Personal profile

Research interests

My research focuses on population and health issues, incorporating theories and methods from human behavioural ecology and anthropology. Based on long-term fieldwork in South-Central Ethiopia I study recent changes in reproductive and parenting decision-making among Arsi Oromo agropastoralists. I also work on the social dynamics of normative practices which are harmful to women and girls. In particular, I am interested in identifying the individual and community factors which explain the persistence of female genital cutting/mutilation and intimate partner violence in high-risk communities.

I welcome research proposals, in particular within Human Behavioural Ecology, Evolutionary Anthropology, and Applied Anthropology. 

Recently supervised student topics include:

  • Testing evolutionary explanations for “harmful cultural traditions”
  • Developing specialized survey techniques for measuring sensitive behaviour
  • Socio-ecology of infectious disease in Uganda
  • Human behavioural ecology of labour migration in Ethiopia
  • Infant feeding practices in Somali-born women in Bristol


Structured keywords and research groupings

  • International Development
  • Cabot Institute Water Research
  • Cabot Institute Food Security Research
  • Cabot Institute Environmental Change Research


Dive into the research topics where Mhairi A Gibson is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or
  • Abandoning female genital mutilation/cutting (FGMC) is an emerging but costly parental investment strategy in rural Ethiopia

    Gibson, M. A., Gurmu, E., Chua, R. V., Van Bavel, H. & Myers, S., 25 Sept 2023, In: Social Science and Medicine. 335, 10 p., 116170.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

    Open Access
    1 Citation (Scopus)
  • Applying anthropology to female genital mutilation/cutting

    Van Bavel, H. & Gibson, M. A., 1 Oct 2023, (Submitted) In: American Anthropologist.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

  • Reproductive inequality in humans and other mammals

    Ross, C. T., Hooper, P. L., Smith, J. E., Jaeggi, A. V., Smith, E. A., Gavrilets, S., tuz Zohora, F., Ziker, J., Xygalatas, D., Wroblewski, E. E., Wood, B., Winterhalder, B., Willführ, K. P., Willard, A. K., Walker, K., von Rueden, C., Voland, E., Valeggia, C., Vaitla, B., Urlacher, S., & 84 othersTowner, M., Sum, C. Y., Sugiyama, L. S., Strier, K. B., Starkweather, K., Major-Smith, D., Shenk, M., Sear, R., Seabright, E., Schacht, R., Scelza, B., Scaggs, S., Salerno, J., Revilla-Minaya, C., Redhead, D., Pusey, A., Purzycki, B. G., Power, E. A., Pisor, A., Pettay, J., Perry, S., Page, A. E., Pacheco-Cobos, L., Oths, K., Oh, S. Y., Nolin, D., Nettle, D., Moya, C., Migliano, A. B., Mertens, K. J., McNamara, R. A., McElreath, R., Mattison, S., Massengill, E., Marlowe, F., Madimenos, F., Macfarlan, S., Lummaa, V., Lizarralde, R., Liu, R., Liebert, M. A., Lew-Levy, S., Leslie, P., Lanning, J., Kramer, K., Koster, J., Kaplan, H. S., Jamsranjav, B., Hurtado, A. M., Hill, K., Hewlett, B., Helle, S., Headland, T., Headland, J., Gurven, M., Grimalda, G., Greaves, R., Golden, C. D., Godoy, I., Gibson, M., El Mouden, C., Dyble, M., Draper, P., Downey, S., DeMarco, A. L., Davis, H. E., Crabtree, S., Cortez, C., Colleran, H., Cohen, E., Clark, G., Clark, J., Caudell, M. A., Carminito, C. E., Bunce, J., Boyette, A., Bowles, S., Blumenfield, T., Beheim, B., Beckerman, S., Atkinson, Q., Apicella, C., Alam, N. & Mulder, M. B., 22 May 2023, In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 120, 22, e2220124120.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

    Open Access
    5 Citations (Scopus)