Carlos Mariscal, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Carlos Mariscal


Before joining the department of philosophy at the University of Nevada, Reno, Professor Carlos A. Mariscal was a Herzberg Postdoctoral Fellow working with W. Ford Doolittle in the departments of biochemistry & molecular biology and philosophy in Dalhousie University. He received his Ph.D. from Duke University. Carlos works in areas related to the evolution, origin, and distribution of life in the universe, a field known as astrobiology. His recent work has centered around convergence, the direction of evolution, the nature of the last universal common ancestor, the nature of extreme organisms, the origin and meaning of ‘Life,' and ethical issues regarding new biotechnologies. Carlos is currently concerned with the extent to which we can expect biological explanations to cover distinct or as-yet-unknown systems.

Research Interests

  • Philosophy of Astrobiology
  • History & Philosophy of Biology
  • Philosophy of Science
  • Science, Technology & Society (STS)
  • Philosophy of Cognitive Science
  • Applied Ethics (esp. Biotechnology)


Typically courses in the intersection of science (especially the life sciences) and philosophy.

  • Phil 224 — Introduction to Philosophy of Science
  • Phil 434 — Philosophy of Cognitive Science
  • Phil 438 — Problems in the History and Philosophy of Science
  • Hist/Phil 480 — Science, Technology, and Society

Selected Publications

  • Mariscal C, Petropanagos A (2016) "CRISPR as a Driving Force: The Model T of Biotechnology" Monash Review of Bioethics
  • Booth A, Mariscal C, Doolittle WF. (2016) "Modern Synthesis is the Light of Microbial Genomics" Annual Reviews of Microbiology 70(1)
  • Scharf C, Virgo N, Cleaves HJ, Aono M, Aubert-Kato N, Aydinoglu A, Barahona A, Barge LM, Benner SA, Biehl M, Brasser R, Butch CJ, Chandru K, Cronin L, Danielache S, Fischer J, Hernlund J, Hut P, Ikegami T, Kimura J, Kobayashi K, Mariscal C, McGlynn S, Menard B, Packard N, Pascal R, Pereto J, Rajamani S, Sinapayen L, Smith E, Switzer C, Takai K, Tian F, Ueno Y, Voytek M, Witkowski O, Yabuta H. (2015) "A Strategy For Origins of Life Research" Astrobiology 15(12): 1031-1042. doi: 10.1089/ast.2015.1113
  • Mariscal C, Doolittle WF (2015) "Eukaryotes First, How Could that Be?" Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 370: 20140322. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2014.0322
  • Mariscal C. (2015) "Assessing Universality from a Single Example" In: Dick, S.J. (ed.), The Impact of Discovering Life Beyond Earth, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Powell R, Mariscal C. (2015) "Convergent Evolution as Natural Experiment: The Tape of Life Reconsidered" Journal of the Royal Society Interface 5(6): 20150040 . doi: 10.1098/rsfs.2015.0040


  • Ph.D., Philosophy, Duke University, 2014
  • M.A., Philosophy, Duke University, 2012
  • B.A., Journalism & Mass Communications, New Mexico State University, 2006