Robert Pennock, Ph.D.
Robert T. Pennock is Professor of HPS in Lyman Briggs College, and also holds appointments in the Philosophy Department, the Department of Computer Science, and the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior graduate program. He is a member of and the Briggs faculty liaison to the Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences. He is one of the Co-PIs of the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action, an NSF Science and Technology Center.
Dr. Pennock’s research involves both experimental and philosophical questions that relate to evolutionary biology and cognitive science, such as the evolution of altruistic behavior, complexity, inference and intelligence. He uses digital evolution (Avida as well as evolving neural networks) to investigate the emergence of intelligent behavior. Rather than trying to build intelligent systems from the top down, he is interested in investigating how such systems evolve from the bottom up. His Evolving Intelligence (EI) group has focused on the evolution of elements of intelligent behavior, including phenotypic plasticity, short-term and associative memory, environmental information processing, purposeful movement control, and cooperation. His research in these areas has been published in numerous journals and featured in Discover, New Scientist, Science Daily, Slashdot, US New & World Report
, and many other national and international periodicals
Dr. Pennock is also involved with various national initiatives to support undergraduate education about evolutionary biology and more generally about the nature of science. He leads the NSF funded Avida-ED project, which develops and assesses software and curricular materials to use evolutionary computation to help teach these concepts. He was an expert witness in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School Board
case that ruled that Intelligent Design creationism is not science, but sectarian religion, and that teaching it is the public schools is unconstitutional. He was the co-founder and first president of the citizens action group Michigan Citizens for Science.
Dr. Pennock also studies the relationship of epistemic and ethical values in science. Scientific methodology itself comes with tacit norms that govern appropriate professional behavior. His work in this area deals with what he calls the scientific virtues, which is a new way to think about some issues in responsible conduct of research. He is currently writing a book on this topic.
In recognition of his education and public outreach work, he was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Sigma Xi National Distinguished Lecturer, and a National Associate of the National Academies of Science, and has received a number of awards, including the National Center for Science Education’s Friend of Darwin Award
(2003) and the American Institute of Biological Sciences Outstanding Service Award
2012 -MSU Phi Kappa Phi Excellence Award in Interdisciplinary Scholarship. For Avida-ED Project.
2011 -MSU Distinguished Faculty Award
2009 -Outstanding Service Award, American Institute of Biological Sciences
2008 -National Associate, National Academies of Science (since 2008)
2006 -Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (since 2006)
2003 -Friend of Darwin Award, National Center for Science Education
2002 -Judith Weller Harvey Quaker Scholar, Guilford College
2000 -Sigma Xi National Distinguished Lecturer (2000-2002)
John Templeton Foundation, (Pennock), The Scientific Virtues: Planning Grant for a National Survey of the Ethical Perceptions of Scientific Leaders [2012 -2012] $99,765
National Science Foundation, (Goodman, Pennock, Ofria, Lenski, Holekamp, Getty, Cheng, McKinley), BEACON: An NSF Science & Technology Center for the Study of Evolution in Action [2010 -2015] $25,000,000
National Science Foundation, (PI: Robert T. Pennock), Avida-ED: Technology for Teaching Evolution and the Nature of Science using Digital Organisms - Supplemental Grant [2008 -2009] $24,137
National Science Foundation, (PI: Name1, Co-PI: Robert T. Pennock, Name 3...), CRI:IAD -- A Testbed for Evolving Cooperative and Adaptive Behavior among Autonomous Systems. [2008 -2009] $188,100
Cambridge Templeton Consortium, (PI: Robert T. Pennock), Emerging Intelligence: Contingency, Convergence and Constraints in the Evolution of Intelligent Behavior. [2006 -2008] $309,187
National Science Foundation, (PI: Robert T. Pennock), Avida-ED: Technology for Teaching Evolution and the Nature of Science using Digital Organisms. [2004 -2008] $255,836
2012 R. T. PENNOCK. “Are Pre-existing Condition Exclusion Clauses Just: Lessons from Causal and Ethical Considerations Regarding Genetic Testing” In R. Rhodes, M. P. Battin and A. Silvers (eds.) Medicine and Social Justice: Essays on the Distribution of Health Care (2nd edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press. (2012, pp. 387-399)
2012 Jeff Clune, ROBERT T. PENNOCK, Charles Ofria and Richard Lenski. “Ontogeny tends to recapitulate phylogeny in digital organisms” The American Naturalist, Vol. 180, No. 3 (July 2012) E54-E63.
2011 Jeff Clune, Kenneth O. Stanley, ROBERT T. PENNOCK, and Charles Ofria. “On the Performance of Indirect Encoding Across the Continuum of Regularity” IEEE Transactions On Evolutionary Computation, Vol. 15, No. 3, pp. 346-367. (June 2011)
2011 Laura M. Grabowski, David M. Bryson, Fred C. Dyer, ROBERT T. PENNOCK and Charles Ofria. “Clever Creatures: Case Studies of Evolved Digital Organisms” Proceedings of the European Conference on Artificial Life 11 (August 2011)
2011 R. T. PENNOCK. “Negotiating Boundaries in the Definition of Life: Wittgensteinian and Darwinian Insights on Resolving Conceptual Border Conflicts” Synthese (2012, Vol. 185 No. 1 pp. 5-20) DOI: 10.1007/s11229-011-9873-0 (Online: 15 Feb. 2011)
2010 'The Postmodern Sin of Intelligent Design Creationism.' Science & Education 19.6-8 (2010): 757-78.
