The Russell Family Research Fellowship in Religion and Science

Annual Russell Family Research Fellowship in Religion and Science

The annual Russell Family Research Fellowship in Religion and Science brings internationally distinguished scholars in religion and science to the GTU.

Since 1981, Russell Fellows have been in residence at CTNS/GTU every year to conduct research, teach doctoral and seminary courses and present public lectures at the GTU and at other San Francisco Bay Area locations.

The annual Russell Family Fellowship in Religion and Science was created in memory of John K. Russell (1896-1958). Mr. Russell, born of Italian immigrants, was an industrial engineer and humanitarian. In 2015, The J.K. Russell Research Fellowship in Religion and Science was renamed the Russell Family Fellowship in Religion and Science to honor the contributions of the Russell Family as a whole to this annual Fellowship.

2020-2021 Fellowship

PLEASE NOTE: These events have now been rescheduled for September 22-25, 2021.


2021 Fellow Dr. Kirk Wegter-McNelly

Dr. Kirk Wegter-McNelly, Dona and Marshall Robinson Assistant Professor of Science, Philosophy and Religion at Union College, in Schenectady, New York, is a theologian whose work focuses primarily on the implications of contemporary physics for our understanding of humanity, the cosmos and God. He is the author of The Entangled God: Divine Relationality and Quantum Physics (Routledge, 2011) and co-editor of two volumes: Quantum Mechanics: Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action (VO/CTNS, 2002) and Science and the Spiritual Quest: New Essays by Leading Scientists (Routledge, 2002).

Fellowship Events:

CTNS Public Forum, Wednesday, September 22, 2021, 5pm (PST) Online via Zoom

Research Conference, Saturday, September 25, 2021, 1pm (PST) Online via Zoom


A Strigilated Universe: The Cosmogonic Significance of Primordial Gravitation Radiation 

Fellow's Public Forum

Wednesday, September 22, 2021, 5pm (PST) on Zoom.  REGISTER HERE

In 2015, for the first time ever, scientists announced the detection of gravitational waves spun out into the universe by the merger of two black holes. Numerous detection events have since been recorded, and upgrades continue to increase experimental sensitivity. There is one important class of gravitational waves, however, that still eludes scientists: the so-called primordial gravitational waves likely to have been produced in the earliest moments of our universe. Observation of these waves—the gravitational equivalent of the cosmic microwave background, though significantly older—could reveal much about the origin of the visible universe. In this presentation I review these developments and discuss their implications for our understanding of how the visible universe began. I also discuss a related tension in the construction of theories of the early universe that sheds light on the challenge of doing physics on “the whole.”

This event is free and open to the public. Registration required.


Engaging Hypotheticals: Groundwork for the Study of Theology in a Secular Academic Context 

The Annual Russell Family Research Conference

Saturday, September 25, 2021, 1-3pm (PST), on Zoom.  REGISTER HERE

The study of religion in the secular academy is dominated by the “religious studies” approach, which situates theological ideas within their social context and privileges the cornucopic variety of lived religion over more systematized expressions of religious thought. On the other hand, in religious academic contexts the sociological and psychological dimensions of religion often take a back seat to theological explication of scripture and tradition. One possibility elided by this dichotomy is the study of theological ideas and traditions from a secular perspective. In this paper I explore the potential fruits of treating theological claims not from a confessional perspective as products of “faith seeking understanding” but from a secular perspective as hypotheses to be investigated alongside those of science. My analysis hinges on the notion that hypotheses worthy of our consideration are not always testable hypotheses.

This event is free and open to the public. Registration required.

