Prof Rebecca Sear

Professor of Population & Health

United Kingdom

My background is interdisciplinary: after an education in Zoology (BSc, Nottingham University), Statistics (Diploma, University College London) and Biological Anthropology (MSc and PhD, Unversity College London), I taught demography at the London School of Economics for 8 years before becoming a Reader in Evolutionary Anthropology at Durham University.

I took up my current post at LSHTM in April 2012, and am a member of the Population Studies Group, and Deputy Director of MARCH (the Centre for Maternal Adolescent Reproductive and Child Health)


Department of Population Health
Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health


Centre for Data and Statistical Science for Health
Centre for Maternal Adolescent Reproductive & Child Health


I'm Module Organiser for the Population Studies module. I also teach on the modules Demographic Methods, Foundations in Reproductive Health and Research Design & Analysis. I teach a session in the Transferable Skills Programme for PhD students on Good Practice in Peer Review.

I'm co-lead of the Demography Pathway in the UBEL Doctoral Training Partnership.


My research is interdisciplinary, and draws on both the social and biological sciences to improve our understanding of demographic and health outcomes. A significant focus of my research is on the family; in particular, whether family influence fertility and child health. But I'm also interested in exploring interactions between health and reproduction (how much does health explain reproduction and reproduction explain health?); and health inequalities.

Initially my research was based in sub-Saharan Africa, but I now do more comparative work, testing the same hypotheses in a variety of ecological settings worldwide, in both higher and lower/middle income contexts, to understand their ecological variability. Methodologically, much of my work focuses on analysis of existing datasets, but I'm also involved in primary data collection exercises, typically surveys which supplement data from existing Health and Demographic Surveillance Sites.

I'm interested in promoting interdisciplinarity across the human sciences, not just in my research but also through involvement in academic service roles: in 2008, I co-founded the interdisciplinary European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association, and am now President of the society. I'm also increasingly concerned with issues of research integrity, including scientific racism.

I am interested in supervising doctoral students working in any of the research areas mentioned above.

Selected Publications

Do human ‘life history strategies’ exist?
Evolution and Human Behavior
Cross-cultural evidence does not support universal acceleration of puberty in father-absent households.
SEAR, R; Sheppard, P; Coall, DA;
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Worldwide fertility declines do not rely on stopping at ideal parities.
Hruschka, DJ; SEAR, R; Hackman, J; Drake, A;
Population studies
Evolutionary public health: introducing the concept.
Wells, JC K; Nesse, RM; SEAR, R; Johnstone, RA; Stearns, SC;
Understanding variation in human fertility: what can we learn from evolutionary demography?
SEAR, R; LAWSON, DW; Kaplan, H; Shenk, MK;
Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B, Biological sciences
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