Aarhus University, Denmark
Academic Year 2014-15
Representational Strategies for Dealing with Complexity in the Life Sciences
Sara completed her PhD with the title “Systems Biology and the Quest for General Principles”at Aarhus University, Denmark, in the spring of 2014. The project was conducted as part of Prof. Hanne Andersen’s research group called Philosophy of Contemporary Science in Practice (PCSP), and with Dr. Sabina Leonelli (University of Exeter) as co-supervisor. The dissertation explored the philosophical implications of research strategies in systems biology, with special focus on the quest for general principles of biological organization and the application of engineering approaches in the life sciences.
Sara’s current philosophical interests also include the epistemic and social implications of systems medicine. The next project will focus on the affordances of different representational strategies used in systems biology and systems medicine to deal with biological complexity. In particular, Sara is interested in the use of network models and phase space diagrams to account for synchronic and diachronic degeneracy in living systems, and how these methods connect to mechanistic research strategies.
Sara’s recent publications include: “Design sans Adaptation”, with Arnon Levy and Bill Bechtel, European Journal of Philosophy of Science (forthcoming); “Explanatory Integration Challenges in Evolutionary Systems Biology”, with Melinda Fagan and Johannes Jaeger, Biological Theory (2014); “A philosophical evaluation of adaptationism as a heuristic strategy”, Acta Biotheoretica (2014); “Tracing organizing principles – learning from the history of systems biology”, with Olaf Wolkenhauer (2014), History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences; “When one model is not enough: The combination of epistemic tools in systems biology”, Studies in History and Philosophy of Biology and Biomedical Sciences (2013).
Besides philosophy of science, Sara enjoys outdoor and sport activities (climbing and hiking, in particular), and she will be easy to persuade for a trip during the weekends.