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Cambridge Language Sciences

Interdisciplinary Research Centre


I am a doctoral student at the Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies interested in understanding why communication is so complex across species, and how some aspects of communication are exploited, through mimicry or other tactics, for Darwinian purposes. Prior to my PhD, I worked as a postgraduate researcher in evolutionary biology at City University of New York, and more recently completed an ESRC-funded fellowship at the Institute of Global Health Innovation, Imperial College London, where I applied some elements of my research to the public health sphere. I hold a BA in Philosophy and Behavioural Biology from Emory University and an MA and MPhil in Philosophy (with focus on philosophy of science and evolutionary ethics) from the University of London. I am also a science writer.


I am broadly interested in how ecological factors affect the evolution of signals and communication, and whether coevolutionary relationships between cooperative and competitive individuals across taxa have shaped the diversity of Darwinian strategies we see across species. In my PhD project, I aim to apply this thinking to human language, and to explore whether imitation of signals associated with cooperation is an important driver of linguistic complexity.


Key publications: 

Evolutionary ethics:

Goodman JR. (2014), Altruism and the Golden RuleZygon. 49: 381–95.


Evolutionary medicine:

Goodman JR, Wohns N. Artificial Intelligence in Medicine and Evolutionary Theory. In: Artificial Intelligence in Medicine (Eds Lidströmer N, Ashrafian H); Springer Nature. In press. 

Goodman JR, Ashrafian H (2020), The promising connection between data science and evolutionary theory in oncologyFrontiers in Oncology. 9:1527.

Other publications: 

Medical sciences:

Lounsbury O, Roberts L, Goodman JR, Batey P, Naar L, Flott KM, Lawrence-Jones A, Ghafur S, Darzi A, Neves AL. Opening a “can of worms” to explore the public's hopes and fears about health care data sharing: qualitative studyJournal of Medical Internet Research. 2021;23(2):e22744

Fontana G, Ghafur S, Torne L, Goodman JR, Darzi A. (2020), Ensuring that the NHS realises fair financial value from its dataThe Lancet Digital Health. 2(1): 10-2.

Goodman JR. (2019), A data dividend tax would help the NHS monetise health dataBMJ Opinion. 

Goodman JR. (2019), Reliance on emoji may push us back towards cave drawingsBMJ. 364.


Popular publications:

A pandemic like no otherNew Scientist. January 9, 2021.

An evolving crisisNew Scientist. May 20, 2020.

Letter: Our nature’s political side is driving the polarising rhetoric of these timesFinancial Times. April 17, 2020.

The challenge of finding genome-based cancer treatmentsScientific American. April 3, 2020.

Uighur Muslims: novel coronavirus could become increasingly virulent in detention camps. (With Paul Ewald). The Conversation. February 19, 2020.

Where is the next HPV vaccine? Proto. January 15, 2020.

Welcome to the virosphereNew Scientist. January 8, 2020.

Citation counting is killing academic dissentTimes Higher Education. November 25, 2019.

How do we decide what is right? The ethicist’s view. Times Higher Education. March 28, 2019 (part of feature: The THE-Microsoft survey on AI).

Confused about cancer? New Scientist. February 4, 2019.

Fear over healthcare locks Americans in jobs – and throttles creativityThe Guardian. November 13, 2017.

If culture is too expensive for most, everyone pays a priceAeon. December 2, 2016 (Republished in The Week December 30, 2016).

How statistics are twisted to obscure public understandingAeon. July 11, 2016.

Publications (from Symplectic)

Journal articles


  • Goodman, JR. and Ewald, PW., 2021. The evolution of barriers to exploitation: Sometimes the Red Queen can take a break. Evol Appl, v. 14
  • 2019

  • Goodman, JR., 2019. Confused about cancer? New Scientist, v. 241
  • Goodman, JR., 2019. Reliance on emoji may push us back towards cave drawings. BMJ, v. 364
  • Goodman, JR. and Ashrafian, H., 2019. The Promising Connection Between Data Science and Evolutionary Theory in Oncology. Front Oncol, v. 9
  •  Jonathan R. Goodman

    Contact Details

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