Post-doctoral Research Associate, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford

Bronwyn, originally from Namibia, is a postdoctoral researcher and Rhodes Scholar alumna from the University of Oxford. Her academic experience includes an BSc(hons) in evolutionary biology, an MSc in environmental sciences, and a DPhil in social and evolutionary psychology—focussing on the evolution of dance. She is also trained in fine art, as well as classical ballet, contemporary and Latin dance. At Oxford, Bronwyn’s doctoral research combined her passion for dance with her curiosity about human nature and evolution of social behaviours. Her thesis centred on evolutionary theories of our species’ love-affair with music and dance. Working with people in Brazil, Oxford and Barcelona, she has researched how dancing in synchrony acts as a social glue, causing the release of endorphins and the experience of a collective ‘high’. She completed her doctoral research in Robin Dunbar's Social and Evolutionary Neuroscience Research Group, and also collaborates with Dr. Emma Cohen at the Institute for Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, where Bronwyn is a Research Associate.

A believer in Open Science, Bronwyn has delivered a number of interactive public talks, spoken on radio and podcasts and written popular science articles on her research. She is currently developing a documentary series on music and dance around the world.


  • –present
    Reserch associate, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford


  • 2015 
    University of Oxford, Social and Evolutionary Neuroscience Research Group, DPhil (PhD)
  • 2010 
    University of Oxford, Environmental Change Institute, Masters
  • 2009 
    University of Cape Town, Zoology, BSc(Hons)


  • 2016
    Silent Disco: Dancing in synchrony leads to elevated pain thresholds and social closeness, Evolution and Human Behavior
  • 2015
    Synchrony and exertion during dance independently raise pain threshold and encourage social bonding, Biology Letters
  • 2014
    Music and social bonding: “self-other” merging and neurohormonal mechanisms, Frontiers in Psychology: Auditory, Cognitive Neuroscience