Questions? Please write to


Past CTNS Russell Research Fellows

Adam Pryor — 2019-2020
Living Into our Shared Humanity: Exploring the Religious Significance of Astrobiology

Joshua M. Moritz — 2018-2019
What has Science to do with Youth Ministry?: Why Theological Engagement with the Natural Sciences is Vital for Effective and Impactful Youth Ministry

Ron Cole-Turner — 2017-2018
New Perspectives from Science on Human Origins

Hava Tirosh-Samuelson — 2016-2017
Religion, Science and Technology: Jewish Perspectives

Terrence W. Deacon and Tyrone Cashman — 2015-2016
Science, Naturalized Teleology and a Metaphysics of Incompleteness

Noreen Herzfeld — 2014-2015
More than Information: A Christian Critique of a New Dualism

Alex Filippenko — 2013-2014
Life in the Universe, Scientific and Religious Perspectives

Niels Henrik Gregersen — 2012-2013
God, Information and the Sciences of Complexity

J. K. Russell Research Fellowship / CTNS 30th Anniversary Conference — 2011-2012
God and Creation: Jewish, Christian and Muslim Perspectives on Scientific Cosmology
Alnoor Dhanani, Daniel Matt and William Stoeger, SJ, Joint Fellows

Thomas Tracy — 2010-2011
Scientific Vetoes and the "Hands-Off God": Can we Say that God Acts in History?

Francisco J. Ayala — 2008-2009
Darwin's Gift to Science and Religion

George V. Coyne — 2007-2008
Twenty Years After the New View from Rome: Pope John Paul II on Science and Religion

Celia Deane-Drummond — 2006-2007
The Evolution of Sin and the Redemption of Nature

Martinez Hewlett and Ted Peters — 2005-2006
Assessing the Case(s) for Theistic Evolution

Niels Henrik Gregersen — 2003-2004
Complexity Studies and Theories of Emergence: What Does It All Mean for Religion?
The Complexification of Nature: Supplementing the Neo-Darwinian Paradigm

Paul Davies — 2002-2003
Multiverse and Anthropic Fine-Tuning: Philosophical and Theological Implications

Archbishop Joseph Zycinski — 2001-2002
Beyond Necessity and Design: God's Immanence in the Process of Evolution

Philip Clayton — 2000-2001
The Emergence of Spirit

John Cobb, Jr. — 1999-2000
Science, Theology and Whitehead's Philosophy

Nancey Murphy — 1998-1999
Neuroscience, Mental Causation, and Freedom of the Will

Mary-Claire King — 1997-1998
Theological and Ethical Implications of Recent Research in Genetics

John Haught — 1996-1997
Science, Religion, and the Role of Metaphysics

Margaret Wertheim — 1995-1996
Women in Science, Women in Theology

George F.R. Ellis — 1994
What Does Scientific Cosmology Tell Us About God

Mary Gerhart & Allan M. Russell — 1993
Metaphoric Process as the Reformation of Worlds of Meaning in Theology and Natural Sciences

CTNS Decade Conference — 1992
Building Bridges Between Theology and Science: Beginning the Second Decade of CTNS

Holmes Rolston, III — 1991
Genes, Genesis, and God in Natural and Human History

Robert W. Jensen — 1990
Does God Have Time? The Doctrine of the Trinity and the Concept of Time in Physical Sciences

John Polkinghorne — 1990
The Church and the Environmental Crisis: Which Way Are We Heading?
God's Interaction with the World: Research Proposals by John Polkinghorne
The Challenge of Physics to World Religions

Lindon Eaves — 1988-1989
Genes, Culture and Personality: An Empirical Approach

William R. Stoeger, S.J. — 1987-1988
Cosmology and What It Tells Us About Physical Reality Philosophical and Theological Implications of Contemporary Cosmology-the Philosophy and Theology of Creation

Ernan McMullin — 1986-1987
The Viability of Natural Theology from a Roman Catholic Perspective in Light of Contemporary Science and Philosophy

Wolfhart Pannenberg — 1985-1986
The Doctrine of Creation and Modern Science

Arthur R. Peacocke, SOSc — 1984-1985
Critical Realism in Science and Religion

Philip Hefner — 1983-1984
Do the Sciences Throw Light on God's Presence in the World?

Ian G. Barbour — 1982-1983
Toward a Theology of Technology

Andrew Dufner, S.J. — 1981-1982
Science, Theology & Spirituality