Kenny Smith

Phone: +44 (0)131 650 3956

Member of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland

Research Interests

I am interested in the evolution of communication, human language and the human capacity for language (see my Research in a Nutshell video for a brief summary). My main areas of interest include:


Research Grants

I am PI on the ESRC-funded project Cognitive and Interactional Causes of Regularity in Language. I am mentoring Dr Olga Fehér on a Newton International Fellowship, and Dr Marieke Schouwstra on a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship. 


I am teaching on Philosophy and the Sciences, a freely-available online course on Coursera - you can watch my lecture with Suilin Lavelle on YouTube.

I am Programme Director for the MSc in the Evolution of Language and Cognition. I teach Foundations of Evolution, a Masters-level introduction to evolutionary theory, and Origins and Evolution of Language, an Honours/MSc course offering a broad overview of evolutionary linguistics. 

I am supervising Vanessa FerdinandBill ThompsonAlan Nielsen, Mark Atkinson, Matt Spike, Kevin Stadler, James Winters, Yasamin Motamedi-Mousavi, Carmen Saldana and Jon Carr on their PhDs.  Jennifer Sturm did her PhD with me at Northumbria, on non-adjacent dependency learning and domain-specificity, and I supervised Catriona Silvey, Justin Sulik and Sean Roberts at Edinburgh.


  • My big brother is Malcolm Smith, of climbing and broccoli fame. Watch him on Gutbuster at Dumbarton Rock.

  • My little brother is Sandy Smith, artist, Fulbright scholar, and owner of (I hope) the world's biggest pink Zig-A-Zig Ah.

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