10 Christian Women to Know: STEM Edition
From Presidents and CEOs, to researchers, and science writers, Christian women in STEM are leaders in their fields and paving the way for others to follow.
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From Presidents and CEOs of organizations, to researchers, science writers, and journalists, Christian women in STEM are leaders in their fields and paving the way for others to follow. As Women’s History Month draws to a close, we highlight the work of ten Christian women in various STEM fields, including astrophysics, engineering, biology, and climate science. We also include science communicators who are doing the important work of sharing science with lay Christian audiences through writing and journalism. Of course this is not an all inclusive list of Christian women in STEM. There are countless others throughout history who have pioneered and unlocked discoveries in their fields. And there are many more contemporary Christian women in STEM fields like Mary Schweitzer who found the first evidence of soft tissue in a 68-million year dinosaur bone, Carol Hill whose research gave us a better understanding of the age and origin of the Grand Canyon, and Katherine Johnson, a NASA mathematician whose work helped send Apollo to the Moon.
Christian women are also leading important conversations on the intersection of faith and science, which has traditionally been dominated by white male voices. Faith and science organizations like the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA) was previously led by rocket scientist Leslie Wickman, the Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Society (DoSER) program has been led by astrophysicist Jennifer Wiseman, and BioLogos is currently led by astronomer Deb Haarsma. Christian sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund has dedicated her career to understanding how scientists and religious people perceive each other, helping combat misconceptions and bridge the communication gap between faith and science communities on important topics like Climate Change, COVID-19, and evolution.
Despite numerous role-models, Christian women still remain underrepresented in STEM, and the numbers are even starker for Christian women of color. Being a woman in STEM comes with its own set of challenges, but there are also challenges that are unique to Christian women. In an interview with BioLogos, Loryn Phillips, a graduate student in biology and member of the Christian Women in Science (CWiS) leadership board shared: “On top of the challenges that already come with being a woman in science, Christian women in science carry additional burdens. We don’t want to lose the respect of our colleagues or jeopardize our careers because we identify as Christian, especially when we desire to be public and vocal about sharing God’s majesty in our work with others.” Sadly even in the Church, Loryn shared that Christian women in science face the challenge of, “feeling ashamed or not feeling safe to discuss their research for fear of ridicule or judgment, and feeling alone.” There is still work to be done, but thankfully there are many Christian women role-models in STEM for the next generation of women and girls to look up to and see themselves represented.
There is still work to be done, but thankfully there are many Christian women role-models in STEM for the next generation of women and girls to look up to and see themselves represented.
Deb Haarsma is an Astronomer and former Professor and Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Calvin University, who has served as the President of BioLogos since 2013. She is also the author of the book “Origins” with her husband and fellow physicist, Loren Haarsma, presenting the agreements and disagreements among Christians regarding the history of life and the universe. Deb has an undergraduate degree in Physics and Music from Bethel University, where she was recently recognized as Alumni of the Year, and a Ph.D. in Astrophysics from MIT where she studied large galaxies, galaxy clusters, the curvature of space, and the expansion of the universe. She frequently speaks on various topics of science and faith at research universities, churches, conferences, and podcasts. She also writes articles that explore themes from awe and wonder about God’s creation to astrobiology and the multiverse. Growing up, her family and church supported her interest in science, and so thankfully she never really had a faith crisis. She is passionate about helping others, especially the next generation navigate matters of faith and science to avoid moments of conflict and crises as well. For Deb, the Universe declares the glory of God, and its vastness is a testament of his great love for us. You can follow her work and adventures on Instagram and the BioLogos website.
When we see how vast the universe is, don’t think, ‘Oh, I’m so small. God must not care about me.’ Think, ‘God cares about me that much.’ That’s the picture He’s giving us for how vast His love is.
Fatima Cody Stanford
Fatima Cody Stanford is an obesity medicine physician, scientist, educator, and policy maker who practices and teaches in her role as an Associate Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School (HMS). With over 170 peer-reviewed publications, her work is highly cited in her field. She has also received numerous awards over the years both recognizing her contributions to the field and her excellence in teaching and mentoring including the American Medical Association’s Excellence in Medicine Award, the HMS Harold Amos Diversity Award, and the Emory Rollins School of Public Health Distinguished Alumni Award, just to name a few. Fatima has several degrees as well, including a B.S. in Anthropology and Human Biology as well as an MPH from Emory University, M.D. from Augustana University, an MPA from Harvard University, and an MBA from Quantic School of Business and Technology. She uses her platform to champion diversity, combat health disparities, particularly in the area of obesity, and also to share her faith. In an interview with the Harvard Catalyst she shared, “…my faith…[helps] keep me grounded, focused, and encouraged. It has helped shape how I engage and communicate with the world.” You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and listen to her interview with BioLogos on the “Language of God Podcast.”
