Listen to the full interview with Dr. Leslie Wickman

Listen to the full interview with Dr. Leslie Wickman

Dr. leslie Wickman - podcast interview transcript

Announcer: 00:03 Welcome to the Purpose Nation Podcast, inspiring conversations with Christians in science, technology, and industries of the future. For more information in order to make a tax deductible contribution, visit

Brad Cooper: 00:15 This is Brad Cooper with Purpose Nation. In just a couple of months, believe it or not, it'll be the 50th anniversary of humans setting foot on another world and landing on the moon, of course, with the NASA Apollo missions. So that's, you know, coming up here in the news, we have folks like Elon Musk and NASA and many others who now say now, now maybe take humanity to Mars. And so after a little bit of a lull, I would say just sort of in the news and things with the Space Shuttle kind of winding down in 2011, human space flight is getting a lot more buzz again. And so my next guest on the podcast knows a thing or two about that, about space flight, as well as a lot of other different science and engineering topics as well as what we're all about, which is the intersection of faith and science. And so I'm just really honored and blessed to welcome as my guest on the podcast, Dr. Leslie Wickman. Dr. Wickman, thank you so much for joining the Purpose Nation Podcast.

Dr. Wickman: 01:07 Thanks for having me. I appreciate the opportunity.

Brad Cooper: 01:10 Oh no, you're welcome. The opportunity is all ours. Starting right off. I mean, what are your thoughts about the 50th anniversary of landing on the moon? Does America need a new kind of moon shot with the space program? Do we go back to the moon? Do we go to Mars? So you say you're the, you're the head of NASA. So what would you be doing right now?

Dr. Wickman: 01:27 Well, I think it's kind of inevitable that humans will want to explore further and further, and so Mars is the next logical step for sure. But you know, it is quite challenging and it's hard to believe that it's been almost 50 years since the moon landing the moon. Obviously that was a terrific goal, but it's a heck of a lot easier to get to the moon than it is to take people to Mars and keep them safe and healthy. It's kind of written into our DNA to explore and go where we've never gone before, right, as humans. But, one of the biggest challenges of a Mars trip is the fact that it's long. I mean we're talking, you know, even the fly-by mission that I was recently approached about participating in would be like a year and a half long flight and that's not even landing on the surface of Mars.

Dr. Wickman: 02:19 And so, you know, so far we've only had humans in space for just slightly over a year aboard the space station. And that's a very small number of people that have been in space for that long. And you know, they come back severely de-conditioned. We have cardiovascular de-conditioning happening, we have bone loss, muscle atrophy. And typically when a person's been in a weightless environment in space for a number of months, they are so de-conditioned that they have a hard time even standing up under their own power once they get back. And so we'd talk about, like you say, a fly by mission would be about a year and a half and we don't even have that experience yet in terms of keeping people healthy for that long, let alone a mission where we'd actually land on the surface and spend a few months on the surface and then come back, which would probably be more like two and a half to three years. There are challenges there in terms of, you know, not just the technology to get us there, but the technology to keep us healthy and safe on the trip. Again, I think inevitably we'll eventually get there, but there are some things that, so we need to really be taken seriously in terms of your plans for doing so.

Brad Cooper: 03:34 Yeah,a few minor details to iron out.

Dr. Wickman: 03:36 Yeah, exactly.

Brad Cooper: 03:38 We'll come back to that in just a minute, but I did want to first give a quick background... well, I'm going to try to make it quick on Dr. Wickman because there's a lot there, so I don't know how quick I'm going to make it, but here we go. So, Dr. Wickman is a professor, a research scientist, engineering consultant, author, speaker. She graduated from Willamette University with a Bachelor's in Political Science. Now. I didn't expect that one. But with political science, I guess, I guess that's perfect for working in like big companies and government and NASA. Right. You gotta have that...and universities too...

Dr. Wickman: 04:05 Yeah. It wasn't really what I was thinking actually has come probably to serve me well.

