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Faculty Profile:

Stephen Lycett, Professor of Anthropology

Stephen Lycett, associate professor of Anthropology, is an evolutionary anthropologist. His work is inherently multidisciplinary in character and uses evolutionary theory to address a wide range of questions relating to human biology and culture. It combines perspectives from comparative anatomy, archaeology, genetics, primatology, and ethnography. Lycett was born in the United Kingdom and undertook his graduate training in evolutionary anthropology at University College London and the University of Cambridge, where he was a member of Trinity College. He is “immensely excited by my recent move to UB. The university is a real powerhouse of international scholarship and education and this move to UB brings many new, exciting opportunities.”

The primary focus of Lycett’s work involves using evolutionary principles to look at patterns of cultural change. More than just a theoretical exercise, it allows for the application of analytical techniques which have typically been used to study transmission of genetic phenomena to help address cultural questions. Recently, his work has involved looking at change in stone tool technologies and also the material culture of Native American communities of recent centuries on the Great Plains.

Lycett’s work in cultural evolution examines questions which have long been of interest to anthropologists: who is interacting with whom and what is the character and outcome of those interactions. His work tries to bring analytical methods developed in the biological sciences to bear on these questions from a new perspective. A large component of his work (and that of his students) involves experimental work, looking at issues such as cultural transmission and the variability that exists in stone tools and what this may have meant for our ancestors.

Some of his work in more traditional areas of physical anthropology has involved comparative studies of the primate pelvis, helping to showcase the amount of evolutionary change which the human pelvis has undergone. Compared to other living primates, there has been more change in our hip bones in the last seven million years than is seen in all other living primates within the last 36 million years. These profound changes have occurred directly as a result of our shift to walking upright.

Dr. Lycett currently serves as associate editor for the Journal of Human Evolution and also for the Journal of Archaeological Science.

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Stephen Lycett