a BSc in Behavioural Science at Nottingham University in 1998, then went on to receive my PhD in Zoology from Cambridge University in 2003. Following a career break, I began a Royal Society Dorothy Hoddgkin Fellowship in 2006, based in the Centre for Social Learning and Cognitive Evolution at St Andrews University. I continued this fellowship here in the Department of Anthropology before becoming an Assistant Professor in 2012, Associate Professor (Senior Lecturer) in 2014, Associate Professor (Reader) in 2017, and Professor in 2020.

Research Groups

Department of Anthropology

Research Interests

  • Social Learning
  • Behavioural Innovation
  • Cultural Evolution
  • Cumulative Culture
  • Applications to Welfare, Conservation & Science Communication

Teaching Areas

  • Cognitive Anthropology (Year 3)
  • Comparative Cognition & Culture (Year 3)
  • Cultural Evolution (Year 4)
  • Our Place in Nature (Year 2)
  • Primate Behaviour (Year 4)
  • Understanding Behaviour (Year 3)

Selected Publications

Edited Journal

Chapter in book

Journal Article

Doctoral Thesis

  • Day, R.L. (2003). Innovation and social learning in monkeys and fish: Empirical findings and their application to reintroduction techniques. University of Cambridge. PhD.

Newspaper/Magazine Article

Other (Print)

  • Kendal, J.R., Tehrani, J. & Kendal, R.L. (2009). The evolution of human behaviour. Quick Guide. Triple Sciences Support Programme in association with RCUK

Show all publications

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Anthropology: Social Learning
  • Psychology: Social Learning
  • Anthropology: Behavioural Innovation


Indicators of Esteem

Selected Grants

  • 2016: Evidence of Animal Minds (£2500.00 from Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour)
  • 2016: Evidence of Animal Minds: An interdisciplinary symposium (£775.00 from EHBEA)
  • 2012: EHBEA 2012 Conference (£6587.50 from The British Academy)
  • 2007: IDENTIFYING SOCIAL LEARNING (£269989.33 from The Royal Society)