KLI Colloquia are informal, public talks that are followed by extensive dissussions. Speakers are KLI fellows or visiting researchers who are interested in presenting their work to an interdisciplinary audience and discussing it in a wider research context. We offer three types of talks:

1. Current Research Talks. KLI fellows or visiting researchers present and discuss their most recent research with the KLI fellows and the Vienna scientific community.

2. Future Research Talks. Visiting researchers present and discuss future projects and ideas togehter with the KLI fellows and the Vienna scientific community.

3. Professional Developmental Talks. Experts about research grants and applications at the Austrian and European levels present career opportunities and strategies to late-PhD and post-doctoral researchers.

  • The presentation language is English.
  • If you are interested in presenting your current or future work at the KLI, please contact the Scientific Director or the Executive Manager.

Event Details

Altenberg Workshop
Agency in Living Systems: Conceptual Frameworks and Research Approaches
39th Altenberg Workshop in Theoretical Biology
2022-06-21 17:00 - 2022-06-24 12:00
Organized by Sonia Sultan and Armin Moczek

Prevailing scientific approaches study organisms largely as passive objects, predetermined in development by their genetic makeup, and in evolution by an external selective environment. Alternatively, organisms may be investigated as potential agents of adaptive phenotypes and evolutionary innovation by virtue of (previously evolved) repertoires of regulatory, developmental and behavioral response. Can biological phenomena such as flexible regulatory pathways, individual plasticity, and formative tissue interactions be understood as sources of organismic agency? How can we rigorously define this property, and how can it inform a robust scientific theory? What range of biological mechanisms comprise relevant research foci, and what changes to experimental approaches are suggested by an agency view? A shift in scientific emphasis to these complex, indeterminate response properties promises a more nuanced and complete understanding of biological systems than prevailing gene-based approaches. An agency focus also promises new avenues for investigating ecological resilience in the face of current environmental challenges on the one hand, and understanding and preventing human disease phenotypes, on the other. The proposed 31/2-day workshop will bring together evolutionary biologists (from multiple disciplines and study systems) as well as philosophers of biology to explore and critique biological agency as a research framework.

Outcomes will include identifying key strengths and weaknesses of a biological agency approach; formulating a broader research agenda for agency investigations; strengthening the conceptual framework for a science of agency, and building a research community joined by this focus. The primary output will be a dedicated special journal issue in either Evolution & Development or Journal of Experimental Zoology, both of which have previously expressed interest.