Biology and Society is home to both traditional and more collaborative research projects that draw on the interdisciplinary strengths of programs in the history and philosophy of science, environmental sciences, and bioethics, policy and law.
Stay tuned for more information. Learn more about current projects
Computational History & Philosophy of Science
We use a variety of computational tools and techniques to aid historical and philosophical study of the life sciences.
The Data Mining and Analytics Team focuses on extracting the dynamics of knowledge from real-world data. We build unique and innovative data systems that capture in unprecedented detail the processes that lead to important scientific innovation. Combining expertise in data wrangling, network science, and advanced statistical modeling, we push at the interdisciplinary boundaries of data science and digital humanities.
The Laubichler Developmental Evolution Laboratory develops and deploys computational approaches to reconstruct and interrogate the the social, material, and conceptual evolution of scientific fields. Our research focuses specifically on pivotal innovations in 20th-century biological and biomedical sciences.
The Digital Innovation Group (DigInG) brings together students from computer science and the history and philosophy of science to create new and innovative tools, infrastructure, and methods for computational HPS research and training.
RCN conducts research and develops computational solutions to provide a structured representation of HPS knowledge.
Environmental History, Ecology, and Economics
Biology and Society researchers explore the historical, ethical, philosophical, ecological, and economic dimensions of human interactions with the environment.
The ecoSERVICES Group at ASU studies the causes and consequences of change in ecosystem services – the benefits that people derive from the biophysical environment. We analyse biodiversity change in terms of its impacts on the things that people care about, ranging from food production to disease regulation to the ethical impulse to protect other species.
What obligations do we have toward species and wildlands in a rapidly changing and increasingly human-shaped environment? How can a better understanding of the American conservation tradition enhance our efforts to secure a biologically and culturally rich environmental future?
We are uniquely fire creatures on a uniquely fire planet. Contrasting the usual approach to fire as solely a physical phenomenon, our research concentrates on fire as biologically and culturally constructed as well. We consider all aspects of fire, including issues of industrial combustion and climate change, although attention to pyrotechnologies and urban fire is minor.
History & Philosophy of Science
The interdisciplinary field of history and philosophy of science examines the conceptual foundations of science and the connections of science to society.
Political power was embedded in Chinese culture in extraordinarily intense and uniquely complex ways. For instance, Frederick Wakeman characterized the contested relationship between imperial rulers and their scholar-officials as “counterpoised collaborators.” The court and the social elite shared considerable interests in “parenting” the people. Learn more about the International Conference on Culture and Power in China's History
The Carnap Project is an intitiative to produce a set of volumes that will contain all of the works of philosopher of science Rudolf Carnap in English, as well as the original language of publication, with introductions from distinguished scholars.
Biology and Society is a founding member of the dHPS Consortium—a network that brings together historians and philosophers of science, with informaticians, computer scientists, and reference librarians with the goal of thinking of new ways to integrate traditional scholarship with digital tools and resources.
The Embryo Project engages and connects researchers who aim to capture and investigate the history, science, and contexts of embryos in new ways.
The seminar covers a range of topics and brings together historians, philosophers, biologists, and social scientists in a week-long intensive discussion.
The HPS Repository is an open-source, open-access digital repository that seeks to store in a sustainable way the materials that support the digital HPS projects at Biology and Society. The HPS Repository contains thousands of digitized items in formats ranging from video and audio files to photographs to the graph-products of the DigInG group. Materials in the HPS Repository are available to the public under creative commons license, and storage options will soon be open to HPS-related groups.
The MBL History Project seeks to bring to public attention the rich history of the Marine Biological Laboratory, located in Woods Hole, MA. The MBL has been home to many award-winning scientists since it opened in 1888, and this project, run through Biology and Society at ASU, documents that history for the public by digitizing the MBL’s rich archives and creating digital exhibits that put the science of the institution into context for the public.
To study the interface between Immunology, Neuroscience and Philosophy, including its history. Projects include: (1) Immunoneuropsychology (INP) and the mind-body problem. Does INP have implications for better understanding consciousness and how neurophysiological processes and mind are related? What are the conceptual/theoretical foundations of INP? (2) The Immunologic Self. Problems associated with self and personal identity. Can immunologic perspectives help philosophers better understand the concept of self and, conversely, can philosophers help immunologists in their research. (3) Immunoneuropsychology and socio-ethical issues (including Transhumanism). The above research projects all require learning about immunology, neuroscience and philosophy (particularly philosophy of mind). For more information contact Steve Hoffman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Life Science Ethics
Biology and Society researchers combine bioethics, environmental ethics, research ethics, and science studies to bring multiple critical perspectives to bear on ethical issues in the life sciences.
Investigation of the ethical context of decision-making in ecological research and biodiversity management, especially under conditions of rapid environmental change. Supported by the National Science Foundation. Learn more
Ethical engagement is a vital part of the ongoing development of knowledge and practices in the life sciences. Biology and Society researchers foster engagement through developing and assessing life science ethics education materials. Learn more
Developments in the biosciences in the last half-century have posed new ethical challenges that have strained existing institutions of governance. This research engages with these emergent ethical issues, attending in particular to changing relationships between science, politics and law in the governance of the life sciences and technologies in contemporary democracies. For more information, please contact Ben Hurlbut.
A team of biology education researchers dedicated to improving undergraduate biology education. Learn More
Genome editing, stem cell research, and bioengineering have attracted wide attention with the advent of new techniques for manipulating life such as CRISPR Cas9 and gene drives. At ASU, scientists, engineers, social scientists, and humanists come together to probe the many questions about how to recognize and reflect on such challenges in order to seek the best possible outcomes for society and science. Learn more
Neuroscience and society includes projects on the comparative study of the evolution and development of brains and behavior, emerging technologies for brain repair, psychiatric diagnosis and classification, and the relationship between psychiatry and neuroscience. Learn more
The Center for Biology and Society supports and collaborates with the School of Life Science Life Science Ethics program. Learn more