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CiS at 80 – Our Pentecost Moment?

Writing this just after Easter and with Pentecost fast approaching my thoughts have turned more and more towards the Disciples during that first Easter time. They had a few amazing years, following this incredible carpenter from the North, getting to know him, seeing the miracles and experiencing lives transformed. They are beginning to grasp just who Jesus really is, even if they are still, comically at times, tragically at others, far from fully realising that.

Then… crucifixion. It seems an end to the whole adventure. Literally a dead stop. And yet… there is still something about this Jesus. Something about what he did and said and the community of friends that he bought together that still intrigues his Disciples enough to not immediately disperse and just forget it all.

And then… Resurrection! Not with fireworks, not with a grand display but… subtle. Subtle enough that there is no recorded witness to the actual event itself. We only learn of its aftereffects through later testimony. Change is coming upon the Disciples now though, not in a rush, but beginning with a few voices, that gradually rise to a crescendo within the Disciples as Jesus himself walks among them again. They now live with renewed rejoicing and gladness, but beyond them was there any impact..? What was next for this group of random people huddled (hiding!) in a room somewhere in Jerusalem’s suburbs, hoping that they wouldn’t be noticed?

But then – Pentecost! The disciples now know they have something to share, they feel the fire once again, more urgent than they could have imagined! They cannot resist telling others of Jesus and it spreads like wildfire, challenging and changing those it touches, even amongst those who remain sceptics. Nobody can avoid talking about it or wondering. A new movement, a new way of living, has begun.

This year (2024) is our 80th anniversary year – praise God! Eighty years, wow! As part of this I have been looking into our history, gathering stories and reflecting on where we have come from in order to think about where we may go next. From this, for me, the Disciple’s story feels much like where we have come from, where we are now and where we must also go next.

Right now, I think we are in that room. Huddled. Waiting. Uncertain as to our role and future.

CiS began as the Research Scientists Christian Fellowship with a clear goal to proclaim a better relationship between science and Christianity. Being honest, we have taken a battering on that in the last couple of decades. We are struggling to find our place in the Church and wider society. Seemingly endless debates around things like Intelligent Design and New Atheism have drained our energy and deepened problematic viewpoints around science in the Church. The Church’s approach to science has oscillated between a ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t tell’ general apathy to attempts to badly misuse it as a bludgeoning tool in apologetics. The approach that we offer, of science fully integrated into, enjoyed and rejoiced in as part of a Christian worldview feels squeezed and in danger of vanishing from public view again.

Public discussion around religion and faith have also radically changed in those 80 years. The discussion around science and faith also. In many ways it has come of age (it is now an academic discipline in its own right for example), but we still seem to rehash the arguments of the past, doing much necessary remedial work, rather than looking forwards.

But I sense that there is renewed opportunity coming out of this. People are tired of the old battles; they want a better way forward. The forced choice of choosing between living faith or loving science is losing its attraction for many. Society is facing fresh questions that deeply involve new science but is recognising the value of ancient wisdom and helpful perspectives from beyond science.

Friends, these are the things that we need to encourage and enable. We have 80 years of history, thinking and pondering on these matters. Between us we have a huge diversity of backgrounds, disciplines, practices… If together we try, then those we reach really will be able to hear from us in their own ‘language’! But right now, we have retreated to that room and locked the doors. I believe that Jesus has been walking among us, blessing us and much good has happened but the time is now upon us to throw open those doors once again and stride forth in the Spirit. Eighty years of history is something we can justifiably rejoice in and thank God for. But our Pentecost moment is now upon us and I believe that those 80 years can be just our beginning!

by Dr Gavin Merrifield, CiS General Secretary


The Search is on ……….

We are looking for photos, stories, press cuttings from the  history of CiS

Wanted as soon as possible please – Past items of CiS/RSCF people and events.

During the Autumn conference we wish to celebrate our history. We are gathering photos, your stories and articles in the press or church magazines. Do you have a story, old photos or items from – 10, 20, 30 or 40+ years ago?

Gathering your memories – please email them to keeping to no more than approx. 700 words per memory of a person or event. (Colin’s article is approx. 350 words.)

Secondly photos and press items – could we have a digital copy please?

If already a digital file, please email the original file size. If you have printed photos or articles, could you please scan them?

