I am a Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Auckland with a mixed background in philosophy and biology. Before coming to New Zealand, I grew up in Seattle, got my BA at Reed College, spent four years in Italy working for a synthetic biology company, and completed my PhD at the University of Pennsylvania.
My research addresses philosophical questions about scientific inquiry and methodology. One central theme I focus on is how different methodologies (like experiments, models, and computer simulations) work together to generate scientific knowledge. Another is how studying microbes, and even simpler biological systems, shapes our knowledge of living things in general and of life itself. I pursue these interests in a variety of projects spanning the philosophy of biology (especially evolutionary and microbiology), philosophy of science, history of science, and bioethics, concentrating especially on experimental microbial evolution and areas of inquiry that challenge our ideas about life and its simplest forms, such as synthetic biology, astrobiology, artificial life, and research on the origin of life.
I am co-organizing a national panel advising on social and ethical issues in invasive species management in New Zealand, specifically regarding Predator Free 2050, with funding from the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge. You can learn more about the panel’s activities through our information page or this interview.
I am also an executive member of Te Ao Mārama—Centre for Fundamental Inquiry, a new research center in the Faculty of Science at the University of Auckland focusing on fundamental questions about life and the universe.
Here is a link to a PDF of my full CV.