Project News

November 16
New job posting! Postdoc at Georgetown University

Manus Patten in the Department of Biology at Georgetown University and Arvid Ågren at the Department of Evolutionary Biology at Uppsala University are searching for a postdoctoral fellow to conduct research on the “Paradox of the Organism,” the observation that despite ample opportunity for organisms to be torn apart from within by selfish genetic elements and selfish cell lineages, they nevertheless persist. This project is funded by the John Templeton Foundation and is part of a larger effort investigating agency, directionality, and function in biological systems. More details on our project are available online here. And the full job description is here.

November 2
To err is human – or is it? Even simple organisms can act wrongly in a given environment and then adapt to correct the mistake.

The saying goes that to err is human – but researchers at the University of Reading think that to err is to be alive in the first place. An interdisciplinary team from the University will analyse the nature of mistakes and their classification – such as mistakes of timing, measurement, and discrimination – over the next three years. The goal is to create a general framework for the life sciences that can systematically generate novel, testable hypotheses concerning the mechanisms and processes by which living systems make mistakes. Read Professor David Oderberg's full article online here.

October 6
Is one of biology’s perennial themes ready for a fresh look?

There are interesting, unresolved issues about how function, purpose, and allied concepts are related. What’s been missing is a systematic interdisciplinary conversation that includes biologists interested in phenomena like agency, directionality, and goal-directedness, and the conceptual frameworks that have been bubbling up in philosophy. There’s real potential to do new kinds of science.

September 27
Research on purpose: new model combines philosophy and science

How should we understand goal-oriented behavior and the evolution of function across diverse living systems? Professor Alan Love is leading a new global cohort program that seeks to articulate more precise concepts, develop innovative formal models and accurate measurement methods, and foster new scientific research related to purposiveness in living systems. The three-year effort includes 24 projects from across the globe.

September 2
An idea with bite: Why the selfish genes metaphor remains a powerful thinking tool

The ‘selfish gene’ persists for the reason all good scientific metaphors do: it remains a sharp tool for clear thinking. J Arvid Ågren writes in Aeon.