To be able to reproduce photos for people to view at the conference, please scan with the DPI (dots per inch) setting between 600 to 1,200 if a very small photo. We really need Hi resolution files, to be able to print.

Friends or family may be able to help you with the scanning. If you can not arrange to scan, please email the details about the photo and/or press article and we may ask you to post them to us. (These will be returned.)

If anyone can help with this Celebration project by scanning, please email and include your home address. We hope a few people will help to share the workload.

When you have a digital copy, please email one image at a time to with the following details:-

When – Year please (month and date if possible but definitely the year, even if approx i.e. 1975 or 76)

Where – the photo was taken or the article was printed

Who – is included in the photo – as many names as possible. You may not remember every name, but over time others may.

Other – Any other relevant detail?

For example:

When: 2014 – summer

Where: New Wine – Bath and West Showground in Shepton Mallet

Who: Emily Sturgess (CiS Development Officer) with Neil Laing (from Bristol local group) at New Wine week two.

Other: The CiS stand in the New Wine Market Place


We are also searching for very early PreCiS

We are missing copies of very early editions of PreCiS. Might you have a copy in amongst your old documents – PreCiS number one (1) through to number twelve (12) or numbers 14, 15, 22 or 26?

If we could borrow them temporarily for us to scan for our records, we would really appreciate it.

Please email Mary on to let us know which issue you have available.


CiS Update – May 2024

Please click here to read the May Update

We have the Connect conference “Being a Believing Scientists” next month – 15th June, at the Holy Trinity Church, Aylesbury HP21 7QX. Please book your ticket as soon as possible – you can attend in person or online – click here

It can be tough at times to be a scientist and a Christian, especially when starting or early in your career, so why not join us at our Connect Conference to gather with fellow scientist believers and to learn from our speaker’s experiences about being able to both love science and walk with God?
•  Dr Nathan James – Oliver Barcley Lecture 2023 winner
•  Dr Cecilia Brassett (Professor of Anatomy, University of Cambridge)
•  Dr Mari Van Emmerik (cognitive neuroscientist, Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge)
•  Miss Sigourney Bonner (Cancer geneticist, University of Cambridge)

To continue our special 80th birthday celebrations we have Janel Curry, President of the American Scientific Affiliation as our speaker on June 12th. (The ASA is one of our sister organisations.) This is free to attend in person and online although donations would be appreciated to cover our costs. Click here to book your place.

We are also looking for articles, photos, and early PreCiS from many years ago. Details are in the Update.

Enjoy reading and hope we see you at the Connect conference.



Latest PréCiS – Spring 2024

Issue no. 111  –  We hope you enjoy reading it – click here

  • CiS and wider issues
  • Connect Conference
  • CiS at 80 – Our Pentecost Moment?
  •  Autumn Conference
  • Old photos of CiS?
  • Local Group News




Blog 2nd May 2023 – The first……. And the last? By Mary Browett

While CiS appointed a Development Officer many years ago, I was the first ever CiS Executive Officer. (Appointed back in 2015.) At that time CiS was financially in a position to make this new appointment.

CiS had been granted funding by Templeton Religion Trust (John Templeton Foundation) which covered most of the Development Officers salary for the period of the grant. (While Grants cover many costs, it will only cover staffing directly involved in the activities of the grant.) At that time Emily Sturgess was our Development Officer and she certainly worked hard on those activities. Emily was followed by Abigail Patterson to continue the hard work and then finalise the grant activities. That grant finished a number of years ago now.

I have enjoyed and am enjoying my time with CiS. Particularly meeting so many of our members, in person at our conferences and events, online during the pandemic or via emails or phone calls. The position is so varied with overseeing much of the website, helping organise conferences, production of the quarterly PreCiS, the monthly CiS Updates, all the general enquires, etc. The list goes on, but every day is different.

It has certainly been challenging at times, as we have faced many significant changes within the past 8 years. Not just financially but with changes in volunteers to the Trustees, Committee, local groups – large and small but COVID certainly changed many areas. Sadly, COVID directly affected many of you, but some good things did occur – many churches installed tech equipment to meet the COVID challenge which meant we have been able to hold conferences and events in new locations and holding workshops and conferences online also become easier than in previous years.

