Laurence Belcher

College Lecturer in Biology


I graduated with a degree in Zoology from the University of Exeter in 2013. After staying in Exeter to do a Masters degree I moved to the University of Bath for my PhD on social evolution, which I completed in 2019. I have now taken up a position at the University of Oxford to continue my research in social evolution

Research Interests

My main interest is in the evolution of cooperation and other social behaviours, and how they persist given the possibility of cheating and exploitation. During my PhD I used a combination of theoretical and experimental work to investigate the evolution of strategic social behaviour in the social ameoba Dictyostelium discoideum. Since moving to Oxford, I now use a combination of theory and molecular population genetics in natural populations to study the footprints of selection that cooperative traits leave in genomes. Understanding the dynamics of cooperation and cheating in natural population can aid in reducing the virulence of clinical infections, as cooperation is critical to the way pathogens cause disease.


I teach in statistics and quantitative methods, and also in social evolution. 

Recent Publications

Ecology & Evolution, 1-12 []

Madgwick, P.G., Stewart, B., Belcher, L. J., Thompson, C. R. L., & Wolf, W. B. (2018) Strategic investment explains patterns of cooperation and cheating in a microbe. PNAS, 115 (21) []

Social Media

Twitter: @lauriebelch