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ISAL Board Elections 2017: Candidate Statements

Submitted by tim on Sat, 26/08/2017 - 11:10am

Candidates for Election to the ISAL Board of Directors

September 2017

ISAL is electing five new members to its board of directors, to replace the current directors whose terms are expiring. 15 society members are standing for election, as listed below. Follow the links for each candidate's election statement.

All society members will shortly be contacted with further information regarding the election date and voting procedure.

Click on a candidate to read their election statement.


Alastair Channon

Background

I am a Reader at Keele University, where I lead the Evolutionary Systems Research Theme and the Research Centre for Computer Science. Since the early 1990s, I have been excited about research into life-as-it-could-be, both for generalising our understanding of evolution and other biological processes, and for the potential of open-ended processes to give rise to intelligent behaviours. I have published, with collaborators, in many ALife, ECAL and related conference proceedings, and in journals including Artificial Life, Genetic Programming and Evolvable Machines, Nature Communications and PLOS Biology. My neuroevolutionary system Geb was the first ALife system to be classified as exhibiting open-ended evolutionary dynamics according to Bedau and Packardʼs evolutionary activity measures and is the only one to have been classified as such according to an enhanced version of these measures. I co-organized, with Mark Bedau and Tim Taylor, the workshops on Open-Ended Evolution at ECAL 2015 and ALife XV.

Statement of Goals

I would like to help maintain an exciting, vibrant Artificial Life community. To this end, my priority would be to encourage discussion within the ISAL board about how best to increase attendance at the annual ALife conferences and the number of high quality submissions to the Artificial Life journal, through mechanisms such as (a few initial ideas):

+ actively and routinely (as a board) encouraging the authors of a greater number of suitable conference papers (those containing the most significant original research) to submit an extended version of their work to the Artificial Life journal;

+ considering and announcing a clear path for submitting an extended abstract containing key results (from significant original research) to the conference, then a full article to the journal for independent review (or perhaps even a joined-up process);

+ the introduction of a competition and prize(s) for video submissions of behaviours exhibited in ALife systems.

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Sylvain Cussat-Blanc

Background

Currently Assistant professor at University of Toulouse, I obtained my PhD in Artificial Life. The objective was to design an artificial embryogenesis model capable of growing artificial multicellular creatures able to sustain and self-organize to produce a user-defined function in a constrained environment. I then started working on artificial gene regulatory networks and their applications both to artificial embryogenesis and modular robotics during my post-doc in Brandeis University in 2011-2012. I am now leading a team in an interdisciplinary lab which aims at applying evo-devo models to cancer growth simulation and therapeutic strategy optimization.

Statement of Goals

I am grateful to have been nominated for the election. If elected, as a member of the board, I would be interested in bringing closer scientists from biology (cell biology, ecology, etc.) and from other domains related to artificial life to our conferences. I believe developing interdisciplinary exchanges is in the best interest of our community as well as others.

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Alan Dorin

Background

Alan Dorin has been an Artificial Life researcher and electronic media artist since the early 1990s. His interests span a wide range of related activities: biological and ecological modelling (especially plant/insect interactions); open-ended evolution; generative art; the history of science, art and technology; computational creativity; the philosophy of artificial life. His free eBook, Biological Bits, has been downloaded thousands of times and provides an engaging introduction to the field for students. Alan has also guest-edited the Artificial Life journal, published in it, reviewed for it, published in the Artificial Life and ECAL conferences, chaired tracks and workshops at them, is on the Program Committee for them, and for some of the local ones too. Alan is currently Deputy Dean, Faculty of I.T., Monash University, Australia.

Statement of Goals

* Working as a team, Tim Taylor and Alan Dorin aim to collaborate with the ISAL board and society members to broaden the Artificial Life community reach, increase its visibility to related disciplines, and build the quality of its events as follows:

* Re-open discussions concerning Open/Free Access publication to expand readership of Artificial Life articles.

* Engage local Artificial Life conferences as active communities feeding into the annual global conference to ensure the best local work appears at the global event.

