Senior Investigators 

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Joseph Bielawski is Professor cross-appointed in the Departments of Biology and Mathematics & Statistics, Dalhousie University

Joe’s research is organized around two themes, which reflect different levels of complexity and function. First, he is focused on evolution at the gene and genome level. Second, he is focused on the level of microbial community organization. His research exploits the synergy between the simultaneous pursuit of biological questions and modeling advancements. Dr. Bielawski supervises an interdisciplinary research group in the department of Mathematics & Statistics.

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Ford Doolittle is Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Dalhousie University

 

Ford examines prevailing concepts in genomics, molecular biology and microbial ecology, most often as these reflect understandings of evolution by natural selection. Particular concerns are multilevel selection theory, selection for differential persistence (instead of differential reproduction), holobiosis and selection on cycles and interactions, microbiology and the Modern Synthesis, origin of eukaryotes and cellular complexity, lateral gene transfer and the Tree of Life, and the meaning of “function”.

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Tim Lenton is Director of the Global Systems Institute (GSI), University of Exeter

Tim’s research focuses on understanding the behaviour of the Earth as a whole system, the complex web of biological, geochemical and physical processes that shape the chemical composition of the atmosphere and oceans and the climate of the Earth. He is particularly interested in how life has reshaped the planet in the past and what lessons we can draw from this as we proceed to reshape the planet now. His work identifying tipping points in the climate system has led him on to examine positive tipping points within our social systems which could help accelerate progress towards a sustainable future.

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Letitia Meynell is Associate Professor of Philosophy cross-appointed with Gender and Women's Studies, Dalhousie University

Letitia’s research, which has been published in various collections and journals such as Synthese, Hypatia and International Studies in Philosophy of Science, addresses two main areas. The first is the use of pictures and thought experiments in the sciences. The second area is feminist critiques of biology and, increasingly, the implications of feminist philosophy of science for the scientific study of nonhuman animals and evolutionary theorizing. Recently, Letitia co-authored three amicus curiae briefs in support of petitions for writs of habeas corpus brought forth by the Nonhuman Rights Project—one in support of Tommy and Kiko (who are chimpanzees) and the others in support of Minnie, Karen, Beulah, and Happy (who are elephants). The first of these has been extended into a small book, Chimpanzee Rights: The Philosophers’ Brief (2019).

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Edward Susko is Professor of Mathematics and Statistics, Dalhousie University

Edward Susko received his PhD in statistics from the University of Waterloo, did postdoctoral work at the University of Toronto and arrived at Dalhousie in 1998. His main research focus has been on statistical issues in evolutionary biology where much of his work has been devoted to statistical methods for and analysis of molecular sequence data. As a member of the group he is interested in extensions of evolutionary concepts beyond organismal lineages and appropriate analyses in such settings.

Postdoctoral Fellows

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Richard Boyle is a Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Exeter   

Richard's research focuses on the causes and consequences of evolutionary innovation within the context of the Earth system, as well as the broader implications of the concept of novelty. He has a PhD in Earth system modelling, Master's in mathematical biology and undergraduate degree in biology. His modelling work examines (i) the interactions between qualitative biological novelty and the biogeochemical feedbacks, (ii) the degree of compatibility between the Gaia hypothesis and Darwinian evolution and (iii) the relevance of the abiotic environment to multi-level selection and major evolutionary transitions.

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Chris Jones is a Potdoctoral Fellow in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Dalhousie University

Chris Jones graduated from Dalhousie University with a MSc Statistics in 2006.  He completed his PhD in statistics at Dalhousie University in 2019 and has since been a postdoctoral fellow. During this time, he has developed a model for the evolution of transferable genes and a model that explores the evolution of costly regulatory function in microbes in a metapopulation setting. His current objectives include continued exploration of how-possibly explanations for the evolution of regulatory function in microbial communities; the development of models for the evolution of single complex biological systems (i.e., evolution without a population); and to explore various ways natural selection might be extended beyond the material domain to include processes such as nutrient recycling.

Associate Investigators

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Erin Bertrand is Associate Professor of Marine Microbial Biology, Dalhousie University

Erin's research is driven by her passion for connecting molecular-level processes with global scale implications. Before Erin moved to Halifax, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Scripps Inst. of Oceanography and the J. Craig Venter Institute in California and earned her PhD from the MIT/WHOI Joint Program.

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Andrew Inkpen is Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Mount Allison University

 

I am an Assistant Professor at Mount Allison University in the Department of Philosophy and a project leader for the McDonnell Initiative at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) at Woods Hole, MA. My research in the history and philosophy of science focuses on conceptual and methodological issues in ecology and evolutionary biology. I'm currently writing about the human-natural distinction, ecological health, the theory of evolution by natural selection, and regeneration. 

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Chris Lean is a Postdoctoral Fellow cross-appointed in Philosophy and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Dalhousie University, and affiliated to the University of Sydney  

Chris is an interdisciplinary researcher whose areas of inquiry include philosophy of the life sciences (biology, ecology, medicine) and ethics (bioethics, environment, technology). Recently, his writing has addressed the role of biotechnology in conservation science, justifications for invasive species control, and the moral and legal ramifications of online genetic genealogies. Within Dalhousie, he has been working on the ontology and explanation of ecological systems, in particular considering the possibility of ecosystem evolution and explanation in macroecology and macroevolution. This is an extension of his 2019 dissertation, written under the supervision of Kim Sterelny (Australian National University), entitled Ecological Kinds and the Units of Conservation. 

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Scott McCain is a PhD student in oceanography, Dalhousie University

Scott is an oceanographer and biologist, specifically interested in how microbial metabolism intersects with ocean biogeochemistry. To study these processes, I combine field measurements of microbial proteins (via metaproteomics) with mathematical modelling of cellular processes. I completed my B.Sc. in Biology at the University of Western Ontario and a M.Sc. in Biology at Dalhousie with Dr. Heike Lotze. I'm currently working on my Ph.D. in Biology with Dr. Erin Bertrand at Dalhousie.

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Celso Neto is a Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Exeter  

Celso Neto’s research interests are in philosophy of biology, philosophy of science, and philosophy of race.  His Ph.D. dissertation investigated the metaphysics of biological lineages, in addition to the epistemic roles that a concept of lineage plays in science (University of Calgary, 2020). Previously, Celso studied at the Leibniz Universität Hannover (2014-2016).  He completed his undergraduate degree and M.A. at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil (2013).