The Isthmus Society
5222 Mosse Humanities Bldg
455 N. Park Street
Madison, WI 53706

Inquiries & webmaster:
[email protected]

Executive Director
Steering Committee


Jeffrey D. Hardin ~ Professor and Chair of Zoology and Faculty Director, Biology Core Curriculum, UW-Madison. Prior to receiving his Ph.D. in Biophysics, Jeff received a M.Div. from the International School of Theology. Jeff is a member of the Religious Studies Program at UW-Madison; he also serves on the Board of Directors for the Lubar Institute for the Study of Abrahamic Religions at UW. Jeff is the faculty advisor for the InterVarsity Graduate Christian Fellowship at UW-Madison and serves the Steering Committee of the UW-Madson Christian Faculty/Staff Fellowship. He is a member of Geneva Campus Church in Madison, WI. Jeff is a frequent speaker at the interface between Christianity and modern science. He is a member of the Board of Advisors for the John Templeton Foundation.

Executive Director (2011-12)

Ronald A. Binzley ~ Ron holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and wrote his dissertation on the eighteenth-century English Jesuit Province’s role in shaping American Catholicism. He also authored “American Catholicism’s Science Crisis and the Albertus Magnus Guild, 1953-1969” Isis 98 no. 4 (December 2007): 695-723. Ron served previously as the Isthmus Society’s executive director in 2006-2008


Charles L. Cohen ~ Professor of History and Religious Studies, former director of the Religious Studies Program, and currently director of the Lubar Institute for the Study of the Abrahamic Religions, UW-Madison. He is the author of the prize-winning God’s Caress: The Psychology of Puritan Religious Experience (1986) and a Distinguished Lecturer, Organization of American Historians. His latest publication is Theology and the Soul of the Liberal State, co-edited with Leonard Kaplan (2010).

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Steering Committee

Roger G. Backes ~ As Roger’s career has been in the area of personal development, including vocational rehabilitation with people with disabilities and related psychosocial deficits. Roger worked for the Mental Health Center of Dane County for twenty-two years and served as the Director of Yahara House in Madison. He is currently teaching mini-courses including courses on the subject of skepticism and clear thinking and serves as a liaison from a local “Doubters Group,” which questions issues of faith, religion, and science from the perspective of those who do not believe in supernatural phenomena.

Mark Csikszentmihalyi ~ Associate Professor, East Asian Languages and Literature and Religious Studies, UW-Madison. Mark is interested in the interface between ethics and natural philosophy in early China. His Material Virtue: Ethics and the Body in Early China (Brill, 2004) explores the way the Confucian virtues were naturalized over the period from the fourth through second centuries B.C.E. and became thought of as something like bodily humors. He has also published on Daoism (a.k.a. Taoism), Chinese divination, and early technical discourses based on five phases and yinyang theory.

Jon Dahl ~ Vice President, New College Madison; Director, graduate student program for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Before coming to Madison, Jon worked on UW campuses in the western and southwestern parts of the state. Jon’s formal training is in agronomy and engineering. In addition, he received a Masters in Theological Studies from Regent College-University of British Columbia.

Dana Geary ~ Professor of Department of Geology and Geophysics, UW-Madison. Dana has studied both biological and geological sciences, with degrees from the University of California, Santa Barbara (B.A.), University of Colorado, Boulder (M.S.), and Harvard University (Ph.D.). She teaches a variety of courses on evolution and paleontology. Her research is directed towards understanding tempo and mode in evolution, the relationship of ontogeny and phylogeny, and the environmental context of evolutionary change.

David C. Lindberg ~ Hilldale Professor Emeritus of the History of Science, UW-Madison. Dave has written or edited thirteen books, including The Beginnings of Western Science, which was awarded the 1994 Watson Davis Prize of the History of Science Society and the 1995 John Templeton Foundation Prize for Outstanding Books in Theology and Natural Science. A former Guggenheim Foundation Fellow, Dave is also a member of the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton University) and a past president of the History of Science Society.

