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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.

Kirk 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 courses.
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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