The recent Connect conference was planned to be both in person and online but with significant uncertainty whether people would be able to travel safely, due to weather conditions, we were able to quickly switch to be online only. Due to the late change, there were still costs involved but we had a lot of very positive feedback from attendees.

The last???

The CiS Trustees and Committee will have to make some hard decisions soon as we simply do not have the finances to continue as we are. Will this be cut backs in our activities spreading the word about the compatibility of science and faith, holding events around the country, production of leaflets to share with people, groups and churches or sadly perhaps staff cuts. That’s me and the Development Officer. The Development Officer position is already reduced from full time. Steph was 3 days a week and Jack is only 2 days per week.

I was delighted to be the first CiS Executive Officer, but do feel sad if in a couple of years this position is no longer viable for another CiS EO to take my place when I retire.

I know Paul our current Chair has written to you, but unless our members do encourage others to join CiS, or your church to become an Affiliated church we simply will have to make those hard decisions.

CiS has such a rich history. We are continually looking ahead at new ways to encourage new generations to follow in those historic foot steps. But…….

As you know, it sometimes takes money to make things happen. I am so thankful to our many volunteers both past and present. Our many wonderful CiS volunteers can only do so much, we pay to hire buildings, to attend events, we pay for printing and postage, we pay for insurance to hold events, we need to replace old equipment. Yes the list goes on ….. and on. We have endeavoured to continue our activities, to be wise stewards of our income from membership subscriptions and donations but our outgoings are exceeding our income and something has to change!

Many of our members are finding things a bit “tight”. Just this week we have heard of a number of Christian charities that are closing.

We are just a few years short of celebrating our 80th year. My hope is that CiS continues for many years past that time.

We look to God to know what is His plans and desires for CiS. Please pray for God’s wisdom for the Trustees’, the Committee and all our members.

Mary Browett

CiS Executive Officer




To assist our members and the general public, CiS is listing new blogs regularly on different science topics.

Disclaimer: We will be asking top scientists in their fields to author the blogs, but the thoughts expressed are the author’s.


Blog 20th April 2023 – From head to heart: Christianity and climate change by Cara Parrett

Join Cara Parrett, a Christian conservationist, on her journey of facing climate change and wrestling with the questions it raises.

I was born, raised and educated in South Africa, before leaving to put my knowledge, and love for, marine biology into practice in the ‘real world’. Embedded within communities in Madagascar and the Republic of Maldives, I experienced a way of life which was highly reliant on weather systems, the ocean and its produce – and vulnerable to any of these changing. These experiences transformed my academic ‘head knowledge’ to ‘heart knowledge’, and I found myself starting to ask questions beyond the science – ethical questions about how we should think about, and respond to, the world, suffering and injustice.

As someone who believes that the world belongs to the one Creator God, I find it helpful to place Him at the centre of my questions.  Questions like:

  1. Does God’s world have value?
  2. What does God tell us about humanity’s relationship to the natural world?
  3. How would God have us feel, and act, when environmental breakdown hurts vulnerable communities?
  4. How would God have us reflect and respond if we are part of the problem?

I have been encouraged, and personally challenged, by what the Bible has to say in response to these questions. Encouraged because I believe we have a clear theological mandate to care for creation and those who suffer[1]. Challenged because scripture lays before us the responsibility to reflect God’s perfect ruling image in almost the same breath as it lays out our weakness and broken relationships with God, with the rest of creation and with each other. But God does not leave us in our inadequacy and brokenness. By his grace, love and sacrifice he pulls us near, and gives us a new heart and spirit to seek relationship with him, and restored relationships with His creation, and each other. We may still struggle with it, but our new hearts feel the call to show the world the true humanity God created us for – grateful people enjoying relationship with our Father God, caring for His creation[2], and showing true love for all[3].

Our call to seek justice and care for creation and humankind is recognised by formal responses across Christian denominations[4], by joint statements across church traditions[5] and by environmental organisations inspired by their Christian faith[6]. But is this enough? When I chat to children in schools, they don’t recognise the links between religion and environmental concerns, except to say that they think faith hinders action, as religious people ‘just wait for God to do something’. If this is our reputation when it comes to ethical issues and suffering, it leaves me wondering about how we’re representing God’s heart in the world today.

