Christians in Science: The Microbiologist Apologist
Dr. Anjeanette “AJ” Roberts
Dr. Anjeanette “AJ” Roberts is a microbiologist and a Christian. This writer recently had the opportunity to interview Roberts on her faith and her career.
When AJ first saw the Starship Enterprise float across her television set, accompanied by the eerie chorus of theme music, she was hooked. As a child, watching Captain Kirk and his friend – the stoic alien scientist Spock – explore the unknown and conquer mysterious threats – not with force – but rather with science, AJ knew that she was destined to be a scientist herself. This passion for science was fueled by her sixth grade science teacher, who encouraged her to pursue her dream. And pursue, she did.
In college, AJ was particularly drawn to the intricacies and mystery of microscopic organisms. These were mysteries she intended to unlock. AJ laid the foundations for her future by gaining her BS degree in chemistry. She followed that up by obtaining her doctorate in molecular and cellular biology. Now a PhD, AJ’s course was set. She spent the next 13 years of her life performing bench research, and also spent ten years as a Professor, teaching and lecturing on topics such as virology, public health, and molecular biology.
Before Roberts ever transitioned into her career in Microbiology, she had found her identity as a Christian. Says Roberts:
“I surrendered my life to Jesus as Lord and Savior, and became a born-again Christ follower, at the age of 12. It was through Christian music and the testimony of one of the band members at a concert I attended, that I realized the significance of Jesus' death and resurrection for my forgiveness and salvation. I knew I needed a savior – which he was by what he accomplished on the cross, and I knew I wanted him to be Lord – accompanying and guiding me through life – which he could do since he was alive – having risen from the dead thus demonstrating that he was indeed God, as he himself claimed to be..”
Roberts claims that her Christian beliefs caused some speed bumps in her pursuit of a career in science; but only from those who were, for personal reasons and experiences, opposed to Christianity or religion in general. Says Roberts:
“One professor tried to threaten my post-doctoral and following career if I continued to acknowledge God for His role in successfully completing my PhD (which I did at the end of my graduate research presentation that I would give on interviews). I have also had colleagues who inappropriately biased consideration for admission to study programs based on perceptions of applicants' Christian faith. There have also been individual challenges in sharing my faith with some of my colleagues: hostile responses, scoffing, fewer opportunities to socialize, etc. But there have also been great opportunities as I patiently persevered.”
As Roberts continued to encounter the occasional bias to her Christian beliefs, she turned to the field of Christian Apologetics in order to defend these beliefs. Finding Apologetics to be a very powerful tool in integrating the Christian Worldview with science, Roberts pursued and obtained an MA in Christian Apologetics.
Roberts has since devoted herself wholly to the defense of Christianity via the sciences. Roberts now works for the organization Reasons to Believe, where she continues her work by reading broadly in general science, molecular biology, cell biology, virology, and biomedical sciences journals. From recent reports she generates blog posts, articles, podcasts, and talks that demonstrate how recent discoveries support faith in the biblical, transcendent God and Creator. These discoveries in nature, she says, reveal God's divine power and nature as Paul says in Romans, chapter 1. In her new capacity, Roberts works to harmonize and integrate the revelations in nature (scientific discoveries) and Scripture for public presentations and engagement, hoping to give people reasons to believe in Jesus.
As of this writer’s interview with Roberts, she has had almost 3 years experience in leading discussions and producing material for public and academic engagement upon the interface of science and faith issues.