Institute for the Bio-Cultural Study of Religion

An Institute of the Center for Mind and Culture

IBCSR is a research institute handling religion-focused research within the Center for Mind and Culture.

Science On Religion.org features news on the scientific study of religion, book reviews, and videos.

Exploring My Religion.org: get instant feedback on your spirituality and contribute to scientific research.

Religion, Brain & Behavior is the flagship journal in the bio-cultural study of religion, discounted for IBCSR members.

Current Research Associates

Richard Sosis

Richard Sosis

SENIOR RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, 2008-2017

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.

F. LeRon Shults

F. LeRon Shults

SENIOR RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, 2011-2018

Dr. F. LeRon Shults is Professor of Theology and Philosophy in the Institute for Religion, Philosophy and History at the University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway. His many books and articles address religion and human life in the context of the contemporary human and physical sciences. He is working with the institute on extending the networks supporting the biocultural study of religion in a variety of research areas, including secularism, naturalism, compassion, and political and religious ideology. More information about LeRon is available here.

Catherine Caldwell-Harris

Catherine Caldwell-Harris

SENIOR RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, 2011-2017

Catherine Caldwell-Harris, Associate Professor of Psychology at Boston University, has conducted research in several areas within the cognitive and behavioral sciences, including psycholinguistics, cross-cultural psychology and individual differences. She notes that everyday observations as well as research suggest that causes of individual differences in religious belief are a complex outcome of genetic temperamental predispositions, family upbringing, societal values, and idiosyncratic life experiences. In one of Dr. Caldwell-Harris' studies, atheists reported finding as much meaning in life as did religious persons, but they eschewed terms related to supernaturalism (like 'spiritual'), and focused their moral concerns on the pragmatic here-and-now. Dr. Caldwell-Harris has also studied low religious belief in individuals with Asperger Syndrome. Dr. Caldwell-Harris is developing a new project to study religious doubt in Turkey, a country where she has long conducted research on topics including bilngualism and individualism-collectivism.

Saikou Y. Diallo

Saikou Y. Diallo

RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, 2013-2018

Dr. Diallo is a Research Assistant Professor at the Virginia Modeling Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC) of the Old Dominion University. He received his M.S. in Modeling & Simulation (2006) and his Ph.D. in M&S (2010) from ODU. His research focuses on the theory of interoperability as it relates to Model-based Data Engineering and Web Services for M&S applications. Dr. Diallo has authored or co-authored over fifty publications including a number of awarded papers and articles in conferences, journals and book chapters. He participates in a number of Modeling and Simulation related organizations and conferences and is currently the co-chair of the Coalition Battle Management Language drafting group, an M&S IEEE standard development group. Dr. Diallo works with IBCSR on the Simulating Religion Project.

Megan K. DeFranza

Megan K. DeFranza

RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, 2014-2017

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 the Institute's Sex Differences and Religion project.

Luke J. Matthews

Luke J. Matthews

RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, 2014-2017
POSTDOCTORAL FELLOW, 2008-2012

Dr. Luke Matthews is an Anthropologist for the Rand Corporation. Formerly, he was Senior Scientific Director at Activate Networks Inc., a startup social network analysis company, and prior to that a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University. He holds a PhD and MA in Anthropology from New York University, and bachelor's degrees in Anthropology and Biology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Matthews has studied biocultural inheritance in systems ranging from social networks of capuchin monkeys, to ancient human migrations and extant human cultural variation. His research has been featured in New Scientist, The Washington Post, The New York Times and other venues. His primary research interests include network and phylogenetic analysis, cultural dynamics, personality genetics, and applied social science. He worked on IBCSR's Religious Violence Project as a post-doctoral fellow and is currently working on the Sex Differences and Religion Project as a research associate. Find out more about Luke here.

Ann Taves

Ann Taves

SENIOR RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, 2015-2017

Ann Taves is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara where she teaches courses in methods and theories in the study of religion and the history of Christianity, along with directing the Religion, Experience, and Mind Lab Group. Her books and articles address the role of unusual experiences in established religions and emergent spiritual paths, methods appropriate to the interdisciplinary study of anomalous experiences, and tools for bridging between the humanities and the natural sciences. She is a past president of the American Academy of Religion (2010), where she with Ted Slingerland co-founded the Cognitive Science of Religion Group, and the president elect of the International Association for the Cognitive Science of Religion. More information about Ann is available here.

Raymond F. Paloutzian

Raymond F. Paloutzian

SENIOR RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, 2015-2017

Ray Paloutzian (PhD, Claremont Graduate School) is Professor Emeritus of experimental and social psychology, Westmont College, and consultant to the Religion, Experience, and Mind (REM) Lab Group at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He was Visiting Professor at Stanford University and Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium. He is Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, and of the American Psychological Association and its Divisions on Psychology of Religion, Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, and International Psychology. Ray edited The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion (1998-2016). He co-edited Forgiveness and Reconciliation: Psychological Pathways to Conflict Transformation and Peace Building (Springer, 2010), the Handbook of the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality 2nd.ed. (Guilford, 2013), and Process of Believing: The Acquisition, Maintenance, and Change in Creditions (Springer, 2016).  His textbook Invitation to the Psychology of Religion (1st ed. 1983, 3rd ed. 2016, Guilford) helped establish the psychology of religion in its modern period. More information about Ray is available here.

Joseph Bulbulia

Joseph Bulbulia

SENIOR RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, 2015-2017

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). Since 2000, Bulbulia has been member of the Religious Studies Programme at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, where he teaches courses on ritual, methods and theories in the study of religion, the psychology of religion, and the biology of religion. 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.

Uffe Schjoedt

RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, 2016-2017

Uffe Schjoedt is a neuroscientist studying religion. He is Associate Professor in the school of Culture and Society, Department of the Study of Religion at the University of Aarhus in Denmark. Uffe is co-editor of IBCSR's journal Religion, Brain & Behavior. website.

Phil Zuckerman

Phil Zuckerman

SENIOR RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, 2016-2017

Phil Zuckerman is a sociologist conducting research and writing on secularism, atheism, and unbelief. He is Professor of Sociology at Pitzer College in Southern California. More information about Phil is available in his website.

John Sokolowski

John Sokolowski

SENIOR RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, 2016-2017

John Sokolowski directs the Virgina Modeling, Analysis & Simulation Center at Old Dominion University. He works with IBCSR on unbelief research and computer simulation and modeling.

Former Research Associates

James Burns, 2008-2010

Charles Nunn, 2008-2012

Katherine Verdolini Abbott, 2009-2011

Magda Giordano, 2013-2014

Kirk Wegter -McNelly, 2013-2014

Andreas Tolk, 2013-2014

Ruben Mancha, 2013-2015

Michael Spezio 2015-2016

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