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Sheina Lew-Levy


Sheina Lew-Levy


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Research interests

Sheina Lew-Levy is a current PhD student in the department of psychology. Her research focuses on children’s learning in hunting and gathering societies. Sheina’s interests include cross-cultural research, experimental archaeology, evolutionary theory and child development.

Sheina’s current research will examine how Hadza and Mbendjele foragers, from Tanzania and Congo respectively, learn to forage. She also examines the effect of gender, age and environment on the types of activities children engage in.

Sheina’s master’s thesis examine the importance of play in learning complex tasks among the Aka foragers and Ngandu farmers of the Central African Republic, using data collected by Dr. Adam Boyette (Duke University). Sheina’s former research took her to Northern Quebec, where she researched the impact of residential schools on a Cree community.

Qualifications and Training

2015-present: PhD Candidate, Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge

2014-2015: MPhil in Biological Anthropology (Distinction), University of Cambridge

2010-2013: B.A. Anthropology, minor in African Field Studies (First Class Honours), McGill University


Lew-Levy, Sheina; Boyette, A.H. "Evidence for the adaptive learning function of work and work-themed play among Aka forager and Ngandu farmer children from the Congo Basin." Human Nature (In Press).

Lew-Levy, Sheina; Reckin, Rachel; Lavi, Noa; Cristobal-Azkarate, Jurgi; Ellis-Davies, Kate. “How do hunter-gatherer children learn subsistence skills? A meta-ethnographic review.” Human Nature (2017). Link

Lew-Levy, Sheina; Lavi, Noa; Reckin, Rachel; Cristobal-Azkarate, Jurgi; Ellis-Davies, Kate. “How do hunter-gatherer children learn social and gender norms? A meta-ethnographic review.” Cross Cultural Research 52 (2018). Sage Link   Open Access Link

Timler, Kelsey; Lew-Levy, Sheina. “Growing under the Acacia tree: An open letter on how to raise an anthropologist.” Teaching Anthropology 6 (2016): 52-56. Link

Lew-Levy, Sheina. “Paths of least resistance: Food, abundance, and politics of indistinction in a foraging household.” Fields-Terrains 3 (2013): 30-37. Link

Conference Presentations and Invited Talks


Sarma, M.S., Lew-Levy, S., Boyette, A.H., Gettler, L.T. Measuring movement: Collecting human activity intensity energy expenditure in extreme environments. Presented at the 33rd annual meeting of the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research: Seattle, WA.

Ellis-Davies, K., Lew-Levy, S., Lavi, N., Reckin, R., Cristobal-Azkarate, J. How do hunter-gatherer children learn gender norms? A meta-ethnographic review. Poster presented at the 4th annual Male Psychology Conference: London, U.K. 

Boyette, A.H., Lew-Levy, S., Sarma, M.S., Gettler, L.T. Biocultural perspectives on family systems: Parental psychobiology among Mondongo farmers in the Republic of the Congo. Society for Research on Child Development Biennial Meeting: Austin, TX.

Reckin, R., Lew-Levy, S., Lavi, N., Cristobal-Azkarate, J., Ellis-Davies, K. How do hunter-gatherer children learn to make material culture? A meta-ethnographic review. Poster presented at the 82nd annual meeting of the Society for American Archeology: Vancouver, B.C.

Boyette, A.H., Lew-Levy, S., Gettler, L.T. Dimensions of fatherhood in a Congo Basin village: A Multi-method analysis of intra-cultural variation in men’s parental and its relevance for children’s health. Presented at the 46th meeting of the Society for Cross-Cultural Research, New Orleans: Louisiana.


Boyette, A.H., Gettler, L.T., Lew-Levy, S. Biocultural anthropology and child development: Children’s play and men’s parenting in the Congo. Guest lecture, Nottingham Trent University: Nottingham, U.K.

Ellis-Davies, Kate, Lew-Levy, Sheina, Lavi, Noa, Reckin, Reckin, Cristobal-Azkarate, Jurgi. "How do hunter-gatherer children learn to share? A meta-ethnographic review". Poster presented at SHARING The Archaeology and Anthropology of Hunter-Gatherers: Cambridge, U.K. 

Lew-Levy, Sheina. “Evolution and gender, a debate: Is evolution or socialization to blame for gender inequality?” Panelist, BlueSci Cambridge University Science Magazine Talks.

