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bpyenson's picture

Introduction

Hi everyone,

 

I'm a little late posting an introduction.  I'm a senior Biology major (BMC) and Geology minor.  I pursued molecular biology and geology originally in college because I liked how both revealed stories of the natural world.  I went to the MBL at Woods Hole last fall to study environmental science for a semester, at which point I decided I was more interested in the things that lived in an environment, why they lived where they did, and how they managed to survive, physiologically and behaviorally.  So, I was fortunate to study microbial ecology on the West Coast this summer and took Greg Davis' great course in Developmental Biology last semester.  Some of the most perplexing issues in development emerge from studying how the brain and nervous system develops and its plasticity to a changing environment.  As a result, I think neurobiology and behavior are interesting because of the many 'black boxes' in our current understanding of the processes and am excited to explore issues in the discipline this semester.

 

Some specific questions I want to explore:

1. Are their universal characteristics of language in all life?  What form does this language take (e.g. sound waves, cell signals, action potentials)?  How has this language changed (or not changed) over natural history and evolution?  How do we think it will change in the future?

2.  At what point should we (or do we) draw the line on sentient and/or cognitive life?  Why?  I think this issue has a lot to do with what we 'define' as alive or not?  For instance, do viruses think?  Why or why not?

That's all in my cranium at the moment.  I'd be interested to hear what others think about this.

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