Houghton College is honored to welcome astronomer, author and speaker Dr. Jennifer Wiseman as the 2016 commencement speaker on May 14.
Wiseman studies star-forming regions of our galaxy using radio, optical and infrared telescopes. She also directs the program of Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and she is the senior project scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope at NASA. As an individual interested in public science policy, she has served as a Congressional Science Fellow of the American Physical Society, working with the staff of the Science Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. Additionally, Wiseman is a fellow of the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA), a network of Christians in science.
“Dr. Jennifer Wiseman offers our graduates one model of what it means to live courageously ‘outside the box,’” said Houghton College president, Shirley Mullen. “At a time when science and religion are still too often assumed to be antagonists, she embodies a life shaped by deep commitments to both the methods of science and the claims of the Christian faith.”
Wiseman received her B.S. in physics from MIT, discovered comet Wiseman-Skiff in 1987, and continued her studies at Harvard, earning a Ph.D. in astronomy in 1995. She continued her research as a Jansky Fellow at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and as a Hubble Fellow at the Johns Hopkins University.
Wiseman has authored several essays addressing the relationship of astronomy and faith and frequently gives talks to civic clubs, churches, schools and campus groups on the excitement of scientific discovery.
The Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion program directed by Wiseman is based on the belief that the scientific community needs to be in dialogue with both the field of technological development and the field of ethics and religion in order to understand the cultural contest within which science operates and to respond to the societal issues opened up by scientific discovery. The program seeks to facilitate collaboration among scientists, ethicists, and religion scholars and leaders to address critical multidisciplinary issues related to science, ethics and religion.
Founded in 1941, the ASA, of which Wiseman is a fellow, seeks to integrate, communicate and facilitate properly researched science and theology in service to the Church and the scientific community, believing that honest and open studies of both Scripture and nature are mutually beneficial in developing a full understanding of human identity, relationships and the environment. Where there is honest disagreement on an aspect of science, Christian faith or the relationship between the two, the ASA strives to create a safe environment in which dialogue can flourish, and diverse, even contrasting ideas can be discussed with courtesy and respect. The ASA fosters dialogue through publications, their website and online resources, conferences and local chapter meetings, and church and community support.