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 2022

Please join our mailing list for the zoom invitation or email

  • September 9: Kullo, I.J., C.M. Lewis , M. Inouye , A.R. Martin, S. Ripatti, and N. Chatterjee. 2022. Polygenic scores in biomedical research. Nature Reviews Genetics 23:524–532. (pdf)
  • September 16: Howe, J., J.C. Rink, B. Wang, and A.S. Griffin. 2022. Multicellularity in animals: The potential for within-organism conflict. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 119:e2120457119.
  • September 23: Brister E, Holbrook JB, Palmer MJ. Conservation science and the ethos of restraint. Conservation Science and Practice. 2021; e381.
    Optional reading: Novak BJ, Phelan R, Weber M. U.S. conservation translocations: Over a century of intended consequences. Conservation Science and Practice. 2021;e394.
  • September 30: Berner, D. and V. Amrhein. 2022. Why and how we should join the shift from significance testing to estimation. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 35:777–787.
  • October 7: El-Hani, C.N., L. Poliseli, and D. Ludwig. 2022. Beyond the divide between indigenous and academic knowledge: Causal and mechanistic explanations in a Brazilian fishing community. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 91:296–306. (pdf)
  • October 14: Hoekstra, H.E. and G.E. Robinson. 2022. Behavioral genetics and genomics: Mendel’s peas, mice, and bees. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 119:e2122154119.
  • October 21: Lenski, R.E. and T.C. Burnham. 2018. Experimental evolution of bacteria across 60,000 generations, and what it might mean for economics and human decision-making. Journal of Bioeconomics 20:107–124. (pdf)
  • October 28: Barron, Andrew, Halina, Marta, and Klein, Colin (draft manuscript) Types of brains and kinds of minds. (pdf)
  • November 4: van Dijk, P.J., A.P. Jessop, and T.H. Noel Ellis. 2022. How did Mendel arrive at his discoveries? Nature Genetics 54:926–933. (pdf)
  • November 11: No meeting
  • November 18: Chirimuuta M (2022) Artifacts and levels of abstraction. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 10:952992.
  • November 25: No meeting - Thanksgiving
  • December 2: Riederer, J.M., S. Tiso, T.J.B. van Eldijk , and F.J. Weissing. 2022. Capturing the facets of evolvability in a mechanistic framework. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 37:430–439. (pdf)
  • December 9: 

Previous BIG topics