Our resistance to connect with climate change and the physical challenges of our neighbours has been noticed, and our silence is speaking for us.

Resistance may take the guise of, often unspoken, theological concerns about creation care. For example[7]:

  1. Isn’t creation care just worldly ‘Earth worship’?
  2. What is the point when it will ‘end’ one day?
  3. Is it a distraction from our ‘true purpose’?

These ideas might elicit different natural responses for different people, but I hope we can humbly pray and seek God’s wisdom over them. Often ideas like this are quietly assumed rather than voiced and examined with deep Biblical reference, so I put them out there in the hopes that they enrich our discussions with our brothers and sisters, as we gently check ourselves and any boundaries we may be adding to our vision of love, purpose and image-bearing.

Church resistance may also be emotional (i.e. it feels overwhelming) or practical (to do with perceived sacrifices and commitments of time, finances etc.). Here we can reassure our churches that engaging in these issues doesn’t mean an overhaul of church life, values or priorities. Loving and protecting God’s beloved planet and people is a central aspect of seeking his kingdom and will, on Earth as in Heaven. It is something we are all on board with. So, let’s talk about it, pray about it, act on it*, so it naturally takes its place as part of the fabric of our discipleship – another strand in our lifelong journey trying to align with God’s vision.

A crucial part of this lifelong journey is working out how to face the scale of this issue without becoming overwhelmed by fear, heaviness, guilt and shame. Here again, the Bible is our guide and fortress. We have Christian wisdom and a message of hope to share in how we choose to respond as we face (and fight against) brokenness, while also holding on to the truth that we have a God of limitless patience and forgiveness, who promises to be with us, and strengthen us for his good works, as we try our best to live in love, in our unique situations. Let us model a deep reliance on, and hope in, God’s power and purposes while practising love, lament, and a practical, active outworking of our faith in a world that desperately needs to see it.


This is a very short summary of a talk I was honoured to give at the 2023 Christians in Science Connect conference. (Recordings of these talks will be publically available in June on the CiS YouTube channel)

CiS has a short leaflet on Creation Care – click here

*Here is a (non-exhaustive) list of some of the wonderful resources available to help incorporate climate concern into church life, click here, and a helpful list from TearFund, click here.



Cara Parrett grew up in South Africa, earning an honours degree in marine biology and oceanography from the University of Cape Town. After contributing to research and conservation projects across several different countries she came to the UK to work at The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, where she now works on the Youth and Schools Programme. Motivated by a desire to create opportunities for young people to pause, think and discuss their big questions about science and religion, she is often found presenting in schools and religious settings, and sometimes also talking to adults. She was the CiS Oliver Barclay lecture prize winner in 2019.


To assist our members and the general public, CiS is listing new blogs regularly on different science topics.

Disclaimer: We will be asking top scientists in their fields to author the blogs, but the thoughts expressed are the author’s.


[1] Further reading examples include ‘Why should Christians care for Creation?’ by BioLogos; ‘Climate Change is a Justice Issue’ by Tearfund

[2] E.g. Genesis 2:15

[3] E.g. Matthew 22:36 – 40; Jeremiah 22:16; Isaiah 1:11-17

[4] E.g. include: Baptist Union Environment Network, Anglican Communion Environmental Network, The World Methodist Council’s Climate Justice for All, Laudato Si’ Movement …etc

[5] E.g. A Joint Message for the Protection of Creation, signed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

[6] E.g. this helpful but non-exhaustive list by Green Christian

[7] References include my own experiences, experiences of others I have spoken to, a report ‘Is the UK Baptist creation care response appropriate for the current global environmental crisis?’ (2020) by Hannah Gray and ‘Climate action is faith-inspired’ (2021) by Tearfund


Blog 4th April 2023 – Editing the human genome by Dr Christopher P. Wild

To assist our members and the general public, CiS is listing new blogs regularly on different science topics.

Disclaimer: We will be asking top scientists in their fields to author the blogs, but the thoughts expressed are the authors.


Editing the human genome

by Dr Christopher P. Wild

As a Christian who has worked in the field of genetics and human health and has an interest in how genetic advances are radically changing everyday life, I was excited to participate in the Third International Summit on Human Genome Editing held in early March this year [1].