…my faith…[helps] keep me grounded, focused, and encouraged. It has helped shape how I engage and communicate with the world.
Corina Newsome is an ornithologist, science communicator on wildlife conservation, and activist for environmental justice. She is passionate about increasing the representation of women and minorities in STEM and making outdoor spaces more welcoming and inclusive to people of color. In 2020, she helped co-organize the first Black Birders Week, a week dedicated to raising awareness about Black nature enthusiasts and increasing their visibility. She currently works as an Associate Conservation Scientist at the National Wildlife Federation. Prior to that she was a Community Engagement Manager at Georgia Audubon and worked at the Nashville and Cleveland Zoos. She has a B.A. in Zoo and Wildlife Biology from Malone University and an M.S. in Biology from Georgia Southern University. For her thesis project she studied the Seaside sparrow, a bird that lives in the marshes of Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina and how predators and other factors like rising sea levels impact their survival. Faith is also a very important aspect of Corina’s life and work; it motivates her advocacy for diversity and care for creation. In an interview with Patheos, Corina shared that she believes, “God instructs us to steward the Earth…[and] acting on climate change and protecting the natural world is a necessary extension of God’s command to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.” You can learn more about her story in her chapter “A Thing With Feathers,” in “Rooted and Rising: Rooted and Rising: Voices of Courage in a Time of Climate Crisis,” and you can follow her adventures on Instagram and Twitter.
God instructs us to steward the Earth…[and] acting on climate change and protecting the natural world is a necessary extension of God’s command to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
Deb Liu is an engineer with a background in business who has worked in Silicon Valley in the tech industry for over a decade. She is a former VP at Facebook and current CEO of Ancestry, the largest for-profit genealogy company in the world. Since joining Ancestry she has actively worked to make genealogy more accessible for all, especially people of color. She recently authored a book “Take Back Your Power,” which draws on her own story of being a woman and minority working her way up the corporate ladder in a male-dominated tech industry. She speaks and writes often in her newsletter Perspectives on topics of technology, diversity, motherhood, and her faith. In an interview with the Jesus Calling Podcast, she shared that she has learned to live her personal and professional life through the lens that “faith is really witnessing through your actions. It’s not telling people…my job is to bear witness with every single thing that I choose to do with my life.” She uses her platform to encourage and inspire others. You can follow her on Twitter and Substack.
…faith is really witnessing through your actions. It’s not telling people…my job is to bear witness with every single thing that I choose to do with my life.
Katharine Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist who is one of the most renowned researchers in the world on climate change, with over 125 peer-reviewed papers, abstracts, reports, and other publications, including the books, “Saving Us” and “A Climate for Change.” Among her many honors, she has been named one of Time’s 100 most influential people, FORTUNE’s 50 greatest leaders, and a United Nations Champion of Earth. She is currently the Paul Whitfield Horn Distinguished Professor and the Political Science Endowed Chair in Public Policy and Public Law in the Department of Political Science at Texas Tech University. She is also the Chief Scientist at the Nature Conservancy. Katharine credits her Christian faith as the reason she became a climate scientist. In an excerpt from her book “Saving Us” she writes, “As a Christian, I believe we’re called to love others as we’ve been loved by God, and that means caring for those who are suffering—their physical needs and their well-being—which today are being exacerbated by climate impacts. How could I not want to do something about that? That’s why I became a climate scientist.” She regularly speaks and writes about climate change, encouraging others to talk about it, have tough conversations, and not lose hope. She has a B.S. in Physics from the University of Toronto and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Atmospheric Science from the University of Illinois. You can follow her work on Twitter, Instagram, and her website.
As a Christian, I believe we’re called to love others as we’ve been loved by God, and that means caring for those who are suffering—their physical needs and their well-being—which today are being exacerbated by climate impacts. How could I not want to do something about that? That’s why I became a climate scientist.
Rebecca Randall is a freelance journalist and the former Science Editor for Christianity Today. She often writes on faith and the environment, psychology, and social inequities. She is also a current fellow with the Religion and Environment Story Project. Her work has been featured on platforms such as Christianity Today and SoJourners, and she has led numerous writing workshops on the topic of science, including spearheading Christianity Today’s first one. Using her journalism skills, Rebecca has tackled important topics of science for faith communities, from COVID vaccines and gene editing, to climate change and evolution. She has also used her platform to spotlight the work of several scientists of faith, particularly women and minorities, giving voice to their stories. At a recent journalism conference held by the National Association for Science Writers (NASW) Rebecca served on a panel along with BioLogos President Deb Haarsma geared towards helping journalists report on matters of science to faith communities. “Be intellectually curious,” she shared, “dig deeper and try to understand people’s motivation. You may end up with a more complex and accurate story.” These principles are exactly what guide her writing and storytelling as a journalist. You can follow her writing on Twitter and her website.