Brad Cooper: 04:12 ...comes in handy. Yeah. So, Dr. Wickman also holds a Master's Degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering...see, that's more along the lines of what I was thinking it would be there...and a Doctoral Degree in Human Factors and Bio-mechanics, both from Stanford University and yeah, that's more what I expected. So I'm, and for more than a decade, Dr. Wickman was an engineer for Lockheed Martin where she worked on NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station program and was designated as Lockheed's corporate Astronaut, which is a very cool job. I wish I could have gotten that job in a corporate world. I'm much more and earned the nickname, "Rocket Girl," which again, very cool. Not many places you can get a nickname like that. So Dr. Wickman is now the Executive Director for the American Scientific Affiliation, which is a great group. ASA, kind of a Christian nonprofit promoting dialogue between science...and faith and we'll talk more about that in a little bit.

Brad Cooper: 05:04 And she's also a professor of Aerospace Industrial Mechanical Engineering at California Baptist University. And before that, and I guess also still currently, is with Azusa Pacific University here in Southern California...great Christian colleges...continues to work in research as a scientist and on technical and policy aspects of national aerospace and defense issues. Speaks around the globe on a lot of these different science and technology issues as well as of course the intersection between science and faith. Also an author of a great book, it's called "God of the Big Bang, How Modern Science Affirms the Creator." And we'll have a link to that on the podcast page. You want to check that out and before I get, you know, run out of breath here if all that isn't impressive enough, Dr. Wickman is also a dedicated athlete. And this is great, in reading the Bio, there didn't, hadn't seen this before, but also a professional women's tackle football, you know, not, not like soccer football...we're talking regular football. Is that right?

Dr. Wickman: 05:59 Yeah. Yeah. Well, I've retired after my third knee surgery. My doctor insisted on my retiring from football.

Brad Cooper: 06:06 Well, shoot

Dr. Wickman: 06:06 Yeah. It was, it was a blast.

Brad Cooper: 06:07 But also competitive beach volleyball and indoor volleyball. Now that I can handle a little bit more.

Dr. Wickman: 06:14 Okay.

Brad Cooper: 06:15 Still playing volleyball?

Dr. Wickman: 06:17 Yeah. Yes, absolutely. Play beach volleyball very regularly and I do indoor tournaments every now and then too.

Brad Cooper: 06:26 Good. Good. Beach is definitely active. I mean I could handle, I guess like with the, when you got the six players and the indoor and like, okay, the ball's coming to me now. I can hit it. But, but beach volleyball, it's like my feet get stuck in this sand... and it's like the ball goes right by me.

Dr. Wickman: 06:39 You get used to it. Yes. Doubles on the beach is actually my favorite form of volleyball.

Brad Cooper: 06:45 Yeah, it's fun stuff. Fun. Just intense. It's a lot. It's a great workout. Especially in the sun here on the beach and in our Sunny Southern California.

Brad Cooper: 06:52 Okay. So yeah, so going back a little bit to space flight theme a little bit. So you worked on the Hubble Space Telescope and International Space Station. We're just talking about, you know, some of the things around astronauts and kind of the rigors that they'd be put through on a trip to Mars. But yeah, it sounds like in some of your, your work there and your history, you did some actual astronaut training as well. So, so what works well, there's some of the things that you did and what were some of the things that they put you through and what would you say were some of the more difficult things that you went through?

Dr. Wickman: 07:17 Yeah, a lot of different things that were, I mean I, I I thought it was all a lot of fun really. I got my private pilot's license, I got my scuba certification to be able to participate in water tank simulations or neutral buoyancy simulations in the big water tanks that we use to simulate long-duration weightlessness. Then I went to high altitude physiology training in hypobaric chambers where they do like gradual and rapid decompression to the atmospheric pressure that you'd experience 20,000 feet. The reason for that is to have you experience symptoms of Hypoxia or low oxygen to the brain so that if it ever happened when you're in a space suit or in a spacecraft craft that was losing oxygen, you would recognize your symptoms early enough to be able to do something about before you pass out.

Dr. Wickman: 08:09 Flew on-board, the KC 135 which is a NASA research aircraft that is used to fly parabolas and get weightlessness over the top of the parabola for about 20 seconds. It's also affectionately referred to as the "vomit comet."

Brad Cooper: 08:25 Ha, Ha...

