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I am a historian of both Biology and Medicine, and I am interested in a wide range of topics, from organ transplantation, biological field work, and the use of dogs as model organisms in genetics research.
I'm interested in the history and philosophy of medicine and biology.
Chris is working on a thesis examining philosophical problems in the foundations of chaos theory. His primary focus is the philosophy of physics, but his interests include underdetermination, determinism, and laws of nature.
Chris's thesis topic is the foundations of chaos theory, and his interests include underdetermination, determinism, and laws of nature.
Supervisor: Joseph Berkovitz
My research focuses on how scientific models represent physical systems in the world. In virtue of what is a model a scientific representation of its target system? Is there some sort of essential relation that must obtain between the model and its target in every instance of representation, or is there rather some way in which models are used that accounts for their use as representations? My goal is to differentiate scientific representation from other kinds of representation. Why do scientists choose particular models, rather than others, for gaining knowledge about target systems of interest?
(Tentative) dissertation title: Epistemic representation: how scientific models facilitate knowledge gain
Supervisor: Anjan Chakravartty
I am interested in History of Mathematics and History of Mathematical Education. I completed my undergraduate degree at U of T (Majors: Mathematics, History) and obtained by teaching degree at U of T, OISE.
My dissertation explores early modern Italian conceptions of and attitudes towards 'abortion'.
My research focuses on contemporary and historical developments in the evolution of large technical systems (LTS), such as power grids and communication systems, particularly within the Canadian context. I am interested in how technological systems change and how they interact with, shape, or are constructed by society. My particular interest is in studying the relatively recent tensions surrounding the migration to alternative energy technologies prompted by anthropogenic climate change (for example, power gird interconnection and electrical infrastructure renewal to accommodate a large scale adoption of innovations such as electric cars) and innovations in communications technology (for example, questions of privacy and trust in social media). My focus in technology studies allows me to explore the interconnected themes of technological complexity, emergence, innovation, and rejuvenation, and to continue mapping the growth and reaction to techno-scientific cultures.
I work to describe and uncover the epistemic virtues of medical explanations. In medical theory and practice, there is a crisis of cause: the linear causal reasoning upon which medicine relies cannot explain complex chronic diseases. This crisis overshadows every niche of clinical medicine but few physicians acknowledge it and few patients see its repercussions. It undermines allopathic medicine’s quest for certainty: a quest to act pragmatically despite the causal ambiguity of health. I discuss the role of certainty in medical explanations as they struggle to understand the causal etiologies of disease, develop interventionist treatments, and transform pathophysiologies into health.
I have interests in the philosophy of physics, philosophy of math and general philosophy of science. I hope to focus on the nature of mathematical representation and explanation in quantum field theory with an eye on the general question of the "applicability" of mathematics to the natural world.
My interests concern the role of radical embodiment theses in the philosophy of cognitive science and their relation to biology. My work examines the extent to which received views on cognition and its relation to biological embodiment are tenable as explanatory frameworks. This work aims to ground the content-bearing, intentional and representational features of cognition in the purposive behaviour of living systems.
I wrote my MA thesis on the conflict between scientific realism and constructive empiricism, and attempted to resolve this conflict within the larger framework of the opposed epistemic stances that these two positions result from. It was called "A New Argument for Scientific Realism," which is a much more drool-inducing title than the argument turned out to be. Now I'm just waiting for something new to strike my fancy.
I am interested in the Metaphysical and Epistemological foundations of the Special Sciences. In particular, I am interested in the Naturalistic status of Teleology in Evolutionary Biology and Intentionality in Psychology and whether and how a naturalistic account of the former can ground a naturalistic account of the latter.
I study the use of evidence in the construction of natural knowledge in thirteenth and fourteenth century Europe. By examining the discussions of exotic and marvelous animals I try to unpack the knowledge claims and practices of evidence use associated with presenting natural information to different audiences. I try to get beyond the context of scholastic natural philosophy and also examine the ways natural information is presented to a wider reading public; the audience for works of wonder, travel literature and fiction.
Dissertation – "Assessing the Exotic: The construction of Natural knowledge in the middle ages," supervised by Bert Hall
Race and Science; History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences; Bio-politics; Identity Politics; Historical Ontology
I study the history of science and religion in Early modern Europe, particularly in late seventeenth century England. My thesis investigates the relationship between Isaac Newton's Chymistry (alchemy/chemistry) and his theology in his later years. I look at how his concept of the micro world was influenced by (or influenced) his, sometimes heterodox, theological developments. In my approach I consider Newton's varied interests in the framework of dialogue (with some implications for modern approaches to science and religion). In this framework Newton does not necessarily have some unified world view that encompasses his science and his theology, but his various pursuits can be seen as engaged in an internal dialogue in his own thought.
Supervisor - Yiftach Fehige. Working title - Christ and the Chymist: revisiting the interaction between theology and alchemy in the later work of Isaac Newton.
Committee - Steven Snobelen, University of King's College
My present research is in the history and philosophy of visualization in scientific practice. Present research topics include understanding the use and function of diagrams (such as Feynman diagrams and structural chemical diagrams), focusing on the ways in scientific reasoning is enabled and affected by common styles and visual analogies. Other, related research includes examining the use of colour in scientific representations (such as in plastinates and astronomical images).
