Evan MacLean, PhD

Associate Professor

About Dr. MacLean

Evan MacLean is an Associate Professor at the University of Arizona, where he holds appointments in Anthropology, Veterinary Medicine, Psychology, and Cognitive Science.  He is the founder and Director of the Arizona Canine Cognition Center. Dr. MacLean received his Ph.D. in Evolutionary Anthropology from Duke University in 2012, where he was a James B. Duke Fellow. His research integrates evolutionary biology and comparative psychology methods to address questions about the mechanisms through which animals represent and reason about the world and the processes through which cognition evolves. He also conducts applied work investigating how research on dog behavior, cognition, genetics, and neuroendocrinology can improve the processes through which dogs are selected, bred, and trained for societal roles. In addition to his work on animal behavior and cognition, Dr. MacLean studies the biological mechanisms involved in human-animal interaction, focusing on the neuropeptides oxytocin and vasopressin. He has led diverse projects on these topics, which the National Institutes of Health have supported, the Office of Naval Research, the AKC Canine Health Foundation, and the Waltham Center for Pet Nutrition.  In 2015, he was awarded a Next Generation Canine Research Fellowship from the Stanton Foundation. His work has been highlighted in media outlets, including The New York Times, National Public Radio, the BBC, and National Geographic.


He received his Ph.D. from Duke University in 2012 and served as Co-Director of the Duke Canine Cognition Center from 2012-2016. Dr. MacLean conducts research with diverse species ranging from chimpanzees and bonobos to lemurs and domestic dogs.

  • Ph.D. Evolutionary Anthropology
    • Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, United States
  • B.S. Psychology
    • Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts, United States

Professional Interests

Dr. MacLean teaches courses in the School of Anthropology on various topics, including cognitive evolution and statistics, using R.