The meeting focused on two broad applications of the technology. The first involves somatic cells, meaning any cell in the body other than the reproductive (or germline) cells. The purpose is to correct faulty genes to prevent or treat disease. The second involves germline cells (sperm or egg) or cells of the very early embryo. This could potentially prevent transfer of a genetic disorder from parent to child but also raises the spectre of “Designer Babies”, editing genes to parental order. With the second type of editing alterations may be passed on through the generations whereas that is not the case with somatic genome editing.

The previous Summit, held in Hong Kong in 2018, was dominated by an announcement from Dr He Jianku of Shenzhen, China that he had edited the genomes of two human embryos, leading to the birth of babies Lulu and Nana. These two little girls became the first people in the world to have their genomes deliberately designed by another human being. Dr He’s actions caused a furore. There were calls for a moratorium on the technology; frequent warnings about human beings “playing God”; and Dr He reflecting on his actions during a three year jail sentence. Safety was the main focus of expressed concerns; both for the children and for humanity, given the potential for uncharacterised genetic alterations to enter the human gene pool. There was notably less focus on other concerns such as exertion of control of one person over another or commodification of the child, for example. (Commodification: treating a person as an object or commodity)

With this controversial background in mind, the opening of the London Summit made reference to the 2018 announcement but everyone seemed keen to move on to consider somatic genome editing as a new, exciting therapeutic avenue. There were updates on methods, noting the original approach (CRISPR-Cas9 editing) may be improved by newer techniques (base, prime or epigenetic editing), promising more precision. There were also reports of ongoing clinical trials. Much remains to be learned about potential longer-term effects, for example of “off-target” edits or unanticipated consequences when edited genes have more than one function. Nevertheless, the general tone was upbeat, suggesting the technology will find its place as part of therapeutic medicine.

The poster child of the Summit was certainly sickle cell disease (SCD). Victoria Gray spoke as the first person to be successfully treated by gene editing for this painful condition. The example of SCD was used to support calls for equitable access to this expensive new generation of gene therapies; the condition is most common in Africa where health infrastructure and funding are limited. However, it is difficult to imagine gene editing escaping global inequities in healthcare when even effective and inexpensive interventions like vaccines (e.g. Covid-19) do not reach the most vulnerable. There are also difficult choices to be made when simpler approaches to combat childhood SCD mortality are available, along with cost-effective interventions on other major killers including pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria.

As to germline genome editing there was an interesting dichotomy. There was unanimity that creating babies by genome editing was not safe or effective, nor had there been sufficient societal and policy debate to move forward. Conversely, there was support for basic research into embryo genome editing, notably to study early human development. I anticipate the latter support will coalesce with new guidelines from the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) to press for relaxation of the current 14-day limit on experimentation on human embryos. Watch this space!

There were a number of valuable interventions from civil society organisations, helpfully pointing to ethical principles, societal beliefs as well as policy, guidelines and regulation. After all, genetic technology has the power to change humanity irreversibly. I was struck, however, by the absence of theologians or anyone else explicitly representing a faith perspective among the speakers. The Christian faith, whose adherents make up around 30% of the world population, was not formally represented. Does this signal a lack of engagement from the Church community? Do we need a theology of genetics? Values must precede technology, not trail in its wake. In my view the Church must speak with a strong voice as genetic advances are evaluated. We have much to contribute and shouldn’t leave it to others to decide our future.

[1] The meeting took place from the 6-8 March 2023 at the Francis Crick Institute in London, organised jointly by the Royal Society, the UK Academy of Medical Sciences, the US National Academies of Sciences and Medicine and The World Academy of Sciences. Full information can be found at:

Biographical note

Chris obtained his PhD in oncology in 1984 from Manchester University for his work on monoclonal antibodies to study DNA damage and repair. He was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), WHO in Lyon, France and a further fellowship, from the Royal Society to work at the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam.

He was appointed to the Chair of Molecular Epidemiology at the University of Leeds in 1996, later becoming Head of the Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Director of the Leeds Institute of Genetics, Health and Therapeutics. He was also a founding member of the Ethics and Governance Council of UK Biobank. Chris was elected Director of IARC from 1st January 2009 and served a maximum two five-year terms of office, leading the organisation in a mission of “cancer research for cancer prevention”. Upon leaving IARC he was awarded the IARC Medal of Honour and the title Emeritus Director.