Supervisor: Chen-Pang Yeang, Thesis title: "Form and Function: Seeing, Knowing, and Reasoning with Diagrams in the Practice of Science"
I am involved with the University of Toronto Scientific Instrument Collection, a collaborative effort to catalogue, research, and display the material history of science at the University of Toronto.
History of medicine
I am interested in how the general metaphysical and epistemological issues in science are extended to answer fundamental questions in mathematics and physics. In particular, I intend to examine how philosophical positions within mathematics and physics relate and the implications they have upon each other.
I completed a BA (Hons.) in philosophy at the University of Victoria, and an MA in philosophy at the University of Waterloo, where I wrote a thesis on linguistic reference in scientific theories. My interests coalesce around the central metaphysical and epistemological problems in the philosophy of science, especially those pertaining to causality, probability and realism. I'm also interested in the history of modern philosophy of science (particularly the work of Carnap) and the peculiar relationship between mathematics and the physical world. Recently I've been wondering whether we should conceive of the fields that feature in some of our best physical theories as real entities--i.e. as genuine components of the world--or whether the equations used to describe their behaviour are just useful devices for generating accurate predictions. When I have a conclusive answer I'll be sure to revise this blurb. I also enjoy playing, writing and listening to music, going to the movies, playing and watching soccer and basketball, and appreciating some art (especially my daughter's finger paintings).
I am interested in philosophy of science generally, and scientific explanation in particular. Issues around reduction and emergent explanations have the bulk of my attention currently. I would like to look at how these issues play out in the life sciences (biology, psychology, cognitive science, etc) and particularly to look at how ideas from cognitive psychology can help inform our understanding of scientific explanation. This tangled mess of issues has connections (that I hope to look at) with functional/teleological explanations, as well as the structure of explanations in evolutionary biology.
I am interested broadly in the social and cultural history of psychology and psychiatry in 20th-century North America. My dissertation research examines the history of personality testing in workplace personnel practices.
I am broadly interested in the history and philosophy of technology; economic history; and science, technology, and innovation policy. I am particularly curious about processes of invention, innovation, and diffusion of knowledge throughout history.
Dissertation Title: "Innovation and commercialization in medical and agricultural biotechnology: The Toronto and Guelph Biotechnology Sectors", supervised by David A. Wolfe
In my dissertation I examine the innovation and commercialization processes that govern the flow of knowledge from basic scientific research to technological innovation. Working from a regional economic development perspective, I examine the biotechnology sectors in Toronto and Guelph, comparing the different internal dynamics of these two regions, the affect of their particular technological focus on the structure of their sectors, and the effect that their size and relative proximity have on their innovation and commercialization processes. General comments are included on the relevance of these two case studies for knowledge-based industry cluster policy generally as well as on policies intended to encourage biotechnology cluster development.
Bathelt, H, Munro AK, Spigel B. 2012. "Challenges of Transformation: Innovation, Re-bundling and Traditional Manufacturing in Canada's Technology Triangle". Regional Studies (Forth coming), DOI: 10.1080/00343404.2011.602058.
Munro, AK and Balthelt, H. 2012. "Innovation Linkages in New and Old Economy Sectors in Cambridge-Guelph-Kitchener-Waterloo (Ontario)", in ISRN Series Volume 1: Innovation and Knowledge Flows in Canadian Cities, edited by David A Wolfe. Toronto: University of Toronto Press (Forth coming).
Bathelt, H and Munro AK. "Regional Growth Dynamics: Intra-Firm Adjustment vs. Organizational Ecology", in Industrial Transition: New Global-Local Pattersn of Production, Work, and Innovation, edited by Martina Fromhold-Eisebith and Martina Fuchs. Surrey: Ashagate Publishing, 2012.
Bathlet, H., Kogler DF, Munro AK. 2011. "Social Foundations of Regional Innovation and the Role of University Spin-offs". Industry and Innovation 18(5): pp.461-486.
Bathelt, H., Kogler DF, Munro AK. 2010. "Knowledge-based Typology of University Spin-offs in the Context of Regional Economic Development". Technovation 30: pp.519-532.
Sylvia Nickerson has undergraduate degrees in both Fine Arts and Mathematics. She is currently studying the history of mathematics, specifically the social history of the logicist and formalist movements in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She also has an interest in the history of books and book printing technologies, which she has picked up from her previous work as a book designer and her current work at the Massey College press. Sylvia completed her Masters research project on the origins of Bertrand Russell's first book of mathematical philosophy, "An Essay on the Foundations of Geometry".
Dissertation – "On the Crumbling Edge of Reason: The Promise of Mathematical Logic, 1900-1939," supervised by Craig Fraser.
I am presently interested in both the history and philosophy of maps – their commission, their measure, their construction, and their acceptance.
