to Content
Header Image

08: Biological or Synthetic Evolution?

Seminar / Seminar
in englischer Sprache

The modern theory of evolution represents a highly significant contribution from the classical period of Enlightenment. All organic change, including human evolution, was understood to be driven by the relationship between inheritance, variation and differential reproduction. Linguistic and cultural developments were interpreted as epiphenomena of biological evolution.

Today, human activity interferes with multiple biological parameters at an ever increasing rate and scale, introducing new technological practices, such as genetic engineering, biomedical enhancement and industrialised agriculture.

Do new principles such as epigenetics represent a niche approach, or are macro-historical processes better suited to explaining ongoing human development. Indeed, is it possible to escape the laws of biological evolution? The seminar explores to what extent human societies have eliminated the constraints of natural evolution and become creators of a phenomenon which may be termed synthetic evolution.

Assistant Professor for Science & Technology Policy, Technical University of Munich
Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Imperial College London Chair
Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Cell Biology, Max F. Perutz Laboratories, University of Vienna Chair

Dr. Phil. Ruth MÜLLER

Assistant Professor for Science & Technology Policy, Technical University of Munich

2005-2007 Researcher and M.Sc. Student
2007-2012 Ph.D Student, Department of Science & Technology Studies, University of Vienna
2012-2013 Postdoc, Austrian Institute of International Affairs, Science & Technology Policy Group, Vienna
2013-2015 Research Policy Group, Lund University, Lund
since 2015 Appointment as Tenure Track Professor for Science & Technology Policy at the Munich Center for Technology in Society, a co-appointment with the TUM School of Life Sciences Weihenstephan
 Visiting scholar at the Science & Justice Research Center, University of California Santa Cruz, U.S. (2010, 2011 & 2014).


Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Imperial College London

2005-2006 Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta
2006-2008 Postdoctoral Research Associate, School of Biosciences, University of Exeter
2008-2014 Lecturer and RCUK Fellow, Department of Life Sciences, Imperial College London
since 2014 Senior Lecturer, Department of Life Sciences, Imperial Collge London


Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Cell Biology, Max F. Perutz Laboratories, University of Vienna

1978-1981 Dr.rer.nat, Biochemie, Universität Wien
1972-1978 Post-doc, LMU, München
1982-1985 Post-doc/ EMBO Stipendium, CNRS, Gif/Yvette; Wadsworth Center
1987-1989 Post-doc/ Schrödinger Stipendium, New York
1993 Habilitation in Genetik, Universität Wien
1995-2004 Ao. Prof. Institut für Mikrobiologie und Genetik, Universität Wien
1989-2004 Gruppenleiterin am Institut für Mikrobiologie und Genetik, Universität Wien
seit 2006 Professur für RNA-Biochemie, Universität Wien
 Synergistische Aktivitäten:
 1.Öffentliche Funktionen
1998-2004 Österreichische Delegierte beim EMBO council
2001-2005 Mitglied der Bioethikkommission
2005-2010 Vizepräsidentin des Österreichischen Wissenschaftsfonds FWF
seit 2010 Mitglied des Rates für Forschung und Technologieentwicklung
 2.Akademischen Funktionen
1999-2002 Vorsitzenden der Studienkommission für Molekularbiologie
2004-2006 Vizedekanin der Fakultät für Lebenswissenschaften
 Seit 2007 Editor in Chief of RNA Biology
 4.Nachwuchsförderung VIPS Programm

Seminar Week

show timetable


15:00 - 15:30Opening of the European Forum Alpbach 2016Plenary
15:30 - 16:00Opening SpeechesPlenary
16:00 - 16:30A Midsummer Night’s Dream – a TeaserCulture
17:00 - 18:30Presentation of the SeminarsPlenary
18:30 - 20:00Bread and WineSocial


Seminar 01: Beyond MapsSeminar
Seminar 02: Common Challenges to the European and African Union – Climate, Demography, MigrationSeminar
Seminar 03: Religion and PowerSeminar
Seminar 04: World Water Resources and Human Well-Being at Risk – Trends, Data and GovernanceSeminar
Seminar 05: Scientific Excellence and Social Responsibility – How do they go together?Seminar
Seminar 06: The European Union and Its Eastern NeighboursSeminar
Seminar 07: (Economic-)Policy for Progress – The Return of the “Magic Polygon”Seminar
Seminar 08: Biological or Synthetic Evolution?Seminar
Teach For Austria Summer School: Changemaker Lab – Sapere aude!Seminar
Seminar 09: Rule of Law in China and EuropeSeminar
Seminar 10: Utility of Force in the 21st CenturySeminar
Seminar 11: The European Ethos and the SacredSeminar
Seminar 12: Towards a Sustainable Global Carbon LoopSeminar
Seminar 13: Gender Issues in Complex SocietiesSeminar
Seminar 14: Art as Enlightenment in Post-Enlightenment Times?Seminar
Seminar 15: Smart Factory: Social Effects – Prospects for Employment – Impacts on Work and OrganisationSeminar
Seminar 16: Understanding Big DataSeminar
Theatre Workshop with Students of the Royal Academy for Dramatic Art (RADA), LondonSeminar


07:00 - 13:00Alpbach Open SpaceBreakout