From in vitro to in silico

// MECS // International Conference //  June 19 – 21, 2014 //
»FROM IN VITRO TO IN SILICO. Computer Simulation in the Life Sciences«


Over the past few decades, computer simulation has become a central and most powerful tool for the investigation –and experimentation –of almost every aspect of the biological realm. The classical distinction between in vivo and in vitrostudy of life processes has been extended by a third realm, namely that of the in silico. This move has far reaching implications for the epistemological and methodological foundations of the life sciences –beginning with questions about the possibility of using simulation as substitute experimental systems, and ending with debates about the ontological status of simulations –can they be considered as true representations of biological processes, or maybe even as life itself?By bringing together scholars from a wide range of disciplines –biology, computer sciences, history of science, philosophy, media studies, sociology and anthropology, medicine –we hope to make a first step towards the systematic study of the conceptual, social, cultural and historical dimensionsof simulation in the life sciences.

Thursday June 19, 2014
Sascha Spoun (President, Leuphana University Lüneburg)
Claus Pias (MECS, Leuphana University Lüneburg)
Janina Wellmann (MECS, Leuphana University Lüneburg)

Keynote: David Harel (Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel) 
»Can we Computerize an Elephant?«

15.30Coffee Break
16.00Session I
»Strategic Organisms«

Gabriele Gramelsberger (KHM Media Art School, Cologne)
»Rational Design Strategies in Synthetic Biology«

Orit Halpern (The New School for Social Research / Eugene Lang College)
New York)
»Beautiful Data. Visualization, Simulation, and Archiving in Cybernetics and beyond«
Friday June 20, 2014
09.30Session II 
»Experiment and Computer: in papyro – in vitro – in silico«

Staffan Müller-Wille (University of Exeter, England) 
»Life in papyro. Simulating Populations around 1900« 

Soraya de Chadarevian (University of California at Los Angeles) 
»How Biologists Learnt to Love Computers« 


Coffee Break

11.45Hans-Jörg Rheinberger (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin) 
»In vitro Experimentation and its Cultures« 

Viola Schiaffonati (Politecnico di Milano, Italy) 
»Computer Simulations as Explorative Experiments« 
14.00Catered Lunch

15.00Session III 

Hannah L. Landecker (University of California at Los Angeles)
»Metabolic Times« 

Janina Wellmann (MECS, Leuphana University Lüneburg) 
»Animating Embryos« 

17.15Coffee Break
17.30Evening Lecture: Gil Alkabetz (Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen Konrad Wolf, Potsdam) 
»What you see is not what you see: The Story in Animation Films« 
Saturday June 21, 2014
10.00Session IV 
»The Body in Three Dimensions« 

Katrin Amunts (Forschungszentrum Jülich / Heinrich-Heine Universität Düsseldorf) 
»Towards Multilevel Models of the Human Brain. Neuroscientific, Methodical and Epistemiological Challenges« 

Sol Efroni (Bar Ilan University, Israel) 
»Compiling and Running Biological Observations as 3D Computer Experimentation«


13.30Keynote: Irun Cohen (Weizmann Institute of Science, Israe)l 
»Varieties of Embedded Information. Interaction, Emergence, Adaptive Control and the Precarious Complexity of Life«
14.00Session IV 
»Simulated Evolution«

Felix Breden (Simon Fraser University, BC Canada / Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin) 
»Simulating and Parameterizing Evolution by Multilevel Selection«

Christopher Kelty (University of California at Los Angeles)
»These aren’t the Droids you’re Looking for...Simulation and Participation in the Study of Evolution and Life«

16.00Closing Coffee and Cake

Concept & Organization
Janina Wellmann


Conference venue
Handwerkskammer Braunschweig-Lüneburg-Stade
Großer Saal
Friedenstrasse 6
21335 Lüneburg


The conference is open to the public and free of charge, but registration is required. Please register by sending an e-mail to: