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Fellows Directory

Mark Pagel

Professor Mark Pagel FRS


Elected: 2011


Mark Pagel is an evolutionary biologist whose work has influenced how others in the field select research questions and conduct their investigations. He has developed new statistical models to examine the evolution of genetic and behavioural traits and has also focused on his wider research interests, which include the evolution of culture and language.

He is perhaps best known for showing that mapping species according to genetic and physical similarities and differences can help to explain how the evolutionary past gave rise to the present. He maintains that cultural evolution is as important as genetic evolution in promoting human survival and prosperity, with cooperation being vital to creativity and progress.

Mark is a committed science communicator, giving public lectures and interviews about his work and presenting a well-received TED talk on the evolution of language. He is the Editor of the award-winning Encyclopedia of Evolution (2002) and his book Wired for Culture: Origins of the Human Social Mind (2012) was voted one of The Guardian’s best science books of 2012.

Professional positions

Professor and Head of the Evolutionary Biology Group, School Of Biological Sciences, University of Reading

Interests and expertise

Subject groups


Cultural anthropology, Evolutionary biology, Evolutionary linguistics, Human evolution, statistical modelling