Boyette, Adam H.; Lew-Levy, Sheina. “Identifying variation in cultural models of resource sharing between foragers and farmers: A cultural consensus approach.” Presented at the 45th annual meeting of the Society for Cross-Cultural Research. Embassy Suites Hotel, Portland. 19 February 2016.

Lew-Levy, Sheina; Boyette, Adam H. “Evidence for adaptive learning biases in children’s activity choice: The case of gender and culture norms in work and play among Aka foragers and Ngandu farmers.” Presented at the 45th annual meeting of the Society for Cross-Cultural Research. Embassy Suites Hotel, Portland. 

Lew-Levy, Sheina. “Playing hunter-gatherer: My time (so far) in the wilderness.” Presented at the Cambridge University Primitive Living and Survival Society. Cambridge University (U.K.). 


Lew-Levy, Sheina. “Social learning in hunter-gatherers: What might this say about human evolution?” Presented at the PalMeso Seminar Series, Division of Archeology. Cambridge University (U.K.). 

Lew-Levy, Sheina. “Knowing your neighbours: Thoughts on cultivating attachment to the natural world.” Presented at the 4th annual Global Scholar Symposium. Cambridge University (U.K.). 


Lew-Levy, Sheina. “One in every family: A look at Cree educational paradigms.” Presented at the Cree School Board Working Group. Sheraton Hotel, Montreal. 


Lew-Levy, Sheina; Timler, Kelsey. “Growing under the Acacia tree: Notes on how to raise an anthropologist.” Presented at the 111th Annual Meeting, American Anthropological Association. Hilton Hotel, San Francisco. 15 Nov. 2012.

Fieldwork and Research Experience

Republic of Congo (2017—4 months): Research assistant, evaluating the impact of cultural models and biomarkers of fatherhood on child wellbeing among Central African foragers and farmers, year 3 (PI: Adam Boyette, Duke University and Lee Gettler, University of Notre Dame);Pilot data collection, archeological implications of fire formation among Mbendjele foragers (PI: David Friesem, University of Cambridge); Pilot data collection, inter-ethnic relations and group psychology of Mbenjele foragers and their farmer neighbours (Co-investigator, PI: Harriet Over, University of York and Kate Ellis-Davies, Nottingham-Trent University); Data collection, sleep and dreams among Mbendjele foragers (PI: David Samson, University of Toronto Mississauga); PhD data collection; Establishing field site

Tanzania (2017—2 months): Data collection, the ontogeny of altruistic social preferences (PI: Bailey House, Arizona State University); PhD data collection

Republic of Congo (2016—5 months): Research assistant, evaluating the impact of cultural models and biomarkers of fatherhood on child wellbeing among Central African foragers and farmers, year 2 (PI: Adam Boyette, Duke University and Lee Gettler, Notre Dame University); PhD data collection; Establishing field site

 CambridgeUK (2015—1 month): Research assistant, understanding the co-evolution of language and stone tool making through stone-tool making experiments (PI: Dana Cataldo, University College London)

Washaw Sibi, Quebec (2013—3 weeks): Honours dissertation fieldwork

 South Africa, Botswana and Namibia (2012—2 months): Intern at CyberTracker Conservation; Field assistant to founder Louis Liebenberg during expedition to Kalahari for research with San Master Trackers

  Kenya and Tanzania (2012—3 months): Participant, Canadian Field Studies in Africa Program

Wemindji, Quebec (2011—2 weeks): Research assistant, investigating the application of hand-held wildlife tracking devices to biodiversity conservation among Cree hunters (PI: Colin Scott, McGill University)

  Nicaragua (2008—1 month): Participant, North South Studies Field Expedition

Grants, Scholarships and Awards

2016    RAI Ruggles-Gates Fund for Biological Anthropology                                          

 2016    Worts Travelling Grant

2016      Smuts Memorial Fund

2016-2019    SSHRC Doctoral Scholarship (used towards cost of PhD dissertation fieldwork)

 2015-2018   Cambridge International Trust Scholarship

 2015   Graduate Tutors’ Prize for Distinction in Mphil  

2014-2015   Gates Cambridge Trust Scholarship

2013   Dean’s Convocation Prize   

2013   Biodiversity Science Discovery Award

2012   The Eva and Myron Echenberg Arts Internship Award

2012     The Sceptre Investment Counsel Limited Scholarship

2011-2013   McGill University Dean’s Honours List