Project Description

Home / Members / Graduate Students / Varun Ravikumar


  • Philosophy of Cognitive Social Science

  • Philosophy of Embodied Cognitive Science

  • Philosophy of Science


  • Rotman Institute of Philosophy
    Western University
    Western Interdisciplinary Research Building, 7148
    London, Ontario, Canada
    N6A 3K7



Doctoral Student; 
Department of Philosophy, Western University

I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Philosophy at Western University (UWO). I am also a member of the Eclectic Minds Research Group (EMRG Lab) at the Rotman Institute of Philosophy. I am interested in philosophical issues ranging from human sociality, habits, and collective action to social cognition, social ontology, and environmental philosophy, to name a few.

My current project looks to develop a conceptual bridge between the social and cognitive sciences to better grasp human social action. For my dissertation, I borrow, adapt, and blend conceptual resources from the social sciences (‘habitus’), the radical embodied cognitive sciences (‘habit’ and ‘affordance’), and philosophy of cognitive science (‘constraint’) to develop a philosophical framework for doing radical embodied cognitive social science. My work is supervised by Professors Michael Anderson and Scott Schaffer.

Prior to joining UWO, I completed my M.A. in Philosophy from Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL, U.S.A in 2019. My research explored how working scientists rely on the concept of ‘levels’ to explain compositional phenomena. My work was supervised by Professor Carl Gillet.

Prior to philosophy, I completed my M.Eng. in Engineering Mechanics from the Pennsylvania State University (Penn State), State College, PA, U.S.A. in 2016, under Professor Ivica Smid’s supervision, and I obtained my B.Tech. in Mechanical Engineering from Shiv Nadar University (SNU), Greater Noida, UP, India in 2015, under the supervision of Professors Santanu Mitra (SNU) and Anand Krishna Kanjarla (Indian Institute of Technology, Madras). Across my engineering studies, my work has explored the behavior of materials like brain tissue, human skin, and aluminum using computational modeling techniques.

My transition from engineering to philosophy was motivated by an interest in understanding human nature, the nature of science, and the relationship between science, humans, society, and nature. During my transition, I studied how traumatic brain injury researchers historically used mechanical models of the brain to ‘represent’ and ‘intervene’ on injured brains. My work was supervised by Professor Emily Grosholz (Penn State) through an independent research study course.

(Last updated: June 2023)

Ravikumar, V., Bowen, J., & Anderson, M. L. (2023). A more ecological perspective on human-robot interactions. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 46, e42.


Ravikumar, V., Yi, N., Vepachedu, V., & Cheng, H. (2017). Transfer Printing for Cyber-Manufacturing Systems. In: Jeschke, S., Brecher, C., Song, H., Rawat, D. (eds) Industrial Internet of Things. Springer Series in Wireless Technology. Springer, Cham.


(Last updated: June 2023)

As a co-Instructor/Instructor:

Philosophy of Social Science (Co-Instructor). Western University. Winter 2023.

Teaching Assistant Training Program (Instructor). Centre for Teaching and Learning. Western University. Summer 2021 – Summer 2022.

As a Graduate Teaching Assistant:

Understanding Science (Tutorial Leader & Grader). Western University. Fall 2022.

Digital Ethics (Grader). Western University. Winter 2022, Fall 2019.

Big Ideas (Tutorial Leader & Grader). Western University. Fall 2021.

Introduction to Philosophy (Tutorial Leader & Grader). Western University. Fall 2020 – Winter 2021.

PhilPapers (Assistant Editor). Centre for Digital Philosophy. Western University. Winter 2020.

Modern Philosophy (Grader & Workshop Leader). Northern Illinois University. Spring 2019.

Contemporary Issues in Ethics (Grader & Workshop Leader). Northern Illinois University. Fall 2018.

Ethical Decisions –  Be Your Own Judge! (Workshop Leader). Summer Institute for the Gifted. University of Chicago. Summer 2018.

As a tutor:

Writing Tutor. University Writing Center. Northern Illinois University. Fall 2017 – Spring 2018.

(Last updated: March 2023)

Graduate Thesis Research Award. Western University. CAD 1,000. 2023.

Graduate Fellowship. Western University. CAD 13,000. 2020–22.

MITACS Training Research Fellowship. Western University. CAD 6,000. 2021.

Rotman Doctoral Entrance Scholarship. Western University. CAD 10,000. 2019.

NUS-India Research Award. National University of Singapore. SGD 1,200. 2014.

SNU Merit Entrance Scholarship. Shiv Nadar University. INR 800,000. 2011–15.

(Last updated: March 2023)

Conference presentations

Philosophy of embodied cognitive science: On habitus and habit. Copenhagen Summer School in Phenomenology and Philosophy of Mind 2023. Copenhagen, Denmark. August 2023.

Habitus and affordance: Towards a radical embodied cognitive social science. Annual Meeting of The Canadian Philosophical Association 2023. Toronto, Canada. May 2023.

What are we? How radical embodied cognitive social science illuminates our nature. Western Research Forum 2023. London, Canada. March 2023.


Conference organization

Thinking Globally, Acting Locally Research Forum. Western University. June 2023.

Rotman Institute Graduate Student Conference. Western University. May 2021.

Philosophy of Logic, Math, and Physics Graduate Student Conference. Western University. (Cancelled due to COVID–19).

(Last updated: June 2023)

Service to profession

Member. Graduate Student Council. American Philosophical Association. 2021–2023.

University service (most recent)

Chair. International Graduate Student Issues Committee. Society of Graduate Students. Western University. 2021–22.

Chief Steward, Arts & Humanities. Public Service Alliance of Canada Local 610. Western University. 2021–22.

Elected Member. Senate Committee for University Planning. Western University. 2020–21.

(Last updated: March 2023)

Councilor, Society of Graduate Students. Western University. 2020–21.

Elected Student Delegate. Graduate Colloquium Committee. Northern Illinois University. 2018–19.