History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences

Our work in History and Philosophy of Science focuses on various themes and topics in 20th and 21st century life sciences. We are mainly interested in understanding past and present conceptual and epistemological transformations. We are investigating a number of case studies as well as mapping the long term trends in the the history of biology. In both kinds of projects we are applying computational and big data approaches (see Computational HPS). A central goal of our work is direct engagement with the sciences and scientists, both within the lab and across our network of collaborators.

This work has been supported by the following grants from the National Science Foundation: 0623176, 0645729 (CAREER), 0957085, 1127611 and 1243575 (INSPIRE).

Projects in History and Philosophy of Science include:

Understanding Transformation and Innovation in Knowledge Systems through Big Data and Computational Methods

  • History of Developmental Evolution
  • The Rise of Network Biology
  • Reconstruction of Investigative Pathways: Eric Davidson and Sidney Altman
  • History of Theoretical Biology
  • History of the Max Planck Society
  • Evolutionary Approaches and Models Applied to the Dynamics of Knowledge Systems

  • Innovation in Biological, Social, Cultural and Technological Systems
  • Phase Transitions in Knowledge Systems
  • Conceptual Foundations of 21st Century Biology

  • Conceptual and Epistemological Foundations of Developmental Evolution
  • Graduate dissertations & theses in progress

  • Mark Ulett: Internal factors in 20th century theories of morphological evolution.
  • Lijing Jiang: Experimental and conceptual foundations of biomedical studies of cell death and aging since the 1950s.
  • Nathan Crowe: History of nuclear transplantation.
  • Christopher Dimond: Conceptions of multilevel selection.
  • Guido Caniglia: Epistemic transitions in social insects research.
  • Kate MacCord: History of the Jernvall Evolutionary Phenomics group, and the integration of development and evolution.
  • Steve Elliott: The uses of population genetic models in developmental evolutionary studies.
  • Valerie Racine: Explanations of adaptations and evolutionary change.
  • Deryc Painter: Conceptual Foundations of Evolutionary Medicine
  • Yawen Zou: Davidson model and systems biology
  • Erick Peirson: Ecology, Evolution, and Development: The Conceptual Foundations of Adaptive Phenotypic Plasticity in Evolutionary Ecology