I hold the first position in the 'Cognitive Science of Religion' in a Religious Studies Department in the United States (2012, California State University, Northridge).
More broadly, I am a psychologist who specializes on the interaction between cognition and culture. My research focuses on using cognitive and evolutionary theories, methods and findings to (a) explain how and why some representations are cross-culturally recurrent and, to (b) understand how these representations impact upon human behavior and well-being. So far, my research has focused on the following topics: reincarnation, supernatural agents, funerary practices, end-of-life care and grief.
As a native of Northern Ireland, I gained a B.Sc. from Psychology at Queen's University, Belfast in 2004 and completed a PhD at The Institute of Cognition and Culture in 2009 on the topic of reincarnation. Since then, I have held research positions at The Psychology and Religion Research Group (University of Cambridge), The Centre for Anthropology and Mind (University of Oxford), The Institute of Psychiatry (King's College London) and The Institute of Cognition and Culture (Queen's University, Belfast).
For more on my background and research, see my interview with 3AM magazine: