The International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology (ISHPSSB) brings together scholars from diverse disciplines, including the life sciences as well as history, philosophy, and social studies of science. The biennial ISHPSSB summer meetings are known for innovative, transdisciplinary sessions, and for fostering informal, co-operative exchanges and on-going collaborations.

2015 Werner Callebaut Prize Citation for Sara Green

Sara Green


The Werner Callebaut Prize was initiated in 2015, and will be awarded every two years. The Callebaut Prize is intended to advance the careers of recent graduates working at the intersection of the fields represented by ISHPSSB. It will be awarded to the best manuscript utilizing an interdisciplinary approach based on a presentation at one of the two previous ISHPSSB meetings by someone who was, at the time of presentation, a graduate student.
We are grateful to individual donors who have supported this prize, as well as to the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research (KLI) whose Board has agreed to support this prize biennially for the first three prizes (with the possibility of renewal).
For the 2015 Prize, the Prize Committee received a total of twelve submissions. All were of very high quality, with more than half already published or accepted for publication. The Committee was impressed by the variety of interdisciplinary approaches pursued by graduate students and the clear benefits for them of having an interdisciplinary organization such as ISH in which to present their research as frequently expressed in the notes accompanying each submission.
This year’s Werner Callebaut Prize is awarded to Sara Green for her paper "Systems Biology and the Quest for Organizing Principles,” which was presented at the 2013 ISHPSSB meeting in Montpellier. A revised version of the paper, co-authored with the systems biologist Olaf Wolkenhauer, was published in History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 35: 553-76, 2013. Green noted in her submission that the comments made on her presentation from the audience at ISH were crucial for the further development of the paper, and that the collaborative work relating to the published version provided a fruitful synergy through which to explore practical motivations for scientists who are seeking general principles in biology and more theoretical reflections on the philosophical implications of these reasoning strategies.

The paper explores the history of the use of the concept of ‘organizing principles’ and its redeployment in systems biology, and the epistemic role of these principles in scientific practice with particular attention to their use in biological theorizing. These principles are argued to serve as a framework or exemplars to guide future research, rather than providing specific mechanistic or other types of explanations. The paper was viewed by committee members as highly interdisciplinary, blending history and philosophy as well as paying attention to the scientific practices underlying systems biology through collaboration with scientists, and hence was a highly appropriate choice for this inaugural award.
Green completed her PhD in 2014 with the title “Systems Biology and the Quest for General Principles” at Aarhus University, Denmark, in the spring of 2014 as part of Hanne Andersen’s research group ‘Philosophy of Contemporary Science in Practice.’ She was a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh in 2014–15, and currently is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Science Education at the University of Copenhagen.


2015 Werner Callebaut Prize Committee: Rachel A. Ankeny (Chair), Marion Blute, Jay Odenbaugh, and Neeraja Sankaran