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Guests for Moonlighting: Science and Religion

October 21, 2015

Father George Coyne

Father Coyne is a native of Baltimore, Maryland. He completed his bachelor's degree in mathematics and his licentiate in philosophy at Fordham University, New York City, in 1958. He obtained his doctorate in astronomy from Georgetown University in 1962. After several decades on the faculty at the University of Arizona (UA), Coyne became director of the Vatican Observatory (VO) in 1978 and associate director of the UA Steward Observatory. During 1979-80 he served as acting director and head of the UA Steward Observatory and the Astronomy Department, and thereafter he continued as an adjunct professor in the UA Astronomy Department. He became the founding director of the Vatican Observatory Foundation in 1986. He retired as director of the VO in August 2006. He remained on the staff of the VO as director emeritus and president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation. In 2012, he retired from the Vatican Observatory and assumed the McDevitt Distinguished Chair in Religious Philosophy at Le Moyne College of the Jesuits in Syracuse, New York.

He is a member of the International Astronomical Union, the American Astronomical Society, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, the American Physical Society and the Optical Society of America. He has been awarded the following Ph.D. degrees honoris causa: 1980, St. Peter's University, Jersey City, New Jersey; 1994, Loyola University, Chicago; 1995, University of Padua, Padua, Italy; 1997, Pontifical Theological Academy, Jagellonian University, Cracow; 2005, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; 2007, Boston College, Boston, Massachusetts; 2009, Le Moyne College, Syracuse, New York, and the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts; and 2010, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California. He was awarded the Mendel Medal by Villanova University in September 2008 and the George Van Biesbroeck Prize by the American Astronomical Society in January 2010.

Dr. Warren Allmon

Dr. Warren D. Allmon is the director of the Paleontological Research Institution (PRI) in Ithaca, New York, and the Hunter R. Rawlings III Professor of Paleontology in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Cornell University. He earned his A.B. in Earth Sciences from Dartmouth College in 1982, and his Ph.D. in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Harvard University in 1988.

For four years he was assistant professor of Geology at the University of South Florida, Tampa, and became PRI's fourth director in 1992. Since 1992, he has been instrumental in rejuvenating PRI's internationally known fossil collections; starting its local, regional and national programs in Earth science education; and planning and fundraising for the Museum of the Earth, PRI's $11 million education and exhibit facility which opened in September 2003. In November 2004, Allmon helped secure a formal agreement of affiliation between PRI and Cornell, ending more than 70 years of official separation.

Allmon's major research interest is macroevolution and paleoecology, especially the ecology of the origin and maintenance of biological diversity and the application of the geological record to the study of these problems, particularly using Cenozoic marine gastropods (snails of the last 65 million years).

Allmon is the author of more than 250 technical and popular publications. He is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and the Paleontological Society, and the recipient of the 2004 Award for Outstanding Contribution to Public Understanding of Geoscience from the American Geological Institute.

Research Interests

Paleobiology, Paleoecology, Macroevolution, Evolution of Cenozoic Mollusks

Teaching Interests

Paleobiology, evolution and paleoecology