Credit: Pastor Amy Thoren

St. Andrews Lutheran Campus Center at the University of Illinois in Champaign hosted its bi-annual Rheticus Conversations on Faith and Science lecture on November 6 at 7 p.m. with University of Illinois Professor of Microbiology Steven Blanke discussing how his faith and scientific research mix.

His lecture, “Microbiology and Faith: A Mixed Culture?” was free and open to the public with about 60 in attendance from the University of Illinois community and the Champaign-Urbana community at large.

Professor Blanke, a member of Grace Lutheran Church in Champaign, began his presentation telling a story of swabbing the pastor’s bench in his home church in search for microbial life when he was young. He spoke broadly of an awe and wonder that led him to science.

Blanke joined the Department of Microbiology at the UIUC in 2005. This year he was named The Ralph S. Wolfe Professorial Scholar at the university.

He is a member of the Host Microbe Systems Research Theme in the Institute for Genomic Biology. He received B.S. degree from Virginia Tech University and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the UIUC in 1989. He subsequently was a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University. Prior to joining the University of Illinois, Professor Blanke was a faculty member in the Department of Biology & Biochemistry at the University of Houston. Professor Blanke’s research explores the fundamental molecular and cellular mechanisms used by pathogenic bacteria to establish infection and persist within a host.

Rheticus Conversations on Faith and Science was established in 2010 as a public lecture and discussion series focused on the integration of faith and science. It is sponsored by St. Andrew’s Church/Lutheran Campus Center. The group’s vision is to provide a platform for extraordinary leaders in science to share how God and science is present within their work and study as well as providing clarity on the challenges of faith and science integration.

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