University of California, Davis

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UC Davis Griesemer/Millstein Philosophy of Biology Lab

Front row, from left: Jun Otsuka, Sarah Roe (on screen), Michael Hunter. Back row, from left: Roberta L. Millstein, Rick Morris, I-Sen Chen, Tyrus Fisher, Josef Kay, Shawn A. Miller, James R. Griesemer

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  • James R. Griesemer // website 1, 2, 3, CV, PhilPapers
    • Specialties: Evolutionary biology, genetics, developmental biology, ecology, and systematics
    • Willing to work with new students? Yes
  • Roberta L. Millstein // website 1, 2, 3, CV, PhilPapers
    • Specialties: History and philosophy of evolutionary biology and ecology, causation, chance, environmental ethics
    • Willing to work with new students? Yes

Philosophy of Biology Lab[edit]

UC Davis is home to the Griesemer/Millstein Philosophy of Biology Lab, which was founded by Jim Griesemer and earned its moniker when Roberta Millstein joined the UCD Philosophy Department in Fall 2006.

The Lab is a community of faculty, graduate students, and visitors interested in philosophy of biology and related subjects. We meet once a week during the regular school year to read and discuss our works-in-progress, share ideas for new projects, make presentations and provide feedback on them, read topics of common interest, and engage with visiting scholars. One of the main goals of the Lab is to support graduate students in the various stages of their careers; to that end, topics related to presenting at conferences, publishing in journals, etc., are frequently discussed.

Science & Technology Studies[edit]

The philosophy Ph.D. program offers a Designated Emphasis in Science & Technology Studies, where the faculty include historian of science Mario Biagioli and cultural anthropologist Joseph Dumit, author of Drugs for Life (2012 Duke University Press). Both Prof. Millstein and Prof. Griesemer are affiliated faculty with the STS program. And, as it happens, Prof. Griesemer's 1989 “boundary objects” paper with Leigh Star is the most cited paper in Social Studies of Science, a leading STS journal. As of November 2014, the paper has been cited 5,142 times overall.

Current Philosophy of Biology Graduate Students[edit]

  • M. A. Hunter
  • Shawn A. Miller // website 1, 2, 3, CV
  • Rick Morris

Recent Philosophy of Biology Postdocs[edit]

Recent Philosophy of Biology Graduates[edit]

  • Bert Baumgaertner, 2013 (tenure-track position at University of Idaho) // website 1, 2, CV
  • Sarah Roe, 2014 (tenure-track position at Southern Connecticut State University) // website, CV

Select Recent Publications[edit]


  • Griesemer, J., 2015. “What Salamander Biologists Have Taught Us About Evo-Devo,” in Alan C. Love (ed), Conceptual Change in Biology: Scientific and Philosophical Perspectives on Evolution and Development (Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science, vol. 307). Springer Verlag, Dordrecht, pp 271-301.
  • Griesemer, J., 2014. “Reproduction and Scaffolded Developmental Processes: An Integrated Evolutionary Perspective,” Ch. 12 in Alessandro Minelli and Thomas Pradeu (eds), Towards a Theory of Development, Oxford University Press, pp. 183-202.
  • Caporael, L., J. Griesemer and W. Wimsatt (eds), 2014. Developing Scaffolds in Evolution, Culture, and Cognition, MIT Press.
  • Griesemer, J. 2014. “Reproduction and the Scaffolded Development of Hybrids,” in Caporael et al. (eds), Developing Scaffolds in Evolution, Culture, and Cognition, MIT Press, pp. 23-55.
  • Griesemer, J. 2013. “Integration of Approaches in David Wake’s Model-Taxon Research Platform for Evolutionary Morphology,” Studies in History and Philosophy of the Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44: 525–536. Special Issue edited by I. Brigandt. Available online 12 April 2013
  • Griesemer, J. 2013. “Formalization and the Meaning of “Theory” in the Inexact Biological Sciences,” Biological Theory 7: 298-310. OnlineFirst



  • Otsuka, J. (forthcoming). Causal Foundations of Evolutionary Genetics, The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. (Link)
  • Otsuka, J. (2014). Using Causal Models to Integrate Proximate and Ultimate Causation, Biology and Philosophy. (Link)