Participants

Max Dresow

Max Dresow

Role:
Cohort Program Postdoc

I am a historian and philosopher of science whose work focuses on the intersection of the earth and life sciences. I am particularly interested in the scientific study of geohistory: the integrated biological and geological history of the planet. I received my Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 2021 with a dissertation called "Time, Life and Environment: Practices of Geohistory at the Intersection of the Earth and Life Sciences." Prior to this I was a graduate student in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at the University of Minnesota. Recently, I became a dad, and this has greatly aided me in finding my own purpose (biological or otherwise). I use he/him pronouns.

Headshot of Renee Duckworth

Renee Duckworth

Role:
Scientific Board of Advisors

Renée Duckworth is an associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona. Her work focuses on understanding how behavior evolves and how it influences population dynamics that ultimately shape macroevolutionary processes. Her work has been featured in National Geographic, Science Podcast, New Scientist, BioScience, Aeon and The Scientist among others. She is currently associate editor of The American Naturalist.

Charbel El-Hani

Charbel El-Hani

Cluster:
Higher-Level Agency and Directionality in Ecology and Earth Science
Project:
An organizational account of ecological functions
Role:
Subaward Principal Investigator

Charbel N. El-Hani is full professor in the Institute of Biology, Federal University of Bahia, Brazil. Coordinator of the History, Philosophy, and Biology Teaching Lab (LEFHBio) and the National Institute of Science and Technology in Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Studies in Ecology and Evolution (INCT IN-TREE). Between January 2020 and July 2021, he was visiting researcher at the Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra, Portugal. He works in the areas of philosophy of biology, ecology, ethnobiology and science education research.

Christiana Fauci

Christiana Fauci

Cluster:
Directionality in Genomics and Macroevolution
Project:
The genetic basis of macroevolutionary trends
Institution:
Duke University

Christi is from Long Island, New York where she attended SUNY Stony Brook to receive her Bachelors of Science in biology with a focus on developmental genetics in 2017. During her time at Stony Brook she taught general chemistry and several genetics courses while working in the Colognato lab, managing their mouse colony. She started the University Program in Genetics and Genomics at Duke University in 2019 where she joined Craig Lowe’s lab in the Molecular Genetics and Microbiology Department. In the Lowe Lab Christi works on understanding the genetic mechanism of vertebrate evolution with a particular interest in finding when certain non-coding sequences arose and how they contributed to modern bird features. This application is particularly interesting because Christi has developed a method of examining these sequences in the Japanese Quail system.

Dorit Fink-Barkai

Dorit Fink-Barkai

Cluster:
Directionality in Genomics and Macroevolution
Project:
Mutation rates, variational specificity, and genomic directionality

Dr. Fink Barkai is responsible for executing multistage experimental protocols developed in the Livnat lab to study de novo mutation rates at an ultra-high resolution and produce novel empirical information on the nature of mutation and mutation-rate variation in the human genome, and for coordinating research activities in the lab. She received her undergraduate degree cum laude at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, her Masters in Cancer Regulation at the Faculty of Biology at the Israel Institute of Technology, the Technion, and her Ph.D. in Cancer Research and Vascular Biology at the Ruth and Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine at the Technion. Prior to joining the Livnat lab, she worked in the Pharmacogenetics laboratory at the Rambam Health Care tertiary hospital in Israel in the development of clinical tests for personalized medicine with an emphasis on chemotherapeutic drugs.

Walter Fontana

Walter Fontana

Role:
Scientific Board of Advisors
Institution:
Harvard University

Walter Fontana studied biochemistry at the University of Vienna, Austria, where he graduated in theoretical chemistry. He subsequently joined Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico as a postdoctoral fellow and continued postdoctoral work at the nearby Santa Fe Institute. Walter then returned to the University of Vienna, but relinquished tenure to follow a call back to the Santa Fe Institute on a 6-year term-limited appointment. In 1999/2000 he was a member of the Theoretical Biology Program at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Walter moved to the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School shortly after its founding in 2004. His research is primarily situated at the confluence of computer science, biology, and chemistry. For a decade he also led an experimental project on aging in C. elegans. In 2019/2020 Walter held the annual chair in Informatics and Numerical Sciences at the Collège de France, Paris.

John Fricks

John Fricks

Cluster:
Directionality in Genomics and Macroevolution
Project:
New tests of directionality in fossil lineages

John Fricks is a mathematical biologist who uses tools from probability and statistics to study biological dynamics. He has done significant work on stochastic models of molecular motors, including creating statistical methods to better understand time series emerging from nano-scale experiments on these motors. In addition, he has worked on stochastic models and inference for disease dynamics both at the cellular and populations levels, including studies of RSV and measles.

Justin Garson

Justin Garson

Cluster:
(Re)Conceptualizing Function and Goal-Directedness, Agential Behavior and Plasticity in Evolution
Project:
Putting representations back into goal-directedness
Role:
Subaward Principal Investigator

Justin Garson is Professor of Philosophy at Hunter College and The Graduate Center, City University of New York. He is the author of Madness: A Philosophical Exploration (Oxford, 2022), What Biological Functions Are and Why They Matter (Cambridge, 2019), A Critical Overview of Biological Functions (Springer, 2016), and The Biological Mind: A Philosophical Introduction (Routledge, 2015; second edition 2022). His main interest is thinking about teleology in the life sciences and developing its implications for debates in the philosophy of mind, medicine, and psychiatry. His aim for the John Templeton Foundation Science of Purpose Initiative is to explain goal-directedness in living creatures in terms of their capacity to make and use inner representations. In this way, he seeks to place the study of goal-directedness within the context of naturalistic, evolutionary accounts of representation.