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12/1/2017 » 12/2/2017
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CWIS: Christian Women in Science
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Message from Lynn Billman

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Tuesday, January 3, 2017

 

Being the President of the ASA this year has been both a privilege and a challenge. What a year 2016 has been! ASA launched a whole new leadership team in 2016—retiring our former Executive Director Randy Isaac to Emeritus status, hiring Leslie Wickman as the new Executive Director, and expanding the responsibilities of Vicki Best as our Director of Operations and Development.

Leslie and Vicki also came on board in a particularly important year: the year of ASA’s 75th anniversary. To honor this “Diamond Jubilee” anniversary of the ASA, we had a wonderful annual conference at Azusa Pacific University in California, and several other special anniversary celebrations with members and friends across the country.

And now, we look forward to our next 75 years! Our new leaders continue to crisscross the country, helping start new local chapters, meeting members, and telling the ASA story. Together, the efforts of our staff and volunteers have borne great fruit for us. ASA has a larger membership than ever; more involvement by students; the best-attended conference in its history; new and incredibly rich information resources on the webpage; new chapters (including several in Canada, thanks to the great work of CSCA) and even some cautious optimism about our financial future, reflecting the stability of our financial model and the recent receipt of three modest grants as well as the generous support of our members.

Of course, spreading the word about the ASA isn’t confined to the paid staff, your Executive Council, and a few dedicated members. Spreading the word is important for each and every member. You know the benefits you have received by being a member. Maybe it’s getting a work-life question answered by someone you met at a conference or through the NEXUS online forum or the Christian Women in Science group. Maybe it’s a stimulating or thought-provoking article inPerspectives on Science and Christian Faith, or an inspiring story in God and Nature. Maybe it’s making a new contact at a local chapter meeting. Maybe it’s simply the encouragement you feel, just knowing that other Christians involved in science are there with you!

As you can tell, I am very enthusiastic about the ASA! And with that enthusiasm, I want to add my request to consider helping the ASA at year end with an additional financial contribution here. Yes, you’ve probably already paid your membership dues. But membership dues only cover about 24% of our annual operating expenses and we rely on charitable contributions to our annual fund to make up the difference. In addition, while fundraising for the capital campaign has gone very well, we still have a small balance to meet that goal. Of course, I deeply respect that you already contribute to your local church, and other worthy organizations. So do I. But if you are in position to make an additional gift to the ASA before December 31, we’d be most grateful.

May our precious Lord Jesus be front and center in your life and the lives of your loved ones this Christmas season. I also pray that God will be front and center in the life of our country, our community, and our ASA organization in 2017 as well.

Sincerely in Christ,      

Lynn Billman
ASA Executive Council President

 

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Welcome Deb Shepherd

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Friday, September 23, 2016

 

From Lynn Billman

You know the story of why geese fly in a “V” shape?  As it’s been told to me over the years, the birds take advantage of the aerodynamics of flight and get a benefit in that formation from the slipstream of the bird ahead of them.  However, the lead goose has no such advantage.  And periodically, when it gets tired, the lead goose will move back from the lead, and another goose will take its place.

That is a good story to remember whenever you are overwhelmed with life. This past year, that has been true for me.  The American Scientific Affiliation (ASA) duties as president of the Executive Council have been more time-consuming than normal, with the changes inherent in seeing Randy off to retirement, hiring Leslie, expanding duties for Vicki, and dealing with the resignation and replacement of one of our Council members.  Before these changes, I agreed to be program chair for ASA 2017, the annual conference being held in Colorado, which requires a lot of early planning to select the best venue, the theme, and the plenary speakers.  As you can imagine, I have not had as much time for CWIS as I did the first three years.  Faith pitched in at a critical moment and organized our great panel at ASA 2016, and Pat and others helped at that conference too, for which I am very grateful.  But for me, the next year does not look much better -- I’m on Council for another 18 months and much has yet to be done for next summer’s conference.  As a result, I have had much angst over the fact that I haven’t been able to make much time for progress recently on new actions or activities.

But, God has His ways!  I first was introduced to Deb Shepherd when the CWIS concept was first in development, and while she was very interested, she quite honestly explained that she was just at the pivot point from a very successful career in engineering, astrophysics, and astronomy, to enter Fuller Seminary, and would not have any spare time.  At the ASA conference in Azusa this summer, Deb and I found each other again.  She graduated in June from Fuller, and is ready to reach out for new God-given adventures.  I was thrilled!  It seemed / seems like an answer to my prayers.

