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CTNS Announces the 2006
Charles H. Townes Graduate Student Fellowships

On Friday February 24th, 2006 CTNS announced the winners of the 2006 CTNS Graduate Student Fellowship Awards. The announcement was made by Dr. Robert John Russell, CTNS Founder and Director, at a reception marking the end of a day-long joint science and religion conference between CTNS and the Korean Institute for Advanced Theological Studies (KIATS). The reception took place at the Badé museum on the campus of the Pacific School of Religion, one of the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) member schools.

Gaymon Bennet, Bob Russell, James Haag

The award recipients for 2006 are Gaymon Lamont Bennett, Jr (L). and James W. Haag, shown here with Professor Robert Russell. Bennet and Haag are both doctoral students in the area of Systematic Theology at the Graduate Theological Union. The purpose of the Fellowship is to honor doctoral students who have demonstrated the clear ability to do very promising research on issues related to theology and science. The award is based on academic excellence and is split into two categories based on the students' progress in the doctoral program at the GTU. Bennett received the award for students who are working on their qualifying exams, and Haag received the award for students who are at the dissertation stage of their graduate program.

The paper which Bennett submitted for the fellowship focused on the role of anthropology in theological method with special attention to the relationship between theology and science in the construction of such anthropologies. More specifically his research cued in on human embryonic stem cell research and the debate it has generated. This topic was fitting in the context of the KIATS/CTNS conference: attendees had spent the day discussing science and religion, stem cell controversies and the case of Hwang Woo-suk, of South Korean stem cell infamy.

Haag's dissertation research focuses on the question of conflicting truths in differing disciplines, emergence theory in science, and the topic of freedom as a prime example of the interaction between theology and science, all with the hope of building a robust understanding of human agency and responsibility in which the human person as an embodied agent is both constrained and enabled for freedom.

The $500 grants are the second annual CTNS graduate student fellowship awards, and were given in response to invited to submit their curriculum vitae, a sample of their best writing in theology and science, and a statement of 1000 words about their research topic and methodology.

The CTNS Charles H. Townes Fellowship is for Graduate Theological Union doctoral students pursuing research in theology and science. Applicants need to be working on their comprehensive exams at an advanced level (the equivalent of the “special comprehensive exams” in the Area of Systematic and Philosophical Theology) or have finished their comprehensive exams and be working on their dissertation or dissertation proposal. The awards are given on the basis of merit:  students must clearly demonstrate their ability to do promising research on issues of theology and science. 

The Fellowship was renamed the Charles H. Townes Graduate Student Fellowship on September 16, 2006 in recognition of Dr. Townes' work with physics graduate students at UC Berkeley and for his generous and longstanding support of CTNS. Dr. Townes is a Nobel Laureate in Physics for his role in the discovery of the maser and laser, Professor of Physics in the Graduate School at UC Berkeley and a Templeton Prize Winner. Dr. Townes serves on the Advisory Board of the CTNS Program Science and Transcendence Advanced Research Series (STARS), was a participating scientist in the CTNS Program Science and the Spiritual Quest (SSQ), and has served for two decades on the CTNS Board of Directors. An expanded version of this announcement and tribute may be found at

CTNS is seeking donations to support the fellowship fund towards the goal of $50,000. Donations are accepted via the CTNS website at, or via postal mail.

The Center’s excellent academic reputation has attracted a variety of graduate students to pursue masters and doctoral degrees at the GTU, with many of these graduates now in tenure track positions at universities and seminaries nationwide.

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