Two multidisciplinary researchers — one, an evolutionary biologist, and the other, a polymer scientist — will visit the Texas A&M University campus next week to present their views on faith, science and society as part of the university’s 17th annual Trotter Endowed Lecture Series.
Dr. Stephen Freeland, director of the Individualized Study Program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, and Dr. Walter L. Bradley, professor emeritus of mechanical engineering at Texas A&M University and a distinguished professor emeritus of mechanical engineering at Baylor University, will deliver a joint public lecture Wednesday, April 17, at 7 p.m. in Rudder Theater. No tickets or RSVPs are required for the presentation, which is free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception in Rudder’s first-floor exhibit hall.
Freeland’s talk, “Information and the Origin of Life,” will explore standard evolutionary theory and the connection between the living and non-living worlds and to Freeland’s own professional and personal journeys.
Bradley’s talk, “The Mystery of Life’s Origin: Reassessing Current Theories,” is based upon a book of the same title that he co-authored. In addition to one of the most fascinating unsolved mysteries in science, he will delve into the search for a plausible chemical pathway that gave possible rise to the simplest of living systems.
Freeland, a tenured professor of bioinformatics at UMBC since 2007, joined the UMBC faculty in 2001 after completing a Human Frontiers Science Program postdoctoral fellowship at Princeton University. In 2009, he relocated to Hawaii, where he served four years as project manager for the University of Hawaii node of the NASA Astrobiology Institute. At the UHNAI, he supervised a highly interdisciplinary team of scientists seeking to understand how habitable environments are formed within the cosmos. His research was focused on how and why life on our planet established a system of genetic coding.
In 2013, Freeland returned to UMBC as INDS director, where he expounds upon his astrobiological research interests by exploring the interface of science and religion. Most recently, he has begun using the full spectrum of creative arts to visualize and communicate social science, natural science and engineering.
Freeland received a bachelor’s degree in zoology from Oxford University, a master’s degree in computing and mathematics from the University of York, UK, and a Ph.D. from Cambridge University’s Department of Genetics before crossing the Atlantic to pursue a scientific career in the United States. In addition to being an international advisory board member for the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, he serves as an advisory council member for BioLogos and is a guest presenter for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Dialog on Science, Ethics and Religion.
Bradley joined the Texas A&M faculty in 1976 and served 10 years as director of the Polymer Technology Center and as head of the Texas A&M Department of Mechanical Engineering, which was ranked as high as 12th nationally during his tenure. In addition to co-authoring “The Mystery of Life’s Origin: Reassessing Current Theories,” he has written 10 book chapters dealing with various faith science issues, a topic on which he speaks widely.
During his 24 years at Texas A&M, Bradley helped develop a nationally recognized program in polymeric composite materials. He received the Society of Plastics Engineering’s 2011 Outstanding Professor Award for the United States, Canada and Great Britain along with five Texas A&M research awards for his career work in polymers and polymeric composite materials that was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, Air Force Office of Sponsored Research and NASA, as well as many Fortune 500 companies for which he continues to serve as a consultant.
Bradley joined the Baylor faculty in 2004, where his research during the subsequent eight years was geared toward helping the poorest people in under-developed parts of the world. His work centered on providing useful technologies — for example, developing the means to convert coconut parts into value-added products, such as diesel fuel, particle board and reinforcement for engineering plastics.
Bradley has authored more than 150 refereed research publications, including book chapters, articles in archival journals such as the Journal of Material Science, Journal of Reinforced Plastics and Composites, Mechanics of Time-Dependent Materials, Journal of Composites Technology and Research, Composite Science and Technology, Journal of Metals, Polymer Engineering and Science and Journal of Materials Science as well as refereed conference proceedings.
Bradley earned both his bachelor of science in engineering science and his Ph.D. in materials science from the University of Texas in Austin. He is an elected fellow of the American Society for Materials and the American Scientific Affiliation, the largest organization of Christians in science and technology in the world for which he served as president in 2008.
The Trotter Prize and Endowed Lecture Series, presented by the College of Science in collaboration with the College of Engineering, seeks to illuminate connections between science and religion, often viewed in academia as non-overlapping if not rival world views. The series was established by Dr. Ide P. Trotter Jr. ’54 and Luella H. Trotter with a matching contribution from ExxonMobil Corp. in 2001 to honor Ide P. Trotter Sr., former dean of Texas A&M University’s Graduate School, and to recognize pioneering contributions to the understanding of the role of information, complexity and inference in illuminating the mechanisms and wonder of nature.
For more information on the event, contact Jennifer Holle in the College of Science Dean’s Office at (979) 845-8817 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about the history of the Trotter Lecture Series and past presenters, visit https://science.tamu.edu/trotter/.
Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or email@example.com