Nancy J. Nersessian
Harvard University and Georgia Institute of Technology
(Re)Engineering Biology: Modeling Practices in the Bioengineering Sciences
Academic Year, 2014-15
I am Regents’ Professor of Cognitive Science Emertia at Georgia Institute of Technology and Research Associate in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. I am honored to have been elected a Fellow of AAAS and of the Cognitive Science Society and a Foreign Member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. My most recent books are Creating Scientific Concepts (2008, MIT; awarded 2011 Inaugural Patrick Suppes Prize in Philosophy of Science, American Philosophical Society) and Science as Psychology: Sense-making and Identity in Science Practice (2011, Cambridge; co-authored with L. Osbeck, K. Malone, W. Newstetter; awarded 2012 William James Book Award, American Psychological Association). I have published numerous articles in philosophy of science (history and philosophy of physics; philosophy of biology) and in cognitive science. I served 4 terms on the Governing Board of PSA (12 years apart) and on the editorial board of Philosophy of Science, and was on the organizing committee for the Society for the Philosophy of Science in Practice (currently on Advisory Board). In addition I have been President of the Cognitive Science Society, served on its Governing Board, and was Associate Editor of Cognitive Science. I am currently serving on the jury for the de Carvahlo-Heinenkin Prize in Cognitive Science.
You can find numerous papers on my web page: www.cc.gatech.edu/~nersessian and the page for my Cognition and Learning in Interdisciplinary Cultures research group: clic.gatech.edu
From 2000-2014 I led an NSF-sponsored research project to investigate the cognitive and learning practices in leading-edge research laboratories in the bioengineering sciences. A major objective of the project is to provide an integrated view of cognitive, social, and cultural practices around modeling. While in Pittsburgh, I will be combing through the reams of ethnographic data collected with my wonderful, interdisciplinary research group to examine the design, construction, and use of physical simulation models in biomedical engineering and computational simulation models in systems biology. Contemporary bioengineering sciences are predominantly populated by engineers and a central issue is how these engineering perspectives – concepts, methods, epistemic values – reshape representation of biological systems and biological investigation. I plan a book-length examination of these modeling practices and their implications for a wide range of issues in philosophy, cognitive science, and science studies. In addition, I am looking forward to hanging out with many friends, old and new, checking out the Pittsburgh dining scene, and sampling what the city has to offer in music (including, of course, opera).