Monique Borgerhoff Mulder

External Professor

Monique Borgerhoff Mulder is a human behavioral ecologist, known for her work on demography, marriage, and natural resource management. She focuses her research both on in-depth, longitudinal field studies in East Africa, and on comparative analyses. She also works closely with local organizations in Africa to strengthen institutions for community-based natural resource management. Borgerhoff Mulder was born in the Netherlands, and raised in Beirut and Great Britain. She graduated from the University of Edinburgh (MA, Social Anthropology) and pursued an early career in museum archaeology and consumer affairs journalism, before re-entering academia. After a PhD in Anthropology (Northwestern University) and a post doctoral position at the Evolution and Human Behavior program at the University of Michigan, she joined the faculty at the University of California in 1990 in the Department of Anthropology.  She is currently affiliated with the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology (Leipzig) and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2021.

She was one of the first anthropologists to make empirical field-based tests of evolutionary hypotheses for variation in marriage and family systems. This work contributed an empirical basis to the emerging field of human behavioral ecology, with specific contributions to the understanding of polygynous marriage, parental investment, demographic transition and mate choice. Her focus has always been on exploring models for variability, both within and between different populations. In this way she seeks to dispel popular misunderstandings of an evolutionary approach when applied to human behaviour. She collaborates extensively with economists, biologists and conservation scientists extending evolutionary insights into the study of inequality and the emergence of institutions for the management of natural resources, and with modelers to explore the foundations of comparative methods in anthropology. In recent years she has focused increasingly on applied projects, working with East African NGOs and scholars.