A virologist reflects on being female and Christian in the sciences.
When I was six or maybe seven years old, I used to sit alone on my parents’ bedroom floor and watch Star Trek reruns. I traveled with the crew of the Enterprise to “where no man has gone before” and felt especially fascinated by alien cultures: Romulans, Vulcans, and Klingons. The stories captivated my imagination.
My mother, too, helped fuel my curiosity by taking me to the library every week. At age 11 or 12, I joined a science fiction book club that opened my mind to more possibilities. I devoured the works of Isaac Asimov, Roger Zelazny, and Arthur C. Clarke. Maybe space travel beyond the moon would be possible in my lifetime, I hoped. Or maybe I could be a starship captain when I grew up. Eventually, I settled on becoming a scientist—arguably the next best thing.
Just after my 12th birthday, while perusing titles in a small bookshop, I happened upon a series of books by C. S. Lewis (who was unknown to me at the time) and used birthday cash to purchase The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. A subsequent snowstorm left me confined to the world of Narnia, and the stories began unlocking connections between exploration, discovery, and Christian ideas.
On a hot summer day the following year, the lifeguard at our neighborhood pool approached me as I sat on the edge and dangled my feet in the water. I was serving my time-out for breaking the rules. She bent over and asked, “Are you saved?” Although her question made little sense to me at the time, that interaction set me on a path that reached its peak when I gave my life to Jesus the following fall.
As I think back over my childhood love of learning and also my faith conversion, I see them not as separate, concurrent narratives but rather as …