Vale Professor Karen Neander

Professor Karen Neander (24 March 1954—6 May 2020) completed her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) and PhD in Philosophy at La Trobe, before going on to become a leading international figure in the philosophy of cognitive science and biology.

Photo credit: Dr. Denis Robinson

Internationally renowned philosopher and La Trobe alumna, Professor Karen Neander, passed away on 6 May 2020 after a long battle with cancer.

Those La Trobe alumni who knew Karen Neander will be greatly saddened by the news of her death.

Karen graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) at La Trobe in 1977, followed by the award of her PhD in 1984. In the 1980s she held positions in Philosophy at the Universities of Sydney, Wollongong, and Adelaide before becoming a postdoctoral and then a research fellow in the Philosophy Program of the Research School of Social Sciences at the ANU. In 1996 Karen moved to a position at Johns Hopkins University in the United States. She took up a senior appointment in Philosophy at the University of California at Davis in 2002, and in 2006 became Professor of Philosophy and Linguistics at Duke University in North Carolina.

Karen maintained strong links with Australasian philosophy, serving as a member of the AJP Editorial Board, attending the AAP conference when she could, and keeping in touch with former colleagues. Many philosophers here regarded Karen as a long-term friend as well as an academic colleague and her death is felt as a personal as well as a professional loss.

Karen was a first-rate philosopher and internationally well-known for her contributions to philosophy of mind, biology, and cognitive science. Prior to her important book, A Mark of the Mental: In Defense of Informational Teleosemantics (MIT Press, 2017), she'd achieved an impressive list of publications in journals, edited collections, and major reference works. British philosopher David Papineau, himself a highly regarded figure internationally, has recently written of Karen: "All her work was powerful, insightful, influential."

Karen is remembered with great respect and affection by those staff and fellow students who knew her at La Trobe in the 1970s. Her teachers and supervisors in the then La Trobe Philosophy Department were always delighted to hear of the progress of her career.