We are recruiting two research fellows to join the ERC-funded project, 'A Process Ontology for Contemporary Biology'. Both posts (RF/ARF depending on experience) will be for a period of three years, starting not later than October 1, 2014. This project explores the implications of full recognition of the dynamic/processual nature of living systems to the interpretation of recent and current scientific insights. The ultimate goal is to provide a philosophical account of the living world grounded in a process ontology and contemporary scientific understandings. This account will also draw on historical insights. More information about the project can be found on the project page. The appointees will work closely with the PI, Prof John Dupré, the Research Fellow already appointed, Dr Daniel Nicholson, and project-related PhD students. In addition to collaboration with the rest of the team across the remit of the project, the appointees will engage specifically with the following areas of biology:
RF/ARF 1. Systems biology. A process-centred philosophy of biology suggests that some version of systems biology will be central to future progress in the biological sciences. However, this rubric currently covers a wide range of approaches, with diverse underlying philosophical assumptions. The researcher will undertake a systematic review of current work in systems biology and an exploration of the philosophical presuppositions on which these are based. The goal will be to explore the consistency with, and relevance to, a processual ontology that the various approaches and outcomes exhibit.
RF/ARF 2. Microbiology. Work in microbiology has generally taken the individual cell as the primary target of investigation, and has assumed that microbes were susceptible to some kind of natural generally phylogenetic classification. Both these assumptions are problematized by recent work emphasizing the interconnectedness of microbes in complex systems (such as biofilms) and the extent of genetic flow between microbial lineages. The researcher will survey relevant recent work in microbiology with a view to developing a processual account of the microbe both as an individual entity and as an element of more complex living systems. The research will build on earlier philosophical work on microbes by the PI with former Egenis RF Dr Maureen O’Malley.
The appointees will be expected to have doctoral level training in the philosophy of science. Experience in philosophy of biology and/or relevant areas of biology are highly desirable, but not essential. Details of the posts and the application process can be found on the University of Exeter's job search site.