The ROTO research group investigates the conceptual, methodological and anthropological challenges going along with the current comeback of the concept of organism in the bio- and biomedical sciences. The group combines philosophical, historical and sociological approaches to study biological individuality, agency, organism-environment boundaries, and the concept of environment.

Individual Research Projects

– Ethics and epistemology of Personalized Nutrition. This project analyses the epistemic landscape of Personalized Nutrition and assesses the socio-political implications of different conceptualizations of Personalized Nutrition. (Saana Jukola)

– Clarifying reciprocal causation. We investigate historical and philosophical dimensions of the idea that organisms and their environment reciprocally interact and construct each other. (Jan Baedke, Alejandro Fábregas-Tejeda, Guido Prieto)

A systemic approach to biological individuality. This PhD project conceptualizes biological individuals as systems and explores the epistemological and methodological implications this conceptualization has for contemporary evolutionary biology (Guido I. Prieto)

– The organism-environment relationship in historical and philosophical focus. This PhD project weaves together the historicity of long-standing theorizations in 20th century regarding the organism-environment pairing and contemporary insights from philosophy of science (Alejandro Fábregas-Tejeda)

– The concept of the environment. This editorial project studies what counts as environment in biology and medicine from historical, philosophical and sociological perspectives. (Jan Baedke & Tatjana Buklijas)

– The history of (German-speaking) organism-centered biology. We study today largely forgotten approaches towards the organisms in the history of symbiosis research and evolutionary morphology in (early) 20th century, including the political contexts of these holistic and dialectical views. (Jan Baedke, Alejandro Fábregas-Tejeda, Abigail Nieves Delgado)

– The history of theoretical biology. This book project investigates the multi-national roots and conceptual debates of early 20th century theoretical biology. (Daniel J. Nicholson & Jan Baedke)

– Personalised/precision medicine in the postgenomic age. This project investigates the implications of changing concepts of the biological individual for our conceptions of health, and patient-tailored medical interventions. (Azita Chellappoo)

– „Obesity“, metabolism, and biological normality. This project investigates the ways in which developments in the biomedical sciences are altering the construction of obesity/fatness, opening new avenues for intervention, and changing narratives of individual and collective responsibility. (Azita Chellappoo)

– The ‚Biosocial‘ Race Concept. This project critically investigates the ways in which ‚postgenomic‘ research can and have been used to construct new biological dimensions to race, and what it means for race to be „biosocial“. (Azita Chellappoo & Jan Baedke)

– The concept of race in postgenomics. We critically investigate new environmentalist understandings of human races in fields such as epigenetics and microbiome research, with a focus on Latin America. (Abigail Nieves Delgado & Jan Baedke)

– The politics of the environment. This project historically contextualizes the political spectrum linked to current ideas of environmental construction or environmental engineering. (Jan Baedke & Maurizio Meloni)