School of Psychology - Leading psychological science, scholarship and practice
Deputy Head of School, Research
Phone: +64 9 923 8525
Room: HSB 655
Russell completed his PhD at the University of Auckland in 1990. He spent four years as a lecturer in Psychology at the University of Otago before returning to Auckland. He has served on the University of Auckland and Faculty of Science research committees and has served on Marsden Grant panels from 2002-2004 and 2012-2013. He has been on the Editorial Board of Proceedings of the Royal Society B, and is currently on the boards of Biological Reviews, Evolutionary Bioinformatics, and Frontiers (Comparative Psychology). He a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and has been awarded a Hood Fellowship, a James Cook Fellowship, a Visiting Fellowship at All Soul College Oxford, and the inaugural Mason Durie Medal for his pioneering contributions to social science.
Russell’s 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 by Diamond and Bellwood (2003) as “the most recalcitrant problem in historical linguistics”. More recently, he used sophisticated Bayesian phylogenetic methods to test hypotheses about the sequence and timing of the peopling of the Pacific. His work with Dr Gavin Hunt 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 including full page articles in The New York Times, Time and Le Monde and has featured on several international television documentaries. He has published over 100 journal articles and book chapters including eight papers in Nature and Science.
- Science podcast
- Pacific Pulse interview
- Darwin lecture
- New Scientist
- Le Monde
- The New York Times Language Crow research
- Spectrum der Wissenschaft
- Bouckaert, R., Lemey, P., Dunn, M., Greenhill, S.J., Alekseyenko, A.V., Drummond, A.J, Gray, R.D., Suchard, M.A., and Atkinson, Q. (2012). Mapping the origins and expansion of the first Indo-Europeans. Science, 337, 957-960. 10.1126/science.1219669
- Dunn, M., Greenhill, S.J., Levinson, S.C. and Gray, R.D. (2011). Evolved structure of language shows lineage-specific trends in word-order "universals". Nature, 473, 79–82. doi.org/10.1038/nature09923
- Currie, T.E., Greenhill, S.J., Gray, R.D., Hasegawa, T. and Mace, M. (2010). The rise and fall of political complexity in island SE Asia and the Pacific. Nature, 476, 801-804. doi.org/10.1038/nature09461.
- Gray, R.D, Drummond, A.J. and Greenhill, S.J. (2009). Language phylogenies reveal expansion pulses and pauses in Pacific settlement. Science, 323, 479-483.doi.org/10.1126/science.1166858
- Taylor, A.H., Hunt, G.R., Holzhaider, J.C., and Gray, R.D. (2007). Spontaneous metatool use by New Caledonian crows. Current Biology, 17, 1504-1507.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2007.07.057
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