Life on Earth and Beyond
The History and Philosophy of the Origin of Life
Ven Island, Sweden, 4 - 6 May 2015



The following lecturers will teach at the summer course "Life on Earth and Beyond":


Prof. David Dunér, Lund University, Sweden
David Dunér is Professor in history of science and ideas. His dissertation concerned the scientist and spirit seer Emanuel Swedenborg (1688�1772), The World Machine. Emanuel Swedenborgs Natural Philosophy (2004). It will soon be published in an English translation. His research concerns: Emanuel Swedenborg, Christopher Polhem, Carl Linnaeus, history of entomology, and history of astrobiology. He is also affiliated to Centre for Cognitive Semiotics..


Dr. Johan Eriksson, Utrikespolitiska Institutet, Sweden
Professor Johan Eriksson is the UI's director of research. He is part of UI's management team and the board of the Special Research Programme for International Studies. His research at the UI is about territoriality in a globalizing world and the relationship between expertise and political power in international relations. 1997 he got his PhD in political science at Umeå University, and he has, through various projects, been tied to the UI. In 1998 he was employed as a lecturer at Södertörn University, where he became a professor in 2012 and still supervises doctoral students and provides training. Johan Eriksson is a member of the board of the European Standing Group of International Relations (SGIR). He has been a visiting scholar at Columbia University and Leiden University. His research interests include international relations, foreign and security policy and ethno-regionalism, expert power and territoriality. Empirically, he is interested in Sami and Basque politics, technology (internet policy, space policy, nanotechnology, chemical policy) as well as Swedish and American foreign policy. Johan Eriksson has published more than 70 scientific texts including seven books and numerous peer-reviewed articles.


Dr. Nader Haghighipour, University of Hawai'i, USA
Dr. Nader Haghighipour is a professor of Astronomy at the Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii and a CoI of the UH astrobiology program. He has also been a member of the NASA Astrobiology Institute for over 17 years. His area of expertise is planetary dynamics, planet formation, extrasolar planets, and habitability and his current research is on understanding the formation and dynamical evolution of habitable planets, both in solar system and in extrasolar planets. In the area of extrasolar planets, one very expansive aspect of Haghighipour's research is on the detection and characterization of planets in multiple stars system, and studying the possibility of their habitability. In 2012, Haghighipour received a Humboldt award for his research on planets in binary stars systems. He is also the vice president of the IAU Division F (Planetary Astronomy), and member of the organizing committees of the IAU commissions 7, 51 and 53. Furthermore, Haghighipour is a member of the steering committees of Kepler Habitable zone, and Eclipsing Binary & Circumbinary Planet working groups.


Dr. Gustav Holmberg, , Lund University, Sweden


Dr. Jes Jǿrgensen, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
My research focuses on the physical and chemical structure of the earliest stages of star-formation - including the evolution of protostars and the formation and early evolution of circumstellar (protoplanetary) disks. This effort is predominantly based on observations at infrared and (sub)millimeter wavelengths - where we utilize large ground-based facilities such as the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, the Submillimeter Array and the IRAM Plateau de Bure Interferometer, the ESO telescopes as well as observations from space-based telescopes including the Herschel Space Observatory.


Dr. Purificación López-García, CNRS, France

I am a Research Director working for the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) at the Université Paris-Sud, France. I am a biologist interested in microbial diversity and its evolution since life emerged on Earth. My research team combines complementary approaches, from the exploration of extant prokaryotic and eukaryotic diversity to phylogenomics and metagenomics, to elucidate the order of emergence of the different microbial groups and to test hypotheses dealing with early biological evolution. Find more in our lab website.


Dr. Christophe Malaterre , University of Québec in Montréal (UQAM), Canada
I teach and do research in philosophy of science and philosophy of biology. I joined UQAM in 2012. I earned a PhD in philosophy at the Université Paris 1 - Panthéon Sorbonne in 2008. I also graduated from Ecole Centrale de Paris and from MIT. My interests include questions on reductionism, emergence, explanation and (downward) causation, especially in the context of biological (hence complex) systems. I am particularly interested in the "gap" that parts living from non-living matter, hence my current work on the notion of chemical evolution and its articulation with biological evolution (natural selection). I also investigate the pervasive explanatory role of "evolution" across sciences (from chemical to social sciences).


Prof. Maureen O'Malley, University of Sydney, Australia
I hold a Future Fellowship at the University of Sydney in the Department of Philosophy. I'm also associated with the Sydney Centre for the Foundations of Science. I'm working on philosophical issues in contemporary molecular life sciences. Before coming to Sydney in February 2011, I was a Senior Research Fellow at Egenis, the University of Exeter. Prior to that, I spent a few years in Ford Doolittle's evolutionary microbiology lab at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I did my PhD on evolutionary explanations in the social sciences and humanities at the Universities of Edinburgh and Sussex.