Richard Lindroth ~ Professor of Ecology, Department of Entomology, with affiliate appointments in the Department of Zoology and Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, UW-Madison. Rick’s research interests are in chemical ecology and biotic interactions, with a major emphasis on global environmental change (e.g., impacts of elevated carbon dioxide on forest ecosystems). He is a member of Blackhawk Church in Madison. He has spoken on issues relating to environmental stewardship to numerous church and public audiences.

David O. Morgan ~ Professor of History and Religious Studies, Director of the Middle East Studies Program, UW-Madison. David’s academic and teaching interest in religion is in Islam, especially though not exclusively in the medieval period. He regularly teaches a course on “Islam in Iran” and is currently teaching a graduate seminar on “The Origins and Early Development of Islam”.

Ronald L. Numbers ~ Hilldale Professor of the History of Science and Medicine and of Religious Studies and a member of the department of medical history and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he has taught for over three and a half decades. He has written or edited more than two dozen books, including, most recently, Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion (2009), Biology and Ideology from Descartes to Dawkins (2010, with Denis Alexander), Science and Religion around the World (2011, with John Hedley Brooke), and Wrestling with Nature: From Omens to Science (2011, with Peter Harrison and Michael H. Shank). He is general editor, with David C. Lindberg, of the eight-volume Cambridge History of Science (2003- ), as well as a past president the History of Science Society, the American Society of Church History, and the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science.

Scott Gerard Prinster ~ Graduate student in the History of Science Department, UW-Madison. Scott’s current research interest is in the interaction between science and religion in the early modern period, particularly in eastern Europe. He holds an M.Div. from Starr King School for the ministry, and is an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in physics, and his first career was in the American space program.

Michael H. Shank ~ Professor of the History of Science, UW-Madison; author of “Unless You Believe, You Shall Not Understand”: Logic, University, and Society in Late Medieval Vienna (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988); and “Setting the Stage: Galileo in Tuscany, the Veneto, and Rome,” in Ernan McMullin, ed., Galileo and the Church (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2005), pp. 57-87. He teaches the history of science from antiquity to the early modern period. His research interests include late-medieval astronomy and the medieval university. He is currently working on two Galileo projects.

Mark Shults ~ Medical product design consultant, inventor and business entrepreneur with interests in medical instrumentation, artificial organs and implantable biosensors. Mark holds MIT degrees in biology and aeronautical engineering. He conducted research at the Harvard and UW Madison medical schools and started three medical development companies. In 2004 with others at First Unitarian Society of Madison he founded the atheist fellowship group, FUS Doubters.

Elliot Sober ~ Hans Reichenbach Professor of Philosophy and a William Vilas Research Professor, UW-Madison. Elliott’s research is in philosophy of science, especially in the philosophy of evolutionary biology and the use of probability concepts in scientific reasoning. He has written about the design argument and creationism. Some of his papers appear on his website at

Peter Sobol ~ Information Systems professional at UW-Madison. Peter has taught history of science at Oklahoma University, Indiana University, and at UW-Madison. He studies medieval and Renaissance treatises on the soul – with emphasis on explanations of animal intelligence – as well as the history of fringe science and the occult. For several years he has been a regular participant in the Intervarsity Grad Science discussion group.

Karen L. Steudel ~ Professor of Zoology and Chair of the Zoology Department at the UW-Madison. Karen’s research focuses on the relationship between structure and performance in mammalian locomotion and in applying the results of those studies to our understanding of the locomotion of fossil hominids. Her most recent publications can be found on her website at

Vernon Visick ~ Executive Director, New College-Madison. Vern is a former campus minister, having served on the staff of Madison Campus Ministry (MCM) for twenty-three years, and a fellow of the Au Sable Institute for Environmental Studies. He holds a Ph.D. in Ethics and Society from the University of Chicago and wrote his thesis on “Paul Tillich and the University”. He is also an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church.

Stephen E. Wald ~ Doctoral Candidate in the History of Science, UW-Madison, co-founder of the Isthmus Society. Steve is presently writing his dissertation on the history of the “split brain” and its religious implications in late-twentieth-century America. He has published two book reviews in the field of technology and religion. He also holds a Master of Theological Studies (MTS) Degree from Duke Divinity School and a bachelor’s degree in design from North Carolina State University, Raleigh. Steve served as executive director of the Isthmus Society during its inaugural year (2005-2006).

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