Recently, I was nominated for the Board of Directors for the International Society for Artificial Life (ISAL). After serious consideration about whether I could devote the necessary time and whether I felt I would be able to make a difference, I’ve decided to run. Normally, I try to say “no” to all such requests, but in this case I care quite a bit about the society and the field as a whole, and I want to play my part. Below is the 250-word statement I submitted with my acceptance of the nomination, followed by some more details that I couldn’t fit in the limited space.
Hopefully you’re convinced of why you might want to use Avida (if not, check out Why Use Artificial Life to Study Evolutionary Biology). However, Avida is a pretty large and intimidating software system even for computer programmers, so I can only imagine how it feels to be a biologist looking at all those configuration files. Therefore, I’ll give you a step-by-step guide for which pages you should go to to get up and running with Avida as soon as possible, no computer science bachelor’s required.
Previously, I talked about what fitness means. Now, it’s worth taking a moment to talk about how we calculate fitness in a few of our experimental systems, both biological and computational. Because what exactly we choose to measure can result in different outcomes, the way in which we measure something is important and therefore valuable to think critically about.
It probably comes as no surprise that I’m a fan of science blogs! When I first got interested in science communication though, I found it a bit difficult to find many that I wanted to read. There seems to be an air of not publicizing our blogs much because we should be spending our time on science instead. Therefore, here at the Devolab, we’re starting a blogroll page where we’ll keep a list of all the other science blogs we follow and when we add a few, we’ll probably post about them so you don’t forget to check the blogroll.
One of the key concepts in evolution is fitness. You’ve probably even read something about how evolution is “survival of the fittest”. But what does that mean? Like many terms, fitness has a specific meaning in science that’s somewhat different from what it means in everyday life.