Abstracts, Bios and Running Order

17th February 2018 – Student Conference Running Order

9:30 onwards: Registration
9:50-10:00: Welcome and introductions
10:00-10:45: Ard Louis 
10:45-11:30: John Bryant
11:30-12: tea/coffee break
12 – 12:45: student contributions
12:45-1:45: lunch
1:45-2: Emily – CiS update
2-:2:45: Ruth Bancewicz
2:45-3:00: Tea break
3:00-3:45: Jona Foster
3:45-4:20: discussion groups
4:20-4:30: Closing remarks


Ard Louis – Why are we here?

Ard will talk about “Why Are We Here”, a documentary series where he and atheist film maker David Malone interview scientists, philosophers and writers to discuss questions about meaning and the nature of the universe.

John Bryant – Looking Up Science is often all-consuming, involving long hours, deep concentration and meticulous attention to detail. However, it is good from to time to time to ‘look up’, physically, emotionally and intellectually, from our research, our studying, our writing. There are several reasons why this is important but I will briefly discuss just three:

  • Looking up to think
  • Looking up to question
  • Looking up to worship

Ruth Bancewicz – God in the Lab: Wonder and Worship at Work
Part of your learning curve as a science student and a Christian will be figuring out how your work in the lab can become part of your worship. Of course any good thing that is done well and with the right motivation can be called worship, but science can also lead us to worship in more direct ways.

Ruth will look at awe in science, and some examples of how it can help us in our approach to God, using stories from working scientists. She will also look at the shared experience of awe among scientists more generally, and how scientific mountaintop moments can sometimes be a more effective starter for conversations about science and faith – both in and outside of the church – than debates.

Jona Foster – Reigniting the Chemistry between Science and Faith
It’s amazing how rarely Chemistry comes up as when discussing science and faith. As a chemist whose been involved in CIS for several years I’ve loved being challenged to think through how my faith fits with the latest science from fields as diverse as evolution, cosmology, anthropology, bioethics and neuroscience. However, I’d never really thought through what perspective my own training as a Chemist has given me or what insights chemistry could offer to the science and faith dialogue. By stepping away from some of the more entrenched arguments and thinking about science more broadly as a diverse set of disciplines I hope to convince you that we can encourage a more fruitful dialogue between science and faith. I also want to challenge you to think about your own discipline and training how that shapes your scientific and religious beliefs.

Speaker Bios

John Bryant was formerly Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology and Head of Biosciences at the University of Exeter and is now Professor Emeritus of Biosciences. His research has mainly focussed on the biochemistry of DNA and the workings of genes. He has an active interest in the ethical aspects of biomedical research and since 2002 has been, together with Dr Chris Willmott (Leicester University), Bioethics advisor to the Higher Education Academy and to Heads of University Biosciences (HUBS). John was Vice-President of the Society for Experimental Biology from 2001 to 2003 and President from 2003-2005, Visiting Research Associate at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, USA 1992-1997 and Visiting Professor of Molecular Biology at West Virginia State University, USA 1999-2007. He was Chair of Christians in Science from 1999-2006 and is a Fellow of the International Society for Science and Religion. John enjoys sport, especially road and cross-country running (formerly at County level), cricket (he played evening league cricket for several years) and football (he is a devoted fan of Crystal Palace); he is a keen birdwatcher and loves wild places. He also enjoys several genres of music. He is an active member of Matts@5, a church planted by Exeter Network Church.

Ruth is a Senior Research Associate at The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, where she works on communicating the positive interaction between science and faith to churches in the UK and beyond. She studied Genetics at Aberdeen University, and Edinburgh University. She has also worked at the Edinburgh Science Festival, developing and delivering hands-on science activities. She spent two years as a part-time postdoctoral researcher at Edinburgh University, while also working as the Development Officer for Christians in Science – a post she held for three years, before moving full-time to the Faraday Institute. Ruth is a trustee of Christians in Science.


Dr Jonathan Foster holds a Vice Chancellors Fellowship in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Sheffield. He completed his undergraduate and PhD studies at the University of Durham before moving to the University of Cambridge where he worked as a post-doctoral researcher in the Chemistry and Materials Science departments. In the lab, Jonathan spends his time playing with molecular lego, designing simple building blocks that stack together to form complex structures and materials with useful properties. He is a member of All Saints Church Ecclesall in Sheffield and enjoys going into schools to give talks on the ‘origin of life’, ‘amazing bubbles’ and ‘chemistry cluedo’.