Focal Symposia in Theoretical Biology
KLI Focal Symposium on Data Intensive Biology: Why Google Won´t Replace Science – on 14. June: Symposium at the Biocenter, Althanstrasse 14; on 15. June: Follow-up Discussion at the KLI, Altenberg
3rd Focal Symposium – Networks exist at all levels of biological organization, from genes and proteins that interact through mutual regulation over interacting individuals of a population to interacting species in ecosystems. The study of networks and their properties has, therefore, been a rapidly growing field in different biological disciplines — from genetics, via population biology and behavioral ecology to evolutionary biology and ecology. At the same time, network models started to play important roles for technical applications, computer networks, and also for the study of human social networks. In this symposium we aim to connect these different threads of scientific inquiry, and to ask how graph theory and network thinking can contribute to our understanding of biological systems.
2nd Focal Symposium – Can natural selection explain all aspects of biological evolution? Charles Darwin himself famously didn´t think so. For instance, he invoked ´disuse´ as the main explanation of the degradation of rudimentary organs, and he thought of the expression of emotions as non-adaptive ancestral legacies rather than adaptations honed by natural selection. The main aim of the symposium is to assess the ongoing debate over the limitations of adaptationist thinking, broadly speaking — including the varieties of adaptationism, its relation to optimization approaches, and its testability — from scientific, historical, and philosophical perspectives.
1st Focal Symposium – Even if some people stubbornly deny it, the very sophisticated climate models that have been developed in the last twenty years ´justifiably provide an additional strand in the argument that anthropogenic climate change is a critical global problem´ (Stainforth et al. 2007). Whenever such models are used to develop policy, however, uncertainties of all kinds emerge that may seem to make the task insurmountable. Where to derive confidence from? Three of the eminent speakers in this seminar will deal with uncertainty and risk as related to climate change and scientific and political strategies to cope with it.