Paul is an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sydney. He was educated at Cambridge and the Australian National University, receiving his PhD in 1989. He taught at Otago University in New Zealand and later headed the History and Philosophy of Science program at the University of Sydney, before taking up a Chair in History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. He returned to Australia in 2004, first as an Australian Research Council Federation Fellow and from 2007 as a Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Sydney.

Paul co-leads the Theory and Method in Biosciences group with Pierrick Bourrat.

Pierrick is an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Macquarie University. He has a dual background in Evolutionary Biology (MSc, Montpellier, France) and Philosophy of Science (MA, Paris). He received his PhD in Philosophy from the University of Sydney in 2015. After a postdoc at the University of Sydney, Pierrick moved to Macquarie University in 2017.

Pierrick co-leads the Theory and Method in Biosciences group with Paul Griffiths.


Carl has dual postdoc positions firstly with TMB at the University of Sydney, where he works on cultural evolution in the context of health, and at the Australian National University.
His PhD was on formal modelling of signalling in the evolution of religion. He has a background in philosophy and physical sciences, but also worked at the ANU medical school and the Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute. His publications are in health services research, signalling, cultural evolution, and conceptual change in science. Other research interests include biological individuality, personal identity, conceptual pluralism, ethics, and the evolution of social norms.
Carl's project with TMB is to articulate a framework for extending the notion of biological normativity and healthy well-functioning beyond the biomedical, to include developmentally enculturated traits, and to soften the gap between naturalist and normativist approaches to understanding health.

Guilhem is an evolutionary biologist with a particular interest for the interplay between ecological and evolutionary dynamics. He defended his PhD thesis "On the Evolution of Collective-Level Darwinian Properties" in 2019. His work in the TMB team (Macquarie University) is focused on the concept of fitness and its limits (Doulcier et al. 2020,, and evolutionary transition in individuality (Bourrat et al. 2021, Guilhem has a background in evolutionary biology and applied mathematics, meaning that his tools of choice include a range of modelling methods from dynamical systems to stochastic processes and probability theory.

Dan is an Honorary Associate in the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, at the University of Sydney. His academic background includes a degree in mathematics (University of Chicago) and PhD in ecology and evolution (Stony Brook). A focus of his research is “biodiversity”, from philosophy to policy (see Research on philosophy of biodiversity includes the “Biodiversity” entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and as a Lead Author for the “Values Assessment” of The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Policy-related research includes biodiversity monitoring in NSW and work on global biodiversity conservation priorities. One important global context is the current application of Dan’s “phylogenetic diversity” (PD) framework for phylogenetically-informed species conservation in the global conservation program, “Edge of Existence”.

Stefan supports the various projects of the TMB team in his role as a research officer at the Charles Perkins Centre and Department of Philosophy, at the University of Sydney. He is also a PhD candidate in the School of History and Philosophy of Science, where his research topic is Jakob von Uexküll’s concept of the Umwelt.

Inês Hipólito (BPhil, MPhil, MSc, DPhil) is a lecturer of Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence at Macquarie University. Her research, focusing on E-Cognition and how it can help understand and design augmented forms of cognition (e.g. brain-computer interfaces, neurotechnologies and smart environments), has been published in numerous top-ranked journals. She has also taken leading roles in co-edited collections shaping her field. She has been invited to give keynote talks in international events and regularly participates in podcasts.

My current position is as a Research Fellow with the Theory and Method in Biosciences research group at the University of Sydney and an Associate Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence in Synthetic Biology. My primary areas of research are philosophy of the life sciences (biology, ecology, medicine) and ethics (bioethics, environment, technology). Recently, I have been writing about the role of biotechnology in conservation science, biological function, and on invasive species. I am also the CI of the Grant "The Native Yeast Biobank", creating a citizen science-driven biobank of native Australian yeasts with microbiologists and a digital designer.

Lu Qiaoying

lu qiaoying

Qiaoying is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Peking University. She serves as the vice secretary-general and one of the managing directors of the Philosophy of Biology Committee of the Chinese Association for Dialectics of Nature. Qiaoying’s research interests lie in the philosophy of biology and the general philosophy of science. Her primary work includes laying the theoretical foundations for the extended gene-centered framework and applying structural causal models to analyze the causality of genes. She has also delved into discussions concerning the units of natural selection, the revival of Lamarckism, gene editing, and minimal cognition.

Ritsaart is a doctoral candidate at Macquarie University. He is broadly interested in social epistemology, and specifically in the dynamics and implications of (dis)trust in digital spaces. His research focuses on the challenges that virtual environments pose to placing our trust wisely, as well as the sorts of competencies that are called on to identify trustworthy online interlocutors, and to be trustworthy ourselves.