He established the concept of the “exposome” to complement the genome, an initiative which has led to a new field of exposome research. He is currently finalising a book on evaluating genetic advances within a Christian framework.

List of all CiS blogs

To assist our members and the general public, CiS will be listing new blogs on different science topics regularly.

Disclaimer: We will be asking top scientists in their fields but the thoughts expressed are the authors.



The first……. And the last? by Mary Browett – 2nd May 2023 – click here

From head to heart: Christianity and climate change by Cara Parrett – 20th April 2023 – click here

Editing the human genome by Dr Christopher P. Wild – 4th April 2023 – click here

Genome editing and DNA-base editing used in curing difficult cancers by Prof John Bryant – 6th Jan 2023 – click here

Nuclear power – fusion and fission by Dr Peter Bussey – 3rd Jan 2023 – click here











Obituary – Prof Tom McLeish, FRS

We at Christians in Science are deeply saddened by the death of our brother and colleague, Professor Tom McLeish. On behalf of the Trustees, the Executive Committee and all the members of Christians in Science we wish to express our thanks to God for Tom’s life and work and to pray that his wife and family will know the comfort of God’s presence and the peace that only he can give in their grief. We write not only because Tom was a long-standing member of CiS but because we recognized his immense contribution to the field of Science and Religion. He was an outstanding and innovative scientist, highly respected in the scientific community but also a profound thinker and gifted communicator on issues relating to Scripture and Science. Above all, he was a gracious and enthusiastic Christian whose life and work touched many lives both personally and through his speaking and writing. Therefore, it is perhaps more fitting and honouring to the memory of this remarkable man that, as an organization, we simply endorse the following obituary by Dr Rhoda Hawkins as one whose life was so personally enhanced by all that Tom gave to us and to the world.

Professor Paul Ewart

Executive Chairman, Christians in Science


It is with deep gratitude and sadness that I write these words following the death of my PhD supervisor and mentor, Tom. Someone I looked up to, respected, learnt from, was inspired by and worked closely with.

Tom was truly exceptional. He lived life to the full with incredible energy and enthusiasm as a natural leader and visionary. His list of achievements is staggering. With a PhD from Cambridge he was a lecturer in physics in Sheffield before becoming a Professor in Leeds at a particularly young age where he led academic-industrial partnerships in polymer physics. He was Pro-Vice Chancellor for research at Durham and then Professor of Natural Philosophy at York. Along the way he initiated and led numerous projects with his characteristic enthusiasm. His nurture of young colleagues influenced and encouraged numerous careers. This was particularly highlighted when he became a fellow of the Royal Society and chose to celebrate with his current and former PhD students and reflect the credit of his own success onto his junior colleagues. In my own work with him we embarked on a new adventure in biological physics applying concepts from theoretical polymer physics to proteins. As a scientist, Tom’s inexhaustible optimism swept us along with him to tackle ambitious questions with wisdom and creativity. I remember him saying he wanted to contribute to a new field before he knew too much – whist he still had enough fresh innocence to be freely creative. His passion for interdisciplinary work and confidence to try things were infectious. His wide ranging intellectual interests made him a rare modern polymath. His academic publications range from theoretical physics to medieval history. His love of music and poetry resonated with his creative spirit in science. Tom always kept his fun childlike delight of discovery and seemingly infinite amounts of energy. It’s impossible to think of him in any other way than full of life, heart and soul.

Tom was so much more than a professor. His deep Christian faith shone out openly to all his colleagues. He spoke and wrote much on theology of science, for example his book on Faith and Wisdom in Science. He served as a reader in the Anglican church and co-founded the ECLAS project (Equipping Christian Leadership in an Age of Science). He was on his way to speak at the Lambeth conference when he received a phone call with the shocking news of his blood test results. Even in his illness and death Tom’s Christian faith shone through and his remarkable openness to share touched thousands of people. Tom has been taken from us whilst still in the prime of his life and career but as he enjoys his eternal rest, countless people he has inspired will continue his work on this Earth for many years to come.

Dr Rhoda J Hawkins