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Professor in the Department of Anthropology +44 (0) 191 33 41627
Member of the Durham Cultural Evolution Research Centre  



Welcome to my Durham University staff profile page. Please see my personal web page to find out more about my research.

Research Interests Summary: I am an interdisciplinary researcher with overlapping interests in cultural evolution, animal behaviour and primatology. My focus is on cultural transmisison, specifically social learning and behavioural innovation in a range of species from fish to monkeys to humans with a view to understanding the evolution of human culture. My approach emphasizes the importance of maintaining ecological validity, the integration of empirical and theoretical work and applications to societal isseus and public engagement. I have worked with, or am currently working with, laboratory populations of fish (guppies, mollies and sticklebacks) , captive (callitrichids, capuchins, lemurs, chimpanzees, Barbary macaques), and wild (lemurs, capuchins) nonhuman primates, as well as children in UK schools and science centres and communities in Indonesia.

Short Biography: I completed a BSc in Behavioural Science at Nottingham University in 1998, then went on to receive my PhD in Zoology from Cambridge University in 2003. Following a career break, I began a Royal Society Dorothy Hoddgkin Fellowship in 2006, based in the Centre for Social Learning and Cognitive Evolution at St Andrews University. I continued this fellowship here in the Department of Anthropology before becoming an Assistant Professor in 2012, Associate Professor (Senior Lecturer) in 2014, Associate Professor (Reader) in 2017, and Professor in 2020.

Recent Grants

John Templeton Foundation: Transforming the Field of Cultural Evolution and its Application to Human Futures (2021: PI, £2,847,410) see website: Home - Cultural Evolution Society Transformation Fund (

MRC-GCRF 'Health in Context': Factors Affecting Childhood Exposures to Urban Particles (2020: Co-I, £2,000,000)

Research interests

  • Social Learning
  • Behavioural Innovation
  • Cultural Evolution
  • Cumulative Culture
  • Applications to Welfare, Conservation & Science Communication

Research groups

Esteem Indicators

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Anthropology: Social Learning
  • Psychology: Social Learning
  • Anthropology: Behavioural Innovation


Chapter in book

Doctoral Thesis

  • Day, R.L. (2003). Innovation and social learning in monkeys and fish: Empirical findings and their application to reintroduction techniques. University of Cambridge. PhD.

Edited Journal

  • Kendal, R.L., Galef, B.G. & van Schaik, C.P. (2010). Capturing Social Learning in Natural Contexts: Methodological Insights and Implications for Culture. Learning & Behavior, 8 (3).

Journal Article


  • Kendal, J.R., Tehrani, J.J. & Kendal, R.L. (2009). The Evolution of Human Behaviour. Learning and Skills Network.

Newspaper/Magazine Article

Supervision students