Cynthia Peabody, Director || CV

Cynthia Peabody co-directs The Center for the Study of Science and Religon with Bob Pollack. She holds a Masters of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary and a Masters of Library Service from Columbia University. Before coming to CSSR, she was a reference librarian at Montclair State University, Upsala College, Brooklyn Public Library, and Columbia University. She has spent years researching, writing, and advocating on issues of homelessness and hunger. Her work at CSSR combines her skills as a librarian with her social justice/ministerial leanings – religious environmentalism, the ethics of sustainability, and community activism.

Operational Staff & Students


Miranda Hawkins, Administrative Manager || (212) 854-1673

Miranda is from Mount Vernon, New York and she has earned a J.D. degree in Law from the University of Maryland.  She is an active member of her church choir and publicity ministry.  She finds the CSSR an excellent resource to merge the sciences and religion to affect positive change in the world.




Katja Lazar, Webmaster

webdogeBorn with gills, Katja is a Junior in Columbia College, with dreams of someday opening a grilled cheese speciality shop – muenster, emmenthal, and brie, oh my! Having decided to major in Sustainable Development, she has become wildly disillusioned due to the existence of telescope philanthropy and the immense ineptitude of international politics. Currently, Katja has thrashed previous Master of the Web, Nathan Ashe, in an epic final battle which culminated in his graduation from Columbia University.



Emma Cheng, Event Coordinator

pictureAs a second-year student at Columbia College and a native New Yorker, Emma Cheng is eager to contribute to the university’s intellectual discourse and community as an intern for CSSR. Since her time in middle and high school, she has fostered a strong dual interest in the sciences and humanities, taking courses ranging from chemistry to international relations. Emma also likes being involved in various extracurricular activities, such as the Columbia Spectator, model United Nations and research and is passionate about community service as well. Despite her broad interests in various academic fields, she is currently interested in pursuing a sociology major.


Ashley Shaw, TCC Coordinator


Graduate & Postgraduate



Erin Lothes, Ph.D, Earth Institute Fellow

For a theologian concerned about global warming, joining the CSSR as an Earth Institute Fellow is an extraordinary opportunity to explore the religious dimensions of the environmental crisis among scientists at the cutting-edge of knowledge about the earth. My research at the CSSR is directed toward writing a multidisciplinary and theologically grounded critique of contemporary behavior vis-à-vis the environment. I am particularly interested in the existential dynamics of how people come to understand the ecological crisis, recognize the impact of their actions, and decide to make sustainable changes – or not.

As an English major at Princeton University, I explored literature as one way to study the human condition. I later chose to study theology at Boston College, and continued with doctoral studies in contemporary systematic theology at Fordham University. One of my aims was to clarify and articulate responsibility to the environment in religious terms, as I had began to understand climate change as a serious threat to human well-being, global peace, and a tragic desecration of the earth’s beauty. While the mystery of human self-destructiveness is an ancient theological question, it takes a sharp new form in the totality and irrationality of ecological devastation. The persistence of perhaps willful confusion and apathy invites a look beyond the essential scientific information, using religious interpretive frameworks and complementary insights from evolutionary biology, psychology and economics. These perspectives are all part of the diverse intellectual conversations hosted by the CSSR, in which I am very fortunate to share.

My research as an Earth Institute Fellow at Columbia is directed towards a book on religious attitudes toward the environment, which will further develop in an ecological context the ideas of ethical choices and sacrifice first explored in my book, The Paradox of Christian Sacrifice: The Loss of Self, the Gift of Self (Crossroad, 2007).



Pilar Jennings, Graduate Teaching Assistant

Pilar Jennings is a writer and educational
consultant from New York City. She received her Bachelors from Barnard
College where she studied ethnographic writing. She went on to earn
a Masters in anthropology from Columbia University where she focused
on illness narratives, an interest that lead her to explore the conscious
spiritual beliefs of psychoanalytically trained clinicians. This pursuit
brought her to Union Theological Seminary where she completed a Master
of Arts with a focus on psychiatry and religion. She is currently
a Ph.D. candidate in Psychiatry and Religion at Union where she hopes
to explore the intersection of Eastern spiritual practice and psychoanalytic
theory. Pilar is a psychoanalyst in training and is currently working
with children through the Harlem Family Institute. Through her affiliation
with CSSR and her studies at Union, Pilar looks forward to finding
ways to ground spiritual questions and the extramundane in traditional
clinical training and practice.



Eleni Nikitopoulos,
Postdoctoral Research Scientist

Nathan Ashe, Webmaster

Born in Alabama, is intimately acquainted with banjos and alligators, having wrestled with both in his childhood. Nathan prefers the term Master of the Web to Webmaster. He is a senior in Columbia College, where he re-assembles skeletons in a dark room by himself before teaching neuroscience to middle school students. As an avid christmas sweater collector, Nathan hopes to someday do something and also learn falconry so that he can get free pizza delivery right to his window-step.

