queen's university peter taylor - home biology education biology publications mathematics education education publications courses teaching students

I have two current interests. The first goes back to my earliest days as a mathematical biologist and is centred around Bill Hamilton's 1964 formulation of the inclusive fitness method for building evolutionary models of social behaviour. That powerful theoretical approach is now more than 50 years old but it is as mainstream as ever and has recently been the subject of much controversy. My current interests centre around the variations of this formalism required to handle "exceptions" such as synergistic interactions and heterogeneous population structures. My particular interests concern game-theoretic models of cooperation and conflict. My main collaborators are Alan Grafen (Oxford), Corina Tarnita (Princeton) and Danny Krupp (One Earth Future).

That brings me to my second, more recent interest in what I might call "economic" games, the games that economists and psychologists have been using to understand why we behave the way we do. More and more I hear questions about human behaviour. Why is this crazy trend taking off? What accounts for that reaction? Why do we seem unwilling to pursue that option? Why do we do what we do? George Williams, a co-worker for many years, was an early advocate of "evolutionary medicine", using the ideas of evolution to get a better handle on disease, and of course that's a huge field today. Ever since Dawkin's "memes", cultural evolution has seen the same kind of progression and now has a vibrant literature, both academic and popular. For me, games such as prisoner's dilemma, the trust game and the ultimatum game are mathematical ways of getting into this set of ideas.

We have an active BioMath group at Queen's presided over by my colleagues Troy Day(Mathematics), Bill Nelson (Biology) and me, with a number of graduate students and postdocs.

Since 1992, I have been an editor of Evolutionary Ecology Research a journal with a friendly readable style that has already attracted a large number of excellent papers along with considerable kudos for its status as a SPARC publication and the courageous leadership of its Editor-in-chief Mike Rosenzweig who has showed us all how to keep journals affordable and on the shelves where they are needed. Since 2002 I have been an Associate Editor of the American Naturalist.

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