CTNS/GTU Doctoral Student Becomes Coeditor
of Major Volumes
CTNS has historically tried to support students
who study at the Graduate Theological Union whenever possible.
This support manifests itself both in integrating students
into the intellectual work and culture of theology and science
as well as hiring students through the GTU work-study program,
or hiring directly for a variety of office support functions.
One such student, Kirk Wegter-McNelly,
first worked at CTNS in database design, computer and technical
support, and then quickly moved to other challenges. With
CTNS's involvement as copublisher with the Vatican Observatory
on a number of volumes on divine action, the timing was just
right to involve Wegter-McNelly's participation in these projects.
Prior to coming to CTNS, he completed a B.A in physics from
Central College and an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary.
Kirk Wegter-McNelly joined the staff of CTNS in the fall
of 1995 when he began his doctoral work in theology and science
at the GTU. The following year, Bonnie Johnston and Bob Russell
approached Wegter-McNelly about the possibility of focusing
his efforts at the center on the CTNS/Vatican Observatory
research project. Wegter-McNelly agreed to take over the position
of editorial assistant from another student, Greg Maslowe,
who had produced the second volume, Chaos
and Complexity, and was leaving for graduate work on
the East Coast.
Wegter-McNelly reports that when working on the volumes,
it was especially gratifying to correspond with the various
authors, all of whom graciously received his questions and
comments about their essays. Wegter-McNelly also functioned
as reference checker, ensuring the correctness and completeness
of each citation in the book. A particular visual "look"
had previously been developed for the series, which allowed
him begin the process with Evolutionary
and Molecular Biology (EMB) without needing to invent
a new design. Wegter-McNelly took on the role of copy editor
and executed several tasks that normally would have fallen
to the publisher, such as setting the text of each page (with
attention to fitting each article on an even number of pages
to avoid wasting paper), producing the front matter (title
pages, table of contents, etc.), securing the book's ISBN
number from the University of Notre Dame, the U.S. distributor,
and incorporating figures into the text. He also worked closely
with the editorial team to design and implement the name and
subject indices, as well as the front and back covers. Wegter-McNelly
reports that in the process of producing EMB he learned a
great deal about evolutionary biology and the theology of
divine action, as well as Pantone printing ink colors and
manual kerning (adjustment of space between characters).
Wegter-McNelly repeated his role as editorial assistant with
the fourth volume of the divine action series, Neuroscience
and the Person. The conference which produced this
volume created a widely divergent set of detailed and technical
essays, which complicated the task of structuring and assembling
the book. Wegter-McNelly worked closely with Nancey Murphy
on this volume to ensure the integrity of the final product.
In recognition of his sustained efforts, CTNS made Wegter-McNelly
coeditor for the latest volume, Quantum
Mechanics. He played a more active role in shaping
the structure of this book, helping to select and order the
essays and design the subject index. Wegter-McNelly found
this new role rewarding and stimulating, even to the point
of writing his dissertation on a topic that received a good
deal of attention at the CTNS-Vatican Observatory conference
at Castel Gandolfo (near Vatican City): the phenomenon of
quantum nonlocality (a.k.a. entanglement).
Having gained editorial experience from producing three of
the divine action volumes, Wegter-McNelly was asked by the
leaders of CTNS's "Science and the Spiritual Quest"
program (SSQ), Mark Richardson and Philip Clayton, to assist
them in finding a publisher for the material produced by the
team of SSQ scientists. Wegter-McNelly revised an earlier
book proposal to produce a new proposal for two books. The
British publisher, Routledge accepted this proposal and eventually
published Faith in Science (a
collection of interviews) and Science
and the Spiritual Quest (interview excerpts and essays).
Wegter-McNelly served as coeditor of the latter and indicates
that he was pleased not to be laying out the book himself.
In light of these experiences at CTNS, Wegter-McNelly hopes
to continue his editorial work in the future.
Ed. Note: A month prior to the
2003 GTU commencement ceremonies, Wegter-McNelly was invited
to present a CTNS Public Forum, "Living in a Tangled
World: Quantum Clues for Contemporary Theology," an impressive
glimpse into his extensive dissertation research.
Wegter-McNelly, (Ph.D., 2003) coedited two recent CTNS publications:
"Quantum Mechanics: Scientific Perspectives on Divine
Action" (CTNS/Vatican Observatory, 2001), and the SSQ
volume, "Science and the Spiritual Quest: New Essays
by Leading Scientists" (Routledge, 2002). In the fall
of 2003, Wegter-McNelly joined the faculty of the Religious
Studies Department of Manhattan College, New York City, where
his primary responsibility is to teach religion-and-science
Wegter-McNelly's work currently focuses on the theological
implications of the latest scientific advances and philosophical
reflection on the remarkable phenomenon of quantum entanglement.
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