Dr. Wickman: 08:25 So that's where your motion sickness comes in.

Brad Cooper: 08:31 First place we've gone there on this podcast, but. Okay. Yeah. Go for it.

Dr. Wickman: 08:34 I did many, many flights aboard the KC 135. Many of them were zero gravity flights were, like I say, you pull up into the, parabola over the top you get about 20 seconds of weightlessness. But I also, for my doctoral dissertation research on spacesuit designed for reduced gravity environments. Uh, we did Martian gravity parabolas. So three eighths of the earth's gravity level and lunar gravity porabolas, so one six of Earth's gravity's. In each of those you actually get a little bit a longer time... again zero gravity you got about 20 seconds over the top of the Parabola for lunar gravity at one sixth you get about 30 seconds...and for Martian G at three eighths of Earth's gravity get about 40 seconds. So during that part of the parabola you get a short, relatively short stretch of time where you can do short tasks or elements of tasks that are simulated in a more realistic way in terms of gravity level. Then they would be in the water tank because obviously in the water tank you have drag water drag of moving things around and things like that. So he has some artifacts of this simulation environment that you have to account for. And I went through parachute training, spent hundreds of hours in the water tanks doing neutral buoyancy simulations for the Hubble Space Telescope program as well as International Space Station program.

Brad Cooper: 09:58 Very cool. So we were talking about human space wise and just the dangers and Mars trip and how intense that would be. And well obviously a lot of this would be a lot of time, but also a lot of money. I mean robots are getting pretty good now, so I don't know if you've seen like the youtube videos of like the at Boston Dynamics, like Atlas thing that does like flips now.

Dr. Wickman: 10:17 Oh...I think I have seen some videos of that.

Brad Cooper: 10:18 Yeah. So the robots are doing backflips I mean, so what are, I mean you've kind of done some of this firsthand. I mean, what are the benefits still, you know, to sending humans? Maybe the risks and the cost and everything just outweigh the benefits?

Dr. Wickman: 10:31 Yeah, I mean that argument goes all the way back to the very beginning of the space flight program. I mean really it comes down to the one capability that humans have that robots and even artificial intelligence has not been able to replicate, at least not fully, is you know responding to the unexpected and the artificial intelligence systems, our only able to be as good and responsive as we've been able to program them to be. If there's something completely outside the box that they encounter, then we're still not able to respond as effectively or as innovatively as a human would be able to, to something completely unexpected. So that's one of the biggest arguments for humans in space.

Dr. Wickman: 11:21 However, you have the, the other side of the argument, which is, you know, humans are a lot more costly to keep alive in space than a robot would be on a similar type of mission. Um, you have the risks of course, the possibility of danger, even death and uh, the cost with the life support systems that you have to send along with them and the consumables of water and food. All these things add up to additional launch weight, which adds up to greater costs, both in terms of the original launch from Earth's gravity and the cost of the equipment that you have to pay for, of course.

Dr. Wickman: 11:59 But the other thing about humans, that probably is the most important piece, is that sending humans on space missions captures the public's imagination and attention in a way that sending a robot doesn't. And you know, that is a big part of the equation that it's a little bit hard to kind of quantify the value of that. But it's just a fact. You know, it's like people don't get as excited about sending a robot to Mars as they would sending a crew of human beings and it's just so much more engaging from the human element.

Brad Cooper: 12:37 Yeah, absolutely. And as long as you have like Elon Musk thinking we're going to need to like flee the planet at some point he's going to probably keep pushing forward with it. So...

Dr. Wickman: 12:44 That brings up a whole 'nother perspective, in that the more that I have learned through the research and work that I've done, the more appreciation I have for planet Earth. And just the simple fact that, you know, we have so many things goin for us, you know, on this planet we talk about, you know, fighting other planets that are habitable and you know, you look at Mars and the problem with Mars, the biggest problem with Mars is the fact that it's so much smaller than the earth, that it doesn't have as much gravity. And because it doesn't have as much gravity and it doesn't have substantial magnetic field, it's not able to retain an atmosphere...

Brad Cooper: 13:26 Right. It'd be tough.

