Prof. Dr. Jan Baedke, PI


Jan Baedke is a Junior Professor at the Department of Philosophy I, Ruhr University Bochum. His research interests include the history and philosophy of the life sciences (especially biology), and philosophical anthropology. Currently he is PI of the German Research Foundation (DFG) funded research group The Return of the Organism in the Biosciences: Theoretical, Historical, and Social Dimensions. It 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. Other research interests concern theoretical change in evolutionary biology (especially related to the ‚Extended Evolutionary Synthesis‘), anthropological issues in the biosciences and the role of the visual in the sciences. Besides that he is working on scientific explanation and current trends towards commodification in the sciences (for example, as a member of the Global Young Faculty, Foundation Mercator, 2015-17). Since 2017 he is the book review editor of the ‚Journal for General Philosophy of Science.‘

His recent book Above the Gene, Beyond Biology: Toward a Philosophy of Epigenetics (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018) explores how biologists in the field of epigenetics investigate and explain living systems. It offers discussions of epigenetic concepts, explanations, and methodologies to better understand the current ‚epigenetic turn‘ in the biosciences.

Dr. Saana Jukola


Saana Jukola is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Philosophy I, Ruhr University Bochum, under the DFG-Emmy Noether Research Group The Return of the Organism in the Biosciences: Theoretical, Historical, and Social Dimensions. Her research interests include philosophy of science, philosophy of medicine and social epistemology. In particular, she focuses on how epistemic and non-epistemic (e.g., social and institutional) factors intertwine in the production of knowledge in health sciences. As a member of ROTO, Saana studies Personalized Nutrition and its socio-political implications. She is interested in how research in Personalized Nutrition is or can be used for informing policy-making and practice. Before joining ROTO, Saana has worked at the University of Jyväskylä, University of Johannesburg, Bielefeld University, Witten/Herdecke University and University of Bonn. In her previous projects, she has analyzed, for example, the institutional conditions for securing objectivity in medicine and the standards of evidence in nutrition research. Se is also interested in examining how racial biases influence health care. Saana is a fellow of the Young ZiF.

Alejandro Fábregas-Tejeda, M.A., PhD student


Alejandro Fábregas Tejeda is a PhD student at Ruhr-University Bochum under the DFG-Emmy Noether Research Group The Return of the Organism in the Biosciences: Theoretical, Historical, and Social Dimensions. His PhD project is focused on the ‘return of the organism’ to the life sciences, which has been signaled by historians and philosophers of biology with renewed emphasis in the last lustrum. In manifold fields and research areas, the ‘organism’ is being conceptualized as a causally efficacious, autonomous, and active ontogenetic unit that transcends the properties of its parts (e.g., genes), whilst standing in a deeply entangled relationship with its environment. Alejandro´s dissertation, departing from the standpoint of integrative history and philosophy of biology, delves into the epistemological, ontological and historical dimensions of this juncture. Its main focus is reassessing the ‘organism-environment pairing,’ bringing into play the historicity of long-standing theorizations regarding this ambiguous relationship, and contemporary insights from philosophy of science and philosophy of biology. How is this relationship being construed in current developments and how have scientific reflections related to this topic changed throughout the twentieth century?

Guido I. Prieto, Lic., PhD student


Guido I. Prieto is a PhD student at Ruhr University Bochum in the DFG-Emmy Noether Research Group ROTO (The Return of the Organism in the Biosciences: Theoretical, Historical, and Social Dimensions). He holds a degree in Biology from National University of Cuyo (UNCUYO; Mendoza, Argentina), where he did experimental research in functional morphology.

His PhD project is aimed at making a conceptual and methodological contribution to the current philosophical and bioscientific debates on the concepts of organism and biological individuality from a systemic point of view. In addition, he explores the role the organism plays in new organism-centered perspectives in contemporary evolutionary biology, particularly in the so-called ‘extended evolutionary synthesis’. Besides this, he is interested in the role of art and the visual in science, the concept of progress in science and technology, and the impact of scientific practices in the construction of scientific knowledge.


