Lawson Lab

Our research concerns the evolutionary anthropology of the human family. We are also interested in 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 utilize large-scale surveys from both Sub-Saharan Africa and Europe to study family structure and human wellbeing across varying cultural contexts.

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

Sophie Hedges is a graduate student researching parental investment in child education and children’s work in the context of demographic transition and shifting livelihoods. Follow Sophie’s fieldwork blog.

Anushé Hassan is a graduate student researching relationships between parental care and child wellbeing, with a focus on the status of fostered and orphaned children in rural Tanzania. Follow Anushé’s tweets.

Rachel Lynes is an undergrad Anthropology major researching variation in men’s attitudes to women’s empowerment and autonomy.


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.



Our research has received funding from the:

  • National Science Foundation
  • UK Medical Research Council
  • UK Economic and Social Research Council,
  • UK Department for International Development
  • Leverhulme Trust
  • Wenner-Gren Foundation
  • Hellman Fellows Fund
  • Biosocial Society
  • Parkes Foundation
  • International Society for Human Ethology 
  • European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association.