Dr. Wickman: 13:26 ...let alone a breathable atmosphere.

Brad Cooper: 13:29 No beach volleyball without a heavy suit...

Dr. Wickman: 13:32 Right, exactly.

Brad Cooper: 13:33 Although I guess the ball would go pretty far with three eighths gravity, right?

Dr. Wickman: 13:37 Yeah, absolutely. I mean, or if you want to play baseball, you know, get some pretty, good home runs going.

Brad Cooper: 13:43 The red beaches, the beautiful red beaches.

Dr. Wickman: 13:47 Yeah. But see, that brings us to the question of terraforming, right? The idea of terraforming Mars or another planet dependent on being able to retain an atmosphere. Here's something that actually relates to both, uh, travel to Mars as well as to the whole science and faith thing. The fact that Earth's gravity is exactly what it needs to be to hold onto large amounts of water vapor at 18 grams per mole, yet not strong enough to hold on to large amounts of methane and ammonia at 16 and 17 grams per mole. So think about that. Earth's gravity is balanced on a knife's edge it is just finally-tuned to that perfect amount of gravity to be able to hold onto life-giving water vapor but not to poisonous methane and ammonia in large amounts.

Dr. Wickman: 14:37 You look at Mars, which I just mentioned, you know, three eights of earth's gravity is not strong enough to hold onto large amounts of water vapor. So even if you were able somehow get the components of, uh, why friendly atmosphere, H2O at 18 grams per mole is going to escape into space more easily than it would on a larger planet with greater gravity. That's a big problem. And I think, you know, some of the, the ideas for terraforming haven't really been thought through from the standpoint of well, "how realistically or how practically do you implement that?" I mean, you'd have to have some sort of a huge structure to contain the atmosphere. You know, like I can imagine a giant dome or something like that, but again, that would be extremely expensive to build on the planet. So all that to say that, yeah. Okay. Mars is probably a less hostile environment than Venus would be...the other direction, you know, closer to the sun where it's, you know, the surface temperature is about 900 degrees Fahrenheit and we have carbon dioxide clouds laced with sulfuric acid...

Brad Cooper: 15:50 The Cloud City idea for Venus is basically Star Wars in the cloud city...I guess you'd have to do that?

Dr. Wickman: 16:00 Yeah. And you know, it's also got 90 times of Earth's atmospheric pressure on Venus too. So like I say, you take your pick.

Brad Cooper: 16:08 Right. Not a lot of great vacation options there...

Dr. Wickman: 16:11 Yeah. Venus would be even more hostile you couldn't survive as long as you couldn't survive as long as on Mars. So all that to say that, you know, where are you going to go if you're going to go some place, it's basically the Moon the asteroid belts or Mars.

Brad Cooper: 16:22 Not a lot of great options there. And Yeah, if you say you're in the domes and Mars, we're back to indoor volleyball again.

Dr. Wickman: 16:28 Yeah, exactly. But, you'd get some killer hops! You know?

Brad Cooper: 16:33 Oh yeah, the spikes would be going way too fast for me. They already are. All right. So in your background, when did you get interested in science and space and engineering? Did you want to be an astronaut as a kid?

Dr. Wickman: 16:46 Oh yeah. actually when I was a kid, my first interest in science, and actually astronomy in particular, started when I was probably seven, eight years old, somewhere in there. My dad had a telescope and he would take us outside and look at the stars and moon moon and the planets through his telescope. And I just remember being fascinated that early age, you know, by, just wow, there's, there are other possible worlds out there, you know, and, and just the idea of, you know, how big the universe might be and you know, of course everybody starts wondering about if there are other civilizations or other intelligent beings out there, that sort of thing. And yeah, so, from a fairly young age, I was interested in science and, and in a fairly young age, I was also interested in being a space explorer.

Brad Cooper: 17:32 So what was the political science degree? Ha ha...

Dr. Wickman: 17:36 Ha, ha... You're not going to let that one go?

Brad Cooper: 17:40 Was it just a good general education kind of thing or you know, and then you're, you still had plans or did you intend to divert from it?