Deb has a lot of energy and enthusiasm for lighting a fire under CWIS and making a difference in the lives of Christian women in the sciences, students and beyond.  Just as importantly, she is at a position in life to make some time for this important organization. After a discussion with the other CWIS Board members, we decided to invite Deb to take over leadership of CWIS, effective immediately.

I won’t go into the interesting details of Deb’s career here, but you can find that at the CWIS blog.  Deb and the CWIS Board are currently considering new actions and activities that would be beneficial to our mission to help Christian women in the sciences and related areas.  Shortly she will take over this periodic communication with you all, and invite you into the conversation as we develop new ideas and actions together!  You can reach her any time at dshepher@gmail.com . 

I will still be on the Board, to help out and support.  I think / hope that will be doable for me, because I remain as dedicated as ever to the real issues faced by women in the sciences and our unique challenges as Christians. So this isn’t good-bye, just the time for me to slide back into the slipstream. Please send an email of welcome to Deb, our lead goose now, whenever you can!

 

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CWIS Celebrates First Year

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Lynn Billman

"I don't have to filter what I say!" Sharon Petzinger, a wildlife biologist who studies birds for the state of New Jersey, said this to me with a light of joy in her eyes. Hannah Ryan, a grad student at the University of Colorado, echoed the sentiment.

We were at the 2014 Annual Conference of the American Scientific Affiliation, entitled "From Cosmos to Psyche," and this was the first conference for both these women -- a real highlight in their careers.

(Photos courtesy of Sharen Petzinger, left, and Hannah Ryan, right)

2014-08-06-SharonPetzingergwwa.JPG 2014-08-06-IMG_3153.jpeg

The American Scientific Affiliation (ASA) is one of my passions. In this organization, a Christian who does serious science can find camaraderie without literally having to "filter what I say." If you've ever gotten "the look" from your church friends when you mention that you are a scientist, or gotten a similar "look" from your lab friends when you mention that you go to church, you know what I mean. At ASA, we can be "out" about both loving Jesus and having passion for excellent science. We work with the American Association for the Advancement of Science in their "Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion" program. And we've been around since 1941 -- yes, it's been a challenge to be both a Christian and a mainstream scientist for a long time... well, since Darwin in the 1850s... OK, since Galileo centuries before, I suppose. Today at least we have this encouraging community to join!

Read it all here.




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A Scientist and a Christian: One Woman's Perspective

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Sunday, April 6, 2014

Lynn Billman

What If a Woman Wants to Believe in Both Jesus and Science?

This may seem a strange question to many of you, but it is not strange to a young Christian, “on fire for Christ” as we say, who is also on fire to know the what, how, and when about the natural world.   As Tim Stafford pointed out recently, such a young person from a conservative church background is at high risk to lose her faith in the pursuit of scientific knowledge. In fact, some bloggers or commentators today simply cannot understand how anyone with a rationale mind (i.e., a scientist) could accept the teachings and divinity of Christ or accept the Bible as a sacred and vital book.  

I was once in that quandary – well, sort of, because my path was the other way around.  Science came first.  I loved science in high school, and graduated with highest honors in chemistry at UC Berkeley.   As a chemist, I loved working in the analytical lab of a major oil company, identifying unknown substances, trying to figure out why this engine part failed, and so on.  It was mystery, logical thinking, and discovery. 

But by mid-life, my personal life was in deep difficulty – unhappy marriage, three little kids, no help, nowhere to turn.  Churches were familiar from my young childhood as places of solace, although I never did get the Jesus “thing.”  When I finally tried church again in mid-life, people were indeed friendly, and someone watched the kids for an hour for free. Then, at a women’s retreat I was desperate enough to try, total strangers loved so unconditionally, in all my pain.  I decided then that I wanted to see what this Jesus thing was really about – this Jesus that the women claimed was the source of their love for me.

That was 24 years ago.  I began to read anything I could find on Christ, the Bible, and living as a Christian.  I dug into apologetics and the “5,000 answers to tough passages in Scripture” with the same fervor I dug into analytical problems in the lab.  I asked the tough questions – I still ask the tough questions --  and, yes, fundamental Christianity caused some cognitive dissonance.  I remember asking myself, do I have to give up believing that life evolved in order to have the love of Christ that I so craved?   

