Chemical formations with the property of replication appeared on our planet about 4 billion years ago. From these all life forms arose. The evolution of the phenomenon of life was marked by several events, such as the appearance of cells (that can be regarded as communities of genes), multicellular organisms (that can be regarded as communities of cells) and societies of organisms, such as societies of plants and animals. What mechanisms are responsible for these transitions in individuality? Are conflict and cooperation antagonistic or synergistic forces in the evolution of life? Steffi will present the roots of cooperation and conflict from the origins of life to human societies, what governs their breakdown, such as selfish elements, cheaters or cancers taking over, and the recent findings of multicellular chimeras and transmissible cancers across the tree of life.
Dr. Kapsetaki completed a Masters and Ph.D. at the University of Oxford where she studied social evolution, the major evolutionary transitions in individuality, and specifically the evolution of multicellularity. There, Dr. Kapsetaki became enthused by the idea of looking at cancer from an evolutionary perspective, that is, as a selfish element in a cooperative cellular society, the multicellular organism. As a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at ASU, Dr. Kapsetaki will be using this evolutionary perspective to tackle several questions, including himerism across the tree of life and the evolution of transmissible cancers. She’s a professional pianist too, and very interested in joining together the science & the arts by traveling with sound to the depths of our existence!