Participants

Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams

Cluster:
Modeling Agency Formally
Project:
Emergent intrinsic motivations in intelligent collectives
Role:
Subaward Principal Investigator

Ryan Adams is a machine learning researcher and Professor of Computer Science at Princeton University. Ryan completed his Ph.D. in physics under David MacKay at the University of Cambridge, where he was a Gates Cambridge Scholar and a member of St. John's College. Following his Ph.D. Ryan spent two years as a Junior Research Fellow at the University of Toronto as a part of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. From 2011-2016, he was an Assistant Professor at Harvard University in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. In 2015, Ryan sold the company he co-founded, Whetlab, to Twitter and he spent three years in industry at Twitter and Google before joining the faculty at Princeton in 2018. Ryan has won paper awards at ICML, UAI, and AISTATS, received the DARPA Young Faculty Award and the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship. He also co-hosted the popular Talking Machines podcast.

Arvid Ågren

Arvid Ågren

Cluster:
Modeling Agency Formally
Project:
The paradox of the organism
Role:
Subaward Principal Investigator
Institution:
Uppsala University

J. Arvid Ågren is an evolutionary biologist, currently a Wenner-Gren Fellow at the Evolutionary Biology Centre at Uppsala University. His research focuses on genomic conflicts and he has published widely on their biology and implications for evolutionary theory. He also works on foundations of selfish gene theory and is the author of The Gene’s-Eye View of Evolution (Oxford University Press 2021). He holds degrees from the universities of Edinburgh and Toronto, and prior to joining Uppsala he was a postdoc at Cornell and Harvard.

Ben Allen

Ben Allen

Cluster:
Modeling Agency Formally
Project:
Natural selection for collective purpose
Role:
Subaward Principal Investigator
Institution:
Emmanuel College

I have always been interested in how math can help us understand big questions of evolution and behavior. Much of my work explores the evolutionary dynamics of social or collective behavior, and how this is affected by spatial or social network structure within the evolving population. More generally, I seek to deepen our understanding of evolution by proving mathematical theorems that apply to a wide range of evolutionary processes. I currently serve as an Associate Professor of Mathematics at Emmanuel College in Boston, MA. Before that, I obtained my PhD in Mathematics from Boston University, and completed a postdoc in Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard University.

Sandra Álvarez-Carretero

Sandra Álvarez-Carretero

Cluster:
Higher-Level Agency and Directionality in Ecology and Earth Science
Project:
Chance versus purpose in biosphere evolution

Sandra is a postdoctoral researcher and teaching fellow at Ziheng Yang's lab, at University College London. Her main research interest is focused on developing and applying new methods to estimate species divergence times with molecular and morphological quantitative data. She aims to use these tools in Bayesian dating analyses when combining phylogenomic datasets with large-scale morphological datasets (with both extant and fossil species). Her ultimate goal is to ensure that all the pipelines and tools that she develops as part of the projects she is involved in are well documented, so they can be easily used to reproduce any reported results generated with them.

Christopher Austin

Christopher Austin

Cluster:
(Re)Conceptualizing Function and Goal-Directedness
Project:
Mistakes in living systems: a new conceptual framework

Dr. Christopher J. Austin's research specialization is in Metaphysics and Philosophy of Science, with a particular focus on ontology, modality, and causation in the context of evolutionary developmental biology. He has written on a diverse range of topics including natural kind theory, process ontology, mechanistic explanation, information theory, structuralism, dispositional causation, persistence and identity, truthmaking theory, biological essentialism, and dynamical systems theory. He is the author of Essence In the Age of Evolution: A New Theory of Natural Kinds (Routledge), as well as a number of chapters in edited volumes including Neo-Aristotelian Perspectives on Contemporary Science (Routledge) and Evolutionary Developmental Biology: A Reference Guide (Springer). His work has been published in a wide range of philosophical journals including Synthese, Analysis, The European Journal for Philosophy of Science, Biology and Philosophy, Ratio, and Metascience.

Gillian Barker

Gillian Barker

Cluster:
Higher-Level Agency and Directionality in Ecology and Earth Science
Project:
Geofunctions: purposes and agents in global environmental sciences
Role:
Subaward Principal Investigator

Gillian Barker received her training at the University of Toronto and the University of California, San Diego. She is Visiting Research Professor in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh, and a member of the Rotman Institute of Philosophy at Western University. Dr. Barker’s research examines how the biological and social sciences deal with causal complexity, and how science can make sense of apparent normativity, intentionality, and teleology in the natural world. Her current work focuses on the distinctive features of complex adaptive systems, exploring how scientists can best grapple with these in investigating ecological resilience and evolutionary dynamics, human cognition and social behavior, and the interconnected global-scale processes upon which human societies depend. Dr. Barker is author of Beyond Biofatalism: Human Nature for an Evolving World, and co-author with Philip Kitcher of Philosophy of Science: A New Introduction.

Headshot of Benjamin Bembe

Benjamin Bembé

Cluster:
Evolutionary Origins and Transitions of Agency
Project:
Features of autonomy in human evolution

Benjamin Bembé was born in 1972 in Munich, Germany. He studied biology and geography in Munich. His doctoral thesis he wrote 2000-2004 on the Zoological State Collection Munich on Orchid Bees of South America. From 2002-2018 he worked as an highschool teacher in the subjects of biology and geography. Since 2018 he is working as a researcher in the Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Morphology, Witten/Herdecke University. Special interests are the systematics and organization of insects, features of human evolution and cultural products, and issues of didactics in biology teaching. Numerous trips took him to countries in South and Central America, to Namibia, Borneo and to Egypt.

Mariana Benítez

Mariana Benítez

Cluster:
Agency and Directionality in Development
Project:
Cellular agency in multicellular development and cancer

Mariana Benítez studied Biology at Mexico's Autonomous National University (UNAM) and a MSc on Non-Linear Dynamics and Complex Systems at the Autonomous University of Mexico City (UACM). Then, she finished a PhD at the Institute for Ecology, again at UNAM, and made two postdoctoral stays, one at the Center for Complex Systems at UNAM and another one at Masaryk University, in the Czech Republic. In 2012 Mariana took a position at the Institute for Ecology (UNAM). Her research has focused on understanding how patterns and collective properties emerge and evolve at different spatial and temporal scales in diverse biological systems. Among her current research interests are: multicellular development and evolution in bacteria and plants, structure and dynamics of agroecosystems and sustainable food systems. Some of the theoretical frameworks that have guided her research are Complexity Sciences, Ecological Evolutionary Developmental Biology and Agroecology. She has adopted theoretical, simulation and empirical approaches allowing for integrative and interdisciplinary research. Her work has also been deeply challenged and enriched by transdisciplinary and political projects in which she has collaborated with diverse groups and communities beyond academia. The UNAM team working with Myxobacteria also includes: Dr. Alejandro V. Arzola (UNAM) and Dr. Natsuko Rivera-Yoshida (UNAM).