Professor of Philosophy and Integrative Biology at the University of Texas at Austin. Originally from Darjeeling, India, I have been living mostly in the United States since 1977 when I became an undergraduate at Columbia, graduating in 1981 with majors in mathematics, philosophy, and physics. My last year at Columbia was spent as a graduate student in the Physics Department even though I was yet to earn a BA. After that I attended the University of Chicago and obtained a Master’s degree in the Conceptual Foundations of Science in 1984 and a PhD in Philosophy in 1989. My early work was in theoretical physics and computer science but I gravitated towards biology and its history and philosophy towards the end of my graduate education.
From 1988 till 1993 I worked at Boston University as Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Boston Theoretical Biology Group. During that period I began a long-term collaboration with John Stachel. In 1992 I was a Senior Fellow at the Edelstein Centre for the Philosophy of Science at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In 1993 -94 I was a Fellow at the Dibner Institute for the History of Science at MIT and simultaneously a Research Scholar in Dick Lewontin’s laboratory at Harvard. From 1994 to 1998 I taught at McGill University while spending 1996 -1997 as Fellow at the Wissehschaftskolleg zu Berlin. While there I began a collaboration with Chris Margules on systematic conservation planning for the protection of biodiversity. I was Visiting Scholar at the Max-Planck-Institute for the History of Science in Berlin during 1997 -1998 and again in 2002 -2003 and 2014. Since 1998 I have taught at the University of Texas at Austin. Until 2003 I was Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Program in the History and Philosophy of Science. Since then I have been Professor of Philosophy and of Integrative Biology.
My primary interests today are in the philosophy and history of biology and formal epistemology. However, I continue to work in conservation science and in disease ecology and epidemiology with extensive collaboration with Victor Sànchez-Cordero of UNAM in Mèxico City. A major focus of interest is the design of a conservation area network in Mèxico to maintain the migration of the eastern population of North American Monarch butterflies. I also collaborate with Lauren Gardner of Johns Hopkins University on problems of epidemiology and public health. Prospective graduate students can explore the Philosophy Department’s graduate program.
I have also worked as an environmental consultant (and continue to do so to a limited extent), professional photographer, and (many decades ago) as a blues musician. The African Activist Archive at Michigan State University contains some of my materials related to my involvement in the anti-apartheid movement in the 1980s.