* Improve quality of local conferences with a targeted scheme to encourage local conference organisers to join ISAL. Provide them benefits for this membership and strengthen ties between local and global conferences.

* Co-locate key related global conferences (Swarms, Autonomous Robotics, Evolutionary Computation etc.) with Artificial Life events to build critical mass at the global event. For instance, share workshops, keynote talks and poster sessions.

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Matthew Egbert

Background

Many years ago I picked up the Proceedings of Artificial Life II and I couldn’t put it down. Ever since then I have been engaged in ALife related research. I love our research community and it would be a great honour to join the ISAL Board of Directors.

I am currently a Lecturer (equivalent to Assistant Professor in the North American system) at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. My research focuses upon various ALife related themes, including evolutionary robotics, origins of life and investigations into the behaviours of non-living but life-like systems.

I am an alumnus of the Evolutionary and Adaptive Systems (EASy) programme at the University of Sussex. I have presented at several ECAL and ALIFE conferences, organized numerous ALife related workshops and I am an Associate Editor of Adaptive Behavior.

Statement of Goals

If elected to the Board, my priorities will be to:

1. Develop and manage an open collaborative repository of ALife teaching materials. The target audience will be tertiary level educators who want to bring ALife ideas to their students. High quality teaching of ALife materials will strengthen our field.

2. Develop a virtual seminar series where each month an ALife researcher presents a short seminar describing their work. The seminars will be broadcast on YouTube Live, allowing people to watch live or at a later date (I run a similar virtual seminar series for enaction-related research at http://www.ensoseminars.com).

3. Develop new ways to support junior ALifers that are trying to get a (permanent) foothold in a difficult academic environment.

4. Investigate ways to modernize and further improve the format of the already excellent ALife Conference.

5. Promote Artificial Life research in Australasia

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Harold Fellermann

Background

I am a Lecturer at the School of Computing at Newcastle University, where I work in the Interdisciplinary Computing and Complex Biosystems research group, a 50+ people research group at the interface of Computer Science and Biology. I am also affiliated with Newcastle's Centre for Synthetic Biology and Bioeconomy and I am a Fellow of the European Center for Living Technology. Ever since my MSc. thesis in 2005 has my work revolved around Artificial Life and related research areas, most prominently concerning aspects of protocell research, molecular evolution, molecular computing, and synthetic biology. I have served as programme chair for the ALIFE conference in 2010 and as programme committee member for ALIFE and ECAL since 2007. I have organized several satellite workshops on ALife related topics, most recently on Programmable Biology at ECAL 2015.

Statement of Goals

With my election to the ISAL Board of Directors I will
1. do my best to keep the ALife community young, vibrant and interdisciplinary.
2. strive to foster ties between ALife and traditional biological disciplines, e.g. by editing ALife special issues in hardcore biology journals
3. implement an ALife industry network that allows researcher form the various subfields of ALife to engage stronger with industries for funding and potential applications.

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Arend Hintze

Background

I have a PhD in Developmental Biology and Genetics, but now work as an assistant professor for Integrative Biology and Computer Science and Engineering at the Michigan State University on the evolution of artificial intelligence (AI). I use computational models to understand how natural intelligence evolved and translate those insights into the development of AI. This work is very interdisciplinary, it straddles behavior biology, cognitive science, psychology, machine learning, and artificial life.

I think that we will only be able to imbue machines with intelligence if we evolved them and to that end we need to understand how general intelligence evolved in nature.

Statement of Goals

I am developing a software framework called MABE. It allows users with even limited programming knowledge to answer evolutionary AI questions. From this endeavor I know how important it is to not only reproduce results, but to extend, modify, and integrate results from others into your own work. Therefore, my primary goal is to foster collaborations and negotiate common practices and tools to make scientific results more generally applicable.

Secondly, due to my biology background, I think that research on artificial life should have a tight coupling with nature and not just be a self serving endeavor.

