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Egenis · Events

Understanding Evolvability and Robustness

Workshop   18.01.2013






Athel Cornish Bowden (CNRS Marseille); Joanne Masel (University of Arizona); Sara Green (University of Aarhus); Olaf Wolkenhauer (University of Rostock); William Bechtel (University of California, San Diego); Sabina Leonelli, Jo Donaghy, Orkun Soyer, Arno Steinacher, John Dupré, Staffan Müller-Wille (University of Exeter).

Organised by

Sabina Leonelli (s.leonelli@exeter.ac.uk) and Orkun Soyer (o.s.soyer@exeter.ac.uk)

Sponsored by the EPSRC Grant ‘Evolving Controllers and Controlling Evolution’ and the ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society (Egenis).


Egenis, Byrne House, University of Exeter (Streatham campus).

Event details

This workshop brings together biologists, philosophers, engineers and mathematicians interested in systems and synthetic biology, in order to discuss the central notion of evolvability: the capacity of organisms for adaptive evolution, which secures the emergence of beneficial traits that can undergo natural selection. The workshop proposes to examine the history and multiple current usages of the notion of evolvability, and its relation to other key ideas within systems and synthetic biology, such as the idea of robustness. In particular, we will discuss the ways in which evolvability is being modelled, with specific emphasis on mathematical modelling and theoretical approaches coming from engineering, such as control theory. Speakers will concern themselves with the ways in which models capture and operationalize the idea of evolvability, and reflect on the ways in which modelling strategies adopted in systems biology over the last two decades are impacting on current conceptualisations of what it means for organisms to be able to evolve.


10:30-11:00 Coffee

11:00-11:10 Sabina Leonelli (University of Exeter): Welcome

11:10-11:30 Orkun Soyer (University of Exeter): Introduction

11:30-12:15 Athel Cornish Bowden (Directeur de Recherche Emerite, CNRS Marseille): 'Robustness and Evolvability of Metabolic Pathways'

12:15-1:00 Joanne Masel (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona): TBA

1:00-1:30 Lunch

1:30-2:00 Sara Green (University of Aarhus) 'Evolvability and robustness in biology and engineering: Towards a formulation of isomorphic principles or a confusing terminology?'

2:00-2:30 Jo Donaghy (University of Exeter) 'Entangled histories of mathematical models of metabolism and evolvability'

2:30-3:00 Arno Steinacher (University of Exeter) 'Nonlinearity, Robustness and Evolvability in Gene Regulation Networks'

3:00-3:30 Coffee break

3:30-4:15 Olaf Wolkenhauer (Department of Systems Biology and Bioinformatics, University of Rostock): 'Multilevelness and the Search for Organising Principles in Systems Biology'

4:15-5:00 William Bechtel (Department of Philosophy, Center for Chronobiology, Science Studies Program and Interdisciplinary Program in Cognitive Science at the University of California, San Diego): 'Conserved Organisation: Motifs as organising principles in systems biology'

5:00-5:15 John Dupré and Staffan Müller-Wille (University of Exeter): Final comments

6:00 Dinner for Speakers (others are welcome to join at their own expense)

Further details