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Five café evenings took place in spring 2017.  At each event two or three researchers in the sciences presented an overview of their work and outlined some ways in which their faith related to it.  The audience discussed each talk in small groups over coffee before feeding back ideas and questions.

January Café: scientific work and Christian faith in harmony

At our first café evening, two African PhD students and an English professor provided a view of how some scientific areas are naturally easier to relate to Christian faith than others.

  • Willice Obonyo talked about astrophysics and his research on the life cycle of stars
  • Chibi Takaya shared her thoughts on waste disposal, in the light of her recently-completed PhD on uses of activated charcoal.
  • Prof. Stuart Egginton then reflected on his career in human physiology and the science of exercise, and asked why biologists sometimes seemed more hostile to Christian faith than did physicists.

February café: the undercurrent of a Christian worldview

The February event comprised two parts.

  • Tom Ingleby spoke about his PhD research in earthquake dynamics.
  • Prof. Andrew Basden shared the story of his career in information systems, showing how a Christian philosopher had enriched his thinking about computers in society.  His second talk suggested interesting ways to relate Christian worldview to academic and other kinds of work – including evangelism.

March café: science in social context

Three very different talks provided stimulating material for discussion.

  • Craig Luckwell described his work as a senior formulation chemist at Unilever – working on deodorants.
  • Clare O’Reilly took us on a historical expedition to uncover Victorian attitudes to plant hybridisation
  • Chris Schorah looked back on his career as a clinical scientist and on to his current apologetics initiatives.

April café: from common cause to controversy

This event brought together an engineer, a zoologist and a historian of science.

  • Heather McLaren talked about her PhD work in tribology: studying slippery surfaces!
  • Emily Messer introduced her postdoctoral research applying insights from primatology to humans.
  • Paul Coleman showed how the history of a grand engineering project – the National Grid – might be studied from a range of perspectives.

May café: societal impacts of scientific work

The final café evening of 2017 saw talks from two PhD students and one postdoc, all at the University of Leeds:

  • Diana Salgado drew links between the food industry and national economies, illustrating the relevance of her studies in food science.
  • Mark Levenstein gave a fascinating view of competition and public spirit in the behaviour of engineering labs.
  • Richard Gunton looked at conceptions of what evolution is in the light of different traditions in ecological research.


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