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Prof. Andrea Migliano (Department of Anthropology, University of Zurich) has been awarded an ERC consolidator grant called COLLABORO: Adaptive history of human socio-cognitive development. This project will add to other successful past and current research projects carried out the Human Evolutionary Ecology Group at UZH.

We are now looking for five funded PhD students (4 year-scholarship, at SNF rates = 48000 Swiss Francs/ year) to study the evolution of human cumulative culture, social networks and social cognitive development in hunter-gatherer groups. In principle, we favour candidates interested in joining our long-term field sites in Congo Brazzaville and the Philippines; however, we are happy to consider proposals for alternative field sites. Travelling expenses will be covered by the project.
Project Abstract:
The secret of human evolutionary success is a unique ability to collaborate to solve complex tasks together. In WEIRD societies, key socio-cognitive skills (theory of mind, prosociality, overimitation, teaching, moral judgment among others) develop at similar ages, being often interpreted as general socio-cognitive regularities. However, cross-cultural studies revealed striking exceptions to such regularities. COLLABORO will for the first time compare the ontogeny of children aged 0-17 in traditional hunter gatherer groups, using standard socio-cognitive tests, focal follows, contact tracing and longitudinal surveys. Blending anthropological depth with psychological breadth, to provide insights into possible general socio-cognitive adaptations and ontogenetic variation triggered by local socio-cultural factors.
Candidate profile:
Required skills:
  • Interest in long-term fieldwork with hunter-gatherer groups (approximately one year) and application of multiple methodologies including interviews, camp scans, focal follows, and socio cognitive tests.
  • Interest in and basic knowledge of quantitative methods and R.
  • Degree in Biology, Biological Anthropology, Experimental Psychology, Natural Sciences or any scientific related field.
  • Proficiency in English (an official language at the University of Zurich).
  • Teamwork and collaborative skills, willingness to travel together and collaborate in multiple steps of data analyses and publications with other students, postdocs and senior staff in the research group.
  • Good scientific writing skills.
Desired skills:
  • Proficiency in French (for candidates interested in field work in Congo Brazzaville).
  • Experience in fieldwork in tropical forests, developing countries, and under challenging conditions
Applications should be submitted to Prof Andrea Migliano (collaboro.migliano@gmail.com) and include:
  • CV
  • Cover letter explaining why you are interested in the position, and how would you approach the topic from an experimental and theoretical perspective
  • Two reference letters
The desirable starting date is January 2023, however applications will be considered until all five positions are filled. Interviews will start in November 2022. For any further information please contact (collaboro.migliano@gmail.com). 

Department of Anthropology