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Department of Archaeology



I am a researcher at the Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies interested in understanding why communication is so complex across species, and how some aspects of communication are exploited, through mimicry or other tactics, for Darwinian purposes. Prior to my PhD, I worked as a postgraduate researcher in evolutionary biology at City University of New York, and more recently completed an ESRC-funded fellowship at the Institute of Global Health Innovation, Imperial College London, where I applied some elements of my research to the public health sphere. I hold a BA in Philosophy and Behavioural Biology from Emory University and an MA and MPhil in Philosophy (with focus on philosophy of science and evolutionary ethics) from the University of London. I am also a science writer.


I am broadly interested in how ecological factors affect the evolution of signals and communication, and whether coevolutionary relationships between cooperative and competitive individuals across taxa have shaped the diversity of Darwinian strategies we see across species. In my PhD project, I aim to apply this thinking to human language, and to explore whether imitation of signals associated with cooperation is an important driver of linguistic complexity.

Key Publications

Key publications: 


Evolutionary ecology:

Goodman JR, Ewald P (2021). The evolution of barriers to exploitationEvolutionary Applications 14: 2179-2188.


Evolutionary ethics:

Goodman JR. (2014), Altruism and the Golden RuleZygon. 49: 381–95.


Evolutionary medicine:

Goodman JR, Wohns N (2021). Artificial intelligence in medicine and evolutionary theory. In: Artificial Intelligence in Medicine (Eds Lidströmer N, Ashrafian H); Springer Nature

Goodman JR, Ashrafian H (2020), The promising connection between data science and evolutionary theory in oncologyFrontiers in Oncology. 9:1527.


Other publications: 


Medical sciences:

Lounsbury O, Roberts L, Goodman JR, Batey P, Naar L, Flott KM, Lawrence-Jones A, Ghafur S, Darzi A, Neves AL. Opening a “can of worms” to explore the public's hopes and fears about health care data sharing: qualitative studyJournal of Medical Internet Research. 2021;23(2):e22744

Fontana G, Ghafur S, Torne L, Goodman JR, Darzi A. (2020), Ensuring that the NHS realises fair financial value from its dataThe Lancet Digital Health. 2(1): 10-2.

Goodman JR. (2019), A data dividend tax would help the NHS monetise health dataBMJ Opinion. 

Goodman JR. (2019), Reliance on emoji may push us back towards cave drawingsBMJ. 364.


Popular publications:

How disease has stimulated cultural changeThe Conversation. November 15, 2021.

We should isolate when we have flu, not just covid-19New Scientist. September 15, 2021.

Sustainability and public health (with Carol Brayne). The Darwinian. August 2021.

The fight against coronavirus needs to embrace evolutionary theoryNew Scientist. July 14, 2021.

COVID: did a delayed second dose give the delta variant an evolutionary helping hand? The Conversation. June 11, 2021.

Immune response might be more about signalling to others that you need help and less about protecting your body. The Conversation. May 12, 2021.

A pandemic like no otherNew Scientist. January 9, 2021.

An evolving crisisNew Scientist. May 20, 2020.

Letter: Our nature’s political side is driving the polarising rhetoric of these timesFinancial Times. April 17, 2020.

The challenge of finding genome-based cancer treatmentsScientific American. April 3, 2020.

Uighur Muslims: novel coronavirus could become increasingly virulent in detention camps. (With Paul Ewald). The Conversation. February 19, 2020.

Where is the next HPV vaccine? Proto. January 15, 2020.

Welcome to the virosphereNew Scientist. January 8, 2020.

Citation counting is killing academic dissentTimes Higher Education. November 25, 2019.

How do we decide what is right? The ethicist’s view. Times Higher Education. March 28, 2019 (part of feature: The THE-Microsoft survey on AI).

Confused about cancer? New Scientist. February 4, 2019.

Fear over healthcare locks Americans in jobs – and throttles creativityThe Guardian. November 13, 2017.

If culture is too expensive for most, everyone pays a priceAeon. December 2, 2016 (Republished in The Week December 30, 2016).

How statistics are twisted to obscure public understandingAeon. July 11, 2016.

Teaching and Supervisions



Humans in Biological Perspective

Human Behavioural Ecology

Evolutionary Perspectives on Cooperation, Culture and Cognition


Research supervision: 


Professor Robert Foley, Professor Francis Nolan


Other Professional Activities

Science writing

Job Titles

Researcher in Human Evolutionary Studies

General Info

Available for consultancy
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Human Population Biology and Health
Human Evolutionary and Behavioural Ecology
Human Evolution
Cultural Evolution

Contact Details

jrg74 [at]


Person keywords: 
Human evolutionary studies
Language evolution
Cultural evolution
Evolutionary medicine
Biological Anthropology
Science, Technology and Innovation
Human Evolutionary Studies