Major Presentations from the Tucson Conference
Richard Benson, C.M. DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois
Father Richard Benson, a member of the Congregation of Mission (Vincentians), has been engaged in seminary formation in the US and Africa (Kenya) for most of his ministry. He holds an MA in biological sciences, and his doctoral research at the University of Louvain, where he earned both the PhD and STD, also incorporated his interest and expertise in scientific topics. As Academic Dean at Saint John’s Seminary in Camarillo (1994-2010), Father Benson was the point person for the development of major grants, including one from the Lilly Endowment. Highly respected as a leader in seminary formation, he was singled out by the Carnegie Foundation for an excellent model of pedagogy for seminarians. He is currently on faculty at DePaul University.
Nancy Bonini – University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
For most of us fruit flies are a tiny nuisance, but the research of Professor Nancy Bonini, professor of biology at the University of Pennsylvania, reveals these pests as offering major insights into some of the most vexing human illnesses. Professor Bonini’s lab uses Drosophila melanogaster, the common fruit fly, to study the mechanisms of human neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and ALS. Her research has appeared in numerous scholarly publications. As a neuroscientist, she has been a guest on the Charlie Rose program’s brain series, and in 2012 she was elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences, among the highest honors accorded to U.S. scientists. Dr. Bonini holds degrees from Princeton University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Guy Consolmagno, S.J. – Vatican Observatory, Castel Gandolfo (Italy) & Tucson, Arizona
Brother Guy Cosolmagno, a Jesuit, is Director of the Vatican Observatory, and President of the Vatican Observatory Foundation. He holds an MA from MIT and a PhD from the University of Arizona, both in planetary science. An asteroid was named in his honor in 2000: 4597 Consolmagno. The co-author of more than 200 scientific papers and six popular books, Brother Consolmagno has appeared on The Colbert Report and in many other media. In 2014, he was awarded the Carl Sagan Medal for outstanding communication by an active planetary scientist to the general public, an honor bestowed by the American Astronomical Society. He also served in the Peace Corps, teaching physics and astronomy in Kenya.
Agustín Fuentes – University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana
To shed light on common misconceptions about human behavior, especially in the areas of race, sex, and aggression, anthropologist Agustín Fuentes spends his time observing monkeys which, in turn, is another way of saying that he is observing us. Professor Fuentes is a professor at and chairperson in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame, where his research on human and non-human primate interaction has enlivened the fields of social evolution, biological anthropology, and primatology. In addition to his scholarly publications, Professor Fuentes blogs at The Huffington Post and Psychology Today, “busting myths” about human nature. He is a featured explorer of the National Geographic Society and has been a guest on National Geographic Radio and many other places. He holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley.
Michael Himes – Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
Father Michael Himes, a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, and a professor of theology at Boston College, holds two gifts in uncommon balance – the rigor of the committed scholar (PhD University of Chicago) and the rare ability to make heavy duty erudition accessible and inviting to many. A pre-eminent ecclesiologist with a focus on nineteenth century Catholicism and its influence on current public theology and the rise of humanistic atheism, Father Himes’ intellectual range has established him as a sought-after partner in interdisciplinary dialogue. Honored by the academy with multiple awards for his books, Father Himes received Outstanding Teaching awards from students at Notre Dame and Boston College.
Katarina Schuth, O.S.F. – St. Thomas University, Minnesota
Sister Katarina Schuth, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis and an internationally-recognized expert on Roman Catholic seminary education, is at the forefront of conversations about the changing nature of the priesthood in the United States. A scholar of both pastoral theology and sociology of religion, Dr. Schuth has authored five books and more than fifty articles treating the subjects of liturgical formation, lay ministry, changes in seminary education following the sexual abuse crisis, multiple-parish ministry, and more. Her knowledge of seminaries, their histories, students, faculties, courses of instruction, growth and decline is encyclopedic. A Henry Luce II Fellow, she was also named Professor of the Year in 2008 at the University of St. Thomas, where she has taught since 1991.
Jennifer Wiseman – American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, D.C.
Dr. Jennifer Wiseman grew up looking at the sky from a farm in the Ozark Mountains, and she hasn’t stopped since. As an undergraduate at MIT, Dr. Wiseman discovered the comet 114P Wiseman-Skiff. A PhD in astronomy followed from Harvard. Dr. Wiseman is a senior astrophysicist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the Senior Project Scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope. She also serves as the director of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion, fostering communication and improving understanding between scientific and religious communities. She is an unusually credible and articulate spokesperson on – and witness to – the possibility of being a person of faith and a scientist at the same time.
ALSO: “GAME CHANGERS” – Georges Lemaître and Gregor Mendel
A Mini Presentation on priest-scientist Georges Lemaître will be made by Fr. John Kartje, newly appointed rector/president of University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary and a
Templeton science course awardee, who holds a Ph.D. from the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago.
A Mini Presentation on priest-scientist Gregor Mendel will be made by Fr. Andrea Vicini, S.J., who serves on the faculty of the Boston College School of Theology & Ministry, is a Templeton science course awardee, and holds a Doctor of Medicine (M.D) degree from the University of Bologna with a specialization in human genetics.
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