Aspen Brain Lab

The only conference where neurology lectures and laughter meditation sessions live together in perfect harmony

Isabel Behncke Izquierdo, PhD

Isabel Behncke Izquierdo, PhD

Isabel Behncke Izquierdo, PhD is an Oxford University-based field primatologist working on the evolutionary roots of social behavior in humans and other animals. She was educated at University College London, Cambridge & Oxford but originally from Chile, where she learned to love mountains and all things wild.

    After walking 3000+ km in the jungles of Congo observing the social behavior of bonobo apes – our closest living relatives – in field research, Dr. Behncke now uses evolutionary biology to derive applied insights onto modern challenges. She enjoys consulting and public engagement in different forms (e.g. TED, WIRED, G20, BBC, Nat Geo, etc.), concerning questions on how do humans create, connect, play and adapt. She applies an evolutionary lens to questions such as why do we go to festivals, why trust requires risk taking, why adults need to play in order to not just feel alive, but also maintain health, creativity and social bonds, why cities need to be not just ‘smart’ but also enjoyable, and crucially why is it that the more digital we get, the more understanding of evolution we need. 

    This summer she is a Resident at TED HQ in Soho, exploring ‘the evolution of the ideas-talk’. She is also creating a show on the ‘Science of Enjoyment’ that blurs the boundaries between theatre, poetic rally, and cutting-edge science, think ancient fire-side storytelling, but with Rolling Stones, Whitman and Darwin as part of the hearth.

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