Kelly Finke

HMEI-STEP Fellow 2023
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

HMEI-STEP Topic: Enabling Community-based Approaches for Lasting Cultural Change: A Department Climate Pledge System for Academic Institutions

HMEI-STEP Adviser: Elke Weber

Thesis Topic: Cultural Evolution and Rapid Cultural Transitions

Thesis Adviser: Corina Tarnita

I am a PhD candidate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology studying human cultural evolution. I use tools and insights from evolutionary biology to understand the spread of cultural traits, such as beliefs and behaviors. I am particularly interested in contemporary cultural transitions towards a more sustainable society. As an HMEI-STEP Fellow, I will explore how this work can help inform policy development and begin implementing cultural-change interventions in my own community. In my proposed HMEI-STEP project, I will design and implement a system for Princeton's academic and administrative departments to develop customized climate pledges. I will leverage insights from research on behavioral science and cultural evolution to maximize the impact of the pledges, both in the ambitiousness of their commitments and in their ability to establish new community norms and expectations. Outside of my research, I'm passionate about sustainability and also love camping, rock climbing, and sewing.