Current lab members

Kevin Laland

Professor Kevin Lala
Principal investigator
[email] [St Andrews University profile]

Kevin Lala is Professor of Behavioural and Evolutionary Biology at the University of St Andrews, where he is a member of the Centre for Biological Diversity, the Centre for Social learning and Cognitive Evolution, the Institute for Behavioural and Neural Sciences, and the Scottish Primate Research Group. After completing his PhD at University College London, Kevin held a Human Frontier Science Programme fellowship at UC Berkeley, followed by BBSRC and Royal Society University Research fellowships at the University of Cambridge, before moving to St Andrews in 2002. He has published over 230 scientific articles and 13 books on a wide range of topics related to animal behaviour and evolution, particularly social learning, cultural evolution and niche construction. He is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a Fellow of the Society of Biology, and the recipient of both an ERC Advanced Grant and a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award.

Why I Changed My Name: Lala was my original family name, which my parents anglicized when I was 4, in an attempt to reduce the racism that their children experienced. I may have benefited from my surname being anglicized, but it did not sit right with me that I should still bear that name more than 50 years later. I wish to celebrate my ancestry not hide it. I am proud of my Parsi Indian heritage. I am not going to be intimidated by racists.

Dr Kelly Robinson
Associate Lecturer
[email] [website] [St Andrews University profile]

Kelly Robinson is interested in how behaviour, physiological systems and energetics interact to impact on individual fitness and survival. She investigates how hormones and neuropeptides influence behavioural expression and energetics, from a whole organism to cellular level. Much of her research has focused on oxytocin and its role in maternal and social behaviour. She has studied marine mammal species, principally the grey seal, for much of her career to date, and is expanding her research to include terrestrial animal species and humans. Kelly completed her PhD at the University of St Andrews in 2014 and did a three year post-doc at the Scottish Oceans Institute before taking one year of maternity leave. She has joined the Lala Lab as a part time associate lecturer in animal behaviour and evolution.

Mike Webster

Dr Mike Webster
[email] [website] [St Andrews University profile]

Mike Webster is interested in the functions and evolution of group living in animals. He investigates how groups are organised, how animals interact and acquire information from one another, and how individual behaviour affects and is affected by that of the group. For the most part he uses shoaling fishes and crustaceans as study systems for understanding more general aspects of social behaviour. After completing his PhD at the University of Leicester in 2007, Mike moved to the University of St Andrews, joining the Lala Lab as a post-doc. He is now a lecturer in behavioural and evolutionary biology.

Sven Kasser
PhD Student
[email] [website]

Sven Kasser is a PhD student in Evolutionary Biology under the supervision of Prof Kevin Lala (St Andrews) and Prof Laura Fortunato (Oxford). A keen inter disciplinarian, he is interested in quantifying the influence of cultural practices on shaping geographical patterns of human genetic variation, employing a gene-culture co-evolutionary framework. Before joining the Lala Lab, he completed an MSc in Cognitive & Evolutionary Anthropology at Magdalen College, Oxford, and a MA in Psychology & Economics at the University of Edinburgh.


Lucas Mathieu
PhD Student
[email] [website]

Lucas is a PhD student at the University of St Andrews in the group of Kevin Lala, in partnership with Thomas Pradeu’s group in Bordeaux and Richard Watson’s group in Southampton.  He has a background in general biology with a specialization in machine learning and computer sciences with a degree at AgroParisTech, and a strong interest in behavioural and evolutionary biology.  His project aims at better understanding how exploratory learning processes (such as adaptative immunology, animal behavioural learning, cytoskeletal filaments…) interact with evolution using computer sciences and AI modelling.

Garrett Fundakowski
PhD Student
[email] [website]

Garrett is based at the University of St Andrews, where he is supervised by Maria Dornelas and Kevin Lala.  His interests are in coral reef ecology, reef restoration, and the use of innovative technology in marine ecosystems. Specifically, the objective of his PhD research is to identify and quantify patterns of niche construction in corals.

Professor Gillian Brown
Principal Investigator 
[email] [website]

Gillian Brown studies i) sex/gender differences and similarities in behaviour and cognition, and ii) evolutionary perspectives on human behaviour. Her research has previously investigated the role of gonadal hormones in the development of sex differences in behaviour in non-human animals, and her current research interests include the evolution of human mating strategies, the ‘gender equality paradox’ and cultural evolutionary approaches to human behaviour.