IAS Benjamin Meaker Visiting Professor Russell Gray

Professor Russell GrayEarly April 2014

Russell Gray is a professor in the School of Psychology at the University of Auckland. His research has made significant contributions to the fields of linguistics, animal cognition, philosophy of biology and behavioural phylogenetics. He pioneered the application of computational evolutionary methods to questions about linguistic prehistory. This work has helped solve the 200 year-old debate on the origin of Indo-European languages, dubbed “the most recalcitrant problem in historical linguistics”. Further, his research group has used sophisticated Bayesian phylogenetic methods to test hypotheses about the sequence and timing of the peopling of the Pacific, and has brought together dozens of linguists to contribute to online databases of over 1000 Austronesian languages. His work on New Caledonian crows has revealed that their remarkable tool manufacturing skills are the product of a lengthy learning period and are underpinned by brains with large associative regions and the ability to make causal inferences. His research has attracted world-wide media attention and has featured on several international television documentaries, and he has published over 100 journal articles and book chapters.

While in Bristol Professor Gray is presenting work on the theme “No Miracles! A Darwinian view of the evolution of cognition, language and culture” at the European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association conference.

For more details regarding Professor Gray's visit, please contact Dr. Fiona Jordan.