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9th EMBL/EMBO Joint Conference 2008

Evelyn Fox Keller, MIT, USA

keller

Evelyn Fox Keller

Biography

Evelyn Fox Keller received her PhD in theoretical physics at Harvard University, worked for a number of years at the interface of physics and biology, and then turned to the history and philosophy of science. She is the author of A Feeling for the Organism: The Life and Work of Barbara McClintock; Reflections on Gender and Science; Secrets of Life, Secrets of Death: Essays on Language, Gender and Science; Refiguring Life: Metaphors of Twentieth Century Biology; The Century of the Gene; and Making Sense of Life: Explaining Biological Development with Models, Metaphors, and Machines; the recipient of many awards and honorary degrees; a member of the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a MacArthur Fellow, and, most recently, the recipient of the Chaire Blaise Pascal in Paris.

Her most recent book is The Mirage of a Space between Nature and Nurture, to be published by Duke University Press. Today she is Professor Emerita of History and Philosophy of Science in the Program in Science, Technology and Society at MIT.

Abstract

Systems biology: new paradigm or just fashion?

To some, the recent enthusiasm around Systems Biology might seem to reflect merely a passing fad; to others, the opportunity to apply familiar techniques to a new arena; and to still others, the occasion for deep reflection about what disciplines that have been historically isolated from the life sciences might have to offer to the study of biology. In this paper, I focus on the last of these options, looking in particular at the tension between different cultural traditions regarding the place of simplicity and complexity in scientific analysis.