Be intellectually curious, dig deeper and try to understand people’s motivation. You may end up with a more complex and accurate story.
Katy Hinman is a biologist, former pastor, and current Program Director at the DoSER, a program started by the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS) to facilitate important conversations between scientific and religious communities. In her role at DoSER, Katy is passionate about engaging communities that have traditionally been marginalized in the science and faith conversation. In an interview with the AAAS she said that, “Voices from the faith community can be so important in how we use and apply science, how we ethically do science, and how we make policy around these issues…We miss out on so much when we don’t have a diversity of voices.” Some examples of the work that DoSER has done over the years includes supporting the science training of seminarians, engaging faith communities in citizen science, spotlighting the work of scientists of faith, and producing documentaries and short film series that explore topics like how to engage faith communities with science and the intersection of race, religion, and science. DoSER also regularly hosts panels, workshops, and discussions, some of which Katy has moderated, including a conversation on conservation and environmental justice and how to strengthen our connection to the natural world. Katy has a B.A. in Biology from Carleton College, and a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary biology from State University of New York at Stony Brook where she studied bat pollination on agave plants. She also has an M.Div. from Emory University, and has previously served as a pastor at College Park First United Methodist Church. You can follow her adventures on Twitter and the DoSER website.
Voices from the faith community can be so important in how we use and apply science, how we ethically do science, and how we make policy around these issues…We miss out on so much when we don’t have a diversity of voices.
Ana Avila is the Senior Editor for Coalicion por el Evangelio and a consulting scholar for Blueprint1543 leading a project on increasing science engagement in the Latin American church. She is also the creator and host of Piensa podcast and author of “Make the Most of Your Time: A Practical Guide to Honoring God with Your Day.” She is passionate about sharing her love for faith and science with others, particularly in the Spanish speaking community. Some of the topics she has written about include myths and misconceptions about faith and science, the science and joy of rest, and advice for Christians hoping to study science. She is grateful that studying the sciences as a Christian never really posed a threat to her beliefs, instead she recalls a moment where science drew her to worship: “I felt my heart rejoice in the glory of God, in his wisdom and his power through science. It was never a conflict for me. Science was a medium for me to worship God.” You can follow her work and adventures on Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.
I felt my heart rejoice in the glory of God, in his wisdom and his power through science. It was never a conflict for me. Science was a medium for me to worship God.
Kizzmekia Corbett is an immunologist who led the development of the COVID-19 Moderna vaccine when she was a Research Fellow at the National Institutes of Health. She has described this as a surreal experience: “When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I had an opportunity that researchers dream about: to put my life’s work into practice, create an immediate impact, and save lives around the world. It was a great privilege and an even greater responsibility.” She currently works as an Assistant Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and is also the Shutzer Assistant Professor at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute. Her work and contributions in science have been recognized widely for their significant societal impact. She is the co-recipient of the Golden Goose Award, she was named one of four Heroes of the Year by TIME Magazine, she has received the NAACP Key of Life Award, and most recently she was awarded the Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Throughout her career, Kizzmekia has also been an advocate for diversity in STEM, often sharing her own story and giving advice to help the next generation of scientists flourish. She has also openly talked about her faith as a Christian. For her, science can help us uncover “how” things work, and faith can answer the “why.” She has a B.S. in Biology from the University of Maryland Baltimore and a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. You can follow her work on Twitter and Instagram.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I had an opportunity that researchers dream about: to put my life’s work into practice, create an immediate impact, and save lives around the world. It was a great privilege and an even greater responsibility.
Ruth Bancewicz is the Church Engagement Director at The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, a UK based interdisciplinary research center that works to improve public understanding of faith and science. In her role at Faraday, she has led the development of science resources for churches, such as “Test of Faith,” a collection of introductory resources, including a book, course, and documentary to spark important conversations on faith and science. She is also the author of two books “God in the Lab: How Science Enhances Faith” and “Wonders of the Living World: Curiosity, Awe and the Meaning of Life” and has contributed chapters to books including “Science and Faith: Student Questions Explored.” She has written numerous articles and blogs exploring themes of awe and wonder in developmental biology, embryology, and beauty in science. In a BioLogos article Ruth writes that, “Science has the power to expand our horizons and help us to see how great God is.” She has a B.S. in Genetics from the University of Aberdeen and a Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of Edinburgh. You can follow her work on the Faraday website.
Science has the power to expand our horizons and helps us to see how great God is…Our response to what we see in the world is rational, emotional and active: worship as well as systematic theology.
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About the author
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