The symposium will be held in person June 26-27, 2023. 

Symposium Information




Hessam Akhlaghpour
Laboratory of Integrative Brain Function, Rockefeller University

Frantisek Baluska
Institute of Cellular and Molecular Botany, University of Bonn

Lukasz J. Bugaj
Department of Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania


Anna Ciaunica
Centre for Philosophy of Science, University of Lisbon

David J Colaço
Department of Philosophy, University of Munich, Germany

Audrey Dussutour
Centre for Integrative Biology (CBI), Toulouse University


Chris Fields
23 Rue des Lavandières, Caunes Minervois, France


Karl Friston
Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging Institute of Neurology, University College London

Jordi Garcia-Ojalvo
Department of Experimental and Health Sciences, Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Jeremy Gunawardena

Jeremy Gunawardena
Department of Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School

Marta Halina

Marta Halina
Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge


Martin M. Hanczyc
Department of Cellular, Computational, and Integrative Biology (CIBIO), University of Trento

eva jablonka

Eva Jablonka
The Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas, Tel Aviv University

Gaspar Jekely
Living Systems Institute, University of Exeter

Kristin Aleklett Kadish
Department of Biology at Lund University

Aneta Koseska

Aneta Koseska
Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology of Behavior–Caesar, Bonn, Germany


Michael Levin
Allen Discovery Center, Tufts University

Pamela Lyon

Pamela Lyon
Southgate Institute for Health, Society and Equity College of Medicine and Public Health, Flinders University


Isabelle M. Mansuy
Laboratory of Neuroepigenetics, Brain Research Institute, Medical Faculty of the University of Zurich, and Institute for Neuroscience, Department of Health Science and Technology of the Swiss, Federal Institute of Technology (ETH)

Coleen Murphy

Coleen T. Murphy
Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University

wallace marshall

Wallace F. Marshall
Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California San Francisco

Isabella Sarto-Jackson

Isabella Sarto-Jackson
Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research, Klosterneuburg, Austria

James Shapiro

James A. Shapiro
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Chicago

Allyson Sgro

Allyson E. Sgro
Janelia Research Campus

Ricard V. Solé
ICREA-Complex Systems Lab, Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Richard Watson
University of Southampton

Erik Winfree

Erik Winfree
California Institute of Technology


Pushing the Boundaries: Neuroscience, Cognition, and Life 
June 25-27, 2023 

Breakfast: (7:30-8:45AM) 

9:00 AM-Welcoming Remarks (David Glanzman) 

Session 1 (9:10-10:40 AM) 
Karl Friston (Remote):  The physics of sentience 

Jordi Garcia Ojalvo:  Minimal determinants of cellular cognition 
Frantisek Baluska:  Cellular basis of sentience and cognition 

Break: 10:40-11:00 AM 

Session 2 (11:05 AM-12:35 PM) 
Audrey Dussutour (Remote):  Adaptive behavior and learning in slime molds 

Wallace Marshall (Remote):  Learning and computation in single cells 

Aneta Koseska:  Computational capabilities of single cells 

Lunch: (12:40-2:00 PM) 

Session 3 (2:05 PM-3:25 PM) 
Isabelle Mansuy:  Biological embedding of ancestral life experiences in the epigenome 
Coleen Murphy:  Adapt or die: Transgenerational inheritance of pathogen avoidance (How getting food poisoning might save your species) 
David Colaço:  Learning from the history of memory transfer  

Break: (3:30-3:55 PM) 

Session 4 (4:00 PM-6:00 PM) 
Allyson Sgro:  Decision making under stress in microbial systems 
Pamela Lyon:  Principles of neural design, without neurons 
Kristin Aleklett Kadish:  What is fungal behavior? 
Lukasz Bugaj (Remote):  Understanding cell signal perception and misperception using optogenetic probes 


Breakfast: (7:30-8:45AM) 

Session 5: (9:00-10:30 AM) 

Eva Jablonka (Remote):  Semon’s mneme: tiers of memory and learning in biological systems  

Hessam Akhlaghpour:  Surprising parallels between RNA biology and combinatory logic 
Marta Halina:  Resource constraints and the evolution of cognition 

Break: (10:35-10:55) 

Session 6: (11:00-12:55 PM) 
Jeremy Gunawardena: Cell learning: A new paradigm for biology 
Isabella Sarto-Jackson: Epistemogenesis: Knowledge accumulation in biological systems 
Richard Watson: Natural Induction: Spontaneous problem solving in biological and abiological networks (without selection or design)
James Shapiro (Remote): How biology brings cognition into evolution 

Lunch: (1:00-2:00 PM) 

Session 7: (2:05-4:00 PM) 
Anna Ciaunica: From cells to selves: Coupling neuronal and immune cellular processing in biological self-organizing systems 
Ricard Solé: Possible and actual minds: Mapping the cognition space 
Chris Fields: Pushing the boundaries by dissolving them: Toward a scale-free formalization of physical systems as observers 

Break: (4:05-4:25 PM) 

Session 8: (4:30-6:00 PM) 
Martin Michael Hanczyc:  Liquid droplets as simple dynamics systems to explore information and cognition 
Gaspar Jekely: Embodied cognition in miniature brains and bodies of marine zooplankton 
Erik Winfree:  Imagination: From neural computation to molecular computation 
Michael Levin (Remote):  Memory and intelligent problem-solving by unconventional collective intelligences in anatomical morphospace 

Venue Information


UCLA Luskin Conference Center
425 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095


Self-parking is available underneath the Luskin Conference Center and in UCLA Parking Structure 8, Level 4, directly across the street from the center. There is a convenient pedestrian walkway/bridge connecting Parking Structure 8 (on Level 3) to the Luskin Conference Center property. There is a daily fee to park in either location. If you are here for just one or two hours, we offer great rates of $4 to $6 dollars. Please note that beginning Jan. 1, 2023, UCLA is legally required to collect a 10% Parking Occupancy Tax on behalf of the City of Los Angeles. UCLA remits all proceeds of this tax to the city.

To locate Parking Structure 8, enter the campus by heading north on Westwood Boulevard and make a left onto the Structure 8 Driveway (located just before the parking information kiosk on Westwood Boulevard). Proceed up the ramp to Level 4 and park in any of the “Pay-by-Space” parking spots. You will need to purchase parking at a nearby parking kiosk.

To access the UCLA Luskin Conference Center via the pedestrian walkway/bridge from Lot 8, take the east stairs down one level (from Level 4 to Level 3) and cross over Strathmore Place. Elevator access (located in the northeast corner of Level 3) allows access to the conference center via the pedestrian crosswalk at the traffic light at the intersection of Strathmore Place and Westwood Plaza.

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

The parking garage located under the Luskin Conference Center offers complimentary charging stations (first come, first served). Each station supports two parking spaces which are located in the northwest corner of the garage — spaces 114-15 and 118-19 — which are reserved exclusively for electric vehicles.

Key Dates

March 3, 2023
Registration opens

May 26, 2023
Early bird registration deadline

June 20, 2023
Registration deadline