Lesley Newson - Backstory


I entered academia rather late in life. The evolution of human behaviour had been a leisure interest of mine for many years. I read lots of popular books on the subject and was fortunate to have a few friends I could discuss the subject with. But I finally decided to get in on the action and "do" a PhD. I received this in 2003 at the age of 50.  
Academic research is my third career. Previously I worked for the BBC as a researcher, writer and producer for science programmes on the radio and television. Then I worked freelance (combined with being a mother), doing a number of things in the field of science communication but mostly writing books for children and adults that tried to explain science in an interesting way.  
Reporting your own research is harder than writing about other people's research! I gave my very first presentation at an academic meeting at the Human Behaviour and Evolution meeting at Rutgers in 2002. One of the people in the audience was Peter Richerson, who has written extensively on cultural evolution and we began and email correspondence comparing our ideas about the cultural evolution of low fertility. After about a year, we began to compare ideas about divorce - as we were both getting divorced - and other things. Pete and I got married in 2006.