Dr. Wickman: 17:47 Yeah, so...there were a few things going on and kind of like hindsight is 2020 right? So looking back on it, I've been able to kind of put a little bit more clarity around it, but I think at that time, you know, growing up even, you know, grade school, junior high, high school, I was always encouraged in my math and science abilities and kind of push that direction by my teachers in when I started my undergrad work, I was thinking about majoring in, in math and you know, I was really interested again in astronomy, but there wasn't a whole lot of astronomy available as an Undergrad. I think part of it was I, I thought to myself, well, what am I going to do with this? You know? And I think at that time also because of where I was with the kind of science and faith connection, I was shying away from a career in science simply because, you know I grew up in a Christian household but to secular schools, and I remember at a certain point in middle school or junior high, I had a biology teacher who go so far as to say, you know, you might as well just leave your faith at the door because what we're going to talk about in this class is almost certainly going to contradict what you've heard at church.

Dr. Wickman: 19:01 And even, yeah. Even to my, you know, junior high mind, I was like, this doesn't make sense to me. I don't understand how if we really believe that God is the creator that he claims to be, then how can studying his creation contradict who he is? It's just didn't make sense. And yet I didn't know what to do with that kind of perceived, yeah, conflict at that age and I didn't really know where to turn with it. And I, I think that in college I was still kind of, I can say shy away from that and just wondering how could I be a Christian in the sciences. And so it wasn't until later, it was kind of funny cause you know I, I majored in poli sci. I actually thought about working in international relations. In fact they even did a, an internship my senior year at the State Department in DC.

Dr. Wickman: 19:51 And I realized during that experience that I needed to get an advanced degree to really get anywhere to be able to do more than just kind of push papers and process visa clearances. I thought, you know what, I'm going to go back and I'm going to do what I really wanted to do on the first place, which was study aerospace engineering and learn more about, you know, the space program and get involved in it. And so in a sense, I look at that as my turning a corner. But it was also, in a way I feel like God was maybe dragging me back into the sciences even though I was tried to run away from it. Almost like a Jonah story now. It's like I'm scared to do what I'm designed to do. So yeah. So I came back to it later, but it was like I said, it was, it was all part of my kind of personal journey. I, yeah,

Brad Cooper: 20:38 No, that's great. And thanks for telling me. Didn't mean to press you on it, but it's, you know, it was an interesting and it ended up turning out to be a very good story and background on, on what kind of you into where you are today.

Brad Cooper: 20:48 Coming back to kind in present day. I want to be sure we talk about it. So tell us about the American Scientific Affiliation. What is, it kind of goes through, what are their goals? What are, what do they do?

Dr. Wickman: 20:56 Yes. ASA, we are an organization of Christians, primarily Christians who are working in the sciences or people that are interested in this science and faith dialogue. We have about 2000 or so members.

Brad Cooper: 21:10 Wow.

Dr. Wickman: 21:11 Probably closer to 2,500 by the time you add up all the students. We have about a thousand student members. By the way, student membership in the organization is free. We have an annual meeting every summer. In fact, this year's meeting is coming up in late July, the weekend of the 19th through the 22nd, I believe it is at Wheaton College near Chicago this year. That's one of our crown jewels of the organization is the annual meeting that we hold every year. Where people come together. We have usually about five different keynote speakers on different topics. This year's theme is exploring creation and one of our keynote speakers is Kenneth Miller who wrote a widely used biology textbook and has also written a more popular book called Finding Darwin's God, which is a quite interesting, so he's going to be one of our keynotes.

Dr. Wickman: 22:06 We have other people that will be joining us as well. And in addition to the keynote speakers, we have the opportunity for people to submit abstracts for papers that they want to present and full blown peer review. And so it's always a really interesting conference that, you know, we talk about all aspects of the science and faith intersection, whether it's questions about origins or ethics or environmental stewardship, um, appropriate technologies, bio ethics, genetic research, all kinds of things. So that's one of our highlights.