Lastly, I think that with the emergence of evermore complex systems, in particular in autonomous machines/vehicles and AI we are facing a plethora of new ethical and economic challenges. I want to promote not only an open dialog on those topics, but want to make this process more transparent to be public and create awareness. The change we need is a global matter and not just academic.

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Jason H. Moore

Background

I am the Edward Rose Professor of Informatics and Director of the Institute for Biomedical Informatics at the University of Pennsylvania. I lead an active NIH-funded research program focused on the development of artificial intelligence, artificial life, machine learning, and network science algorithms for the analysis of big biomedical data. A specific interest is the modeling of nonlinear interactions between disease biomarkers. My work has been communicated in more than 450 scientific publications including a number in the area of artificial life and complex adaptive systems that were published as part of ALIFE, ECAL, PPSN, and GECCO. I am an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), an elected fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics (ACMI), an elected fellow of the American Statistical Association (ASA), and a Kavli Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences.

Statement of Goals

If elected my priorities will be to 1) serve as an ISAL liaison with the biomedical research and healthcare communities for bidirectional communication of research ideas, 2) serve as an ISAL ambassador to bring investigators from biomedical research areas into the artificial life community, 3) promote the use and distribution of open-source ALife software for adoption by biomedical researchers, 4) promote the strategic priorities and ideals of ISAL globally, and 5) promote ALife through organizing workshops or education sessions at biomedical conferences.

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Jordan Pollack

Background

I've been publishing in the field since 1994, ran the ALIFE IX conference in Boston in 2004. My lab has made contributions towards many areas but is best known for developing an understanding the dynamics of co-evolution, and producing numerous generations of evolutionary robots, the most famous of which was the GOLEM project in 2000. Also I've mentored many people who have become leaders in the field, and I am receiving the ISAL Lifetime Achievement Award this year in Lyon.

Statement of Goals

In business, growth often occurs through mergers and acquisitions. We should look for small societies and conferences to affiliate with and take over. With Machine Learning at its capitalist peak, we should seek corporate funding for such activities such as a Fellows program to be able to bring, say 5, distinguished older researchers to dinner at the conference each year, before we old ones die off. Finally, one of the best experiences I had in grad school was the 1986 Connectionist Summer School, and many of my friends from there went onto great scientific careers. This was much more than one day of tutorials for people already registered to the conference. It involved fundraising, an application process, travel support, and a 5 day immersion to convince smart young scientists to enter the field.

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Sebastian Risi

Background

I am an associate professor at the IT University of Copenhagen, where I co-direct the Robotics, Evolution and Art Lab (REAL). I am interested in Alife topics such as neuroevolution, generative and developmental systems, and open-ended evolution. Together with colleagues I have developed several Alife algorithms that facilitate the evolution of more complex artificial systems (Adaptive ES-HyperNEAT, Evolving Neural Turing Machines). Currently I'm very excited by the emerging field of web-based Alife, and Alife projects at the intersection of digital and biological systems, like our florarobotica.eu project that investigates symbiotic relationships between robots and natural plants. Our work has been covered in different news outlets such as New Scientist or Popular Science.

I have co-chaired several Alife-related events, such as the Generative and Developmental Systems track at GECCO, an AAAI symposium about abstractions in AI research, and GECCO's Virtual Creature Competition. For ALIFE 14 I organised the first Alife Science Visualisation Competition, to encourage communicating Alife to a broader audience and cross-pollinating of ideas between different Alife subfields.

Statement of Goals

I am honoured to have been nominated as a candidate for the ISAL Board. If elected I would:

- continue to make Alife accessible to a broader audience through events such as the Science Visualisation Competition
- foster more interactions between different Alife subfields by organising workshops that explicitly encourage interdisciplinary work and introduce a new "best interdisciplinary paper" award
- aim to facilitate the career development of young Alife researchers through a dedicated career development webpage with Alife-related job postings and other useful resources

Thank you for your consideration!

