Evolutionary Origins and Transitions of Agency
University of Leeds
Dr Clarke is a Lecturer at the University of Leeds in the UK, and Director of the Leeds Centre for History and Philosophy of Science. Before being appointed at Leeds in 2017, she held postdocs at All Souls College, Oxford, and the Konrad Lorenz Institute in Vienna. She finished her PhD at Bristol under the supervision of Samir Okasha.
She specialises in Philosophy of Biology, especially evolutionary theory. Much of her published work concerns unitisation problems in biology: Situations where it is difficult to agree on the nature and boundaries of the main actors or concepts in a theory or model. One example is the organism – an important unit in all branches of biology, but one which lacks a common definition. My work explores this unit in the context of evolutionary optimality models and major transitions. I am also interested in how units are picked out in ecology and in conservation, and what difference changes of definition make to things like biodiversity measures. She also maintains interests in Philosophy of Race, and Sex and Gender. She is currently writing a book called ‘The Units of Life: Kinds of individuals in Biology’.
(Re)Conceptualizing Function and Goal-Directedness
The Francis Crick Institute
James DiFrisco is a researcher at The Francis Crick Institute. His work has focused on general issues in biological theory and philosophy of biology such as homology, individuality, functions, and levels of organization. Recent projects include a broad investigation of the constructive conceptual role of dynamical systems theory in evolutionary-developmental biology ("Hierarchical evolution of dynamical systems"). Currently he is working on a project on the individuation of biological characters entitled "Character individuation in development and evolution."
Higher-Level Agency and Directionality in Ecology and Earth Science
University of Guelph
Stefan Linquist is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Guelph. His work explores foundational assumptions in the biological sciences, in particular the disciplines of genomics and ecology. Recent publications investigate the various meanings of “epigenetics”, purported functions of junk DNA, the relationship between evolutionary and ecological modes of explanation, the existence of generalizations or “laws” in ecology, and the aesthetic value of biodiversity. He is coauthor of the book Defending Biodiversity: Environmental Science and Ethics (Cambridge University Press, 2017).
Laura Nuño de la Rosa
Directionality in Genomics and Macroevolution
Complutense University of Madrid
Laura Nuño de la Rosa is a philosopher of biology working on the history and philosophy of developmental biology and evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo). Graduated in Humanities, in 2010 she obtained a Master’s Degree in Biophysics at the Autonomous University of Madrid. In 2012 she obtained a Ph.D. on the problem of organismal form in contemporary biology, at the Complutense University of Madrid and the Paris 1-Sorbonne University. After enjoying postdoc positions at the KLI Institute (Klosterneuburg, Austria) and the University of the Basque Country, in 2015 she joined the Department of Logic and Theoretical Philosophy at the Complutense University. Her current interests combine research on the recent history of evolutionary biology with the study of epistemological and ontological issues in contemporary biology, as well as the social implications of biosciences, including synthetic biology, theories of reproduction, and the sciences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Agency and Directionality in Development
Washington University in St. Louis
Professor Plutynski is a historian and philosopher of biology and medicine. Her most recent book is Explaining Cancer: Finding Order in Disorder (2018, OUP). She has also written on the history and philosophy of evolutionary biology and genetics, the role of modeling in science, and scientific explanation. Other research interests include biomedical research ethics, particularly issues surrounding precision oncology, cancer genomics, and risk communication.
Modeling Agency Formally
University of Kansas
Armin Schulz is an interdisciplinary researcher investigating what we can learn from linking evolutionary biology and the cognitive and social sciences. His particular focus is on the evolutionary pressures on representational decision-making, both with a view towards cognitive psychology and economics. He is the author of two books (“Structure, Evidence, and Heuristic: Evolutionary Biology, Economics, and the Philosophy of Their Relationship, Routledge, 2020, and "Efficient Cognition: The Evolution of Representational Decision Making," MIT Press, 2018) as well as over 20 papers in the leading journals in the field.
He has presented his research in many parts of the world, and has experience in engaging with non-professional audiences through interviews at National Public Radio and articles in Aeon magazine (among others). He regularly teaches classes in cognitive science, philosophy of social science, and philosophy of science.
In his free time, he likes to spend time with his family and friends, play and listen to music, and run.
Agential Behavior and Plasticity in Evolution
University of Toronto
Denis Walsh is Professor in the Department of Philosophy, Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science, and Department of Ecology and evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto. He is a Research Lead at the Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society at the University of Toronto, and a co-Pi in the Agency in Living Systems projec, currently funded by JTF. His recent research investigates the phenomenon of agency in the natural world, and in particular its implications for the theory of evolution.