Appendix A
Statement of Task

The Board on Life Sciences will convene an ad hoc committee to identify and examine the concepts and theories that form the foundation for scientific advancement in various areas of biology, including (but not limited to) genes, cells, ecology, and evolution. It will assess which areas are “theory-rich” and which areas need stronger conceptual foundations for substantial advancement and make recommendations as to the best way to encourage creative, dynamic, and innovative research in biology. Building on these results, the study will identify major questions to be addressed by 21st-century biology. The project will focus on basic biology, but not on biomedical applications. Questions to be considered by the committee may include:

  • What does it mean to think of biology as a theoretical science?

  • Is there a basic set of theories and concepts that are understood by biologists in all subdisciplines?

  • How do biological theories form the foundation for scientific advancement?

  • Which areas of biology are “theory-rich” and which areas need stronger conceptual foundations for substantial advancement?

  • What are the best ways to bring about advances in biology?

  • What are the grand challenges in 21st-century biology?

  • How can educators ensure that students understand the foundations of biology?



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Appendix A Statement of Task The Board on Life Sciences will convene an ad hoc committee to identify and examine the concepts and theories that form the foundation for scientific advancement in various areas of biology, including (but not limited to) genes, cells, ecology, and evolution. It will assess which areas are “theory-rich” and which areas need stronger conceptual foundations for substantial advancement and make recommendations as to the best way to encourage creative, dynamic, and innovative research in biology. Building on these results, the study will identify major questions to be addressed by 21st-century biology. The project will focus on basic biology, but not on biomedical applications. Questions to be considered by the committee may include: • What does it mean to think of biology as a theoretical science? • Is there a basic set of theories and concepts that are understood by biologists in all subdisciplines? • How do biological theories form the foundation for scientific advancement? • Which areas of biology are “theory-rich” and which areas need stronger conceptual foundations for substantial advancement? • What are the best ways to bring about advances in biology? • What are the grand challenges in 21st-century biology? • How can educators ensure that students understand the founda- tions of biology?