Tanja Markner

Ruhr-University Bochum

Vera Straetmanns, M.Sc., research assistant

Vera Straetmanns studied Biology at the Ruhr University Bochum with a focus on molecular plant physiology. She wrote her master thesis in the Working Group “Molecular Biology of Plant Organelles” of Prof. Dr. Schünemann. Currently, she is enrolled in the HPS+ MA study program at the Ruhr University Bochum. Her special interests lie in the philosophy of the life sciences and the communication of science.

Alexander Böhm, B.A., research assistant

Alexander Böhm is a master student in the HPS+ MA study programme at the Ruhr-University Bochum. His bachelor thesis explored the concept of organism in process philosophy. It outlines the challenges faced by a substance-ontological understanding of the term and how these might be overcome by a process philosophical approach. His research interests include the history and philosophy of the life sciences as well as the communication and perception of science in

Mercator Fellows

Dr. Tatjana Buklijas

University of Auckland

Tatjana is the Associate Director in the Koi Tū Centre for Informed Futures of the University of Auckland. She is a historian of medicine and biology with interest in the histories of human development, currently writing a book manuscript on the history of epigenetics. Her other research interests concern the intersections between research in democratic innovation and science policymaking and communication, and (as a member of the International Network for Government Science Advice) uses of scientific evidence in policymaking.

Dr. Daniel J. Nicholson

Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition

Daniel Nicholson is a senior research fellow at the KLI. His work is characterized by an integrated and strongly interdisciplinary approach to the history and philosophy of biology. His current research focuses on the ontology of living systems, particularly on the ways in which organisms differ from other complex organized systems like machines, and on the implications that these differences have for biological theory.

Associated Fellows

Dr. Azita Chellappoo, postdoctoral researcher

The Open University

Azita Chellappoo is a Lecturer in Philosophy at The Open University, UK. Previously she was a postdoctoral researcher  at Ruhr-University Bochum under the DFG-Emmy Noether Research Group The Return of the Organism in the Biosciences: Theoretical, Historical, and Social Dimensions. Her postdoctoral project aimed to explore organism-centered trends in biomedicine, including understanding how social categories such as race and fatness are deployed in fields such as epigenetics and microbiome research.  

Her current work continues to focus on conceptions of race and fatness in the life sciences, including how these categories come to be understood and deployed in scientific work. Her broader interests include cultural evolution, feminist philosophy of science, and the role of values in scientific inquiry. 

Dr. Abigail Nieves Delgado

Utrecht University

Abigail Nieves Delgado is an Assistant Professor at the Freudenthal Institute, Utrecht University. Her research interests include the history and philosophy of the life sciences, the history of physical anthropology, facial recognition technologies, the role of racial categories in identification and categorization processes, Latin American studies, and bioeconomy. Currently, she investigates the politics of transdisciplinary knowledge production and the history of ethnobiology in Latin America. With the research group ROTO (The Return of the Organism in the Biosciences: Theoretical, Historical, and Social Dimensions) she studies political and anthropological dimensions of epigenetics and the history of symbiosis and holobiont research in early 20th century biology.

Dr. Daniel S. Brooks


Daniel S. Brooks is an assistant professor at the Department of Philosophy (I) at the Ruhr University Bochum. His research interests span the history and philosophy of the life sciences (particularly developmental biology, ecology, and neuroscience), concept usage in science, naturalized epistemology, and methodology in philosophy. His current project, funded by the German Research Foundation, concerns the history, philosophy, and theoretical biology of the concept of levels of organization. Brooks is currently compiling a monograph treatment of the levels concept in historical and contemporary biology under the title The Leveled World: The Role of Levels of Organization in Biological Thought.

Brooks’ recent edited volume on the levels concept (prepared in collaboration with James DiFrisco and William C. Wimsatt), titled Levels of Organization in the Biological Sciences, collects 15 chapters that explore current challenges and promises of the levels concept in the biological sciences. It was published by MIT Press in August 2021.

Brooks also maintains active research efforts in the history of neuroscience (particularly the history of theoretical neuroscience and the brain-computer metaphor), ‘Cambridge’ organicism, neurophilosophy (including eliminative materialism), and methods in natural philosophy. In addition to his book project, he is currently organizing a collaborative workshop between scientists and philosophers on methodology in scientific philosophy.