2010 'HybrID: A Hybridization of Indirect and Direct Encodings for Evolutionary Computation.' Proceedings of the 2009 Evolutionary Conference of Artificial Life (ECAL). Berlin: Springer, 2010 (with Jeff Clune, Benjamin E. Beckmann, and Charles Ofria).
2010 'Should Students Be Able to Opt Out of Evolution?: Some Philosophical Considerations.' Evolution Education & Outreach 3 (June 2010): 163-69.
2010 'Early Evolution of Memory Usage in Digital Organisms.' Proceedings of the International Conference on Artificial Life (ALife XII), August 2010 (with Laura M. Grabowski, David M. Bryson, Fred C. Dyer, and Charles Ofria).
2010 'Selective pressures for accurate altruism targeting: Evidence from digital evolution for difficult-to-test aspects of inclusive fitness theory.' Proceedings of the Royal Society B 278 (7 March 2011): 666-74 (published online 15 September 2010; with Jeff Clune, Heather Goldsby, and Charles Ofria).
2009 'Cockroaches, Drunkards, and Climbers: Modeling the Evolution of Simple Movement Strategies Using Digital Organisms.' Proceedings of IEEE Symposium on Artificial Life (ALIFE 2009). Symposium Series on Computational Intelligence. [Piscataway, NJ]: IEEE, 2009. 92-99 (with Wesley R. Elsberry, Laura M. Grabowski, and Charles Ofria).
2009 'Evolving coordinated quadruped gaits using the HyperNEAT generative encoding.' Proceedings of IEEE on Evolutionary Computing. Special Section on Evolutionary Robotics. Trondheim, Norway: IEEE, 2009. 2764-71 (with Jeff Clune, Benjamin E. Beckmann, and Charles Ofria). [GECCO best paper award winner]
2009 'Can’t Philosophers Tell The Difference Between Science and Religion?: Demarcation Revisited.' Synthese (April 2009).
2009 'The Sensitivity of HyperNEAT to Different Geometric Representations of a Problem.' Proceedings of the 2009 Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO ’09), Montreal, Canada. New York: Association for Computing Machinery, 2009. 675-82 (with Jeff Clune and Charles Ofria).
2009 'Using Avida-ED for Teaching and Learning about Evolution in Undergraduate Introductory Biology Courses.' Evolution Education & Outreach 2.3 (2009): 415-28 (with Elena B. Speth, Tammy Long, and Diane Ebert-May).
2008 'On the Evolution of Motility and Intelligent Tactic Response.' Proceedings of the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO ’08). New York: Association for Computing Machinery, 2008. 209-16 (with Laura Grabowski, Wesley Elsberry, and Charles Ofria).
2008 'How A Generative Encoding Fares as Problem-Regularity Decreases.' In G. Rudolph et al. (eds.), Parallel Problem Solving in Nature. Berlin: Springer, 2008. 358-67 (with Jeff Clune and Charles Ofria).
2008 "Science Education and Religion in American in the 21st Century: Holding the Center" In Ariela Keysar & Barry A. Kosmin (eds.) Secularism & Science in the 21st Century. Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture. 2008, pp. 9-32. (with Jon Miller)
2007 "How Not to Teach the Controversy about Creationism." In Jones, Leslie S. and Michael J. Reiss (eds.) Teaching About Scientific Origins While Taking Account of Creationism. Peter Lang Publishers. (2007, pp. 59-74)
2007 'God of the Gaps: The Argument from Ignorance and the Limits of Methodological Naturalism.' In Andrew Petto and Laurie Godfrey (eds.), Scientists Confront Creationism and Intelligent Design. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2007. 309-38.
2007 'Models, Simulations, Instantiations and Evidence: The Case of Digital Evolution.' Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Artificial Intelligence 19.1 (2007): 29-42.
2007 'Investigating the Emergence of Phenotypic Plasticity in Evolving Digital Organisms.' In F. Almeida e Costa,, L. M. Rocha, E. Costa, I. Harvey, and A. Coutinho (eds.), Advances in Artificial Life. Berlin: Springer, 2007. 74-83 (with Jeff Clune and Charles Ofria).
2007 'Biology and Religion.' In Michael Ruse and David Hull (eds.), Cambridge Companion to Philosophy of Biology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. 410-28.
2007 'Learning Evolution and the Nature of Science using Evolutionary Computing and Artificial Life.' McGill Journal of Education 42.2 (2007): 211-24.
2006 'Scientific Integrity and Science Museums.' Museums and Social Issues 1.1 (Spring 2006): 7-18.
2006 'The Pre-Modern Sins of Intelligent Design.' In Phillip Clayton (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Science and Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. 732-48.
2006 'Pre-Existing Conditions: Genetic Testing, Causation and the Justice of Medical Insurance.' In Rosamond Rhodes, Leslie Francis, Anita Silvers (eds.), Blackwell Guide to Medical Ethics. Oxford: Blackwell, 2006. 407-24.
2005 'On Teaching Evolution and the Nature of Science.' In J. Cracraft and R. Bybee (eds.), Evolutionary Science and Society: Educating a New Generation. Colorado Springs, CO: Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, 2005. 1-12.