Spring time in New England is always a glorious time of year. This week has been especially beautiful particularly in light of the Boston Marathon that took place this past Monday. Being a runner myself, I always love watching the 26.2 mile race and hearing the Boston Strong stories of hope, inspiration and victory. Similarly in the Christian faith, spring is a season when God brings new beginnings, fresh starts and expanded boundaries for us to grow in. It's a time of catapulted faith, fresh hope, new courage and rekindled passion.
As we have just concluded another fiscal year and a season in the life of ASA, I'd like to bring you a couple of important updates.
Giving At A Glance - For The Fiscal Year Ending March 31, 2016 I'm delighted to report the great news that we ended our fiscal year on a strong note - exceeding our annual fund goal by $9,585 and our capital campaign goal by $9,919 (see chart below). And we only need another $30,000 in gifts to fully fund our capital campaign. Thank you so very much for the generous and active participation of many faithful and dedicated members. We are truly grateful for your Christlike stewardship and God's provision!
Annual Fund Capital Campaign Budget 155,000 40,000 Actual 164,58549,919 Difference + 9,585 + 9,919
Farewell Reception for Randy Isaac and Meet and Greet for Leslie Wickman We enjoyed a fabulous evening at the Ken Olsen Science Center at Gordon College on Friday, April 8 with 55+ guests in attendance including the ASA Executive Council who were in town for their semi-annual meeting. A special thanks to the many of you who contributed heart-felt tributes to Randy's memory book - that, YES, we managed to keep a surprise! You can check out the live-stream of the speeches and the wonderful photo collage at this link or directly from the ASA homepage.
75th Anniversary Annual Meeting at Azusa Pacific University Stay tuned for the registration roll out in the next few days. We hope to see you there!
As we enter the spring season and a new chapter in the life of ASA, I look forward with anticipation to the great things God has in store. This year in 2016, ASA is celebrating it's 75th anniversary - three quarters of a century of God's faithfulness. I'm fully confident and believe that God will continue His faithfulness to ASA and it's important ministry for the next 75 years.
Sincerely in Christ,
Vicki L. Best Director of Operations and Development American Scientific Affiliation 218 Boston Street Suite 208 Topsfield, MA 01983 978.807.5189
You may be aware that the CWIS Blog has an INDEX which is current as of today. This is a handy archive of articles written by or about Christian women in science. The articles are listed alphabetically by topic.
You may access this archive by clicking on the INDEX at the Group Page, or click here.
Leslie Wickman, incoming Executive Director of ASA, will be interviewed by Roger Marsh, host of the radio talk show "The Bottom Line" on station KBRT. The interview lasts approximately 25 minutes in the 4-4:30pm PDT time slot of the two hour show airing on KBRT from 3 to 5pm Pacific Daylight Time. Click on this link to listen online.
Leslie succeeds Randy Isaac as Executive Director. Randy retires after 11 years of sacrificial and servant-leadership of the ASA. In recognition of his years of service and his future involvement in the ASA as a volunteer, the Council has appointed him to the honorary position of Executive Director Emeritus.
Leslie brings to us a wealth of experience as a researcher, teacher, and administrator, both in academia and in industry. She received her PhD in human factors and biomechanics from Stanford University and most recently was Program Director of Engineering and Director of the Center for Research in Science, both at Azusa Pacific University.
Her industry experience includes work at the Aerospace Corporation, the RAND Corporation, and Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space. Her work centered on the U.S. human spaceflight program, and she is a trained EVA/IVA test astronaut with over 100 hours of test time in a NASA spacesuit and an FAA private pilot's license. Last, but certainly not least, Leslie has a passion for reaching the church and our culture at large with the message that faith and science, rather than being in conflict with one another, instead complement one another.
Along with the appointment of Leslie as Executive Director, Vicki Best has been appointed as ASA's Director of Operations and Development. Vicki is well known to the ASA family as Director of Business Development, where she has helped to manage the ASA's finances. The Council is grateful for her willingness to take on an expanded role in the organization.
Leslie's and Vicki's appointments will be effective April 1, 2016. As the ASA celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, the Council welcomes both of them into their new roles and looks forward to working with Leslie as she leads the organization into the next part of ASA's journey.
Visit Leslie Wickman's website where she posts on concerns of Science, Faith, Environment, Technology, Astronomy and Rocket Science.
NEXT FRIDAY APRIL 8, 2016 from 7:15PM EDT/4:15PM PDT
At this link, see the live streaming of the Farewell to Randy/Welcome to Leslie event. If you live near Boston, please join the event in person. Please RSVP here by Monday night April 4.
Randy, Leslie, and I have just returned from a productive and stimulating trip to southern California. The purpose of our trip was twofold: (1) annual meeting planning and promotion and (2) networking and connecting with as many ASA members as possible. In addition to visiting three college campuses (Azusa Pacific University (APU), Westmont College, and California Baptist University), we had individual meetings with several ASA folks and hosted three local chapter gatherings. It was a wonderful opportunity to interact and fellowship with close to 100 like-minded Christians involved in the sciences who share a desire to engage in the faith and science dialogue.
