Evolutionary Psychology is Here to Stay!

Welcome to the Hudson Valley!

Posted Mar 21, 2018

Amanda Baroni and Glenn Geher; Used with permission
Source: Amanda Baroni and Glenn Geher; Used with permission

This post is co-authored with my good friend. Dr. T. Joel Wade of Bucknell University. Dr. Wade is the president of the NorthEastern Evolutionary Psychology Society (NEEPS), and in just a few weeks, we are about to host the 12th annual meeting of NEEPS right on my home campus in beautiful New Paltz, NY, one of America's last great hippie holdouts. For years, the field of evolutionary psychology has been under a great deal of criticism from a broad range of academics (see Geher, 2006). NEEPS was created, with our first-ever conference held in 2007, also at New Paltz, in an effort to have advocates of the field of evolutionary psychology join together, quite literally, to work to advance the goals of our work, in spite of any and all obstacles. Under Joel's leadership, I'm happy to say that we remain a thriving society today, with a great outlook into the future.

Our conference, slated for April 19-21 of this year (you can find out more information here), will include students and scholars from four continents and over a dozen states and Canadian provinces. Below are the welcome letters from Dr. Wade and myself, as found in the conference program book. Don't hesitate to contact either of us if you'd like more information. To our minds, we are working to fulfill Darwin's mission of advancing the behavioral sciences by applying evolutionary principles such as natural selection. And we would certainly welcome your participation if you are interested in this field of inquiry.

Kilian Garvey (of Dr. T. Joel Wade); used with permission
Source: Kilian Garvey (of Dr. T. Joel Wade); used with permission

NEEPS 2018 President’s Welcome
As President of NEEPS, and on behalf of the NEEPS members, I am especially thrilled to welcome you to the 12th Annual Northeastern Evolutionary Psychology Society (NEEPS) conference. This is a special moment in our history since we are returning to the site of our first-ever NEEPS conference, SUNY New Paltz, and Glenn Geher, founding President of NEEPS, is our local host.

NEEPS was created from Prof. Glenn Geher’s vision in 2007, as a regional affiliated society of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society. Our first conference was held in 2007. Since that time the conference has been held in various locations in the Northeastern United States: Binghamton, New York; Oswego, New York; Manchester, New Hampshire; Boston, Massachusetts; and Lebanon Valley, Pennsylvania, and in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Reflecting the nature of evolutionary theory, NEEPS is truly an interdisciplinary society with members having training in various areas of inquiry. NEEPS has grown quite a bit since its inception in 2007, attracting even more worldwide membership every year, with record or near-record conference submissions every year. NEEPS is the largest Evolutionary Psychology Society in the United States, and the largest International Evolutionary Psychology Society as well. NEEPS has attracted some prominent keynote speakers over the years, David Buss, Helen Fisher, Gordon Gallup, Marlene Zuk, Steven Pinker, David Sloan Wilson, Jerome Barkow, Louise Barrett, Catherine Salmon, and Todd Disotell to name a few, and we continue to do so.

The NEEPS keynotes for this year are Doug Kenrick and Martie Haselton, who will present thought-provoking talks! Over the past 12 years, NEEPS has had an impressive array of talks and posters. NEEPS 2018 continues this tradition, as readily evidenced from the program. The Program Chair for NEEPS 2018, Mike Frederick, along with the program committee, has assembled another impressive array of talks and posters.

In addition to the impressive and enlightening scholarly presentations at NEEPS, NEEPS conferences have a tradition of fostering a very collegial and congenial atmosphere. If this is your first NEEPS conference, you will find that NEEPS members are welcoming to Faculty, graduate students, undergraduates, and everyone attending the conference. Interactions among NEEPS conference attendees often lead to lasting collaborations and friendships such that the conferences seem like reunions. I am also proud to mention, as past NEEPS presidents have done, that NEEPS has facilitated members’ ability to obtain academic positons, tenure, and promotions to the Senior faculty level. After the conference, I hope you will agree with me that NEEPS is truly a wonderful conference to attend. We are especially grateful to our local host, Glenn Geher, who has put together an outstanding social program for this NEEPS conference. I look forward to taking part in the various social activities, and I am certain you will enjoy them.

