I am a faculty member of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Connecticut and I am affiliated with the UConn Humanities Institute and Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life. I am also a Senior Research Associate at the Institute for the Bio-Cultural Study of Religion. In 2011, I co-founded the journal Religion, Brain & Behavior, which publishes research on the biological study of religion, and I currently serve as a co-editor of the journal. I additionally serve as the Religion Editor of the online magazine This View of Life.
The central theme in my past and current research is human sociality and cooperation. Under the umbrella of human behavioral ecology, my work on the "puzzle of cooperation" has been interdisciplinary, including perspectives from psychology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, economics, sociology, and my primary area of training, anthropology. My research has specifically examined the ecological conditions that favor the emergence and stability of cooperative resource acquisition in an effort to understand variation in cooperative production across societies. My current work explores the relationship between religion, trust, and intra-group cooperation, with particular interests in ritual, magic, religious cognition, and the dynamics of religious systems. Other research interests include optimal foraging theory, signaling theory, life history theory, utopian societies, anthropology of sport, and how humans construct their social worlds. To explore these issues, I have conducted fieldwork with remote cooperative fishers in the Federated States of Micronesia and with various communities throughout Israel. I have also pursued ethnohistorical research on 19th century utopian communal societies and conducted economic experiments with various non-student populations in Israel and the United States.