He has left for greener, tastier pastures.


Annie Tickell, Event Coordinator & Media Tzar

Annie Tickell is a senior in Columbia College studying Anthropology. She hails from Philadelphia where she attended Germantown Friends School, a quaker K-12, and was active in environmental and human rights groups. She joined the CSSR in the fall of 2009 and has since worked on new media endeavors for the CSSR including a blogTwitter, and Facebook pages. She is a member of the GreenBorough house, which promotes environmental awareness at Columbia and in the surrounding community, and also plays for Columbia’s squash team.


Lauren Alpert, Events

Lauren Alpert is a junior in Columbia College majoring in Biology. She has lived in four states but most recently hails from Oakland, California. Before transferring to Columbia in fall 2009, she trained pre-professionally in ballet and modern dance in Berkeley Ballet Theater’s youth company and at The Juilliard School. Lauren resides in Columbia’s GreenBorough House, where she and her housemates strive to push the boundaries of sustainable living on an urban campus.

When she isn’t studying, she frequents bookstores, farmers’ markets, gelaterias, and purveyors of fair trade coffee and tea. After graduation she looks forward to travelling and studying abroad, and hopes to pursue graduate degrees related to some combination of global health, neuroscience, nutrition, and bioethics. Lauren is thrilled to bring new experiences and perspectives to the Columbia community through CSSR seminars and other events.

Abigail Lowin

Newsletter. CSSR-TCC Intern
Abigail is a junior in Columbia College, majoring in psychology and possibly concentrating in anthropology. She joined the CSSR in the fall of 2008 and has since become entrenched in editing its newsletter and helping out with its events. During the summer of 2009, Abigail worked as one of the two CSSR-TCC interns. Outside of the CSSR, she has held various positions on the Columbia Daily Spectator, served as a coordinator for the Columbia/Barnard Hillel’s 2009 Jewish Life Orientation, and sings with Pizmon, Columbia and Barnard’s co-ed a cappella group. Abigail loves making new friends, talking to everyone over the age of 90, and spreading the word about the cheapest and tastiest iced csoffee in Morningside Heights.

Ossian Foley

Director of Undergraduate Initiated Programs; Events Coordinator
Ossian is a Columbia School of General
Studies student in the Writing Department. He came to New York by way of Seattle, WA. For whatever reasons he first showed up at CSSR, he’s stayed because everyone is interesting and nice.

Ossian graduated from the Columbia University’s School of General Studies in 2009 and is off to the writing program at the University of Iowa to pursue a MFA in writing.

Jay Chudow

CSSR Intern
Jay Chudow is a student in Columbia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, Class of 2009. He is a pre-med, Civil Engineering major interested in science, religion and how the two come together in medicine. Jay started with the CSSR in the summer of 2008 as a CSSR-Terence Cardinal Cooke intern researching palliative and end-of-life care. Outside of the CSSR, Jay has been an active leader in the Columbia/Barnard Hillel community.

Jay Chudow graduated from Columbia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science in 2009 with a degree in Civil Enginnering and is pursuing medical school in the following year.

Emily Rose Jordan

CSSR Research Intern
Emily Rose Jordan, from Chicago, Illinois, is in the Columbia College Class of 2009. She majored in Anthropology and Psychology, and will use these fields to study post-colonial West Africa. Emily is interested in ethics and cultural change, and especially how these topics relate to the evolving worlds of science and religion.

Emily started at CSSR in 2006 and researches assisted reproductive technologies, focusing on the ethics and health effects of ova donation. In addition to her CSSR research, Emily sung with the Columbia/Barnard Women’s Chamber Chorus and was the head manager of the Postcrypt Coffeehouse.

Emily Jordan graduated Columbia College in 2009 and has received a Gates Cambridge Fellowship to pursue a PhD in Neuroscience next year.

Stuart P.D.Gill, Ph.D.

Research Scientist
Stuart P.D. Gill received his Ph.D. from Swinburne University, Australia, in 2005. Currently he is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Astronomy and an instructor in the Frontiers of Science program. Dr. Gill uses computer simulations to study the formation and evolution of galaxies that inhabit the largest objects in the Universe: galaxy clusters. Even though he studies the largest objects in the Universe, he still retains the optimism that there is something even bigger out there– a perspective that led him to pursue a Masters of Divinity degree as well as closer involvement with the CSSR.

Dr. Gill is currently working for the World Bank.

