Research Associates

Joseph Bulbulia in front of a beige wall
Joseph Bulbulia

Senior Research Associate, 2015-Present

Joseph Bulbulia is an evolutionary scholar of religion. He is interested in how religious commitments and institutions co-evolved and continue to affect people. Bulbulia received his PhD from Princeton University in 2001 (Thesis: Before Eden, Religion and the Evolved Mind). From 2000 to 2017, Bulbulia was a member of the Religious Studies Programme at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, where he taught courses on ritual, methods and theories in the study of religion, the psychology of religion, and the biology of religion. In 2018, he became the Maclaurin Goodfellow Chair in the Department of Theological and Religious Studies in the University of Auckland. During 2014-2015, he was President of the International Association for the Cognitive Science of Religions, and is a core contributor to the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study and Pulotu, a database of Pacific Religions. Bulbulia has been a co-editor of Religion, Brain & Behavior since 2015. For more information and links to Bulbulia’s publications see his website.

Megan Shannon DeFranza

Research Associate, 2014-Present

Megan DeFranza (PhD, Marquette University) is a Christian theologian working in theological anthropology, sex, gender, and sexuality. Her first book is Sex Difference in Christian Theology: Male, Female, and Intersex in the Image of God (Eerdmans 2015). She has also collaborated with Susannah Cornwall (Univ. of Exeter, UK) et al. on Intersex, Theology, and the Bible: Troubling Bodies in Church, Text, and Society (Palgrave MacMillan) and contributed to Evangelical Postcolonial Conversations (IVP). She is working with Dr. Wesley Wildman and Dr. Patrick McNamara and a number of doctoral students on CMAC’s Sex Differences project.

Monica Duffy Toft headshot
Monica Duffy Toft

Senior Research Associate, 2017-Present

Monica Duffy Toft is Professor of Government and Public Policy. She joined Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government after having taught at Harvard’s Kennedy School for over a decade. She was educated at the University of Chicago (MA and PhD in political science) and the University of California, Santa Barbara (BA in political science and Slavic languages and literature, summa cum laude). Prior to college, she spent four years in the United States Army as a Russian linguist. Professor Toft is a Global Scholar of the Peace Research Institute in Oslo and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Minorities at Risk Advisory Board and the Political Instability Task Force. In 2008 the Carnegie Foundation of New York named her a Carnegie Scholar for her research on religion and violence. Most recently she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to Norway and is currently on sabbatical at Princeton University as the World Politics Fellow.

Christopher Frantz headshot with a white background
Christopher K. Frantz

Research Associate, 2019-Present

Christopher K. Frantz (PhD, University of Otago) is an Associate Professor at the Department of Computer Science at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). As a computational social scientist, he applies agent-based modelling and simulation to reconstruct complex institutional scenarios for a wide range of domains following the principles of institutional analysis (Agent-Based Institutional Modelling), as well as building tools to facilitate the development of complex behavioral models. A specific interest lies on the development of explanatory approaches to understand the interaction dynamics between socio-institutional (e.g., social norms) and formal institutional structures (e.g., laws and regulations). More information about Christopher’s work can be found here.

Brick Johnstone in an office with a bookshelf in the background
Brick Johnstone

Senior Research Associate, 2019-Present

Brick Johnstone, PhD, is a neuropsychologist and the current Senior Clinical Research Director for the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center at Fort Belvoir, VA. He worked as a professor at the University of Missouri before retiring in 2017, where he conducted research on the neuropsychology of the “self,” and particularly how it relates to spiritual experiences and virtues. He is the first author of Neuroscience, Selflessness, and Spiritual Experience: Explaining the Science of Transcendence (2019, Elsevier), and continues his studies focusing on neuropsychology, selflessness, and moral injury.

Christopher Kavanagh

Research Associate, 2020-Present

Dr. Christopher Kavanagh is a researcher at the Institute of Cognitive & Evolutionary Anthropology (ICEA) at the University of Oxford, and a lecturer at the College of Contemporary Psychology at Rikkyo University.  He earned a BA in Study of Religions (2006) and an MA in Social Anthropology (2007) at the School of Oriental Studies (SOAS) in London, before moving to Oxford were he completed an MSc in Evolutionary & Cognitive Anthropology (2011) and a DPhil in Anthropology (2016) based on his thesis ‘Individual Pains & Social Gains: The Personal & Social Consequences of Collective Dysphoric Rituals’. He previously worked on the ESRC ‘Ritual, Community & Conflict’ project (2011-2017) and now works on the ERC funded ‘Ritual Modes’ project. Chris’ research focuses broadly on collective rituals and their impact on social identity & group orientated behaviours. He is an advocate for interdisciplinary collaboration and employing a combination of research methods, including field and lab based experiments, online surveys, and traditional ethnographic approaches. He specialises in East Asian syncretic religious environments and is an enthusiastic advocate for Open Science and improved standards in experimental design and data analysis. He can be reached via email or (sometimes) on Twitter.

Jonathan Morgan

Research Associate, 2021-Present
Postdoctoral Fellow, 2018-Present
Lindamood Fellow, 2013-2018

Jonathan Morgan (PhD, Boston University) is a post-doctoral research fellow in the Psychology Department at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. His graduate work in the psychology of religion focused on the way socio-ecological characteristics, such as social density, influence the relationships between religious engagement and cognitive styles, self-regulation strategies, and mental health. At CMAC Jonathan has worked on the Neuroscience and Cognition in Parkinson’s Disease and Cognitive Styles and Religious Attitudes projects and is currently the editor of the Institute for the Bio-Cultural Study of Religion’s Research Review. His current work at UCCS uses empirical and natural language processing methods to study the way existential motivations influence science communication. More information about Jonathan’s work is available here.

Andrew Page
Andrew Page

Senior Research Associate, 2020-Present

Andrew Page (PhD, University of Sydney) is Professor of Epidemiology in the Translational Health Research Institute (Western Sydney University). Andrew has extensive research experience in epidemiology, psychology and public health, with particular interests in the study of suicide and mental health, the social determinants of health, injury prevention, breast cancer screening, and maternal and child health. Andrew also has interests in the application of systems science and simulation approaches to epidemiological evidence in order to inform policy and health service decision support tools.

Richard Sosis

Senior Research Associate, 2008-Present

Anthropologist Dr. Richard Sosis is well known for his research on cooperation. He is particularly interested in identifying the evolutionary conditions for the emergence of cooperation within the ecology of human behavior. Recently he has focused his research efforts on the complex relationship among religion, cooperation, and trust. More information about Rich is available here.

Andreas Tolk
Andreas Tolk

Senior Research Associate, 2013-Present

Andreas Tolk is Professor for Engineering Management and Systems Engineering at the Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. He also holds a joint appointment with the Modeling, Simulation, and Visualization Engineering Department. He received his PhD in Computer Science in 1995 and has a M.S. in Computer Science (1988) from the University of the Federal Armed Forces, Germany. He works on the Simulating Religion project with CMAC.

Lawrence A. Whitney

Research Associate, 2024-Present
Postdoctoral Fellow 2021-2024

Lawrence received his PhD from Boston University and is an ACLS Leading Edge Fellow at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. His dissertation was a multidisciplinary investigation of ritual, language, and religious language. He is currently investigating ritual and mind in a science-engaged theology paradigm with support from the New Visions in Theological Anthropology project at the University of St. Andrews.