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Rachel Kendal


Prof. Rachel Kendal

Professor in the Department of Social Sciences and Health

What area does your research focus on?

I am an evolutionary anthropologist, specialising in cultural evolution. Social learning and behavioural innovation in a range of species, emphasizing maintenance of ecological validity, integration of empirical and theoretical work, and applications to education, science communication, and conservation.

Current research concerns identifying traditions in the wild, investigating social learning strategies, cumulative culture syntactical cognition, and innovation in primates (human and non-human), all with a view to understanding their implications for the evolution of human culture.

What are the other key aspects of your role?

I have acted as Director of Postgraduate Admissions and Director of Postgraduates for my department in the past and carried out a review of mentoring for the Provost’s Office of Durham University. I have also had Presidential roles for the Cultural Evolution Society and been a council member for the Primate Society of Great Britain, and currently run a large funding scheme.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I have three children so I work hard to maintain a work-life balance and spend quality time with them and my partner. I enjoy pilates, walking my dog, and the odd jigsaw.

What do you think you could particularly offer mentoring support with?

I am not from a racially minoritized background but am a first generation scholar (beyond undergraduate level). I have some insight into discrimination in the UK (sexism), but I also recognize my privilege and have experience regarding enhancing equity diversity and inclusion for early career academics through the roles outlined above.