Thank you…

…to everyone who came to any or all of the four events, for your interest, openness, and questions. As we disperse at the end of the series, we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did, and found it food for thought and a real encouragement.

The videos of weeks one and two are already available, and weeks three and four will be available soon, and will be provided as an ongoing resource for interested individuals and discussion groups.

Thank you to all our speakers, panel chairs and panellists for their wisdom and insight; to everyone at the Cathedral and the University for their work behind the scenes and the coffee urns in making the evenings happen, including Laurence, Cressida and Chantal; to Tristan and his team behind the cameras; to Clare behind the website; to the local group of Christians in Science which co-sponsored the panel discussion on 30 March; and to the Scientists in Congregations project, funded by the Templeton Foundation, which provided the grant enabling On Common Ground.

We are very grateful to you all.

Dr Althea Wilkinson

Althea WilkinsonAlthea Wilkinson is now a part time domain specialist in the Square Kilometre Array Signal and Data Transport Consortium, after being project manager of the Consortium for several years. She graduated in Natural Sciences (Physics) at Cambridge and has a PhD in Radio Astronomy from the University of Manchester (Jodrell Bank).

After a spell in California using optical telescopes, she returned to the UK to work on numerical simulations of galaxies at Manchester University. She started lecturing part time in the Physics Dept in Manchester, while bringing up two children. When they went to school she went back to Jodrell Bank, and became project manager on the UK low frequency instrumentation for the European Space Agency cosmology mission called Planck.

Althea was a late convert to Christianity, but has since been involved in talking to teenagers about science and faith in the “God and the Big Bang” Initiative. She is a co-leader of the “Scientists in Congregations” project in her local church in Lindow, Cheshire.

On Common Ground

Althea is participating in the panel “My Science, My Faith” on 30 March.

Venue change, 16 March

The panel event on 16 March was to have been held in the Newman Red Lecture Theatre at Exeter University. However, because we managed to sell this venue out, we are very happy to announce that the event has been moved to the Newman Green Lecture Theatre, a larger venue in the same building. We’re very much looking forward to seeing you there on Thursday.

Dr Cherryl Hunt

Cherryl HuntCherryl Hunt has a University of Exeter PhD in cell/molecular biology and worked as a researcher and tutor in Biosciences for several years.

She then mutated (her word) into a theologian with an MA in Theology, focused on biblical studies, followed by three years research on the ‘Uses of the Bible in Environmental Ethics’. She has recently been awarded her PhD in Theology for research on strategies by which ‘ordinary’ Christians (those with little or no academic theological education) might be enabled to engage with the ancient texts comprising the Bible.

She is now a Research Fellow in Theology as well as being Academic Administrator of the South West Ministry Training Course (in which she also teaches). Cherryl is especially interested in topics in which ethics, theology and the biosciences interact, such as environmental care, the status of the early embryo and stem cell research.

On Common Ground

Cherryl Hunt is chairing the panel “My Science, My Faith” on 30 March.

Prof Timothy Lenton

Timothy LentonTim Lenton is Professor of Climate Change and Earth System Science at the University of Exeter. Reading James Lovelock’s books on Gaia ignited his passion for studying the Earth as a whole system. He studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge followed by a PhD at the University of East Anglia (UEA). After holding posts at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and then at UEA, he came to Exeter in 2011.

He and his group are focusing on understanding the ‘revolutions that made the Earth’, on developing an evolutionary model of the marine ecosystem, and on early warning of climate tipping points. He is fascinated by the coupled evolution of the planet and of life thereon.

He received a Philip Leverhulme Prize in 2004; a European Geosciences Union Outstanding Young Scientist Award 2006; the British Association Charles Lyell Award Lecture, also in 2006; the Geological Society of London William Smith Fund 2008; and also in 2008, the Times Higher Education Award for Research Project of the Year for his work on identifying tipping points in climate change.

On Common Ground

Tim participated in the conversation “Awe, Wonder and Beauty in Science – a route to God?” on 23 March.

Press release to launch On Common Ground

EXETER will host a series of talks and debates on science and faith next month, thanks to a grant from the Scientists in Congregations scheme.


Notes for editors:

Introductory VIDEO:

Canon Anna Norman-Walker BIOGRAPHY:

Prof John Bryant BIOGRAPHY:

On Common Ground WEBSITE:

Launch of Scientists in Congregations 2017

On 3 February, John attended a meeting at Lambeth Palace of all the 2017 projects funded by Scientists in Congregations. It was a very useful day, and everyone seemed quite impressed with On Common Ground. We are now looking forward even more to March.

Here is a copy of the Certificate that we received at Lambeth, and some photographs of the day. Please click on a thumbnail to open a larger image.

Rob Varley

Rob VarleyRob Varley obtained a degree in Environmental Sciences from the University of East Anglia. He has worked for the Met Office for over 30 years. He started as a weather forecaster, followed by 10 years overseeing the training and development of forecasters. Rob then managed the procurement and construction of the Met Office’s headquarters building in Exeter and after the move has worked mainly with public sector customers, helping the UK to manage the risks and exploit the opportunities associated with our changing weather and climate. He joined the Met Office Executive in 2007 and was appointed Chief Executive in 2014.

Rob is the UK’s Permanent Representative at the World Meteorological Organisation and the President of Eumetnet, an Economic Interest Group representing the National Meteorological Services of Europe. He is also the UK’s representative on the Councils for the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) and EUMETSAT, the European organisation for meteorological satellites. In 2016 he was awarded an honorary DSc by the University of East Anglia.

On Common Ground

Rob is participating in the panel “My Science, My Faith” on 30 March.

Dr Christopher Southgate

Christopher SouthgateChris Southgate trained originally as a research biochemist. He has taught for the Department of Theology at Exeter University on the science-religion debate (and related areas such as environmental ethics) since 1993. His research interests include the problem of suffering in evolution, the concept of glory in the natural world and in religious poetry, and the origin of life.

Chris’s book ‘The Groaning of Creation: God, Evolution and the Problem of Evil’ was released by Westminster John Knox Press in 2008. He is also the editor of ‘God, Humanity and the Cosmos’ (2nd edn, Continuum, 2005, 3rd edition 2011), a standard text in the science-religion field.

Chris’s other work is as Principal of the South West Ministry Training Course. He is the author of seven collections of poetry, the most recent being ‘Chasing the Raven’ (Shoestring, 2016).

On Common Ground

Christopher is participating in the panel “My Science, My Faith” on 30 March.

Continue the conversation

Dr Rhoda Hawkins

Rhoda HawkinsDr Rhoda Hawkins is a Lecturer in Physics at the University of Sheffield. Prior to this she held research posts in Amsterdam, Paris and Bristol. She did her PhD at the University of Leeds and her undergraduate studies at the University of Oxford.

She has been a member of Christians in Science since her student days and is now a committee member (having previously served on the committee as a PhD student rep). More recently she has enjoyed using the “Test of FAITH” materials in a variety of contexts and speaking in secondary schools about science and religion.

On Common Ground

Rhoda is participating in the panel “My Science, My Faith” on 30 March.