I was always interested in computers, explaining why I first studied Mathematics and Computer Science (1993-1997) and I worked as a professional software engineer (1997-2004). However, humans fascinate me, so I also started studying Psychology (1996-1998) and I hold a Master's in Neurobiology and Behaviour (2000-2002). In 2007 I was awarded a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Edinburgh (2004-2007), followed by a series of postdocotral positions in Edinburgh (ESRC UK Fellowship, 2007-2008) and at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, The Netherlands (2008-2017), the latter including an NWO VIDI grant (2012-2017). In 2017 I moved to Lyon, France, first as EURIAS Fellow of the Collegium de Lyon (2017-2018) and then as an IDEXLyon Fellow with the Laboratoire Dynamique Du Langage (DDL), Université Lumière Lyon 2 (2018-2021), where I obtained by Habilitation (2021). In October 2021 I became an ICREA Research Professor with the University of Barcelona.
My research is quite diverse, including the processes that shape linguistic diversity, the origins and evolution of language in the context of human evolution, and the application of quantitative and computational methods to the language sciences. In particular, I have been focusing on studying the influence of non-linguistic factors on linguistic diversity, such as the effect of vocal tract anatomy on phonetics and phonology, the effect of the bio-physical environment on language spread and on the color vocabulary, and of genetics on linguistic tone, using statistics and computer modelling. I have been arguing that language and speech are an old feature of our evolutionary lineage, being shared, in some form, with our cousins, the Neanderthals and the Denisovans.