Carol Cleland


Carol Cleland (PhD, Brown, 1981) arrived at CU Boulder in 1986, after having spent a year on a post-doctoral fellowship at Stanford University’s Center for the Study of Language and Information. She is a SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute Affiliate, a member of CU Boulder’s Center for Astrobiology. She was involved as Co-I and Key Collaborator on several science teams of the now disbanded NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI).  

Carol Cleland’s research interests lie in the areas of Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Logic, and Metaphysics. Areas of special interest include: scientific methodology (historical science and the field sciences considered generally, and the role of anomalies in scientific discovery), scientific theories and the use of models (especially in the historical sciences), philosophy of biology (microbiology, astrobiology, nature of life, and the hypothesis of a ‘shadow biosphere’, a term which she coined), causation, space and time, supervenience, events, Church-Turing thesis and effective procedures.

Carol Cleland is the author of The Quest for a Universal Theory of Life: Searching for life as we don’t know it (Cambridge University Press, 2019) and co-author (with Mark Bedau) of The Nature of Life: Classical and Contemporary Perspectives from Philosophy and Science (Cambridge University Press, 2010; reprinted in paperback 2018). She has published extensively in both science and philosophy journals.  She is currently working on two projects: (i) rethinking mineralogical natural kinds in the context of what we are learning about the origin and evolution of minerals in planetary contexts and (ii) the role of anomalies in scientific discovery, especially in geology and biology.

For more information, see Professor Cleland's personal website and CV.

Professor Cleland was interviewed in April 2017 for the CU Connections newsletter. Read the interview here.

selected publications