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Department of History and Philosophy of Science


PhD student

College: Clare
Supervisor: Tim Lewens
Thesis topic: Synthetic Biology, Molecular Biology, Philosophy of Biology, Philosophy of Technology.

I completed my BSc in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Philosophy (2015), and an MSc Computational Biology (2017), both at Dalhousie University, where I worked as a research associate in the Faculty of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from 2015-17. My research interests and training have focused on the philosophy of biology, molecular biology and evolution.

My current research centres on the distinction between machines and organisms. I examine this how this distinction is justified given developments in both biotechnology and technology proper. Far too often our claims about the difference between machines and organisms are made on the basis of the same familiar and outdated machines (clocks, windmills and desktop computers) or a very narrow class of organisms (large eukaryotes). My efforts are on updating our understanding of machines and organisms as philosophers of biology.



Brunet T. D., & Doolittle, W. F. (2018). The generality of Constructive Neutral Evolution. Biology & Philosophy, 33(1-2), 2.

Doolittle, W. F., & Brunet, T. D. (2017). On causal roles and selected effects: our genome is mostly junk. BMC biology, 15(1), 116.

Inkpen, S. A., Douglas, G. M., Brunet, T. D., Leuschen, K., Doolittle, W. F., & Langille, M. G. The coupling of taxonomy and function in microbiomes. Biology & Philosophy, 1-19.

Brunet, T. D. (2016). Aims and Methods of Biosteganography. Journal of Biotechnology, 226, 56-64.

Doolittle, W. F., and Brunet, T. D. (2016). What is the Tree of Life? PLOS Genetics, 12(4), e1005912.

Brunet, T. D., and Doolittle, W. F. (2015). Multilevel selection theory and the evolutionary functions of transposable elements. Genome Biology and Evolution, 7(8), 2445-2457.

Brunet, T. D., and Doolittle, W. F. (2014). Getting 'function' right. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(33), E3365-E3365.

Doolittle, W. F., Brunet, T. D., Linquist, S., and Gregory, T. R. (2014). Distinguishing between 'function' and 'effect' in genome biology. Genome Biology and Evolution, 6(5), 1234-1237.