- In case you missed it
- Maths conference success!
- Big changes in 22 Gordon Square
- STS student wins Faculty Award
- STS Welcomes Dr Emma Tobin
- STS class of 2010 graduates
- BSHS awards ‘special commendation’
- Summer success of 199 and rising: Science communication workshops in Croatia
- STS Seminar Series Announced
- Where did our brain's go?
- Emma Tobin: philosophy with ice cream for STS’s new lecturer
- Doctor Doctor! A new PhD in STS
- What's in YOUR placebo?
- BJPS comes to STS
- Gold Medal for STSers in Synthetic Biology at MIT Competition
- Chiara shines at Bright Club
- STS IBSc Student Wins Prestigious H.A.B Simons Prize!
- new modules for next session
- Job Opportunity: Research Assistant (0.3 FTE)
- Meet STS's New Green Champion
- Finalists Speak Up! National Student Survey
- Europe's planetary scientists meet MEPs, thanks to STS student
- Bee Fayre a Success!
- Podcast: Gillies' recollections
- Mr Nicholson is Proud to Present...
- "All art is quite useless." Or not...
- Finalists Speak Up! National Student Survey
- ESRC doctoral fellowship available
- No Ordinary Space
- Prizes 2010-11
- OneBook selected for 2011
- Chiara mentioned in Faculty dispatch
- New appointment: Lecturer
- STS launches new medical modules
- New arrival - Dr Bill MacLehose
- Departure - Dr Jeremy Howick
- Winner - Research Fellowship
- STS student wins 2011 Faculty Medal
- The Secret Life of Plants
- “Music of the Stars” podcast released
- Call for Papers: 2011 Ancient Science Conference
- New Module! Revised Catalogue!
- STS student makes Dean's List
- Prize-winning students
- UCAS rewards for STS
- STS success hits YouTube
- Charles Laine: tragedy
- 2012 Graduation - Congratulations
- New Podcast Series: Thinking About Science
- STS seminar: Thomas Kuhn on Ancient Science
- Engaging Teachers in Gender-Aware Practice
- New Book! Managing Privacy Through Accountability
- New Careers Podcast
- University Challenge
- On the winning team!
- Going, Going, Ghent
- Higg's Boson Podcast!
- STS Staff and Students at Landmark Conference
- Philosophy of Medicine: New Article
- STS reunion plans - announced
- Ambrosio: Art and Science mix
- video: Miller talks about Chemical Cosmos
- Thinking About Science: Episode 4
- Praise for STS teaching
- Thinking About Science Episode 5
- New Careers Podcast!
- MSc student 'makes' news
- History of Pre-Modern Medicine Seminar Series 2012-13
- STS success at iBSc fair
- STS Lecturer at The House of Lords
- Grant success: Balmer on the History of Biological Weapons
- Histories of Scientific Experience
- Another Win for STS Student!
- Will The Geek Inherit the Earth?
- OCEANIC ENTERPRISE
- The Genius of Invention
- Thinking About Science: Episode 6
- Blog Winners Announced
- Finalists! Speak Up!
- BPPA Masterclass Success!
- MAPS students praise STS teaching
- STS research fellow in MRC Suffrage Science event
- Semi Final Ahoy!
- DEUS IN MACHINA
- Responsible Innovation in Europe
- STS Students Take Action
- Semi Final Challenge
- Science and Security Grant
- The Spanish Collaboration
- MATERIAL HISTORIES OF SCIENCE
- Vacancy: Senior Lecturer in Science Communication
- STS Students on the BBC
- Mechanisms & Causality Workshop
- Vacancy: Research Associate Cold War History
- National praise for Agar
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Emma Tobin: philosophy with ice cream for STS’s new lecturer
20 October 2010
by Louis Stupple-Harris
STS Year2 student
Emma Tobin is the newest staff addition to STS. I sat down with her to discover how she got here and what makes her tick.
Where are you from? Let’s have a quick life story!
I’m from West Cork, in Ireland, a little town called Clonakilty, that’s where my parents are from. I moved to University College Dublin to do a BA in English and Philosophy and then to Trinity for my combined post-grad and PhD. The Irish Research Council funded my PhD and since then I’ve been at Bristol University, teaching and researching my post-doctorate in the Metaphysics of Science with Alexander Bird.
Your work with natural kinds is fascinating; can you remember what first attracted you to the subject? What was the path you took?
My research trajectory has been absolutely bonkers. When I started doing my PhD I wanted to do work on consciousness, and then I ended up working on natural kinds. I always enjoyed writing, from an early age, but there was no reason I thought I’d be a philosopher. I’ve written poetry and played music, and I think that’s always been philosophically driven, always dealing with the meaning behind things. It wasn’t until university that I got into pure philosophy.
Who inspires you?
So many people! When I started doing philosophy, the person who inspired me most was Kant. I was obsessed with the critique of pure reason; it’s really what got me into philosophy. He does so much work on explanation, causality and perception; all things that I’m fascinated by. During my PhD my peers influenced me hugely, people like Stephen Mumford, Alexander Bird and Peter Lipton were massively inspirational. John Stuart Mill is also a hero of mine and he’s really the first philosopher of science, so he’s pretty important in my history.
What do you think of the STS department so far?
It’s fantastic! It’s been a really fun and happy environment so far. Everyone is so friendly and collegial. I think it’s also a really good place to be if you’re coming at philosophy of science from my direction, since the work that happens here is so directly informed by what’s happening in science right now. I’m completely fascinated by the work that others in the department are doing, and that I have no idea about. I think it’s a great place to be and I’ll learn a lot!
What would you like to be doing in a few years time?
I’m hoping to develop my teaching over the next few years. I’ve taught a lot of philosophy of science in Bristol, as well as more generally in philosophy at Trinity. I’m also developing a project on the philosophy of biochemistry about the relationship between structure and function in biomolecules. Philosophers in the emerging field of philosophy of chemistry can be quite reductionist in their thinking, and the more I read about genomics and other areas the more I realise that there’s more to the function of molecule than can be discerned by their structure. It’s a continuation of my work on natural kinds, but with a more scientific spin.
How do you feel about continuing your research here at UCL?
I think I’m definitely in the right department for this project, and there are loads of people here who are interested in these areas. I’m also hoping to get in touch with some of the biochemists at UCL since I’m really interested at looking at some of the computational modelling of biomolecules as part of this project.
It sounds like you’ll get on brilliantly here, but where in the world are you happiest?
At home in West Cork, I think. I manage to get back there every three months or so, and in true Irish tradition it’s still home to me.
Is there anything you’re afraid of?
I don’t like spiders! I seem to have passed that onto my daughter too!
And finally, what’s your favourite flavour of ice cream?
It has to be honeycomb.
With the chunks?
Oh, I love it.
Page last modified on 20 oct 10 11:39 by Joe Cain
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