The use of molecular data has transformed many traditional fields of biology, and I'm interested in what has changed and how. I'm developing philosophical angles on various molecular life sciences, particularly systems and synthetic biology, molecular phylogenetics and molecular microbial ecology. My focus is the microbial model systems that are used in all these fields, and how microbiology generally is adapting to new data, methods and models. Most broadly, I�m trying to advance philosophy of microbiology, which at the moment is a very small subfield of philosophy of biology, but which deserves a great deal more attention (I have a whole book arguing this). Lots of my research is done in collaboration with scientists, as well as philosophers internationally, and several of my papers reflect those collaborative efforts.


Dr. Erik Persson, Lund University, Sweden
Erik Persson has a PhD in philosophy from Lund University. He is particularly interested in the philosophical aspects of biology, environmental problems and space exploration, especially astrobiology. Within the philosophy of astrobiology he has published texts on a wide range of subjects, for instance regarding the moral status of alien life, the criteria for pronouncing a world lifeless, and the definition of life.


Dr. Kepa Ruiz-Mirazo, Spain, University of the Basque Country, Spain

Research interests:
On the origins and definition of life
Analysis and synthesis of the main conceptual/philosophical aspects of the problem -- In collaboration with Alvaro Moreno and his group.
1) Major transitions in the process of origins of life: characterization of the hypothetical types of system, material organization and evolutionary dynamics involved.
2) Function, agency, autonomy, information,...: theoretical interpretation/elaboration of these different concepts, their relationship, as well as their relevance and possible naturalization in the context of those prebiotic transitions.

On protocell dynamics
Development of a stochastic simulation model to study 'in silico' the coupling of self-assembly, transport and reaction processes in the context of very primitive proto-cellular systems -- In collaboration with Fabio Mavelli (University of Bari, Italy).
1) Reproduction and analysis of real 'in vitro' experiments with fatty acid and/or standard phospholipid vesicles.
2) Theoretical investigation of diverse minimal cell models (e.g., the 'lipid-peptide' protocell model -- see refs. below).

On prebiological membranes
Exploration of the conditions (temperature, pH, ionic force,...) for the spontaneous formation and the basic properties (stability, permeability, possible growth and reproduction...) of vesicles made of simpler amphiphilic molecules (fatty acids, alkanes, alcohols, isoprenoids,...) than the standard phospholipids found in actual biomembranes -- In collaboration with Felix Goñi and his group at the Biophysics Research Unit (CSIC--UPV/EHU).


Dr. Stephane Tirard, University of Nantes, France
Stéphane Tirard is Professor in epistemology and history of biology at the University of Nantes (France). He is director of the Centre François Viète d'épistemologie et d'histoire des sciences et des techniques in this university. His research activities are focused on topics on the limits of life (origins of life, latent life, cellular theories) and on history of botany during the XIXth century. He published many papers in journals and book, he co-directed 8 books and he is one of the editors of the Encyclopedia of Astrobiology (Gargaud M. Ed. chief, Springer 2011, 2nd edition in preparation). In 2010, he published: Histoire de la vie latente : des animaux ressuscitants du XVIIIème à la cryoconservation des embryons au XXème siècle, itinéraires d'une forme de vie (Vuibert- Adapt).

Dr. Anna Tunlid, Lund University, Sweden
Anna Tunlid got her Ph.D. in the history of learning and is now a lecturer at the Research Policy Institute, Lund University. Her research is focused on the biological science of history and environmental history, particularly the interaction between science and society.

Prof. Wolf Geppert, Stockholm University, Sweden
Wolf D. Geppert received his Ph. D. in Physical Chemistry at the University of York in 2000. Since then he has been working in the field of astrochemistry - mostly with experiments to investigate barrier-less reactions of importance for the synthesis of molecules in the interstellar medium and planetary ionospheres. After post-doctoral positions in Bordeaux, Helsinki and Stockholm he was promoted to Full Professor at Stockholm University in 2014. His work mainly concerns studying the formation of complex molecules in space through ion induced processes using experimental, observational and computational methods. Wolf Geppert is Coordinator of the Nordic Astrobiology Network of and Director of the Stockholm University Astrobiology Centre. He is also Vice Chair of the European Union COST Action "Origins and Evolution of Life on Earth and in the Universe" and the Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership "European Astrobiology Campus". He also functions as also Handling Editor of the new journal "Molecular Astropysics".

Välkommen till Ven !

Backafallsbyn hotel Tycho Brahe's castle Uraniborg Kyrkbacken harbour