Lawson Lab

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Our research group is comprised of researchers based at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). Our research concerns the evolutionary anthropology of the human family. We are further united in our commitment to exploring the applied potential of evolutionary anthropology to critique and inform the actions of the international development sector. We conduct field research at a demographic surveillance site in Mwanza (northwest Tanzania) managed by the Tanzanian National Institute for Medical Research. We also collaborate with Savannas Forever Tanzania (SFTZ) an NGO based in Arusha (northeast Tanzania) specializing in the evaluation of rural development projects.

Postdoctoral Scholars

Susie Schaffnit  is researching transitions to marriage and role of marital status in determining women’s wellbeing in rural Tanzania. Follow Susie’s fieldwork blog here.

Graduate Students

Sophie Hedges (based at LSHTM) is researching parental investment in child education and child work in the context of demographic transition and shifting livelihoods. Follow Sophie’s awesome fieldwork blog.

Anushé Hassan (based at LSHTM) is researching relationships between father absence and child wellbeing, with a focus on the status of fostered and orphaned children in rural Tanzania. Follow Anushé’s tweets.

Affiliated Students

Elizabeth Agey (main advisor Steve Gaulin) is researching parent-offspring conflict over marriage decisions in Nepal, and the effects this conflict has on reproduction and child health outcomes.

Sarah Alami (main advisor Mike Gurven) is currently researching gendered health inequalities, and the reproductive and health consequences of women’s status. She conducts fieldwork in Amazonian Bolivia and Southeast Morocco.


Monique Borgerhoff Mulder, UC Davis

Mhairi Gibson, University of Bristol

Susan James, Savannas Forever Tanzania

Rebecca Sear, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Jim Todd, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Caroline Uggla, Stockholm University

Mark Urassa, National Institute of Medical Research, Tanzania



Our research is funded by grants from numerous funding bodies, including the UK Medical Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Leverhulme Trust, and the Wenner Gren Foundation.