Welcome to my website

Pepper4This site contains information about my research and related activities. You will also find links to my publications, blog and other web profiles.

My research

My main research interests are around socioeconomic differences in attitudes and behaviours, and their relationship to inequalities in health and ageing. I use observational and experimental data to examine differences in health behaviours, reproductive scheduling, social trust and biomarkers of ageing.

My current role

I am currently working with Daniel Nettle and Melissa Bateson, in their COMSTAR lab – an exciting new ERC-funded project in the Centre for Behaviour and Evolution at Newcastle University. I also work with Newton’s Apple, as a member of their board of Trustees.

My background

After studying as an undergraduate at the University of Liverpool, I won an Interdisciplinary Bridging Award in order to continue my undergraduate research on morning sickness. I then went on to gain experience in science policy and communication. I undertook work experience with the BBC Specialist Factual Unit (TV), and with BBC Focus Magazine. I worked for Newton’s Apple as a Policy and Project Manager and later as their Director. I spent 2 years working as a Communications Manager at the Department of Health, while I completed my MSc in Evolutionary Psychology at Brunel University. I was awarded my PhD in behavioural sciences from the Faculty of Medical Sciences at Newcastle University in 2015. I went on to work as a visiting postdoctoral scholar with the Newcastle City Council Public Health Team, then joined the Newcastle Institute of Health and Society, where I spent a 2015 working as a postdoc in the Health Psychology group with Vera Araujo-Soares.

Selected recent publications:

  • McAllister, L.S., Pepper, G.V., Virgo, S. & Coall, D. A. (2016) The Evolved Psychological Mechanisms of Fertility Motivation: Hunting for Causation in a Sea of Correlation. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, B [PDF]
  • Pepper, G.V. & Nettle, D. (2014) Out of control mortality matters: the effect of perceived uncontrollable mortality risk on a health-related decision.  PeerJ 2:e459 [PDF]
  • Schroeder, K.B., Pepper, G.V. & Nettle, D. (2014) Local norms of cheating and the cultural evolution of crime and punishment: a study of two urban neighbourhoods. PeerJ 2:e450 [Link]
  • Pepper, G. V. & Nettle, D. (2014) Perceived extrinsic mortality risk and health behaviour: Testing a behavioural ecological model. Human Nature, 25(3) [Preprint] [Article]
  • Nettle, D., Pepper G.V., Jobling, R. et al. (2014) Being there: A brief visit to a neighbourhood induces the social attitudes of that neighbourhood. PeerJ. 2: e236 [Link]
  • Pepper, G. V. & Nettle, D. (2014). Socioeconomic disparities in health behaviour: An evolutionary perspective. In D. W. Lawson & M. Gibson (Eds.), Applied Evolutionary Anthropology: Darwinian Approaches to Contemporary World Issues. Springer. [View]
  • Pepper, G. V. & Nettle, D. (2013) Death and the time of your life: experiences of close bereavement are associated with steeper financial future discounting and earlier reproduction. Evolution and Human Behaviour, 34(6): 433-439 [Link] [Poster]

Some of my academic experience:

  • Guest Lecturing at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
  • Guest Lecturing for the School of Psychology at the University of Liverpool.
  • Postdoctoral researcher at the Newcastle University Institute of Health and Society.
  • Visiting Postdoctoral Scholar with the Newcastle City Council Public Health Team.
  • Guest Lecturing for the Combined Honours School at Newcastle University.
  • Teaching & demonstrating for the School of Biology and the Faculty of Medical Sciences at Newcastle University.
  • Supervision of undergraduate project students and postgraduate research students in the Newcastle University Faculty of Medical Sciences, the School of Psychology, and Faculty of Science, Agriculture and Engineering.
  • Local Champion for the Evidence Information Service.
  • Trustee, Newton’s Apple Foundation.
  • Science Communication and Outreach Activities including science engagement events in secondary schools and the British Science Festival Event, “The Big Society? Interactive Psychology Games”
  • More, including my non-academic experience, on the experience page.

I’ve peer reviewed manuscripts for a range of journals including:

  • Evolution and Human Behaviour
  • Evolutionary Medicine and Public Health
  • Evolutionary Psychology
  • Human Nature
  • Journal of Evolutionary Psychology
  • Personality and Individual Differences
  • PLoS ONE

I’ve peer reviewed grant applications for:

  • The Economic and Social Research Council
  • The Royal Academy of Engineering (Ingenious public engagement grant review)

I have received funding from a number of sources:

  • Arizona State University Center for Evolution and Medicine travel grant (2015)
  • Newcastle University Faculty of Medical Sciences Intern Scholarship Scheme (2014)
  • Newcastle University Faculty of Medical Sciences travel grant (2014)
  • Newcastle University institute of Neuroscience postgraduate studentship (2011-2014)
  • University of Liverpool Interdisciplinary Bridging Award (2005)