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Durham University

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Dr Rachel Kendal (nee Day)

Personal web page

Associate Professor (Reader) in the Department of Anthropology
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 schools and science centres.

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, and Associate Professor (Reader) in 2017.

Research Groups

Department of Anthropology

Research Interests

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

Indicators of Esteem

  • 2018: President-Elect of the Cultural Evolution Society:
  • 2013: Academic Editor for the journal Plos One:
  • 2010: Council Member of the Primate Society of Great Britain: (Convenor of the Research Working Party) - 3 years
  • International Conference Co-organisation:

    Primate Society of Great Britain conference (Durham 2017)

    Evidence for Animal Minds (IAS symposium, Durham 2016) including public event

    Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour conference (ASAB, Durham 2015)

    European Evolution and Human Behaviour conference (EHBEA, Durham 2012)

    Social Learning and Cultural Evolution Workshop (Durham, 2007)

    Animal Social Learning International Meeting (St Andrews, 2005)

  • Invited Plenaries or Keynotes:

    Primate Society of Great Britain Conference on Social Learning and Culture (London, Dec 2015);

    Göttingen Freilandtage From Cohesion to Social Norms (Germany, Dec 2015);

    Centre for Behaviour and Evolution Research Away Day (Newcastle, March 2016);

    Experimental Studies of Cultural Transmission (Interacting Minds Centre, Aarhus, Denmark, April 2016);

    Cumulative Culture Conference (Birmingham, June 2016);

    The role of sensory ecology and cognition in social decisions (Switzerland, July 2016 - Declined as unavailable)

Selected Publications

Chapter in book

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.

Edited Journal

Journal Article

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


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)