Peter Takacs is a member of the Charles Perkins Centre and the Department of Philosophy at the University of Sydney. His current research in the Theory and Method in Biosciences group is in philosophy of biology and the philosophy of evolutionary biomedicine, with special emphasis on the conceptual challenges that arise when attempting to determine the ontology of individuals and identify biological (mal)function given “DEEP” (Developmental, Evolutionary, Ecological, and Physiological) feedbacks. His past research focused on the metaphysical, epistemological (i.e., empirical as well as formal approaches), and normative issues that arise when examining the notion of fitness, explanations of major evolutionary transitions such as cooperation, how sophisticated evolutionary reasoning changes prevailing assumptions about health, and whether the life sciences currently require a so-called “New Synthesis.” His research is funded by the Australian Research Council project ‘A Philosophy of Medicine for the 21st Century’ (#FL170100160) and a subaward grant for ‘Evolutionary Transitions in Individuality: From Ecology to Teleonomy’ under the John Templeton Foundation’s “Agency, Directionality and Function: Foundations for a Science of Purpose” initiative (#62220).

Graham is a Research Assistant working with both the Evolutionary Transitions in Individuality project out of Macquarie University and the Theory and Methods in Biosciences lab at Sydney University. He is a PhD candidate in Philosophy at Macquarie University, with a background in the philosophy of cognitive science and evolution. His PhD thesis is on the origins and cultural evolution of storytelling, in particular the application of an Extended Evolutionary Synthesis to understanding how and why storytelling has become a ubiquitous behaviour in humans across cultures. His interests lie broadly in conceptual issues around evolution, cognition, agency, and the self.

Visiting Staff

Riin is a visiting postdoctoral research fellow with TMB at the University of Sydney, supported by the Estonian Research Council. She defended her PhD thesis in philosophy in 2021 with the thesis “The content and implications of nativist claims”. Her current work focuses on questions concerning (1) the relationship between genetic and social explanations of human traits and (2) factors impacting how lay people interpret scientific claims about genetic causality.


Ding is a PhD student in the Philosophy of Biological Sciences at the University of Sydney under the supervision of Paul Griffiths and Kate Lynch. Her main interest is in the interplay between ontological assumptions, scientific practice, and empirical data underlying the generation of explanations and intervention strategies for natural phenomena. Her current work focuses on non-reductive approaches in developmental biology and centers around three major focal points: (i) the differences between reductive and non-reductive approaches, (ii) the conceptual concerns surrounding the adoption of non-reductive approaches, and (iii) the practical implications of adopting such approaches.

Campbell is a PhD student in the Philosophy of Biology under the supervision of Paul Griffiths and Dalia Nassar. His research explores the ontological foundations of the concept of 'organism' as it has developed over the last three centuries, and examines its role in contemporary biological attempts to interpret the living world. His work aims to blend analytic approaches to the ontology of the organism and biological individuality with perspectives from continental philosophy, including from German Idealism (Kant, Hegel and Schelling) through to twentieth century French ‘biophilosophy’, in particular Georges Canguilhem.

Past Staff

Clair Sole

clair sole

Recently graduated from University of Sydney, Clair majored in Classics and Ancient History, and History in their Bachelor of Arts and Advanced Studies. An interest in expanding their horizon, Clair now supports the TMB team to fulfill its purpose and vision.

Adnaan Baraky

adnaan baraky

Adnaan is a musician, composer, and oud player, who also found an interest in management and leadership. Adnaan worked as part of the TMB team (University of Sydney) as the administration officer, partnering with the team to fulfill its purpose and vision.

Kate worked as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Sydney, with a background as both a philosopher and biologist. She uses a combination of experimental approaches and philosophical theory to understand conceptual issues intersecting the two fields. Kate is involved in multiple collaborative projects with ecologists, geneticists, ethologists, psychologists, medical practitioners and philosophers. Her current interests include: the way in which genetic causes operate and are understood; the kinds of causal claims made in microbiology; how to most effectively practice conservation biology; gene-environment interplays in development and evolution; and the influence of genetic technologies on society.

Andrew worked as a postdoctoral research fellow in the philosophy department at Macquarie University, focusing on the concept of “function” in the context of both synthetic and non-synthetic biology. Having recently completed a PhD in cognitive science at Macquarie, Andrew is interested in using an experimental approach to discover how different populations think about the concept of biological function. Andrew’s PhD research explored how attributions of intentionality can facilitate the expression of teleological beliefs about biological and nonbiological natural entities. He is interested in this question from both a cognitive science of religion and dual-process thinking and reasoning perspective.

Josh is an evolutionary biologist who worked with TMB on integrating theoretical models with philosophical theories on biological function. He developed methods to operationalise and quantify biological function, as well as using natural language processing to understand how biologists use the concept of "function" in the literature.

Caitrin was a Research Associate for Paul Griffiths' Australian Laureate Fellowship A Philosophy of Medicine for the 21st Century, and is a PhD student in the School of History and Philosophy of Science. Drawing on externalist approaches in the philosophy of cognitive science and biology, her research considers the role of environmental factors — in particular, cultural practices, norms and institutions — in the explanation, classification, and treatment of psychopathological phenomena. Caitrin’s dissertation is being supervised by Dominic Murphy and Richard Menary (Macquarie University). Her philosophical interests lie in philosophy of cognitive science, biology and medicine, with a special focus on philosophy of psychiatry.

