Ingo Brigandt appointed to a Tier 2 Canada Reseach Chair

The Tier 2 CRC is awarded to exceptional emerging researchers, acknowledged by their peers as having the potential to lead in their field.

17 October 2014

The Department of Philosophy is delighted to announce that Dr. Ingo Brigandt has been appointed to a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in the Philosophy of Biology. Ingo was among the eleven University of Alberta faculty members named to Canada Research Chairs in the October 16 announcement by the Canada Research Chairs Program.

Congratulations Ingo!

How Do Values Influence Science?

Science is more than just knowledge about the natural world. As something we care about, science cannot help but reflect values. This emerges in which questions scientists choose to explore and in terms of the standards they use to judge whether a question has received a satisfactory and complete answer. Values also enter scientific practice in different ways, and biology is impacted by values differently than physics or chemistry.

As a Canada Research Chair in Philosophy of Biology, Dr. Ingo Brigandt sets out to understand how research in biology is shaped by interdisciplinary forces, as well as by the scientific, social, and environmental values which connect it to human society more generally.

Brigandt investigates what promotes (and hinders) interdisciplinarity in biology, and how explanatory aims and other values motivate new scientific activities. His research on complex problems in molecular biology and evolutionary biology challenges our traditional, single-track understanding of scientific practice, because explaining the operation of complex molecular-cellular systems or the evolutionary origination of anatomical structures requires input from multiple biological fields. More than other sciences, biology faces the challenge of coordinating different types of experimental data and mathematical models, pertaining to several scales and levels of organization.

In addition to conceiving (and teaching) science as a body of theories, Brigandt's insights into how scientists actually do science can be used to improve science education. Moreover, biologists disagree on the appropriateness of different explanatory frameworks, e.g., whether for a certain issue a gene-centered approach is adequate or a broader framework needed. Philosophers of biology can contribute to settling such scientific disagreements and thus further interdisciplinarity by helping biologists to become more reflective about the (sometimes conflicting) explanatory standards tacitly used. Ingo Brigandt is well positioned to lead this dialogue between philosophy and biology, given his previous collaborations with biologists and philosophers both in Canada and abroad.