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Cambridge Public Health

Postdoctoral research associate

I am a postdoctoral researcher in population health science and science writer interested in human social evolution, evolutionary medicine, and public health. I received my PhD from Cambridge's Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies in 2023; my first book, Invisible Rivals: how we evolved to compete in a cooperative world, is forthcoming with Yale University Press. I am also the editor at Cambridge Public Health.


Prior to my PhD, I was a Fellow at the Institute of Global Health Innovation, Imperial College London and a Templeton Foundation–grant-funded researcher at City University in New York’s Department of Biology. I have also worked as an editor of an oncology-focused magazine published by Haymarket Media and as a research assistant at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

I have a BA in Philosophy from Emory University and an MA and research MPhil from the University of London, where I focused on ethics and the philosophy of biology.


Key publications: 




Goodman, JR. Invisible rivals: how we evolved to compete in a cooperative world. Yale University Press. Under contract.


Journal articles/book chapters/white papers:


Goodman JR, Milne R. Cost-paying: an essential ingredient of signalling trustworthiness? In progress.


Lahti, D, Goodman JR. A new synthesis for cultural evolution. In progress.


Goodman JR, Crema E, Nolan F, Cohen E, Foley RA. Evidence that accents are a product of ethnification. Submitted.


Goodman, JR (2023). The problem of opportunityBiology & Philosophy. 38,48.


Goodman JR, Caines A, Foley RA (2023). Shibboleth: an agent-based model of signalling mimicry. PLOS ONE. 18(7):e0289333.


Goodman JR, Ewald P (2021). The evolution of barriers to exploitation. Evolutionary Applications. 14(9):2179-2188.


Goodman JR, Wohns N (2021). Artificial intelligence in medicine and evolutionary theory. In: Artificial Intelligence in Medicine (Eds Lidströmer N, Ashrafian H); Springer Nature.


Lounsbury O, Roberts L, Goodman JR, Batey P, Naar L, Flott KM, Lawrence-Jones A, Ghafur S, Darzi A, Neves AL (2021). Opening a “can of worms” to explore the public's hopes and fears about health care data sharing: qualitative study. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 23(2):e22744.


Goodman JR, Ashrafian H (2020). The promising connection between data science and evolutionary theory in oncology. Frontiers in Oncology. 9:1527.


Fontana G, Ghafur S, Torne L, Goodman JR, Darzi A (2020). Ensuring that the NHS realises fair financial value from its data. The Lancet Digital Health. 2(1): 10-2.


Goodman JR (2019). A data dividend tax would help the NHS monetise health data. BMJ Opinion.


Ghafur S, Fontana G, Martin G, Grass E, Goodman JR, Darzi A (2019). Improving cyber security in the NHS. Institute of Global Health Innovation.


Goodman JR (2019). Reliance on emoji may push us back towards cave drawings. BMJ. 364.


Goodman JR (2018). The importance of practical understanding for altruistic behavior. ASEBL Journal. 13(1):10-17. (Invited submission)


Goodman JR (2018). Does everything flow? A reply to Sparks. ASEBL Journal. 13(1): 28-30. (Invited submission)


Goodman JR (2014). Altruism and the Golden Rule. Zygon. 49:381-95.

Other publications: 


Popular articles:


Combatting deepfakes is an evolutionary arms race. New Scientist. March 13, 2024.


Kindness has persisted in a competitive world – cultural evolution can explain why. The Conversation. September 25, 2023.


Real interdisciplinarity would bridge the quantitative-qualitative divide. Times Higher Education. June 18, 2023.


Inner goblins. New Scientist. May 3, 2023.


Blue ticks: what evolutionary theory tells us about the turmoil around social media verification. The Conversation. March 7, 2023.


Psychopaths: why they’ve thrived through evolutionary history – and how that may change. The Conversation. February 13, 2023.


Beware the rise of corporate rituals designed to manipulate employees. New Scientist. July 20, 2022.


Learning to live with covid-19 means covering up coughs and sneezes. New Scientist. March 16, 2022.


Why we shouldn’t worry about COVID spilling back from animals into human populations. The Conversation. March 2, 2022.


Evolution of language can help us sift truth from lies in modern world. New Scientist. January 26, 2022.


How disease has stimulated cultural change. The Conversation. November 15, 2021.


We should isolate when we have flu, not just covid-19. New Scientist. September 15, 2021.


Sustainability and public health (with Carol Brayne). The Darwinian. August 2021.


The fight against coronavirus needs to embrace evolutionary theory. New Scientist. July 14, 2021.


COVID: did a delayed second dose give the delta variant an evolutionary helping hand? The Conversation. June 11, 2021.


Immune response might be more about signalling to others that you need help and less about protecting your body. The Conversation. May 12, 2021.


A pandemic like no other. New Scientist. January 9, 2021.


An evolving crisis. New Scientist. May 20, 2020.


Letter: Our nature’s political side is driving the polarising rhetoric of these times. Financial Times. April 17, 2020.


The challenge of finding genome-based cancer treatments. Scientific American. April 3, 2020.


Uighur Muslims: novel coronavirus could become increasingly virulent in detention camps (with Paul Ewald). The Conversation. February 19, 2020.


Where is the next HPV vaccine? Proto. January 15, 2020.


Welcome to the virosphere. New Scientist. January 8, 2020.


Citation counting is killing academic dissent. Times Higher Education. November 25, 2019.


How do we decide what is right? The ethicist’s view. Times Higher Education. March 28, 2019 (part of feature: The THE-Microsoft survey on AI).


Confused about cancer? New Scientist. February 4, 2019.


Fear over healthcare locks Americans in jobs – and throttles creativity. The Guardian. November 13, 2017.


If culture is too expensive for most, everyone pays a price. Aeon. December 2, 2016.


How statistics are twisted to obscure public understanding. Aeon. July 11, 2016.


The fight is a morality play. Aeon. July 8, 2015.


The myth of memes. Aeon. May 8, 2015.


Book reviews:


Then I Am Myself the World (Christof Koch). New Scientist. Commissioned.


Selfish Genes to Social Beings (Jonathan Silvertown). Nature. Commissioned.


Our Tribal Future (David Samson). New Scientist. November 10, 2023.


Why We Meditate (Daniel Goleman and Tsoknyi Rinpoche). New Scientist. January 18, 2023.


19 Ways of Looking at Consciousness (Patrick House). New Scientist. October 12, 2022.

Teaching and Supervisions


Human behavioral ecology

Human sociality and cooperation