Team

Researchers

Prof. Dr. Jan Baedke, PI

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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. Azita Chellappoo, postdoctoral researcher

University of Cambridge
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Azita Chellappoo is 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 project aims to explore links between organism-centered perspectives emerging under the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis and developments in personalised/precision medicine, race-based medicine, and biosocial research, and investigate social and political dimensions of emerging research in epigenetics and the microbiome.

Her PhD thesis, completed in the HPS Department at University of Cambridge, was an analysis of conceptual challenges in cultural selection, including the resemblance between cultural and biological populations, questions of explanation, contrasts with historical or anthropological understandings, and potential social and political consequences of using cultural evolutionary frameworks. Her broader research interests include feminist epistemology and critical race theory.


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

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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

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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.


Administration

Tanja Markner

Ruhr-University Bochum

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
society.


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. Abigail Nieves Delgado

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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


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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.

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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

IASS Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies Potsdam

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

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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.