Universität Wien
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300099 VO Beyond networks: the evolution of dynamic regulatory systems (2020S)

2.00 ECTS (1.00 SWS), SPL 30 - Biologie


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


Language: English

Examination dates


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Due to the exceptional circumstances, discussion meetings will take place online, using the BigBlueButton platform via Moodle. Please check u:space on how to join the session and use the platform.

Students are asked to watch the lectures published on Moodle BEFORE each discussion session.

Monday 20.04. 16:00 - 17:30 Konferenzraum
Friday 24.04. 09:00 - 10:30 Konferenzraum
Monday 27.04. 16:00 - 17:30 Konferenzraum
Monday 04.05. 16:00 - 17:30 Konferenzraum
Monday 11.05. 16:00 - 17:30 Konferenzraum
Friday 15.05. 09:00 - 10:30 Konferenzraum
Monday 18.05. 16:00 - 17:30 Konferenzraum
Monday 25.05. 16:00 - 17:30 Konferenzraum
Friday 29.05. 09:00 - 10:30 Konferenzraum
Friday 05.06. 09:00 - 10:30 Konferenzraum
Monday 08.06. 16:00 - 17:30 Konferenzraum
Monday 15.06. 16:00 - 17:30 Konferenzraum
Friday 19.06. 09:00 - 10:30 Konferenzraum
Monday 22.06. 16:00 - 17:30 Konferenzraum


Aims, contents and method of the course

This lecture takes a fresh look at the evolution of living organisms. Its main focus lies on the evolution of the complex regulatory systems that drive development, physiology, and metabolism. It introduces the students to ways in which the structure of such systems influence and alter the course of evolution (evolvability), and how the internal structure of organisms is interacting with environmental influences to create the phenotypic variability that natural selection can act upon. Finally, it takes a look at how the self-producing and self-maintaining organisation of whole organisms, and the resulting autonomous agency of living systems, affects the course of evolution.

The aim is to (1) provide the theoretical and conceptual foundations for the study of evolving systems, (2) introduce the students, in a non-technical and accessible way, to concepts from dynamical systems theory and other branches of complexity science, that are necessary to understand evolution and development at the systems level, (3) introduce students to the theory of network evolution, (4) illustrate the above theoretical concepts with numerous examples from the current research literature, and (5), explore the limitations of this approach when it comes to understanding organismic evolution. The lecture will provide students with the intellectual foundation and the conceptual tools necessary to actively enter the exciting new research field of evolutionary systems biology.

The format of this lecture will be interactive and informal, to encourage active student participation.

Dr. Johannes Jäger resides at the University of Vienna as a guest lecturer from April to June 2020. He is currently a fellow at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS) in South Africa, and is affiliated with the Complexity Science Hub (CSH) Vienna. He is the former director of the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research (KLI) in Klosterneuburg. Before this, he was leading a research group at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) in Barcelona, was a fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (Wiko) and the Centre de Recherches Interdisciplinaires (CRI) in Paris, and worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Museum of Zoology of the University of Cambridge. Jäger is currently writing a book on the philosophy of science designed for researchers.

Assessment and permitted materials

There will be a written exam with short essay questions at the end of the lecture. Evaluation will be based 75% on this exam, plus 25% on participation during the lectures.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

This lecture is an elective component of the Master in Evolutionary Systems Biology, but also open to other Master studies.

The language of the lecture is English.

Examination topics

The exam covers the content of the lectures, with some additional reading as will be indicated by the lecturer.

Reading list

Association in the course directory


Last modified: Fr 12.05.2023 00:23