P. Timon McPhearson, Ph.D.
Research Scientist
Raised as the son of a minister in
rural Indiana, Dr. McPhearson attended Taylor University, an Evangelical
Christian school. While earning his B.S. in Environmental Biology
he studied the Old and New Testament, including travels to Israel
and Greece to study the teachings of Jesus and Paul. Additionally,
he worked directly with the National Director for Youth for Christ
in Chennai, India to build schools for teaching vocational skills
to “ragpickers” the poorest of the inner city poor.
After Taylor he earned his Ph.D. in evolutionary biology and ecology
at Rutgers University funded by a National Science Foundation Fellowship
to study cooperation in ecological interactions. Following three
years with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American
Museum of Natural History, Dr. McPhearson’s interest in Buddhist
ways of knowing led him to the CSSR. Now, as a Columbia Science
Fellow in the department of Ecology,
Evolution, and Environmental Biology
at Columbia University,
he teaches Frontiers of Science to undergraduates and a
new course for the CSSR Teaching Science to Clergy program, Cosmology,
Ecology, and Faith
. In addition, Dr. McPhearson recently represented
the CSSR at the 2006 World Knowledge Dialogues in Crans-Montana,
Switzerland and a 2007 meeting of the Center for Theology and Natural
Sciences in Mexico. His current research with the CSSR looks again
at cooperation in biological and religious interactions and the
place of science education in religious tradition.

Dr. McPhearson currently serves on the faculty at The New School.

Kelly Treder

CSSR Intern
Kelly Treder is a senior in Columbia College, who is pre-med with a major in Psychology. Born and raised in Seattle, WA, she loves her hometown but is enchanted with New York City. She hopes to attend medical school and enroll in an M.D./M.P.H dual degree program. Her ideal career aspiration would be the establishment of womens and childrens clinics throughout Africa.

Her relationship with the CSSR began through Columbia University’s SURF Program, through which she and fellow intern, Alex Port conducted research in pain management at the Cabrini Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation. Kelly graduated in 2008 and is pursuing a career in medicine.

Tom Rosenberg

Events Coordinator
Tom is a junior at Columbia College from New Jersey majoring in Religion. His main interest is in contemplative practices as received in modern culture and their intersection with psychology, neuroscience and western philosophy. He hopes this dialogue will lead to a positive understanding of how and if these practices can adress problems like addiction, depression and mental illness.

Laura Bothwell

Former Program Director
Laura has an M.A. from Union
Theological Seminary, where she focused on Science and Religion and
a B.A. in History from the College of Saint Scholastica.

Her worked at the center is multifaceted, but areas of focus
included science and religion educational programs for religious leaders;
a seminar series on Assisted Reproductive Technologies, Reproductive
Health, and Religion; a research project on the science and social
policy of ending poverty; and a science and religion discussion group.
She joined the CSSR staff in 2004 and has served as a T.A. several
times for the course, “DNA, Evolution, and the Soul.”
She also worked with Kate Wittenberg and Ann Miller of the Electronic
Publishing Initiative at Columbia (EPIC) to develop a website with
a bibliography on the science relevant to the topics of the class,
namely consciousness, genetics, and how Darwinian evolution and theories
of the origins of the universe can exist alongside the cosmology of
Abrahamic faiths. In her last semester, she taught a Topics in Biology
course, “Assisted Reproductive Technologies: History and Ethics
of Harvesting Human Eggs.”

Katie Gerbner
Katie graduated from Columbia College
in May of 2006 with a major in Religion with a concentration in Middle
East and Asian Languages and Cultures. Katie has studied Buddhism
and Hinduism in Vietnam and Northern India, respectively, and did
her thesis research on William James and the attempt to create
a science of religions. Next, she is on her way to Germany as the
recipient of a prestigious fellowship.

Alisa Frohman

Former Events Director
Ali graduated from Columbia in 2006 with a major in Political Science focusing on the international relations of East Asia. Ali grew up in Carlisle, Pennsylvania and studied Mandarin Chinese in Taichung, Taiwan. Her experiences at the CSSR reinforced her interest in public health, particularly maternal and child health; she joined The Earth Institute’s Academic and Research Programs team in 2008 and is excited to continue to take part in the CSSR’s events and projects.

Tom Bernardin
Tom received an M.A. with a concentration
in ethics from Union Theological Seminary in May 2005. He graduated
from NYU’s Stern School of Business in 2002 with a B.S. in Finance
and hopes to begin pursuing a Ph.D. in economics in the near future.
The CSSR’s emphasis on the practical and ethical implications
of a closer relationship between science and religion interested him
most. Tom also has an unexplainable interest in the financial management
of large nonprofit institutions such as Columbia University. He is
now working toward a Ph.D. in Economics at Amherst College in Massachusetts.



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Saideep Bose
Saideep graduated from Columbia College
in 2006 with a double major in Biochemistry and Political Science/Economics.
He was born in Bombay but spent most of his life in Manila and Singapore.
Saideep has a life-long interest in using science and technology to
improve the quality of life of people living in impoverished conditions.
In the future he plans to pursue an MPH as well as a medical degree.