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Angela Potochnik

Title: Associate Professor; Director of Center for Public Engagement with Science
Office: 206C McMicken Hall
Tel: 513-556-6340

Potochnik's research interests include philosophy of biology, philosophy of science, and history of logical empiricism.  She is especially focused upon the methodology of population biology; the role of idealized models in biology and science more generally; the properties of scientific explanations; how gender and other social factors influence science; and the work of Otto Neurath. 

Visit Potochnik's website.  


  • Ph.D., Stanford University, 2007 (Philosophy).
  • B.A., Hendrix College, 2002 (Philosophy).


Peer-reviewed Publications

  • Angela Potochnik and Audrey Yap (2006). Revisiting Galison's 'Aufbau/Bauhaus' in Light of Neurath's Philosophical Projects. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Part A, 37 (3), 469-488.
  • Angela Potochnik (2007). Optimality Modeling and Explanatory Generality. Philosophy of Science, 74 (5), 680-691.
  • Angela Potochnik (2009). Optimality Modeling in a Suboptimal World. Biology and Philosophy, 24 (2), 183-197.
  • Angela Potochnik (2010). Explanatory Independence and Epistemic Interdependence: A Case Study of the Optimality Approach. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 61 (1), 213-233.
  • Angela Potochnik (2010). Levels of Explanation Reconceived. Philosophy of Science, 77 (1), 59-72.
  • Angela Potochnik (2011). A Neurathian Conception of the Unity of Science. Erkenntnis, 34 (3), 305-319.
  • Angela Potochnik (2011). Explanation and Understanding: An Alternative to Strevens' Depth. The European Journal for Philosophy of Science, 1 (1), 29-38.
  • Angela Potochnik, Erika Milam, Roberta Millstein, and Joan Roughgarden (2011). Sex and Sensibility: The Role of Social Selection, A Review Symposium of Roughgarden's The Genial Gene. Metascience, 20 (2), 253-277.
  • Angela Potochnik (2012). Modeling Social and Evolutionary Games. Studies in HIstory and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 43 (1), 202-208.
  • Angela Potochnik and Brian McGill (2012). The Limitations of Hierarchical Organization. Philosophy of Science, 79 (1), 120-140.
  • Angela Potochnik (2012). Feminist Implications of Model-Based Science. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 43 (2), 383-389.
  • Angela Potochnik (2013). Defusing Ideological Defenses in Biology. BioScience, 63 (2), 118-123.
  • Francis Cartieri and Angela Potochnik (In Press). Toward Philosophy of Science's Social Engagement. Erkenntnis.
  • Angela Potochnik (In Press). Causal Patterns and Adequate Explanations. Philosophical Studies.

Book Chapters

  • Angela Potochnik (2013). Biological Explanation. The Philosophy of Biology: A Companion for Educators (pp.49-65). Springer.

Additional Publications


  • Angela Potochnik (2013). (Rev. of Studying Human Behavior: How Scientists Investigate Aggression and Sexuality). Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. (Author).

Presentations & Lectures

Invited Presentations

  • Angela Potochnik (2008). The Unity of Science in a Disordered, Dappled World Departments of Philosophy at Cal State Long Beach, Florida State University, Oklahoma State University, Syracuse University, UC Davis, and University of Western Ontario.
  • Angela Potochnik (2008). Philosophical Lessons from the Historical Sciences School of Geology, Oklahoma State University.
  • Angela Potochnik (2008). Situating the Optimality Approach in Population BIology Department of Zoology, Oklahoma State University.
  • Angela Potochnik (2009). Evolution and Contextual Explanation Deparment of Philosophy, University of Washington.
  • Angela Potochnik (2009). Science in a Complex World: Lessons from Biology Steele Center Lecture, Hendrix College.
  • Angela Potochnik (2009). Cooperation, Competition, and the Evolution of Sex Friday Afternoon Discussion, Hendrix College.
  • Angela Potochnik (2010). Explanation and Understanding Departments of Philosophy at the University of Cincinnati and University of Kentucky.
  • Angela Potochnik (2010). The Limitations of Hierarchical Thinking Department of Philosophy, Stanford University.
  • Angela Potochnik (2011). Idealizing the Realizers Pacific Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association, Group Program, San Diego, CA.

Paper Presentations

  • Angela Potochnik (2003). Explanations and Extensions of Tit-for-Tat, Stanford University.
  • Angela Potochnik (2004). A Shift in Wittgenstein's Position on Syntax, University of San Francisco.
  • Angela Potochnik (2005). Another Kind of Unity: The Case of Evolutionary Modeling, University of Guelph.
  • Angela Potochnik (2005). Another Kind of Unity: The Case of Evolutionary Modeling, Stirling University, Scotland.
  • Angela Potochnik (2006). Optimality Modeling and Explanatory Generality, University of British Columbia.
  • Angela Potochnik (2006). Optimality Modeling and Explanatory Generality, UC Davis.
  • Angela Potochnik (2007). Generality, Complexity, and Approaches to Explanation, San Francisco, CA.
  • Angela Potochnik (2007). Optimality Explanation as Anti-Reductionism, University of Exeter, England.
  • Angela Potochnik (2009). A Dispute over the Basics of Nature, University of Sydney, Australia.

Honors & Awards

  • Marjorie Grene Prize, International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology, 2011. for best manuscript based on a presentation while a graduate student,.
  • Taft Summer Research Grant, Taft Foundation, University of Cincinnati, 2011.
  • Dean's Incentive Grant, Oklahoma State University, 2009.
  • Fae Rawdon Norris Grant, Oklahoma State University, 2009. in support of a visiting lecture,.
  • President's Medal, Hendrix College, 2002. for the graduating senior who best exemplifies the highest ideals of the College,.
  • R.G. Shoemaker Award, Hendrix College, 2002. for the outstanding graduating senior in philosophy.
  • University Research Council Summer Research Fellowship, 2012.

Experience & Service

Work Experience

  • 2011 to 2013, Assistant Professor, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH.
  • 2010 to 2011, Visiting Research Fellow, Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research, Stanford University, Stanford, CA.
  • 2008 to 2010, Assistant Professor, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK.
  • 2007 to 2008, Teaching Fellow, Stanford University, Stanford, CA.
  • 2013 to To Present, Associate Professor, University of Cincinnati.