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James Holland Jones

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James Holland Jones wearing a 98% chimp t-shirt
James Holland Jones

An Associate Professor of Earth System Science and a Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment, I am an anthropologist broadly interested in the evolution, ecology, and adaptation of the human species. At the core of these interests is an attempt to understand the evolution of the human life cycle. I am particularly interested in understanding the very unusual suite of life-history traits that characterize our species, including very late age at first reproduction, relatively high fertility, and long lifespan. Work in this area includes both theoretical and empirical studies in evolutionary demography and life history theory. As mortality lies at the heart of life history theory, and infectious disease was a major source of variance in mortality both within and between human populations, I developed an interest in the evolutionary ecology of infectious disease and work in this area constitutes a major component of my ongoing research portfolio. More recently, my interests have turned toward existential threats facing humanity, with a particular focus on both pandemics and climate change. Understanding  human adaptations (or lack thereof) to a complex social environments and a rapidly-changing biophysical environment are key priorities for my research group and our collaborators. This work increasingly engages with the field of cultural evolution.

I use formal tools such as mathematical, computational, and statistical models to guide my science. I am particularly interested in the application of social network analysis, dynamical systems and complexity theory, and agent-based models to help elucidate problems in human evolutionary ecology.