Dr. Wickman: 22:38 Another is that we publish a quarterly journal. We have contributed papers in that on all kinds of things, different topics in science and faith often have dean issues that come out that address a particular topic. Those are also available through our website. If you join as a member of the Asa, our annual membership for adult members as opposed to students, uh, is $85 a year. So very reasonable. And with that membership you have access to all of the resources on the website as well as the journal issues. We have a growing number of local chapters are spreading across theU and Canada. I think we're up to 34 chapters across the US and in Canada. So that's another thing people can find out about on the website and you know, check out whether there's a local chapter in your own community or if you want to start one.

Brad Cooper: 23:31 right.

Dr. Wickman: 23:32 That, you know, brings the conversation to the local community. One more quick thing. In 2020, summer of 2020, our meeting is going to be at Point Loma University in San Diego.

Brad Cooper: 23:43 OK. Look forward to it. Yeah, definitely can check that out.

Brad Cooper: 23:46 Talking a little bit about, the teaching, so you are a professor at California Baptist University and prior to that Asuza Pacific...Christian colleges seem like you have great programs and both of them seem like they're adding kind of more, even more kind of science and computer science kind of degrees and things like that. What do you kinds of of trends are you seeing since you're sort of on the front lines there with Christians attending these classes and maybe a majoring in some of these degrees more entering these fields? Less? Kind of, how is that changing kind of, what's the landscape you see on Christians entering these careers?

Dr. Wickman: 24:16 I think there's definitely increasing interest in having STEM degree programs at Christian universities. One of the pieces of evidence of this that I see is the growing number of Christian colleges and universities that are implementing engineering programs. It is a relatively new thing, but it's spreading across the country. I mean places like Laterno in Texas and Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma have been doing engineering programs for some time. Cal Baptist program in engineering has been around for about, I think it's 12 years now. Um, and is growing Asuza Pacific, has a new engineering program that I was actually involved in starting about a three or four years ago. And so it's something that more Christian colleges and universities are getting interested in and that is always reflective of the market. Right. It's like if, if they don't think that there are students that are going to take those classes, they're not gonna start a new program.

Dr. Wickman: 25:17 It's really exciting actually to see that, that happening. Because I think one of the key factors that would attract a student to take, or to go after a STEM degree at a Christian college is the whole worldview thing...

Brad Cooper: 25:32 Right.

Dr. Wickman: 25:33 a Christ follower, how can I use whatever my chosen discipline is to make a difference in the world for good? And I think there's so many opportunities in the sciences, you know, whether you in engineering and able to, you know, bring new technologies to people that need it, or you're in one of the more basic sciences like biology or physics, and you can help people understand the connections between the amazing world that God created and how he's put it together with the laws of physics and these incredible synergies between the different parts of creation that have to be just exactly what they are in order for life to exist on earth. I just think it's an incredible witness to the hand of God in this world that we live in, to be able to learn about those connections and in turn tell others about them, whether that's through teaching, or through your discipline within a particular industry or institutions. Anyway, I'm really excited to, these fields seem to be growing within the Christian college and university network.

Brad Cooper: 26:42 Right. Yeah, that is and it's great and it's encouraging to hear that those programs are growing and hopefully attendance is going up and getting more, more Christians wanting to do that. And yeah, I imagine it's kind of a lot of what you said, which is part of, is it just kind of being in an environment, in a worldview where you don't have as much, I guess of the perceived conflict that you were talking about earlier? I guess there's probably still some wherever you go, but kind of a little bit worse. Welcoming environment for people of faith.

Dr. Wickman: 27:04 Yeah, absolutely. We do hear this narrative of conflict so frequently and we see the publicized debates between Bill Nye the Science Guy and Ken Ham from Answers in Genesis just you know, are about these kind of hotheaded debates. They're not very attractive to anyone. The reality is there a lot of scientists practicing their disciplines who are faithful Christ followers. And so I think the more, the more of that kind of news that we can get out there, the better. And the more encouraging it is for young people who are considering science as a field to go into as well as people who might be outside the faith who are interested in science. But perhaps think that, you know, science might be an obstacle to faith. I think it is encouraging for people who might be seeking, who have a great trust in science to know that that science and faith are not at odds with each other and that they, there are many people have found them to be compatible.