I came back to Boston very encouraged and excited about the important mission of the ASA, that of being a network of Christians in the sciences. God is clearly at work in our midst and we are delighted to be celebrating 75 years of His faithfulness in 2016. Excitement is building for the 75th anniversary annual meeting at APU this July. We've already heard from many who are planning to attend so you will not want to miss this very special celebration event. Please join us if you are able!
As Randy's tenure and our fiscal year are quickly coming to a close, we are pressing hard to the finish line in order to meet our annual fund goals. Thanks to the many of you who have generously given of your time, talent, and treasure this year and over many years. If you have not yet made a gift or are in a position to help again, would you prayerfully consider doing so by March 31? We would be most grateful and appreciative.
Finally, please join us for the livestream event on Friday, April 8 at Gordon College - Randy's farewell and Leslie's welcome reception.
It's Friday but Sunday's coming….May you enjoy a glorious Easter!
Vicki L. Best Director of Business Development American Scientific Affiliation 218 Boston Street Suite 208
Dr. Loretta Jackson-Hayes is an associate professor of chemistry at Rhodes College in Memphis.
In business and at every level of government, we hear how important it is to graduate more students majoring in science, technology, engineering and math, as our nation’s competitiveness depends on it. The Obama administration has set a goal of increasing STEM graduates by one million by 2022, and the “desperate need” for more STEM students makes regular headlines. The emphasis on bolstering STEM participation comes in tandem with bleak news about the liberal arts — bad job prospects, programs being cut, too many humanities majors.
As a chemist, I agree that remaining competitive in the sciences is a critical issue. But as an instructor, I also think that if American STEM grads are going lead the world in innovation, then their science education cannot be divorced from the liberal arts.
Urbana speaker Kelly Seaton spoke to a Christian grad student in planetary sciences at Urbana. The student wants to network with Christians in planetary science at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference conference. There will be an opportunity to do so at an open dinner at a Japanese restaurant in Woodlands, Texas.
Please join us for the first LPSC (Lunar & Planetary Science Conference) Christian Networking Dinner.
Sunday March 20, 5pm at Uni Sushi near the Woodlands Marriott, The Woodlands, Texas
I have blogged a number of times on imagination, but what do working scientists think about this subject? Dr Jennifer Siggers is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College London, where she works on medical applications of fluid dynamics. Having met her at a Christians in Scienceconference a couple of years before, I wanted to find out how imagination is relevant to her own life in the lab.
Imagination is highly valued in Western culture but not always recognised as an essential part of science. So Jennifer initially protested that she wasn’t sure she had anything to say about imagination, but eventually was able to speak with me at some length about how important it is in her work. Mental pictures, analogies and thought experiments are all important for a scientist. For a Christian, learning to use imagination can also enhance their faith, helping them to make sense of their experience both in and out of the lab.
She said that “science is very creative and you need to have good ideas … The more you can think out of the box, the better”. She gave an example of some modelling she and some of her PhD students had been doing on heart beat regulation.
Any individual has variations in their pulse rate over the course of a day. These differences might be caused by activity levels, emotions, or simply the action of breathing. There is also a daily cycle of changes in heart rate, with heart attacks being more common just before a person wakes up. A couple of students had been comparing heart rate data from healthy individuals and people who have heart disease, to see if there were any differences in their daily cycles. They thought up some hypothetical scenarios, and then tested those ideas on computer models to see if they could replicate the differences in heart rate and begin to understand where they might come from.
Most of the previous research had assumed the heart cycles are regular, but the students needed to come up with something better if they were to make any more progress. They realised that they could use an analysis method called ‘empirical mode decomposition’, that lets the signal choose its own frequency. Their guess proved to be a good one, and they found a 24-hour repeated cycle that looks like a signal from the CLOCK gene.
Sometimes what’s needed are ideas that are “a bit wacky”, and staring at a blank piece of paper is not always conducive to that sort of thinking. When I asked Jennifer what stimulated her imagination she said, “When I was doing my PhD I used to get these sorts of ideas in places like the shower. Now I tend to get them when I’m going to bed or I’m quite relaxed … having thought about the problem deeply and then stopping thinking about it, going home and doing something different, or even on the way home: that can be the time when inspiration strikes.”
For scientists like Jennifer, this process of hypothesising and testing – both in and out of the lab – leads them to God. She explained, “science makes much more sense if there is, at some deep level, a truth that we’re pursuing”.
Jennifer believes that mathematics has its origin in God. Through her work she is “discovering what he’s already put there, and it’s absolutely beautiful.” When she uses her imagination to tackle a problem in bioengineering, she expects to discover something. “The fact that I believe in a God makes me confident that there’s an answer to any scientific question we’re asking. Whether we’ll find it, I don’t know, but there is an answer.”
Einstein wondered why is it that we can make sense of the universe. This is a question that today’s guest author, Jennifer Siggers, has also asked. Jennifer is a mathematician based at Imperial College London who applies her skills to biological problems. She is also a Christian, and her faith leads her to ask what mathematics can reveal about God. Whether you appreciate the power of numbers or not, it is fascinating to see where this line of thinking can lead. To find out more about Jennifer’s faith and work, see God in the Lab: How Science Enhances Faith.
