Human Evolutionary Studies Programme

Award Month: 
January - February, 2013

Over the last 150 years biology has been transformed by the adoption of Darwinian evolutionary theory to such an extent that, as the well-known geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky once put it, "nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution". The extension of Darwin's insights to humans has been halting and controversial. This is particularly the case for human cognition and behaviour. However, we have now reached a point where the utility of such research can no longer be denied. It is now clear that Darwinian theory can be productively applied to many of the puzzles that scholars in the humanities and social sciences have long sought to explain, such as perception, thought and culture. Likewise, it has become increasingly apparent that Darwinian theory can shed new light on important social and health issues, including prejudice, interpersonal violence and schizophrenia. The purpose of the Human Evolutionary Studies Program (HESP) is to create an internationally- recognized research and training 'hub' that will simultaneously advance the integrated understanding of the body, mind, behaviour and social institutions of Homo sapiens within the framework of evolutionary theory, and maximize the contribution of SFU researchers to this important, dynamic and publicly visible field of research. HESP will accomplish these goals by fostering collaborative relationships among diverse SFU faculty, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students, and between these individuals and researchers in other institutions; by supporting novel, highly interdisciplinary research projects; by providing undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows with world-class training that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries; and by disseminating the results of its research to academics in other fields, policymakers and the general public both directly and through the media.

About Project Leader: Dr. Mark Collard

Dr. Mark Collard trained in both archaeology and biological anthropology. After obtaining a PhD in hominin palaeontology at the University of Liverpool under the supervision of Bernard Wood,  he spent three years as a Wellcome Trust Bioarchaeology Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at University College London. Dr. Collard's postdoc research was supervised by Leslie Aiello.

Dr. Collard has worked in a variety of capacities in the UK, the USA, and Canada: as a lecturer (the equivalent of an assistant professor) in the Department of Anthropology at University College London,  an assistant professors at the Department of Anthropology at Washington State University-Pullman, and as an assistant professor at the Department of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. In 2007, Dr. Collard moved to the Department of Archaeology at Simon Fraser University to become an associate professor and Canada Research Chair. He was promoted to Full Professor in September 2011.

Dr. Collard's research interests span biological anthropology and archaeological science.