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Lisa Soros

Background

I am a new Assistant Professor at Champlain College, coming from the Evolutionary Complexity research group at the University of Central Florida (UCF). I am also the developer of an artificial life world called Chromaria, which is the focus of my Ph.D. thesis on open-ended evolution. I typically publish at the ALife conference (on open-ended evolution), in addition to GECCO and the Frontiers in Robotics and AI journal (on evolutionary robotics). I also dabble in generative design and creative applications of ALife research.

Service has always been important to me; I have 9 terms of organizational leadership and service experience at the university level, including chairing the ACM chapter at UCF. I have also been the Vice Chair of the ISAL Student/Postdoc Group for the past year. As I begin my professional academic career, I am excited to transition to a role that impacts the artificial life community more broadly.

Statement of Goals

1) Encourage more cross-discipline conversation at conferences
While artificial life is inherently an interdisciplinary field, the typical conference structure offers few incentives or affordances for branching out and exploring topics beyond one's own area of expertise. As board member, I will strive to create a conference environment that results in exposure to a wider variety of ideas.

2) Evangelize artificial life in the classroom
Artificial life systems allow students to engage with scientific thinking in a unique way. They’re also really fun! Moving forward, I would like to develop resources that enable and evangelize artificial life in the classroom, leveraging web resources to create centralized resources for educators.

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Lee Spector

Background

My interests have always been interdisciplinary, with a common core that connects to artificial life in several ways. My BA is in philosophy (with additional study of music and art), my PhD is in Computer Science (AI), and I currently teach in a School of Cognitive Science. Intersections of these fields with neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and physics have increasingly occupied my attention, with many of my central concerns and methods falling squarely within artificial life. Among other activities, I currently serve as the Editor-in-Chief of Genetic Programming and Evolvable Machines (Springer), as a member of the editorial board of Evolutionary Computation (MIT Press), and as a member of the Executive Committee of the ACM Special Interest Group on Evolutionary Computation. I am a full professor at Hampshire College (where I have also served as a dean), and an adjunct professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Statement of Goals

Artificial life is unusual both in its breadth and in its ambition, leading to unique challenges with respect to methodology, outreach, and the development and maintenance of the field's reputation. My primary goal as a member of the ISAL board will be to help the field to meet these challenges while fostering both scientific rigor and openness to new, possibly radical ideas. This will require continued attention to research and publication practices within the field, along with new forms of interaction with the communities of related fields and with the media. My leadership experience in interdisciplinary communities, including academic institutions, research collaborations, professional organizations, and editorial boards, will allow me to contribute to this effort in substantial ways as a member of the ISAL board. I would be honored to have the opportunity to do so.

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Susan Stepney

Background

I am Professor of Computer Science, and Director of the York Centre for Complex Systems Analysis, at the University of York, UK. I was originally an astrophysicist, then spent time in industry using formal methods to prove software correct. When I returned to academia in 2002, I started research into complex systems, open-ended systems, Artificial Chemistries, and unconventional computing substrates such as carbon nanotubes. This eclectic background has meant I feel at home in the Artificial Life community, of which I have been an active member for over a decade. I am an associate editor of the Artificial Life journal. I am a regular attender and contributor to the ALife and ECAL conferences. My team and I hosted and ran the Unconventional Computation conference (now UCNC) in York in 2006, and the European Conference on Artificial Life (ECAL) in 2015.

Statement of Goals

I was elected to the board of directors of ISAL in 2013, and appointed Vice President in 2015. I am standing for re-election in 2017. My priorities are:
i) to help grow the Artificial Life journal as a high-quality resource for the entire ALife community
ii) to support the newly-merged conference series to ensure quality events
iii) to encourage a synthesis of ideas and concepts across the broad range of ALife disciplines, from wet-lab biology through unconventional substrates to open-ended computational models

