Participants

Participant Role
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.

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.

Pierrick Bourrat

Pierrick Bourrat

Cluster:
Evolutionary Origins and Transitions of Agency
Project:
Transitions in individuality: from ecology to teleonomy
Role:
Subaward Principal Investigator

Pierrick is a philosopher of biology at Macquarie University, in Australia, with a background in evolutionary biology and ecology. Pierrick works mainly on conceptual issues related to evolutionary theory, the concept of biological individuality, and major transitions in evolution. He also has interests in the philosophy of causation and cognitive science.
Pierrick has recently published a short book at Cambridge University Press in which he explores the status of units and levels of selection in evolutionary theory. He proposes a suite of criteria to distinguish genuine from arbitrary or conventional units and levels of selection.

Philip Donoghue

Philip Donoghue

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

Phil is Professor of Palaeobiology at the University of Bristol, UK. His research focusses on the causes and consequences of major evolutionary transitions, drawing insight from anatomical and molecular data from living and fossil organisms. Major themes include the origins of animals, plants, and the establishment of evolutionary timescales.

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.

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.