Imogen Kavanagh

imogen kavanagh

Imogen worked as an Administrative Assistant for the Theory and Method in Biosciences team. She graduated from Sydney University with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in History and Anthropology. She received a Masters in Applied Linguistics (TESOL) from Macquarie University which led to teaching at the Centre of Macquarie English for ten years and benchmarking at two Universities in Scotland. She was a research assistant in the Department of Linguistics and taught Academic Communication to Undergraduate students at Macquarie University.

Moving into professional staff roles has involved managing and editing grant applications, publications and reports. At the University of Sydney’s DVC Research Office, she supported the recent submissions for ERA and Impact & Engagement. Employed as a Research Assistant, she edited narratives to showcase the University's research impact. She is currently the administration assistant to the TMB team while casual teaching at the Centre of English Teaching at the University of Sydney.

A theoretical biologist and a philosopher of biology, Arnaud defended his PhD thesis in theoretical ecology at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris. He continued his researches as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh and as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the T&MB group. Arnaud is currently a Templeton Independent Research Fellow with funding from the Templeton World Charity Foundation. He is also a member of the Charles Perkins Centre Lifelab.

Brett is a philosopher of science with a background in software engineering. His research focuses on the evolution of complex systems. He has worked as an SFI/ASU post-doctoral fellow at Arizona State University and a fellow in Joshua Epstein’s Center for Advanced Modeling at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA. He has worked with Kim Sterelny on a project on Evolvability and the Evolution of Complexity, and with biologist Lindell Bromham on a project on Major Transitions in Evolution. He completed his PhD, “Major Transitions in Biological Organisation” in 2007, at the Australian National University, supervised by Peter Godfrey-Smith.

Karola Stotz was a senior lecturer and Templeton World Charity Foundation Fellow in the department of philosophy at Macquarie University.

She received her Masters in physical and cultural anthropology from the University of Mainz, Germany and her PhD in philosophy from the University of Ghent in Belgium. She has worked at the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research in Austria, the Unit for History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Sydney, the Department of HPS at the University of Pittsburgh and the Cognitive Science Program at Indiana University.

In 2008 she was awarded a 5-year Australian Research Fellowship and discovery grant at the University of Sydney with the project “Postgenomic Perspectives on Human Nature”. Stotz has published on philosophical issues in evolutionary, developmental and molecular biology, psychobiology and cognition. She focused particularly on the nature nurture controversy, non-genetic inheritance and developmental niche construction, nonreductive and integrative explanatory strategies, and 4 E (embodied, embedded, enactive and extended) cognition. Together with Paul Griffiths she pioneered the use of 'experimental philosophy' methods in the field of philosophy of science.

She worked on the Templeton World Charity Foundation project “Causal Foundations of Biological Information”.

Past Visiting Staff

Jonathan is an associate professor in the philosophy of medical sciences at Université de Bordeaux. He received his PhD in philosophy from KU Leuven in Belgium before having positions as a post-doc researcher at KU Leuven, as assistant professor of medical philosophy at Aarhus University (Denmark), and as post-doc researcher at Bordeaux. While at Sydney, he will be focusing his attention on developing a research program around a philosophy of the nutrition sciences – with an emphasis on nutritional ecology – while also exploring questions within philosophy of medicine, such as the naturalization of health.

Wesley's work focuses on how to develop an extended philosophical account of mechanistic explanation based on scientific practices of systems biology during the last two decades. He is also interested in applying the causal Bayesian network framework to traditional philosophical questions such as multiple realization, biological functions, etc.

Dan Nicholson

Arunas Radzvilavicius

Carrie Figdor

carrie figdor

Dr. Carrie Figdor is Professor in the Department of Philosophy and the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Iowa. She was an Anderson Fellow at the University of Sydney during 2019 (Term 2), sponsored by Paul Griffiths, and continued as a visiting scholar/researcher until March 2020. Dr. Figdor’s project at Sydney was the development of a non-anthropocentric framework for psychology grounded in the biological sciences. Her approach provides a unified theoretical basis for empirical findings of cognitive capacities throughout the biological world and extends the non-anthropocentric perspective on cognition that she introduces in her recent book, Pieces of Mind (Oxford UP, 2018).

Maureen O'Malley

Past Students

PhD (2023): 'Evolution, Culture and Computation in Psychiatry'

Research Fellow, University of Sussex

PhD (2022): 'Health, Agency, and the Evolution of Consciousness'

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Philosophy, University of Bristol

PhD (2019): 'Modeling the embodied mind: The dynamical turn in affective science'

Lecturer, University of Wollongong

Karl Rollings

PhD (2018): 'Cooperative Instrumentalism: A Naturalistic Explanation of Morality'

Medical Doctor

PhD (2017): 'The genetic and mechanistic basis of worker sterility in the honey bee'
Supervised by Prof. Ben Oldroyd (Behaviour and Genetics of Social Insects Laboratory, School of Biological Sciences) and Prof. Paul Griffiths.

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Harvard University

PhD (2014) 'Beyond Biological Naturalism and Social Constructionism about Race: An Interactive Constructionist Approach to Racialisation'

Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, Macquarie University

PhD (2012) 'States of origin: influences on research into the origins of life'

Professional science communicator