Biological Interest Group

Meeting time: Friday mornings 10:15-11:30 am Central time
Meeting place: Hybrid format: 737 Heller Hall and online via Zoom.

The biological interest group (BIG) reads and discusses works of mutual interest in the history and philosophy of biology. We select readings for a variety of reasons: to keep up on the most exciting developments in the field, to help participants scrutinize literature relevant to their research projects (faculty or graduate student research), to provide feedback on works in progress being written by BIG participants (graduate students, faculty, and Center visitors), to revisit classic articles in the literature, and sometimes just to have fun discussing a topic related to biology. For more information, please contact Alan Love (

Our meetings are informal and some participants need to arrive late or leave early because of scheduling conflicts. All faculty from the University of Minnesota and area colleges and universities and graduate students are welcome to attend whenever they would like (without invitation) and without giving advanced notice. Undergraduates are included by invitation. (If you know of an undergraduate who is well-suited and possibly interested, please contact Alan Love at so an invitation can be extended.)

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Fall 2023

Please join our mailing list for the zoom invitation or email

September 8: Kampourakis, K. and E.L Peterson. 2023. The racist origins, racialist connotations, and purity assumptions of the concept of “admixture” in human evolutionary genetics. Genetics 223 (3):iyad002.

September 15: Matthiessen, D. in preparation. Crystallizing techniques: Procedural knowledge, empirical constraints, and blood crystal research in the nineteenth century.

September 22: Fromonteil, S., L. Marie-Orleach, L. Winkler, and T. Janicke. 2023. Sexual selection in females and the evolution of polyandry. PLoS Biology 21(1):e3001916.

September 29: Diogo, R., A. Adesomo, K.S. Farmer, R.J. Kim, and F. Jackson. 2023. Not just in the past: Racist and sexist biases still permeate biology, anthropology, medicine, and education. Evolutionary Anthropology 32:67-82. (pdf)

October 6: Sarkar, S. 2023. That was the Philosophy of Biology that was: Mainx, Woodger, Nagel, and Logical Empiricism, 1929–1961. Biological Theory 18:153–174. (pdf)

October 13: Rifkin, M.J. and J. Garson. 2023. Sex by design: a new account of the animal sexes. Biology & Philosophy 38:13. (pdf)

October 20: Griffiths, P.E. 2022. What are biological sexes?

October 27: Haddad, Y. 2023. The epistemic harms of direct-to-consumer genetic tests. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy. (pdf)

November 3: Rock, R.R. and P.J. Turnbaugh. 2023. Forging the microbiome to help us live long and prosper. PLoS Biology 21(4): e3002087.

November 10:  Houle, D., C. Pélabon, G.P. Wagner and T.F. Hansen. 2011. Measurement and meaning in biology. The Quarterly Review of Biology 86(1):3-34. (pdf)
Eran Tal, Philosophy, McGill University will be visiting

November 17: Wilson, D.S., G. Madhavanc, M.J. Gelfandd, S.C. Hayese, P.W.B. Atkinsa, and R.R. Colwell. 2023. Multilevel cultural evolution: From new theory to practical applications. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 120(16):e2218222120.

November 24: No meeting Thanksgiving break

December 1: Hallsworth, M. 2023. A manifesto for applying behavioural science. Nature Human Behaviour 7:310–322.

December 8: Burt, C.H. 2023. Challenging the utility of polygenic scores for social science: Environmental confounding, downward causation, and unknown biology. Behavioral and Brain Sciences. (pdf)
Callie H. Burt, Criminal Justice and Criminology, Georgia State University will be visiting

Previous BIG topics