Stefan Reiners-Selbach M.Ed.


Stefan Reiners-Selbach is Digital Humanities Coordinator at HHU Düsseldorf and currently working on his PhD project on the 19th century scientific journal Zeitschrift für Völkerpsychologie, using digital humanities methods to examine the role of the medium ‘journal’ for the development of a new science. His areas of research include the methods and theory of digital humanities and their application in the history and theory of the sciences, especially the humanities.

A/Prof. Maurizio Meloni

Deakin University

Maurizio Meloni is a social theorist and a science and technology studies scholar. He is the author of L’Orecchio di Freud. Societa‘ della comunicazione e Pensiero Affettivo (Dedalo, 2005); Political Biology: Science and Social Values in Human Heredity from Eugenics to Epigenetics (Palgrave 2016); Impressionable Biologies: From the Archaeology of Plasticity to the Sociology of Epigenetics (Routledge, 2019); co-editor of Biosocial Matters (Wiley 2016); and chief editor of the Palgrave Handbook of Biology and Society (2018).

Dr. Rosine Kelz

InIIS-Institute for Intercultural and International Studies, Universität Bremen

Rosine’s areas of research are in Social and Political Theory and Science and Technology Studies. In her current project she investigates relationships between the development of novel biotechnologies and ontological notions of life and nature.

Dr. Marco Tamborini


Marco Tamborini teaches history and philosophy of science at the Technical University of Darmstadt and is member of the Junge Akademie | Mainz -– the Young Academy of the Academy of Sciences and Literature| Mainz. His research focuses on the history and philosophy of biology, technoscience, and architecture from the 19th century to the present. His current book project, entitled The Architecture of Evolution: The Science of Form in Twentieth-Century Evolutionary Biology (under contract with University of Pittsburgh Press), narrates the neglected contributions of the science of morphology to the recent development of evolutionary biology—and in particular, to the field of evolutionary developmental biology.

Visiting Fellows

Asssoc Prof. Jalal Soltani

Google Scholar

Jalal Soltani is a Professor (Associate) at Bu-Ali Sina University, Iran, with interest in endo-symbiosis, especially Plant and Fungi’s Microbiota, and the roles these microbiotas play in the hosts health. Accordingly, within the ROTO group, he aims at integrating his empirical experience with philosophical debates about biological individuality and holobionts to ask novel questions that could change plant management practices significantly. His project develops a new conceptual framework of plant individuality that rests not on the plant as a separate unit but as a plant holobiont. It highlights plants’ symbiotic interactions, shifts the target of plant protection, and allows designing new plant health management strategies. This interdisciplinary research further involves other relevant fields, such as epigenetics, immunity, etc.. As an activist in Iran, he has translated -into Persian- and published a number of bio-philosophical works, including the books “Dawkins, 2006. The Selfish Gene” (in 2017; ژن خودخواه), and “Griffith and Stotz, 2013. Genetics and Philosophy” (in 2023; ژنتیک و فلسفه).

Elisabeth Muchka, PhD student

Elisabeth Muchka is a PhD student at the University of Bern. She is currently working on questions about the explanatory scope in evolutionary theory and how these are interlinked with the concepts of natural selection, variation, and isotropy. Her research is embedded in the current debates about an extension of evolutionary theory.

Visiting dates: November 2022 – April 2023

Former members

Andrea Olmo Viola, PhD student

Andrea Olmo Viola is a PhD student at University of Roma La Sapienza. His research interests include history and philosophy of life sciences, currently his project is focused on the theoretical framework and historical roots of the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis.

Visiting dates: September 2022 – December 2022

Alejandra Petino Zappala, postdoctoral researcher

Homepage // Twitter @PetinoZappala

Alejandra Petino Zappala is a postdoc researcher and lecturer at the University of Buenos Aires. Her research focuses on different aspects of the genotype-phenotype relationship. In her current project she investigates the concept of phenotypic canalization and its use by different authors.

Visiting dates: December 2022 – March 2023