NEEPS typically holds a business meeting during the conference and I encourage you to attend that meeting as we will be making decisions about future NEEPS conferences, and soliciting nominations for NEEPS 2019 and 2020 sites, hosts, and program chairs. Once again, as your president, I am happy to welcome you to the 12th Annual meeting of the Northeastern Evolutionary Psychology Society.
T. Joel Wade, Ph.D.
NEEPS President
Bucknell University


Jessica Casamento (of Glenn Geher; used with permission)
Source: Jessica Casamento (of Glenn Geher; used with permission)

Host’s Welcome
Welcome to New Paltz, New York – the birthplace of the NorthEastern Evolutionary Psychology Society! As your local host, I want to make sure that the NEEPS conference experience is an enriching, positive intellectual experience that works to advance scholarship in the field of evolutionary psychology on several fronts.

NEEPS has a reputation as a friendly, open, and warm environment. Since the outset, we have worked to see NEEPS as a community, with members looking out for one another’s interest and supporting one another at the conference as well as beyond the conference boundaries. Some of my closest friends in the world have come from the NEEPS community, and I cannot overstate how fortunate I feel to be connected to such an amazing group of people.

This said, it’s important that we always keep the history of evolutionary scholarship and the mission of NEEPS at the forefront of our minds. Since Darwin first advanced his ideas on evolution by natural selection, the idea of evolution has been under attack. Since Darwin first applied evolutionary principles to such psychological concepts as the human emotion system, evolutionary psychology has been under attack.

It is more than 150 years after the publication of Darwin’s Origins of the Species, and getting an evolution education in America’s universities is, based on all kinds of evidence, extremely difficult. Our own NEEPS members, including Dan Glass, Dan Kruger, April Bleske, David Sloan Wilson, and Rob Deaner, among others, have famously published work showing that American colleges and universities are absolutely dismal at providing students with a basic understanding of evolutionary principles and their applications. And this is a problem.

As NEEPSters, we know the power of evolutionary theory. We know that evolutionary principles hold the key to advancing our understanding of the human condition. We know that this field of inquiry has the capacity to make major contributions to such topics as education, physical health, mental health, public policy, and more.

We must not be discouraged. And we must continue to advance. Members of NEEPS have made major advances in the behavioral sciences – shedding light on an enormous array of issues. And our flagship journal, Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, published by the American Psychological Association, stands as one of the world’s most significant outlets for scholarship in this field across the world.

The fact that NEEPS continues to thrive after a dozen years gives reason for hope in the future of our field. But the history of our field reminds us that we must be ever-vigilant – and courageous – as we move forward.

Thanks so much to all of the New Paltz students who have played a major role in helping make NEEPS XII possible. Amanda Baroni, the conference coordinator, has proven to be as resourceful and capable as anyone. And so many other New Paltz student volunteers have proven to me that their generation has what it takes to be the leaders that we so desperately need in the future. And claps to our fearless program chair, Michael Frederick, to the NEEPS Board, to our esteemed keynote speakers, Martie Haselton and Doug Kenrick, and to everyone in the NEEPS community who shares ownership over our society. Here is to another awesome NEEPS conference. And here is to the future of evolutionary psychology.
Glenn Geher, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology and NEEPS XII local host
State University of New York at New Paltz

Acknowledgement: Thanks to Dr. Kilian Garvey, founding secretary and informal photographer of NEEPS, for not only providing the photo of Dr. Wade used in this post, but also for being a stalwart soldier of the cause for well over a decade. Keep up the good fight, Kilian Garvey! See you in New Paltz on April 19!