History of Biology Seminars

2022 Seminar: Regeneration Again (Again)

Image from Jessica Ranney
Thu, May 19, 2022 - Tue, May 24, 2022
Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA

Seminar Timeline: 

May 19–24, 2022 with travel arrivals on May 18th and departures on May 25th.


The 2019 seminar focused on Regeneration Across Scales. As noted then:
All living systems, from microbial communities to organisms and ecosystems, maintain some capacity to repair and maintain themselves in the face of disturbances or damage. For example, microbial communities can regenerate to achieve the same function even as species composition changes, spinal neurons in a lamprey can regenerate function even though their cellular wiring changes, and ecosystems can maintain a level of resiliency in the face of changing climate conditions.

Diagram of germ-track

At all biological scales, while biological systems undergo stress and damage, some parts can regenerate and some systems recover. But does regeneration mean the same thing in each case? How do the regenerating parts “know” how to work cooperatively to restore the system? How does understanding at one level inform the others? Is there an underlying logic of regeneration across complex living systems? These remain the driving questions for our Regeneration Initiative funded by the James S. McDonnell Foundation.

Since the 2019 seminar, work has continued even though we could not convene at the MBL. We will pick up in 2022, having written 2 books with more in process. This will be a great opportunity to rethink assumptions, dig deeper into ideas about systems and recovery, and help inform ongoing research.

The 2022 MBL-ASU History of Biology Seminar will bring together historians, philosophers, social scientists, and biologists for a lively and intense week of presentations, discussions, and explorations of what we mean by complex systems at different scales, how they regenerate after damage, and when they fail.

2022 MBL T-Shirt
John Beatty, University of British Columbia
James Collins, Arizona State University
Jane Maienschein, Arizona State University/MBL
Karl Matlin, University of Chicago/MBL
Jane Maienschein, Arizona State University/MBL
James Collins, Arizona State University
Additional images
Hydra image