Brad Cooper: 28:03 Absolutely. Amen to all of that. What I hear from some of our guests and for, for folks who typically are attracted to Christian colleges, sometimes they're debating between theology or going into ministry or going into a church for maybe serving in Africa or something like that and going into a science career. Are you seeing that a little bit in some of the Christian colleges or no? Do people, students coming in kind of have their minds made up or do you see, do you see that kind of a conflict between thinking well, I'm really more serving God if I go into ministry versus doing science, you know, kind of not making necessarily that connection?

Dr. Wickman: 28:35 No, I think, I think that, you know, that conversation is definitely one that that comes up a lot on a Christian college campus, you know, but, um, I think that if we can, we have thoughtful conversations in class, where can we talk about how, you know, you can serve God in whatever discipline that you're in and to be able to figure out how within your discipline you can practice your discipline really as an act of worship. How can you do it as unto the Lord? And I know in the sciences just exploring these amazing connections, you know, and the intricacies of God's work and God as Creator of everything and establishing his covenants with the Earth and the laws of nature and why do we even have an orderly universe? Why do we have these physical laws that govern space, matter, time and energy? You know, and those kinds of questions and seeing those connections if we can talk about them so seamlessly in our work.

Dr. Wickman: 29:36 And I know for me... worked in the aerospace industry for many years and the more that I've learned about the connections between science and faith and seeing God's hand in the nature, the more it has freed me up to have interesting conversations with people who may or may not be people of faith about these connections and just being able to have those "Did you know?" kinds of conversations about "Did you know how improbable it is that we would get the universe that [...] energy?" Or "Did you know these things about the gravity of the earth being just exactly right to hold onto water vapor but not to methane and ammonia in large amounts?" And having "did you know?" conversations with people and getting them to think more about the possibility that, you know, maybe this universe is put together for a purpose. I think it's a ministry in itself to be able to have those kinds of conversations, whatever your discipline is, whether it's in the STEM fields or in something entirely different. I think figuring out how you can use your specific discipline to serve God within it. I mean God needs people everywhere, not just in the church or in the pulpit or in the, you know, professional ministry category. It would be a pretty dark workplace if there were not Christians in every discipline.

Brad Cooper: 31:04 Right. I guess the messages, you don't have to choose between ministry and, yeah, in science for example, you can do the both. Why not?

Dr. Wickman: 31:10 Exactly.

Brad Cooper: 31:11 Yeah, so again, we've been speaking with scientist, engineer, author, professor, athlete, as I understand it, Dr. Leslie Wickman and great conversation. We have lots of information on our podcast page. We'll put, we'll link to the ASA, American Scientific Affiliation website in case you missed that earlier. Go check them out as well -- try to attend one of their events, sign up for their quarterly newsletters, become a member. Also check out her book and she has a website as well as please check all of those out as well.

Brad Cooper: 31:36 So any big plans this summer? So we have the ASA meeting, but uh, any, any other projects or or trips or things coming up this summer?

Dr. Wickman: 31:43 Yeah, I mean the main thing really is our conference so that, you know, madly running down all the last minute details, the meeting and making sure that our members are going to have a good experience there. So I'll be going up to the northwest at some point too because that's where my roots are and I tend to hang out around the coast of Washington and Central Oregon where my family lives just for fun. But I'm, like I said, our big event really is the Wheaton conference this summer. So I hope some of your audience will think about attending. Again, the website is and maybe I'll see you in Chicago.

Brad Cooper: 32:22 Yeah, absolutely. Pick up a beach volleyball game over there at the conference....find a court.

Dr. Wickman: 32:25 Yeah, sounds good.

Brad Cooper: 32:27 Very good. Thank you, Dr. Wickman for your time and wish you the best in your all of your work that you're doing, and thank you for everything that you are doing.

Dr. Wickman: 32:35 Thank you, Brad. This has been a great conversation. I've enjoyed it.

Brad Cooper: 32:39 Likewise, God bless and thanks for joining us.

Announcer: 32:40 Thank you for joining the Purpose Nation Podcast. For more great interviews for resources or to make your tax deductible contribution to support our nonprofit ministry, please visit This program is copyright Purpose Nation, Inc. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation.