Humans use complex expressions to convey complex meanings, a trait that is unique to our species. Having a background in formal semantics (Montague grammar and dynamic semantics) and philosophy of language, I am interested in how (complex) meaning is best characterised. My current research focuses on language evolution, and shows that concepts from semantic theory and philosophy of language can be successfully applied to gain insight in the evolutionary origins of complex language.

One of the methodologies I use are laboratory experiments in which adult participants improvise to convey information. For example, in silent gesture experiments, participants describe events using only their hands and no speech (see my papers in Cognition, Cognitive Science), and this paper that combines silent gesture and computational modeling (Cognitive Science, 2019).

I am interested in how the preferences that surface in improvisation change under the influence of cultural evolutionary mechanisms, like communicative interaction and iterated learning (see this Evolang paper, this article in Science magazine of the work with my phd student Yasamin Motamedi), and this blog post about my experiences in the lab.