(Cleland, Carol - 2013) -- BFA Award for Excellence in Research, Scholarly and Creative Work uri icon



  • Professor Cleland’s research is noteworthy for its contributions to both philosophy and science. Her earliest work, on the concept of computability, is widely recognized as the first to challenge the Church-Turing thesis, which proposed that a function is computable only if an abstract computing device, or Turing machine, computes it. Because contemporary digital computers are essentially Turing machines, Professor Cleland’s groundbreaking critique of the Church-Turing theory continues to be widely cited and to have repercussions in the fields of philosophy, logic, and computer science.
    More recently, Professor Cleland’s research has contributed significantly to the philosophy of biology. Working in tandem with astrobiologists at CU-Boulder, she has argued that current criteria used to define the concept of life are misguided, potentially excluding other forms of life on earth and throughout the universe. Professor Cleland has the distinction of being the only philosopher funded by NASA, and her theory of a “shadow biosphere” has strongly reshaped how scientists and philosophers understand what constitutes life.

year awarded

  • 2013