News & Events

Eva Boon
On Wednesday, 27 February 2019, at 13h30, Eva Boon (now Eindhoven University of Technology) will give a talk in the Blue Room (Linnaeusborg 571). Eva was among the first cohort of students of our topmaster programme Evolutionary Biology. Having started in Marine Biology, she became more and more interested in the microbiome, horizontal gene transfer, and the evolution of individuality. After having obtained a PhD in Biology from the University of Montreal in 2012 (on the evolution of inter-genomic variation in arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi), Eva became more and more interested in the philosophy of science. At present, she is finalizing a second doctoral dissertation in philosophy (on the foundations of the theory of cultural evolution).

When philosophy and biology meet – On the evolutionary individuality of biofilms

Abstract: In this talk, I explore how combining work from philosophy of science and biology can help understand complex evolutionary questions. As a case study, I explore recent discussions on the status of biofilms as evolutionary individuals. From a biological perspective, data on biofilms is abundant. However, high functional integration within the microbial communities that form biofilms makes it hard to decide whether such a community should be considered as an evolutionary individual, or as a ‘mere’ collection of individual cells. From a philosophical point of view, either interpretation is a theoretical possibility: the challenge lies in connecting these possibilities to actual biological studies on biofilms. By investigating the evolutionary concepts of heredity and selection, I argue that the interpretation of these concepts is key in how biologists draw conclusions from their data. The reverse is also the case: philosophers of science rely heavily on their interpretation of the biological literature when they elaborate their conceptual analyses and argue in favour of or against a particular interpretation of above evolutionary concepts. I conclude with some practical recommendations on how a combined philosophical and biological approach can complement either research effort, and lead to more fruitful discussions in both areas of investigation to boot.

Alfredo Rago
From 19-21 Feb 2019, we will be visited by Alfredo Rago. Alfredo has currently a postdoc position in Tobias Uller’s group (Lund Sweden; Tobias is one of the driving forces behind the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis) and in Richard Watson’s group (Southampton, UK; an AI expert working on network evolution). Alfredo’s research interests are almost identical to those of our group (consult his blog on this). He will give a talk during our monthly TRES seminar:

Can plasticity create irreversible constraints?

Andreas Limper
On 31 Jan 2019, we will be visited by Andreas Limper (an engineer and old friend of mine) and two experts on machine engineering from the University of Aachen (Germany). We will discuss options for using evolutionary algorithms to solve complex engineering problems that are based on designing optimal response strategies (i.e. machines that adapt to cues related to input variables, such as the composition of the material to be processed).
On 30 Jan 2019, there will be MEME winterschool, with interesting talks on diverse evolutionary topics.

Location: 5172.880 – Open to all interested


09:00 – 09:15 Introduction
09:15 – 10:00 Anne-Lise Gérard – Transmissible cancers from an evolutionary perspective
10:00 – 10:45 Yuanshu Pu – Climate-driven distribution shifts of marine organisms
10:45 – 11:00 Coffee break
11:00 – 11:45 Zimai Li – Homosexual behavior: an evolutionary perspective
11:45 – 12:30 Diego Londoño Correa – Adapted, adaptive, adapting? Evolutionary perspectives on human behavior
12:30 – 13:30 Lunch break
13:30 – 14:15 Catalina Garcia Escudero – The Evolutionary perspective of human nutrition
14:15 – 15:00 Yin Xun Tan – Shifting baseline syndrome in conservation
15:00 – 15:15 Tea break
15:15 – 16:00 Giorgio Boccarella – The evolution of modularity
16:00 – 16:45 Samyuktha Rajan – Visual systems and signals : A chicken and egg scenario

Stefano Tiso
In the same week (15-17 Jan 2019), Stefano Tiso, a MEME graduate, will visit us to evaluate the options for collaboration. He has done a Master’s project on evolutionary robotics and is very interested in questions related to MARM.
Félix Geoffroy
From 15-17 Jan 2019, Félix Geoffroy (Montpellier) will visit us to evaluate the option of writing a grant application for a postdoc in our group. Félix has just defended his PhD thesis on mechanistic models of (human) cooperation. He will give a talk during our monthly TRES seminar.
Joost Raeymaekers
On 10 Jan 2019, Joost Raeymaekers from Nord University, Bodø, Norway, will visit us and give a talk at the GELIFES seminar on Local adaptation in a common landscape – A tale of two stickleback species. Joost is an expert on the genomic architecture of sticklebacks. He has been involved in studying how various factors, including ecological heterogeneity, genomic architecture, population connectivity and life history, influence adaptive potential in key model organisms such as three-spined sticklebacks. His research is of particular relevance for the project of Apu.