College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Anthropology

Dr. Luke Premo

Ph.D., University of Arizona
Assistant Professor
Evolutionary Anthropology

Current Research - Courses - Graduate Students - Publications

Research Interests

Agent-based modeling, cultural evolution and diversity, cultural transmission, evolution of altruism, gene-culture coevolution, human evolution, life history, multilevel selection, paleodemography, social networks, spatially explicit models

I encourage prospective graduate students who are interested in these or related topics to contact me via email or by phone.

Current Research

I am an evolutionary anthropologist. I study Pliocene and Pleistocene hominin behavior and paleodemography, mainly through computer simulation and population genetics.  My dissertation research focused on how the fragmentation of woodland habitat in East Africa during the Late Pliocene may have affected the evolution of altruistic food sharing among Plio-Pleistocene hominins and the formation of Lower Paleolithic archaeological landscapes.  After earning my degree, I worked for four years as a post-doc in the Department of Human Evolution at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.  There, I began studying many other interesting topics.

Although I am still very much interested in the evolution of altruism in humans, lately I have been addressing other evolutionary anthropological questions. Why is the genetic diversity of modern humans and Neandertals so much lower than that of living hominoids?  Why does human life history differ so markedly from other large-bodied primates?  How might Pleistocene paleodemography help us better understand why the archaeological record of the Lower and Middle Paleolithic appear temporally staid and spatially homogeneous?  I am also interested in cultural transmission and, more specifically, in how various mechanisms of social learning affect levels of diversity and rates of change in attributes of material culture.  I have become increasingly interested in studying the effects of different types of social networks on cultural diversity and change.



  • ANTH 547 Models and Simulation
  • ANTH 548 Hunters and Gatherers: Past and Present
  • ANTH 562 Evolutionary Method & Theory in Anthropology & Archaeology
  • ANTH 565 Human Evolution


  • ANTH 101 General Anthropology
  • ANTH 260 Introduction to Physical Anthropology
  • ANTH 465 Human Evolution
  • ANTH 490 Integrative Themes in Anthropology: Evolution of Cooperation


Current Graduate Students

  • Jake Adams, Ph.D. (reader)
  • Ricky Berl, Biology (co-advisor)
  • Phil Fisher, Ph.D. (reader)
  • Galen Miller-Atkins, MA (advisor)
  • Kimberly Rieger, MA (advisor)
  • Justin Williams, PhD (reader)


Past Graduate Students

  • A. Friederike Kachel, Ph.D. (Biology, Univeristy of Leipzig)


Selected Recent Publications

(Please see CV for a complete list)

Premo, L. S. (2015) Mobility and cultural diversity in central-place foragers: Implications for the emergence of modern human behavior. In Learning Strategies and Cultural Evolution during the Palaeolithic, edited by Alex Mesoudi and Kenichi Aoki, pp. 45-65. Springer Press, Tokyo.

Premo, L. S. (2014) Cultural transmission and diversity in time-averaged assemblages. Current Anthropology 55(1):105-114.

Premo, L. S. (2013) What serves as evidence for the presence (or absence) of Pleistocene language? Journal of Anthropological Sciences 91:257-259.

Premo, L. S. (2012) The shift to a predominantly logistical mobility strategy can inhibit rather than enhance forager interaction. Human Ecology 40:647-649.

Kachel, A. F. and L. S. Premo (2012) Disentangling the evolution of early and late life history traits in humans. Evolutionary Biology 39:638-649.

Premo, L. S. (2012) Hitchhiker’s guide to genetic diversity in socially structured populations. Current Zoology 58:287-297.

Premo, L. S. (2012) Local extinctions, connectedness, and cultural evolution in structured populations. Advances in Complex Systems 15:1150002:1-18.

Kachel, A. F., L. S. Premo, and J-J. Hublin (2011) Grandmothering and natural selection revisited. Proceedings of the Royal Society, B 278:1939-1941.

Kachel, A. F., L. S. Premo, and J-J. Hublin (2011) Modeling the effects of weaning age on length of female reproductive period: Implications for the evolution of human life history. American Journal of Human Biology 23:479-487.

Kachel, A. F., L. S. Premo, and J-J. Hublin (2011) Grandmothering and natural selection. Proceedings of the Royal Society, B 278:384-391.

Premo, L. S. and J. B. Scholnick (2011) The spatial scale of social learning affects cultural diversity. American Antiquity 76:163-176.

Premo, L. S. and S. L. Kuhn (2010) Modeling effects of local extinctions on culture change and diversity in the Paleolithic. PLoS ONE 5(12): e15582.

Premo, L. S. and J-J. Hublin (2009) Culture, population structure, and low genetic diversity in Pleistocene hominins. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 106(1):33-37.


Back to Top




Contact Information:

College Hall 208

Curriculum Vitae






Heading using the h3tag

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Department of Anthropology, PO Box 644910, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-4910, 509-335-3441, Contact Us