Elected: 2012
Discipline: Language, Literature and History
Professor Simon Michael Kirby FRSE, FBA

Professor of Language Evolution, University of Edinburgh.

Professor Simon Kirby joined the University of Edinburgh in 1996 and became Professor in 2009. He studies the evolution of language, and interactions between culture and biology. He pioneered the ‘iterated learning’ approach to cultural evolution, working with both computational simulations and psychological experiments. His view is that a complete understanding of human nature requires an account of the complex interactions between individual learning, cultural transmission and biological evolution. In addition, he pairs his scientific research with artistic output by collaborating with sculptors and musicians to create interactive installations exploring issues of communication and cultural evolution in a socially and informationally promiscuous world.