Our Ph.D Program

Graduate study in Biological Anthropology at UCLA

Graduates from our program have studied a diversity of topics in human evolution, ranging from primate behavior to evolutionary modeling. Our faculty specialize in a diverse range of research questions, giving you a breadth of possible dissertations topics to choose from. Specializations you might choose to pursue in our graduate program include:

  • Culture / gene coevolution
  • Evolutionary medicine
  • Evolutionary psychology
  • Human behavioral ecology
  • Primatology

Behavior, Evolution, and Culture (BEC)

Our graduate program centers on evolutionary approaches to behavior and culture. Key to this program is the UCLA Center for Behavior, Evolution, and Culture, which forms a core community for students and faculty. BEC hosts weekly talks, lunches, and dinner with visiting faculty, as well as other events that bring together the evolutionary social science community at UCLA.

Experimental Biological Anthropology (XBA)

XBA is a weekly lab group for students and faculty interested in the evolution of behavior

Evolutionary Medicine (Ev Med)

Evolutionary medicine is a growing field. UCLA has inaugurated a new program in evolutionary medicine with which several of our faculty are affiliated, and which represents a possible avenue of specialization for graduate program applicants.

Graduate training

A major strength of our graduate training program is that we hold weekly seminars at which faculty and graduate students present work in progress, at all stages from hypothesis formation to final write-up.  These meetings, which supplement the one-to-one mentoring that students receive from their primary advisers, allow students to (1) receive feedback on their work from all biological anthropology faculty, (2) observe the research process as conducted by more experienced role models, and (3) hone their critical skills.

Furthermore, we strongly encourage our graduate students to begin publishing original research early in their graduate careers, and to amass impressive publication records by the time they finish their Ph.D.  Below is a list of Ph.D.s from our program, with year of graduation and current position:

Thomas Flamson (2010), Post-doctoral Fellow, Anthropology, UC Davis (starting Fall 2014)

Rebecca Frank (2007), Assistant Professor, Anthropology, Los Angeles Valley College

Willem Frankenhuis (2012), Assistant Professor, Developmental Psychology, Radboud University Nijmegen

Matthew Gervais (2013), Post-doctoral Fellow, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University (starting Fall 2014)

Joe Henrich (1999), Professor and Canada Research Chair, Psychology, University of British Columbia

Katie Hinde (2008), Assistant Professor, Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University

Bailey House (2013), Humboldt Post-doctoral Fellow, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

Michelle Kline (2013), Post-doctoral Fellow, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University (starting Fall 2014)

Stephen Le (2010), Science writer

Sarah Mathew (2011), Assistant Professor, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University

Richard McElreath (2001), Professor, Anthropology, UC Davis

Cristina Moya (2012), Post-doctoral Researcher, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

C. David Navarrete (2004), Associate Professor, Psychology, Michigan State University

Karthik Panchanathan (2010), Assistant Professor, Anthropology, University of Missouri

Elizabeth Pillsworth (2008), Associate Professor, Anthropology, California State University Fullerton

Stacy Rosenbaum (2014), NSF Post-doctoral Fellow, Lincoln Park Zoo (starting Fall 2014)

Jeffrey K. Snyder (2012), Lecturer, UCLA

Advice for prospective graduate applicants: contact at least one of our faculty members (listed and linked above) and briefly describe your background and research interests.  If you decide to apply to our program (see here and here for more information), you will increase the probability of being offered admission if you orient your Statement of Purpose toward (1) your ideas for future research and (2) how your past scholarly experience has led you to formulate these ideas.  Don’t follow the widespread advice (suitable for professional schools but not for academic graduate programs) to focus on your personal experience and personality traits.