Wednesday, April 23, 2008 - 2:00pm - 2:40pm
Robert Cummins (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
The concept of function has a tainted history in science and philosophy, having been mated to teleology and harnessed to pull various discredited theories. This presentation begins with a short history designed to give a sense of what made the concept of function problematic. Current philosophical attention to the problem revolves ellipse-like around two foci: systematic or system relative accounts, and selectionist accounts.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008 - 9:30am - 10:10am
W. Tecumseh Fitch (University of St. Andrews)
The evolution of communication provides one of the few
examples in evolutionary biology where principles of physical
acoustics, interacting with developmental constraints on
physiology and motor control, have clear and predictable
effects on evolutionary outcomes. I will provide two clear
example of this, relating to basic physiological constraints
on fundamental and formant frequencies, and various
morphological tricks that vertebrates have evolved to evade
such constraints. Then I will explore a more speculative
Tuesday, May 13, 2008 - 9:45am - 10:45am
Yiannis Kaznessis (University of Minnesota, Twin Cities)
The nascent field of synthetic biology offers the promise of engineered gene
networks with novel biological phenotypes. Numerous synthetic gene circuits
have been created in the past decade, including bistable switches,
oscillators, and logic gates. Despite a booming field and although recently
developed designs of regulatable gene networks are ingenious, there are
limitations in routinely engineering synthetic biological systems. Indeed,
there is a need for rationalizing the design of novel regulatable gene


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