Through my journeying, I have found that I can indeed believe in the scientific process with its flaws, in the Christian church (writ large) with its flaws, and most wholeheartedly, in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.  But I no longer hold “religious fundamentalist” views, in the general sense of the term.  My constant seeking of Jesus has taken me to experience many different Christian traditions, and some non-Christian, and my spiritual views have broadened.  But I see myself as a good example of how it is very possible to be a Christian and a scientist, without schizophrenia or other dissociative disorders!

There are others of us, too.  More than ten years ago, I found the American Scientific Affiliation.  It is a great place for people like me. ASA is a fellowship of Christians involved in all areas of science, engineering, and related.  We don’t take positions on issues, but try to provide a place for respectful discussion and scholarly investigation of science and Christian faith.  ASA members include Nobel Laureates and common lab rats, students and theologians – but all Christians, and all doing or involved with respected science.  We even have a new group within ASA called Christian Women in Science (CWIS link), because Christian women have even more issues pursuing a career in science, engineering, and related than do Christian men. ASA has a scholarly journal; as an example, here is an issue devoted to papers on evolution.  We also have an e-zine on God and Nature, with many types of interesting essays and insights for the less scholarly reader.  Lastly, anyone is welcome to join us at our annual conference, held every summer over a weekend, with inspiring speakers from a variety of science disciplines (coming up:  July 25-28, 2014, Hamilton, Ontario  link). 

Also, another great organization for those who pursue serious science and serious Christian faith is BioLogos.  BioLogos differs from ASA in specifically focusing on the issues about evolution, and striving towards a mission “to help the church develop a worldview that embraces both of these complex but complementary ways of understanding the world and our place in it.” 

So if you want to believe in both science and Jesus, you’re not alone.  Come, join us for fellowship and shop talk!



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Lynn Billman's First Huff Blog Post

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Thursday, February 27, 2014

Lynn Billman is the President of Christian Women in Science. She recently wrote an fine article that appeared at Huff Post/Religion about Christian women in STEM. We hope that this will be the first of many! Here are the opening paragraphs:

Christian Women in STEM are a Vulnerable Minority

Lynn Billman

As the President of Christian Women in Science (CWIS, part of the American Scientific Affiliation), I hear many stories about the struggles of women of this faith who are interested or work in science, technology, engineering and math. Some stories are encouraging, but others are enough to break my heart.
2014-02-25-kristeninlab.jpg
Rochelle was a high school biology student who was excited about the advances in genetics that her teacher shared with her in school. She dreamed of making a difference in the world by doing medical research. However, when her church youth leader told her that there were too many gaps in the fossil record to believe evolution and that only atheists believed in evolution, Rochelle's sense of direction began to waver. If she became a medical researcher, would she have to give up her Christian friends?

Liz had enjoyed her 10 years as a geology professor at a mid-sized state college. She rarely talked about being a Christian, but recently the subject came up when she told her department head about spending her weekend serving supper at the local Christian mission, and telling people about the love of Jesus. A couple months later her application for tenure was turned down. She never got a clear explanation of why she was rejected. As Liz found, being a Christian and a scientist in a secular institution can feel like being a "lesbian still in the closet."

Read the whole article here.

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CWIS and ASA: A Place to Connect

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Lynn Billman

President CWIS


Do you want to get acquainted with other Christian Women in Science in your area? Would you like to connect with other ASA-CWIS supporters in your state? Would you like to connect with other Christian women chemists, astronomers, or physicists? 

As a professor at a Christian college, would you like to know other Christian women professors near you?  Well, you can do all that and more by searching the ASA Membership Directory at the ASA website. 

The ASA Membership Directory is for members only and only appears when you sign in. It is not public information and this is the membership data the search engine depends on. So, if you are not receiving information from ASA or CWIS it may be that your addresses are not current. Check out the Membership Directory and update your ASA profile.

The search fields I find most useful are:

Name – to find one person

Location (i.e., State) – to find who is in my state

Profession – to find someone in the clergy, medical, government research,  and other professions.

