Post-Doctoral Fellows

Khatera Alizada

Postdoctoral Fellow, 2017–Present

Khatera Alizada received her Ph.D. from the Graduate Program in International Studies at Old Dominion University in 2017. Her research interest areas include policy studies, modeling and simulation, international relations, political economy, peace and conflict resolution. She is currently working on policy research, focusing on the Immigration and Tools Against Child Trafficking projects at CMAC.

Stephanie N. Arel

Postdoctoral Fellow, 2015-Present

Dr. Stephanie N. Arel completed a Ph.D. from Boston University’s School of Theology and is currently training in trauma modalities for clinical treatment at the New York Institute for the Psychotherapies. Her work on IBCSR’s Sex Differences and Religion Project probes questions about the constitution of material and spiritual bodies, as well as how both interdepend on sexual reproduction. She is also interested in the ontogeny of shame and the role of violence in spiritual formation, especially as these relate to sex and gender.

P. Monroe Butler

Postdoctoral Fellow, 2013-Present
Doctoral Fellow, 2009–2011

Paul Butler graduated in 2012 with an MD-PhD at Boston University School of Medicine, and is currently in a neurology residency at Tufts Medical. He is working on IBCSR’s Neuroscience and Religious Cognition project, researching aspects of neurocognition in patients with Parkinson’s disease under the direction of Dr. Patrick McNamara.

Joel C. Daniels

Postdoctoral Fellow, 2015-Present
Lindamood Fellow, 2010-2014
Doctoral Fellow, 2009-2010

Joel Daniels (Ph.D., Boston University) edits the IBCSR Research Review. He is also Assistant Editor for Religion, Brain & Behavior. Visit his BU webpage here.

Erica Harris

Postdoctoral Fellow, 2013-Present
Doctoral Fellow, 2007-2011

Erica Harris is currently a research psychologist in the medical service corps for the United States Navy, working on sleep studies. When working with CMAC, she was a PhD student in Boston University Medical School, specializing in behavioral neurosciences. She was heavily involved in CMAC-related research in the laboratory of Patrick McNamara, and her research focus was on the evolution of religious behaviors, beliefs, and experiences.


Justin E. Lane

Postdoctoral Fellow, 2015-Present

Justin Lane‘s (Ph.D., University of Oxford) research program concerns the stability of social systems from an evolutionary/economic perspective.  More specifically, he is interested in how social groups maintain stability and the evolutionary variables that contribute to their stability/instability, particularly focusing on new religious movement ritual stability and socio-economic variables concerning sectarian violence. He hopes to model these variables and their related cognitive mechanisms to create more accurate social artificial intelligence for the modeling of complex social environments.

Yair Lior

Postdoctoral Fellow, 2015-Present

Dr. Yair Lior completed his doctoral studies at Boston University. His research at IBCSR is in the Comparative Cultural Systems Project, where he focuses on systems and information approaches to comparative religion. He is particularly interested in highlighting parallels between the Chinese and Jewish traditions as a showcase for the instrumentality of new comparative methodologies. His academic training is in Chinese philosophy, religion, and Song dynasty intellectual history, especially Neo-Confucian thought.

Connor Wood

Postdoctoral Fellow, 2016-Present
Lindamood Fellow, 2010-2015

Connor Wood recently earned his Ph.D. from the Graduate Division of Religious Studies at Boston University. His research interests include religion and health, human ethology, signaling theory, ritual studies, shamanism, evolutionary theory, cultural evolution, cognitive styles, and the public understanding of issues in science and religion. He is currently working on the Modeling Religion Project. Connor can be contacted at

Gina A. Zurlo

Postdoctoral Fellow, 2017–Present

Gina Zurlo received her Ph.D. from Boston University in 2017. As a demographer of religion, Gina edits the World Religion Database and World Christian Database, and also serves as a Research Associate at the International Religious Demography Project at Boston University’s Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs. Gina co-edits the annual Yearbook of International Religious Demography, published by Brill, and works on the Center for Mind and Culture’s Global Religion Demography Project. Gina can be reached at