Post Doctoral Research Fellow

Evolutionary Biology Group

University of Reading
School of Biological Sciences
Reading, RG6 6BX
United Kingdom

+ 44 (0) 118 378 7535

About me

My research covers the description, classification and history of African languages spoken in Sub-Saharan Africa and more specifically Niger-Congo languages (including Bantoid and Bantu languages) with particular interest to classifications using phylogenetic methods. I try to understand human migrations by combining linguistic, geographical, palaeoclimate and simulated data.

Moreover, as a historical linguist, I am also collecting and analysing linguistic data for several language families (Indo-European, Polynesian, Semitic, Japonic and Turkic) in order to study linguistic changes.


December 2015

Visit to the University of Missouri (in Columbia, MO) where I was invited to give two talks. The first one entitled "Bantu population dispersal shows preference for routes following familiar habitats" shows that the Bantu migrating people did show preferences for following savannah habitats. The second talk entitled "Automated reconstruction of Proto-Bantu using a statistical model of phoneme evolution" presented a new model developed by my colleagues from the University of Reading (Evolutionary Biology Group) which allows to reconstruct automated proto-words.

Picture taken in St Louis with Michael Marlo (from the University of Missouri)

September 2015

Publication with my colleagues from Reading: Simon Branford, Andrew Meade, Chris Venditti, Mark Pagel and with my colleague Koen Bostoen from Ghent University of a paper on Bantu expansion and on how Bantu-speaking populations showed measurable preferences for familiar habitats. The paper entitled Bantu expansion shows that habitat alters the route and pace of human dispersals was published in the journal PNAS (volume 112, no. 43). You can access to the article here.

June 2015

Publication with Koen Bostoen (Ghent University), Bernard Clist (Ghent University), Charles Doumenge (Campus international de Baillarguet, Montpellier), Jean-Marie Hombert (CNRS Lyon), Joseph Koni Muluwa (Ghent University), and Jean Maley (CNRS/Université de Montpellier–2) of an interdisciplinary research on Bantu languages combining evidences from biogeography, palynology, geology, historical linguistics and archaeology. The paper is entitled: Middle to Late Holocene Paleoclimatic Change and the Early Bantu Expansion in the Rain Forests of Western Central Africa and was published in June in the journal Current Anthropology . Read more here.

September 2014

Co-organisation of a workshop with my colleagues from the University of Reading (Evolutionary Biology Group): Annemarie Verkerk and Simon Branford. This workshop entitled "Language diversity and history: new interdisciplinary perspectives" took place in Poland in September 2014, during the 47th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea. View the call for papers here and the schedule here.

October 2013

Publication with Koen Bostoen (Ghent University) and Joseph Kuni Muluwa (Ghent University) of an article called "Climate-induced vegetation dynamics and the Bantu expansion: evidence from Bantu names for pioneer trees (Elaeis guineensis, Canarium schweinfurthii and Musanga cecropioides)". Read more here.

June 2013

Co-organisation of the workshop "New interdisciplinary perspectives on Bantu expansion" with Jean-Marie Hombert (CNRS, Lyon), within the Conference Bantu 5 (5th International Conference on Bantu Languages), Paris, June 12-15, 2013.