Numbers have fascinated me since I can remember.
We all discover beauty in different things in life, according to our personalities. Many find beauty in music, art and scenery – and some find it in abstract mathematical phenomena and how they link to real life. I think the emotional response to these different types of beauty is similar. From an early age, I began to discover beauty in mathematics.
At primary school I was fascinated by exact powers of 2: 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 and so on. These numbers have several interesting properties. For example, you can prove that 2^(2n) – 1 is divisible by 3, whereas 2^(2n – 1) – 1 is not.
In sixth form, I developed an interest in complex numbers, which has remained with me. De Moivre’s theorem states that e^(iθ) = cos θ+ i sin θ relates the trigonometric cosine and sine functions to the exponential, which I found difficult to get my head around but curiously appealing.
Later at university, I learned that if you throw a spinning cuboid box and it is rotating around its longest or its shortest axis, it will rotate stably. If it is rotating around the intermediate axis the rotation is unstable. What I liked was that this fact could be both proved mathematically, and also demonstrated simply and convincingly in front of our very eyes using the nearest convenient cuboid (which happened to be a textbook)!
Nowadays, I love the way that even simplified mathematical models done on the back of an envelope can give us insights into the mechanisms underpinning heart disease, sight loss and the like.
My love of mathematics has led me to wonder why these things work out in such a beautiful way. Why are relationships between numbers full of patterns like this? Why can we have a hope of finding them?
The Bible tells us that before God created, ‘the earth was formless and empty’ (Genesis 1:2). So Christians understand that everything (including the laws of nature and mathematics) was created by God in its entirety. Later in Chapter 1 of Genesis we read that everything in God’s original creation was good.
Since we are all created with different personalities, we have our own unique tastes. We are also created in the image of God, and God’s creation is good, so it’s not surprising that we find aspects of his creation beautiful. Indeed we are told in Ecclesiastes 3:11 that ‘[God] has made everything beautiful in its time.’
But what does this tell us about God, and what should we be doing about it? Let me highlight three things.
First of all, seeing this sort of beauty reminds Christians that God is creator. When we see something beautiful, we know that it is only like that because that is how God created it. It is a wonderful method by which God helps us to remember him in our daily lives – not by criticising us as we so often forget him, but by gently showing us something of himself in a way that gives us great enjoyment, as well as pointing to him.
Secondly, it gives us insight into God’s character. Just as listening to a great piece of music reminds us that God is the ultimate composer and musician, so understanding a piece of abstract mathematics shows us that God values order. He makes things work by setting up natural laws that only he can break (since he created them!), and we can learn more about him and get to know him better as we study these amazing phenomena.
Thirdly, the fact that God’s creation displays many examples of beauty points others to the existence of God. As Psalm 19:1 says, ‘the heavens declare the glory of God’, and in fact all of God’s creation declares God’s glory. ‘Declare’ is a strong word to use, implying as it does that God’s existence and purpose is being shouted from the rooftops for all to see. Romans 1:20 states this even more strongly: ‘For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.’
For Christians, therefore, the beauty of the universe can be used to show something about God’s character. If a friend tells me that he or she loves something about the universe, I might say something like, ‘Yes, that is awesome, and for me it is a reminder of the way God works in the world, that he created an orderly universe and loves beautiful things’.
We have an awesome, fantastic God who is more wonderful than we can imagine and who creates amazing things that we enjoy. Let’s make the most of them and give him glory!
The American Scientific Affiliation voted in July to add three new women to the ASA Fellow ranks in 2015. They are Gladys Kober, Kathryn Applegate, and Robin Pals-Rylaarsdam. This raised the number of women Fellows to 22 (out of 172 total Fellows, putting females at 13%).
Gladys Kober is an astronomy data analyst with NASA and recently led an effort to develop a new high school textbook on astronomy for a Christian audience. Gladys is an adjunct professor of astronomy at Towson University. She was raised in a Christian home in Brazil and has a M. A. in Astrophysics from Brazil. She worked for 2 years in Rio's planetarium.
Kathryn Applegate is a biologist. She earned bachelor’s degrees in biophysics and mathematics at Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana, where she co-wrote an undergraduate biophysics textbook still used in Centenary’s biophysics program. Kathryn received her Ph.D. in computational cell biology from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in La Jolla, California, in 2010. There she developed computer vision algorithms to measure the remodeling activity of the cell’s internal scaffold, the cytoskeleton. In addition, she developed mathematical models of cytoskeleton dynamics to investigate how its activity at the molecular level contributes to higher-order processes such as cell migration. Kathryn leads the Evolution and Christian Faith grants program for BioLogos.
Robin Pals-Rylaarsdam is a biology professor and Department Chair at Benedictine University, and formerly a book review editor for the ASA Journal PSCF. Robin was a Research Associate at Northwestern University/Children's Memorial Hospital (1999-2000).
Other CWIS news: As of November 21, 2015, Christian Women in Science, an affiliate of the ASA, has 275 members. Of those, 166 are Student Basic or Student members, and 90 are Regular members. Current members are encouraged to reach out to other Christian women in science who may not be familiar with the organizations and encourage them to join.