Honours Science Event: Defining Biological Individuality

Sam TrudeauEvents, Honours

Are human beings individual organisms or are they actually ecosystems?

This is the question Marianopolis students had the opportunity to discuss during a special Honours Science event with Frédéric Bouchard, Professor of Philosophy and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Université de Montréal.

In his presentation to students, Professor Bouchard explored new ways of thinking about symbiotic interactions between organisms from different species and how significant these symbioses are for our understanding of humanity.

Using examples from the natural world such as the Hawaiian bobtail squid and the quaking aspen tree, Professor Bouchard highlighted how functions in many species are acquired ecologically rather than genetically, a reality that emphasizes the need to reconsider how we perceive and define biological individuality.

The presentation also exemplified some of the advantages and benefits of observing scientific questions from an interdisciplinary perspective. Professor Bouchard made the case that by combining concepts from theoretical biology and philosophy, an interdisciplinary lens can increase room for discovery, avoid stopping at the simplest explanation and lead to better science.

Marianopolis College would like to thank Professor Bouchard for taking the time to share his expert insights on this topic with our Honours Science students.

Students in the Marianopolis Honours Science program have the chance to connect with scientific networks, visit research facilities, participate in problem-based learning sessions and attend scientific seminars and guest lectures.