We Were Never Individual: How Symbionts and Hives Pervade Our Lives

Date: May 3, 2012
Time: 6:00 p.m.

315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Event Type: Open to the Public
Fee: Free
RSVP Online: Registration Required

Symbiosis rules, and we are all lichens. What would “individual selection” entail if there were no real “individuals” to select? Do we have to formulate a new type of selection, and how does the whole prevent its parts from cheating?

  About the Event

This talk is a part of the 2012 Gordon Cain Conference, “E pluribus unum: Bringing Biological Parts and Wholes into Historical and Philosophical Perspective.” The conference, organized by Lynn Nyhart (University of Wisconsin, Madison) and Scott Lidgard (Field Museum, Chicago), will also include a closed workshop at CHF in May 2012 that is intended to produce papers for an edited volume.

For more information, please contact Carin Berkowitz, associate director, Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry, at 215.873.8289 or cberkowitz@chemheritage.org.

  Event Schedule

Thursday, May 03, 2012

6:00 p.m.

Scott F. Gilbert: “We Were Never Individual: How Symbionts and Hives Pervade Our Lives”

 Speaker Biographies

Scott F. Gilbert

Scott F. Gilbert is the Howard A. Schneiderman Professor of Biology at Swarthmore College and a Finland Distinguished Professor of Biology at the University of Helsinki. He teaches developmental genetics, embryology, and the history and critiques of biology. His biological research seeks to integrate evolution and development, especially in answering the age-old question, “How does the turtle get its shell?” His research in the history and philosophy of science similarly addresses the integrations of development, genetic, and evolutionary biology, and it looks particularly at the rhetoric and images used in these debates.

Gilbert has been chair of the Division of Developmental and Cell Biology of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, and he currently chairs the Education Committee of the Society for Developmental Biology. He is on the executive committee of the European Society for Evolutionary Developmental Biology and has also been elected a fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the St. Petersburg Society of Naturalists.

Gilbert currently has three books in print: Developmental Biology (a textbook in its ninth edition), Bioethics and the New Embryology (a volume, coauthored with two students, that discusses new findings in developmental biology with respect to philosophy and religion), and Ecological Developmental Biology, a textbook coauthored with David Epel, which integrates developmental plasticity, epigenetics, and symbiosis into discussions of medicine and evolution. He has received several awards, including the Medal of François I from the Collège de France, the Dwight J. Ingle Memorial Writing Award, the Choice Outstanding Academic Book Award, honorary doctorates from the Universities of Helsinki and Tartu, and a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Grant. In 2002 the Society for Developmental Biology awarded him its first Viktor Hamburger Prize for Excellence in Education, and in 2004 he was awarded the Kowalevsky Prize in Evolutionary Developmental Biology. In recent years he has addressed two conferences in the Vatican, and has given the Brent Lecture (Teratology Society), the Benirschke Lecture (University of California, San Diego), and the Burian-McNabb Lecture (Virginia Tech).

Gilbert received a B.A. in both biology and religion from Wesleyan University (1971), and he earned a Ph.D. in biology from the pediatric genetics laboratory of Barbara Migeon at Johns Hopkins University (1976). He completed an M.A. in the history of science, also from Johns Hopkins, under the supervision of Donna Haraway. He pursued postdoctoral research at the University of Wisconsin in the laboratories of Masayasu Nomura and Robert Auerbach.

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