The Catholic University of America

Inaugural Theme

Intellect and Virtue: The Idea of a Catholic University

Martin Nowak Lectures on Evolution and Christianity

Martin Nowak

Martin A. Nowak, professor of biology and mathematics at Harvard University and director of Harvard’s Program for Evolutionary Dynamics,  delivered a talk on Christianity and evolution on March 22, 2011. This lecture was part of a series of events celebrating the theme of President John Garvey’s inaugural year — Intellect and Virtue: The Idea of a Catholic University.

Nowak works on the mathematical description of evolutionary processes including the evolution of cooperation and human language, the dynamics of virus infections, and human cancer. Currently, he is working on “prelife,” which is a formal approach to studying the origin of evolution.

His just-published book, SuperCooperators: The Mathematics of Evolution, Altruism and Human Behaviour (Or, Why We Need Each Other to Succeed) has been called "a fantastic journey into the science of cooperation."

An Austrian by birth, Nowak studied biochemistry and mathematics at the University of Vienna with Peter Schuster and Karl Sigmund. At the University of Oxford as an Erwin Schrödinger Scholar, he worked with Robert May, the later Lord May of Oxford, with whom he co-wrote numerous articles and his first book, “Virus Dynamics” (OUP, 2000). Nowak became head of the mathematical biology group at Oxford in 1995 and professor of mathematical biology in 1997. A year later he moved to Princeton University to establish the first program in theoretical biology at the Institute for Advanced Study. He accepted his present position at Harvard in 2003.

A corresponding member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Nowak is the recipient of Oxford’s Weldon Memorial Prize, the Albert Wander Prize of the University of Bern, the Akira Okubo Prize of the Society for Mathematical Biology, the Roger E. Murray Prize awarded by the Institute for Quantitative Research in Finance, the David Starr Jordan Prize given jointly by Stanford, Cornell, and Indiana universities, and the Henry Dale Prize of the Royal Institution, London.

Nowak is the author of more than 300 papers published in scientific journals. His book, Evolutionary Dynamics (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2006) provides an overview of the powerful yet simple laws that govern the evolution of living systems.

> Read a story about Nowak's lecture

> Watch a video of Nowak's talk at CUA

> View a photo gallery from the talk

> View the slide presentation from the talk

 

Related Links

> "Mathematics and Faith Explain Altruism" – article from the Boston Globe

> College Crunch's 2010 list of "The 20 Most Brilliant Christian Professors"

> "In Games, an Insight Into the Rules of Evolution" – article from the New York Times

> University Libraries research guide to resources related to inaugural year programs and speakers