Discipline – to find people in biology, astronomy, engineering, or other areas


After you decide how these search elements may be helpful to you, you have a choice of searching the entire ASA membership list, or you may search "Affiliate:  Christian Women in Science.”  Checking CWIS will help you find others who have signed up as members of our ASA group, thereby demonstrating their interest and commitment to the challenges faced by Christian women in STEM. 

While you’re at it, check out the ASA website in general. You’ll find a lot of interesting information – major science headlines, God and Nature magazine, information on the upcoming ASA annual conference (July 2014 in Ontario), and loads of great articles, blog posts, news feeds, etc., on science and Christianity.  Check it out today!  And use the ASA Membership Directory to find other CWIS members in your area.

 


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Lynn Billman: Do We Really Need CWIS?"

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Lynn Billman is a scientist and analyst who is just about to retire after 26 years at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and 10 years at Chevron and Amoco.  She feels that the Lord has opened a door in her next chapter of life to work with Christians in the sciences, especially women.



Lynn Billman


To my amazement, I was elected to the National Council of the American Scientific Affiliation in December 2012.  When the Executive Director, Randy Isaac, suggested to me that there was work to do in the realm of women’s involvement in science, my reaction was "Really?”  I knew the participation of women in ASA was relatively low (one of the main reasons I ran for Council), but across the science establishment in the U.S.?  When I decided to major in chemistry at the University of Illinois in 1971, of course, there were few women students – and even fewer in the ranks of chemical engineering students – but today, in 2013, I was skeptical that gender issues in the sciences are still a problem.  


Always having faith in my executive director, and being a scientist/analyst, I dug into the data for myself.  And what did I find in the prestigious "Science Indicators” from the National Science Foundation?  Proof that Randy was right.  Along with this blog, we are posting on the ASA/CWIS website a set of slides that I prepared for our July 20 "launch” of ASA’s Christian Women in Science affiliate.  You will see there the numbers that aroused my passion for reaching out to Christian women interested in science, and gave birth to CWIS.  


Take a look yourself.  Our sisters in Christ need support to pursue and stay engaged in science.  Our sisters in science who are not Christians need to understand, at least, that Christians are not troglodytes when it comes to science.  Our mission in CWIS is to encourage Christian women of all ages to pursue, sustain, and grow in a career in science,

technology, engineering or math, and to encourage women in these endeavors to pursue, sustain, and grow in the Christian faith.  If you haven’t already, come join us!  


 

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Lynn Billman: CWIS is Launched!

Posted By Alice C. Linsley, Saturday, August 3, 2013

Christian Women in Science 

Lynn Billman


Christian Women in Science (CWIS) is a brand new organization launched on July 22, 2013. 

We are an affiliate group of the American Scientific Affiliation (asa3.org), a long-standing organization dedicated to networking and dialogue among Christians involved in science.    Even though we are just getting started, we have great enthusiasm to encourage and support women who are Christians to consider and sustain careers in science, technology, engineering and math!

Many women have already become involved with CWIS, and offered great ideas. We are in the process of forming a CWIS Board to provide direction to the group and organize volunteers to lead the initial activities. The first year activities will include at least these ideas:

· Setting up a web-based way to bring potential mentors and mentees together

· Developing and posting personal stories of Christian women leaders in science to provide role models

· Using a blog and forum to discuss questions and offer insights

· Having some women-centered activities at the 2014 ASA national conference near Toronto.

We’ve also talked about helping to start up local chapters wherever Christian women in science want to get together; partnering with other Christian groups and other scientific groups, including those for students on college campuses; putting together a women speaker’s list; coaching women in their presentation and speaking skills to enable them to speak more boldly to their church and science groups about their passions; and providing support and information for women in various challenging situations in their lives and careers.

So join us! See the box below for details.


What You Can Do Now

· Join Christian Women in Science (CWIS)!  If you are an ASA (American Scientific Affiliation) member already, sign in go to the CWIS page and click on "Join Group" to make yourself a member of the  CWIS group.

· If you are not an ASA member, first join ASA as a member or follower on the ASA website  asa3.org.  Then join the group as above

· Share this link via your own email lists and organizations and encourage women to get involved.  We will be adding more content soon. 

· Tell us what areas you are most interested in, and where you might be able to help.  For now, just please let me know at lynn.l.billman@gmail.com .

 


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