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Tim Taylor

Background

I have been an active member of the Artificial Life community since the mid-1990s, with particular interests in self-replication, open-ended evolution, physics engines and web-based artificial life. I have co-organised various workshops at ALIFE and ECAL conferences, most recently on Open Ended Evolution (at ECAL 2015 and ALIFE 2016) and on Artificial Life and the Web (at ALIFE 2014), and was Technical Chair of the ECAL 2015 conference in York, UK. In 2012 I created a new website for the society (http://alife.org) and continue to maintain it along with the society's social media presence on Twitter, Facebook and Google+; I was awarded the society's Award for Exceptional Service in 2014 in recognition of these efforts. I have recently set up an ISAL Web and Social Media Working Group to build a team focussed on expanding and improving the society's online activities. I have been an appointed member of the ISAL board since 2012, and now seek to become an elected member. I currently work at Monash University in Australia, where Alan Dorin and I have developed a number of plans to improve the society, as set out below.

Statement of Goals

Working as a team, Tim Taylor and Alan Dorin aim to collaborate with the ISAL board and society members to broaden the Artificial Life community reach, increase its visibility to related disciplines, and build the quality of its events as follows:

* Re-open discussions concerning Open/Free Access publication to expand readership of Artificial Life articles.

* Engage local Artificial Life conferences as active communities feeding into the annual global conference to ensure the best local work appears at the global event.

* Improve quality of local conferences with a targeted scheme to encourage local conference organisers to join ISAL. Provide them benefits for this membership and strengthen ties between local and global conferences.

* Co-locate key related global conferences (Swarms, Autonomous Robotics, Evolutionary Computation etc.) with Artificial Life event to build critical mass at the global event. For instance, share workshops, keynote talks and poster sessions.

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Anya E Vostinar

Background

I am an assistant professor of Computer Science at Grinnell College, where I lead the SymbuLab, which uses Artificial Life to investigate the evolution of symbiosis and cooperation. I am an active contributor to the Avida digital evolution software and the new Empirical platform. I have published and coordinated workshops at GECCO and ALIFE/ECAL conferences and am excited to get more involved with the society.

Statement of Goals

If elected, my priorities will be:
-Developing a system within ISAL to connect undergraduates interested in ALife research with summer research and graduate school opportunities
-Create an Education and Outreach track that emphasizes ways in which ALife projects and research can be used in the classroom and to increase public understanding. I will especially seek to attract biologists to submit to this track to tighten our field’s links to biology. Through increased involvement with biologists, I hope this will also increase the representation of female and non-binary society members.
-Create a Women@­ALIFE workshop to further support the increase of women and non-binary people in ISAL. I have helped organize a similar event at GECCO.
-Promote ISAL to subfields in other disciplines that would be interested in ALife if they were made aware.

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Michael Wiser

Background

I have a PhD in evolutionary biology, which I obtained working on Rich Lenski’s Long-Term Evolution Experiment, an ongoing bacterial evolution experiment now past 67,000 generations. One of my major projects was conducted in Avida, showing similar dynamics of population adaptation in this digital system that I saw in the bacterial system. I am now a postdoc focusing primarily on evolution education with Avida-ED, but I continue to collaborate with a variety of computer scientists on basic research; I have attended ISAL’s conference for a few years, with publications both as first and second author. Active computational projects I’m working on include introducing real evolution to evolutionary game theory, looking at the impact of horizontal gene transfer on the genomes of digital organisms, examining the role of evolution in biodiversity patterns under different conservation regimes, and examining the role of changing environments on the evolution of plasticity.

Statement of Goals

I am running with the intention to be a liaison to biologists. There are substantial numbers of individuals who do experimental evolution studies in laboratory settings who are working in the field of artificial life without necessarily viewing themselves as part of the field. There are similarly many individuals in synthetic biology, engineering logic circuits in gene expression and protein production who are not familiar with the computational side of artificial life work. My goal is to reach out to these biologists, get more of them attending and submitting to our conference, and citing work that is relevant to them but published in a way unfamiliar to them; biology conferences rarely result in proceedings, so biologists look entirely to journal articles for things to reference, and thus may miss many relevant publications in our field.

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