Joshua Mitteldorf, Ph.D. is author of the blog Playing the Game for a Longer Life.
Josh’s primary occupation these days is evolutionary biology. He is a theorist, specializing in computer simulations that demonstrate how natural selection can act on groups and communities. He is affiliated with the EAPS at MIT, but he works on his own. He’s recently completed a book on aging from an evolutionary perspective, and in it he explores the conundrum: if aging destroys our fitness, then why does evolution put up with it? Indeed, why do we have genes whose purpose is to kill us on a schedule? The short answer is that without aging, no one would die until everyone was dying, in an epidemic or a famine. Steady, predictable death rates are necessary to build stable ecosystems.
In the past, Josh has worked in astrophysics, optical design, and energy conservation. He has have taught (statistics, physics, math, astronomy, and evolution) at Harvard, Berkeley, Temple, UPenn, LaSalle, and Bryn Mawr.
Since the 2004 presidential election, Josh has been part of a net-organized coalition of statisticians who analyze voting patterns for evidence of errors or fraud. He works closely with Election Integrity and the Election Defense Alliance.
In the past, he was active at the Drexel Math Forum, where students from around the world submit questions that are fielded by a loose network of volunteer experts and educators. The Northwestern University Center for Connected Learning, where he is a consultant, is pioneering the idea of computer simulation as a flexible learning tool. His two commercial software packages are intended to make smart financial analysis accessible to people of limited math background — they’re available for free download and at the Per%Sense web site.
Josh is a peace activist and an environmentalist, a retired board member at Philadelphia’s Energy Coordinating Agency, and past president of the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Pennsylvania.
For almost thirty years, he’s been teaching a weekly yoga class through Mount Airy Learning Tree, an education coop named for his neighborhood in Philadelphia. This is his own brand of public health activism, as well as a way to keep his own spiritual practice alive. He enjoys the support of the meditation community at Springboard Studio in Mt Airy.
Josh is active in Philadelphia’s amateur music community, playing piano in chamber ensemble, French horn, and oboe in the Olney Symphony. Summers, his family and Josh have enjoyed the music camp in Quebec operated by CAMMAC, the Bennington summer program for chamber musicians, and a Pennsylvania music camp called Summertrios. Josh is an avid member of the Amateur Chamber Musician Players.
For twenty years, he was married to Alice Ballard, a civil rights attorney in Philadelphia. Their two daughters, Sarah and Madeline, are among the first children adopted from China in the mid-1980s. Sarah is building a career as a theater director. Maddy graduated this year from Eugene Lang College, and is continuing to take courses to prepare herself for veterinary school.
Josh earned his Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Pennsylvania.