Nicole Creanza, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Faculty Appointments
Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences
Ph.D., Biological Sciences, Rockefeller University, New York, New YorkA.B., Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Research Description
Cultural traits, behaviors that are learned from others, can change more rapidly than genes and can be inherited not only from parents but also from teachers and peers.

How does this complex process of cultural evolution differ from and interact with genetic evolution?

Research in my lab builds on knowledge about learned behaviors from linguistics, animal behavior, and anthropology by integrating techniques and data from population genetics. By combining empirical and theoretical approaches to the study of genetics and learned behaviors, we target three fundamental questions:

(1) In what ways can learned behaviors change the course of genetic evolution?

(2) How much information about evolutionary history persists in learned behaviors?

(3) How do ecological factors, such as environmental stress and species interactions, affect the evolution of learned behaviors?

We address these questions by analyzing genetic data and learned behaviors, such as human language and learned birdsong, and by proposing theoretical and computational models of genetic and cultural evolution.
Research Keywords
evolution, behavior, learning, cultural evolution, genetics, language, birdsong, mathematical modeling, computational biology, phylogenetics, genomics, epigenetics, stress
Creanza Nicole, Fogarty Laurel, Feldman Marcus W.. Cultural niche construction of repertoire size and learning strategies in songbirds. Evol. Ecol. 2016 Apr; 30: 285-305.

Kolodny O, Creanza N, Feldman MW. Evolution in leaps: The punctuated accumulation and loss of cultural innovations. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A [print-electronic]. 2015 Dec 12/8/2015; 112(49): E6762-9. PMID: 26598675, PMCID: PMC4679034, PII: 1520492112, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1520492112, ISSN: 1091-6490.

Fogarty L, Creanza N, Feldman MW. Cultural Evolutionary Perspectives on Creativity and Human Innovation. Trends Ecol. Evol. (Amst.) [print-electronic]. 2015 Dec; 30(12): 736-54. PMID: 26598058, PII: S0169-5347(15)00266-9, DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2015.10.004, ISSN: 1872-8383.

Creanza N, Ruhlen M, Pemberton TJ, Rosenberg NA, Feldman MW, Ramachandran S. A comparison of worldwide phonemic and genetic variation in human populations. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A [print-electronic]. 2015 Feb 2/3/2015; 112(5): 1265-72. PMID: 25605893, PMCID: PMC4321277, PII: 1424033112, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1424033112, ISSN: 1091-6490.

Creanza N, Feldman MW. Complexity in models of cultural niche construction with selection and homophily. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A [print-electronic]. 2014 Jul 7/22/2014; 111 Suppl 3: 10830-7. PMID: 25024189, PMCID: PMC4113930, PII: 1400824111, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1400824111, ISSN: 1091-6490.

Fogarty L, Creanza N, Feldman MW. The role of cultural transmission in human demographic change: an age-structured model. Theor Popul Biol [print-electronic]. 2013 Sep; 88: 68-77. PMID: 23867394, PII: S0040-5809(13)00050-6, DOI: 10.1016/j.tpb.2013.06.006, ISSN: 1096-0325.

Press MO, Li H, Creanza N, Kramer G, Queitsch C, Sourjik V, Borenstein E. Genome-scale co-evolutionary inference identifies functions and clients of bacterial Hsp90. PLoS Genet [print-electronic]. 2013; 9(7): e1003631. PMID: 23874229, PMCID: PMC3708813, PII: PGENETICS-D-13-00855, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1003631, ISSN: 1553-7404.

Creanza Nicole, Fogarty Laurel, Feldman Marcus W, et al. Exploring Cultural Niche Construction from the Paleolithic to Modern Hunter-Gatherers. Dynamics of Learning in Neanderthals and Modern Humans. 2013 Jan; 1: 211-28.

Creanza N, Fogarty L, Feldman MW. Models of cultural niche construction with selection and assortative mating. PLoS ONE [print-electronic]. 2012; 7(8): e42744. PMID: 22905167, PMCID: PMC3419226, PII: PONE-D-12-10680, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0042744, ISSN: 1932-6203.

Creanza N, Schwarz JS, Cohen JE. Intraseasonal dynamics and dominant sequences in H3N2 influenza. PLoS ONE. 2010; 5(1): e8544. PMID: 20049091, PMCID: PMC2796395, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008544, ISSN: 1932-6203.