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Lee Altenberg

Lee Altenberg is an evolutionary theoretician. He was most recently Associate Professor in Information and Computer Sciences at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He focuses on uncovering the mathematical relationships within the dynamics of biological evolution, and in evolutionary algorithms – computer programs written to solve problems by evolving the answers rather than figuring them out from logical principles. His chief accomplishments have been (1) to unify the theory for the evolution of genetic systems (recombination and mutation rates) by embedding them in the space of inclusive inheritance, which includes spatial as well as cultural information, and (2) to develop the concept of the variational properties of organisms as phenomena subject to evolutionary dynamics. This includes the discovery of mechanisms that lead to the evolution of evolvability and modularity in the genotype-phenotype map. He envisions that developing an understanding of the evolutionary dynamics of variational properties is a principal uncharted territory for evolutionary theory in the upcoming decades, and will entail new mathematical analyses of the complexity of organismal ontogeny and function. He hopes to contribute further to these developments. Dr. Altenberg received his A.B. in Genetics with Prof. Glenys Thomson as an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley, and his Ph.D. in Biological Sciences with Prof. Marcus W. Feldman at Stanford University. He has had postdoctoral fellowships at Stanford University, North Carolina State University, and Duke University, and has served on the faculty of Duke University and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Recently he was a long term visitor at the Mathematical Biosciences Institute at the Ohio State University, and a participant in the program on Computational Theories of Evolution at the Simons Institute at UC Berkeley. He is an Associate Editor of the journal BioSystems, and an Editorial Board member of the journal Genetic Programming and Evolvable Machines, and is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the International Society for Artificial Life. He served on the Board of the Maui Classical Music Festival, and was the Chair of the Native Hawaiian Plant Society on Maui.

Movie: The Evolution of Evolvability - Lee Altenberg