Victoria Alexander receives Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award to Russia

I am very excited to have the opportunity to do research this spring at ITMO University in St Petersburg, Vladimir Nabokov’s home and Cyber Capital of Russia.

ITMO — which stands for Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics — has recently launched a Digital Humanities Lab where I will be working with graduate students on the poetics of science. The idea is to bring the tools of the arts into science and the inspiration of science into the arts.  Nabokov famously argued that neither art nor science can be done well without the other. One of the projects I hope to be undertaking in my time there is working with programmers to design a digital simulation of butterfly wing pattern development to test Nabokov’s theory of insect mimicry.  Using non-linear mathematical techniques first developed by Alan Turing, we may be able to use our digital imaginations to discover what kinds of designs nature would be capable of creating in the absence of natural selection.

I will be introducing ITMO students to the trans-disciplinary field of Biosemiotics–which investigates the fundamentals of learning and creativity through sign-use at all levels of biology, from protists to poets.  As we run headlong into the age of AI, we will think about how and why organisms and computers process information both similarly and differently.

Established in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program and is designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the Program, which operates in over 160 countries worldwide.

Victoria Alexander, philosopher of science and novelist, earned a PhD in English Literature at the Grad Center, CUNY and did her dissertation work in the complexity sciences at the Santa Fe Institute. Rockefeller Bellagio Center alum, former Public Scholar with the NY Council for the Humanities and director of public  programs at Dactyl Foundation in New York city, Alexander promotes interaction between the sciences and the arts.



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