Maps are nexus points in history: They are political tools wielded by those in power, and those attempting to gain power. They can also be critical to specific elements of social consciousness, offering both spatial and cultural delineation. Further, how a map is presented, what it represents and how it was received can provide an insight into the prevailing philosophy of that map’s age. They are the direct product of training, technology and mathematics, but are not simply utilitarian scientific representations. Often, maps are beautiful. As I am just beginning my degree, I am directing my studies towards the areas of the history of the social sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics, while also considering the philosophy behind scientific representation. It is my hope that I will be able to narrow my scope of investigation as I progress throughout the year.
I have two undergraduate degrees: a BFA from Ryerson University in Technical Theatre Production, and a Honours BSc from the University of Toronto which was a joint specialist degree in Mathematics and Philosophy.
I like to read, cook and travel. Everything else is gravy.
The history of transcendental number theory is largely untreated, especially by professional historians. This project will fill a void in the current academic literature by offering a historically informed alternative to the common mathematical accounts of the origin and development of transcendental number theory and highlight paradigmatic differences between eighteenth and nineteenth century mathematics. My research will not only satisfy historical curiosities of a mathematical audience by detailing episodes relevant to modern mathematicians but also to historians wanting a comprehensive treatment of the birth of a fascinating branch of number theory during one of the most turbulent periods in the history of mathematics.
Dissertation – The Roots of Transcendental Numbers: A Historian’s Perspective on the Development of Transcendental Number Theory 1737 – 1844, supervised by Craig Fraser.
I am interested in the relationship between science and religion in Europe, particularly in the seventeenth century. Right now I plan to examine the theological works of John Wallis, the Royal Society mathematician and natural philosopher. I am also interested in priority disputes and related issues concerning credit for scientific discoveries and inventions.
My dissertation research focuses on the history of school science education in Colombia in the second half of the 20th century. I am also interested in the history of physics and in the history of scientific instruments.
The nexus between science and industry in late eighteenth-century Britain is attributed to the rise of provincial scientific communities and networks. Though often small and private in nature, these scientific societies became the driving force behind England and Scotland’s rapid industrialization. Provincial societies provided the environment in which doctors, chemists, industrialists and even poets could test out new scientific ideas and apply their knowledge to solving technological problems. The Lunar Society of Birmingham was one such hotbed of intellectual and scientific activity in late eighteenth-century Britain. My doctoral dissertation will aim to show how networks centred on the Lunar Society contributed to the industrial revolution, and will investigate whether or not scientific debates and industrial competition impinged on the work of Society members.
I'm interested in the history and philosophy of medicine. In particular, I am looking at changing models of mental illness over the twentieth century, from the psychogenic model toward a biological paradigm of psychiatry. Within that framework, I am focusing on the rhetorical role of neuroscience in circumventing some of psychiatry's core epistemological problems.
Philosophy of science, epistemology, logic and thought experiments.
Dissertation title: Thought Experiments in Science
Supervisors: Yiftach Fehige, James R. Brown
I plan to research how philosophers of science employ methods and metaphors from economics to explain and justify the operation of science. Philosophers from C.S. Peirce, to Karl Popper, to Steve Fuller make judicious use of economic metaphors in their descriptions of, and arguments about, science. Most notably, Philip Kitcher and Alvin Goldman have promoted economic models as a way of countering SSK-inspired attacks on the authority of science. What work does economics do in countering this (perceived) attack, and how do critiques of economics affect its force?
My areas of interest include history and philosophy of biology, logic, history and philosophy of science, bioethics, and ethics.
My research broadly focuses on early nineteenth-century developments in English medicine and biology. In particular, I am interested in how medical communities defined and dealt with disease, and how these definitions had an impact on society. Currently, I am focused on an early nineteenth-century individual, John Harrison Curtis (1778-1860), who was among the first specialists on diseases of the ear. Curtis is a historically intriguing character: on one hand, his medical expertise and treatments contributed tremendously to his society and to the field of otology, and yet on the other hand, his medical and scientific contemporaries hastily labelled him as a “fraud.” I am researching Curtis’ contributions in order to devise a comprehensive understanding of why he was labelled a “fraud” despite his many achievements in the field.
I am interested in the relationship of chemistry to medicine in the Enlightenment. In the past I have looked at the English chemist (or perhaps "aerial philosopher") Joseph Priestley's (1733-1804) experimental work as it related to existing medical ideas concerning putrefaction and antiseptic medicine. Now I'm looking at a similar subject: the Edinburgh born physician John Pringle (1707-1782) who was one of Priestley's powerful supporters. In the early 1750s, Pringle proposed a series of influential experiments on fermentation and putrefaction that he interpreted as analogies to bodily processes. I think that his work offers insight into Enlightenment views on hygiene and medical reform as well as into a longer tradition of chemically oriented medical experiment.
I am broadly interested in the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, and Science and Technology Studies. In the past, I have worked on C19 American astronomy; race and science in the C18 French Atlantic; the arrow of time and thermodynamics; and the transfer of Canadian nuclear technology to India. I am currently focussing on modern physics.
I am interested in the way unobservable (in the physicist's sense) and unobserved theoretical entities get passed from theory to theory. Or: Why are we still theorizing about and looking for magnetic monopoles? In what way is Dirac's vacuum the same as Unruh's? And how is our understanding of these objects constituted by the physicist's methodologies and formalisms?