University of Oregon


Who Are We? Humans, Microbes, and their Interactions


August 2nd, 2015

(Interdisciplinary Workshop)


Organizers: Nicolae Morar (Philosophy & ENVS), Brendan Bohannan (Biology & ENVS), & Stephen Dueppen (Anthropology)


Location: Vista II room, Hilton Eugene, 66E 6th Avenue, Eugene

Time: 1:30-5:30 pm



Short Project Description

Immediately following the META Symposium on Sunday, August 2, there will be a half-day interdisciplinary workshop focused on the implications of recent advances in microbial biology for our understanding of human nature. This workshop will feature speakers from the humanities, social sciences and biophysical sciences, who will speak directly to how our understanding of human-microbe interactions alters how we view ourselves as human beings. Are the functions of our organism the unique outcome of our own genetics? Are our physiological capacities the product of our singular evolution? Are our psychological states and emotions, in a word our personality, nothing else than the expression of our organic properties? Ultimately, are we truly individuals? Today, microbial biology calls into question the most traditional understandings of human nature and thus, helps us rethink some of the basic ethical concepts that inform our lives.


Participants / Panel

  • 1. Brendan Bohannan, Professor of Environmental Studies and Biology, University of Oregon (Moderator)
  • 2. Stephen Dueppen, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Oregon
  • 3. Jane Foster, Associate Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neurosciences, McMaster University
  • 4. Maureen O’Malley, Senior Research Fellow of Philosophy, University of Sydney
  • 5. Nada Gligorov, Assistant Professor of Medical Education and Bioethics, Union-Mount Sinai Bioethics Program
  • 6. Nicolae Morar, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies and Philosophy, University of Oregon
  • 7. Makmiller Pedroso, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Towson University
  • 8. Michael Travisano, Professor of Ecology, Evolution & Behavior, University of Minnesota

    This workshop is possible thanks to the financial support of the Environmental Studies Program, the Department of Philosophy, the Department of Anthropology, the Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Oregon Humanities Center, the META Center for Systems Biology, and the College of Arts and Sciences at University of Oregon.


    Contact: Nicolae Morar (




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