Montana State University

Waller named director of MSU CLS seminar

August 30, 2012


Sara Waller. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.   High-Res Available

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Sara Waller, an associate professor of philosophy in the Department of History, Philosophy and Religious Studies at Montana State University, has been selected as the new director of the CLS Seminar in the College of Letters and Science.

The CLS seminars are courses that provide students with an introduction to college studies that helps them expand their intellectual interests as well as improve thinking and communication skills.

Waller has been at MSU since 2009 and teaches courses that include: Introduction to Philosophy, Logic, Other Animals, Metaphysics, and Origins of Life and CLS 101. She has also taught freshman seminar courses at Case Western Reserve University, California State University, Dominguez Hills and Loyola University, Chicago.

Waller received her Ph.D. in 1999 from Loyola University, Chicago where she specialized in philosophy of language and mind. After working at the University of California, San Diego pediatric neurology laboratory, she did postdoctoral work in neurology at the University of Pennsylvania.

She has published articles on philosophy of mind and cognitive neuroscience in journals such as "Synthese," "Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience" and "Journal of Value Inquiry." Her research interests include human and animal minds and measures of intelligence across species. The National Science Foundation, Environmental Protection Agency and National Endowment for the Humanities funded her research on dolphin communication. One of these grants purchased a small research vessel that is in use in Alamitos Bay in California. MSU students regularly participate in this dolphin vocalization research.

Her 2010 edited collection, "Serial Killers: Philosophy for Everyone" explores the cognition, psychology and philosophy of serial killers past and present. Her study of unusual minds also reaches out to the stars; she plans to use findings about the minds of social predators such as coyotes and dolphins to explore the possible forms of intelligence that might exist extra-terrestrially. Working with the Astrobiology Biogeocatalysis Research Center at MSU, she is currently researching alternative measures of intelligence and non-human types of minds.

Waller replaces Adele Pittendrigh, who retired from the position in May.

Jody Sanford (406) 994-7791, jody.sanford@montana.edu