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::: center home >> people >> postdoctoral fellows >> green

Sara Green
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.

2016 Update

I’m now a postdoc at the Department of Science Education, Copenhagen, where I enjoy working again with Hanne Andersen (former fellow and my former supervisor). An equally great thing is that Maria Serban (the perfect office mate at the Center) is now also in Copenhagen! Aside from facilitating friendships and collaborations, I’m happy that the stay at Pitt has resulted in several co-authored papers that are now in review or in press (with Nick Jones, Bill Bechtel, Ingo Brigandt, Raphael Scholl, Bob Batterman, Leo Bich, and Maria Serban). I look forward to future reunions!

Green, S. & Vogt, H. (in press). "Personalizing Medicine: Disease prevention in silico and in socio." Humana Mente Journal of Philosophical Studies.

Green, S. (2015). "Revisiting generality in the life sciences: Systems biology and the quest for design principles." Biology and Philosophy 30:629–652

Review articles:

Green, S. (2016). Explanatory pluralism in biology. Review of Braillard, P-A. & Malaterre, C., eds. (2015). Explanation in Biology: An Enquiry into the Diversity of Explanatory Patterns in the Life Sciences, Springer. Studies in History and Philosophy of the Biological and Biomedical Sciences, published online: doi:10.1016/j.shpsc.2016.02.002

Green, S. (2016). What is the ‘post’ in postgenomics? Review of Richardson, S. & Stevens, H. eds. (2015). Postgenomics. Perspectives on Biology after the Genome. Duke University Press. Metascience, 25(1), pp. 83-86.

Serban, M. & Green, S. (2016). Why the Small Things in Life Matter: Philosophy of Biology from the Microbial Perspective. Philosophy of Science, 83(1), 152-158.

International Prizes:
Werner Callebaut Prize, International Society of History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology, 2015

Recent talks:

• Cancer across scales, International Conference on Philosophy and Cancer, IHPST Paris, April 28, 2016.
• Concepts of Translation, Winter school on “Integration and Translation in Systems Medicine, University of Hamburg, February 4, 2016.
• Explanatory tensions in the life sciences: (What) do mathematical models explain? Department of Biosystems science and Engineering (D-BSSE) ETH-Zurich, October 30, 2015.
• Debating causation in the life sciences: A systems perspective on causes and effects of cancer, Biennial Meeting of the European Philosophy of Science Association, University of Duesseldorf, September 2015.
• Constraint-based reasoning and mechanistic explanation, 15th Congress on Logic, Methodology, and Philosophy of Science, University of Helsinki, August 5, 2015.

2017 Update

I'm happy to announce that I will be taking on a tenure-track assistant professorship at the Department of Science Education, University of Copenhagen, from June 1 2017. 

New publications: 

Edited book
Green, S. (ed., 2017). Philosophy of Systems Biology: Perspectives from Scientists and Philosophers. Springer International Publishing (Series: History, Philosophy and Theory of the Life Sciences).

Recent papers
Green, S. (in press). Philosophy of Systems and Synthetic Biology. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Gross, F. & Green, S. (in press). The sum of the parts: Large scale-modeling in systems biology. Invited paper to a special issue on biological ontology in Philosophy and Theory in Biology, edited by Thomas Pradeu and Adam Ferner.

Bich, L. & Green, S. (2017). Is defining life pointless? Operational definitions at the frontiers of biology. Synthese. 10.1007/s11229-017-1397-9 

Green, S., Serban, M., Scholl, R., Jones, N., Brigandt, I. & Bechtel, W. (2017). Network analyses in systems biology: New strategies for dealing with biological complexity. Synthese. doi:10.1007/s11229-016-1307-6

Green, S. & Batterman, R. (2017). Biology meets physics: Reductionism and multi-scale modeling of morphogenesis. Studies in History and Philosophy of the Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 61: 20-34. 




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