I studied Molecular Biology and Genetics at Istanbul Technical University. During my undergraduate studies I became interested in the field of Ecology and Evolution and did internships on animal behaviour in Switzerland and Ireland. I then went on to pursue a 2-year research Master’s in Evolutionary Biology (MEME) funded by the European Union. I worked on projects using computer simulations to investigate evolution of social complexity and human cooperation. I also did behavioural economics experiments on how children learn social norms by copying others. After my Master’s, I pursued my dream of doing fieldwork and investigating human societies. I did my PhD at UCL, researching cultural evolution and behavioural adaptations in Pygmy hunter-gatherers in the Congo. During my PhD, I was part of an inter-disciplinary Hunter-Gatherer Resilience team funded by the Leverhulme Trust. I obtained a postdoctoral research fellowship from British Academy after my PhD. I am currently working as a British Academy research fellow and lecturer in Evolutionary Anthropology and Evolutionary Medicine at UCL.
I am interested in the dynamics of cultural transmission, especially in diffusion of religious innovations (concepts and practices) across a population. In my dissertation, I am targeting this issue while studying and modelling the development of Christian meal practices in the first four centuries CE across the Roman Mediterranean.
I study human culture and cooperation in relationship to the environment. In particular, I study how social norms, institutions and societies evolve, and how they are influenced by ecological and social forces. I strive to use this research to learn how to better build durable, sustainable and just institutions and societies. I use experimental economics and agent-based modeling to explore these connections, and work with lot of wonderful people.