Bridging Business, Biology and Behaviour

Link to: my publications, academic CVResearchGate and LinkedIn profiles and my pop sci microblog. Tweet me @ClaireElMouden.

IMG_1324About me: I am an interdisciplinary researcher at the University of Oxford, who studies human behaviour. My work was described in the Financial Times as ‘silo-busting’, because I work at the interface of biology and the social sciences. I currently study risky decision-making, the effect of leadership on social evolution, social learning and how our environment affects the social behaviours we perform.

I am trained as an evolutionary biologist, but today I collaborate with psychologists, anthropologists, economists, lawyers, mathematicians and political theorists who share my interest in human behaviour. I am convinced that evolutionary ideas are relevant outside biology and that answers to some of society’s biggest challenges may be found through such radically interdisciplinary work.

This is why I am engaging with policymakers, economists and business leaders who are interested in the insights the natural world can provide.

My Research:  My work involves theoretical, experimental and observational research: (1) I design and run economic experiments (where people earn money by playing social-dilemma ‘games’), at Oxford’s Centre for Experiment Social Science. I use these to understand how people learn and respond to social interactions; (2) I build mathematical evolutionary models to investigate how cultures evolve over time and to investigate the origins of social behaviours; (3) I collect data from real communities and organisations to see how these theoretical models and economic experiments relate to human behaviour in the real-world.

My recent work involves collaborations with the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School (INET), Oxford Risk and the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS).


A wordle of my academic research

In addition to humans, I’ve used evolutionary models to study a range of systems including HIV virulence, the squid-bioluminescent bacteria mutualism, plant-fungi mutualisms, cooperative breeding in birds and policing in insects.

Position: I’m currently a lecturer in Human Sciences at Wadham CollegeOxford University. I’m also a Research Fellow in the Zoology Department and I am a retained lecturer in Biology at Pembroke College.

Teaching: In addition to my academic research, I give lectures on human social behaviour, behavioural economics and cultural evolution to Oxford undergraduate students. I supervise Honours project students and offer tutorials on the third-year ‘Behavioural Ecology’, ‘Animal Cognition’ and ‘Social Evolution’ courses.

Contact me