Professor Karin Öberg, a Swedish astrochemist and Professor of Astronomy at Harvard University, addressed students and faculty on Monday, April 3, as part of the Birmingham Lecture Series. A graduate of California Institute of Technology, Öberg went on to receive her Ph.D. at Leiden University in the Netherlands. After receiving her Ph.D. in 2009, NASA awarded her a Hubble Postdoctoral Fellowship, which she used to fund research at The Center of Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian until 2012. Öberg worked at the University of Virginia as a visiting scholar and Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Astronomy until June 2013, then returned to Harvard where she formed the Öberg Astrochemistry Group.
Öberg gave an eye-opening presentation about “Science and Christianity” and discussed her own journey to the Christian faith through her studies of the universe and its creation. Öberg spoke of how science reveals the beauty and truths of the universe. She found the more she studied the universe, the more it pointed to a divine creator. For example, when Öberg considered the genetic code, she realized that it tells a story and forms its own language. “The universe did not have to be so ordered and beautiful” Öberg professed. “We shouldn’t take it for granted.” Öberg also stressed the importance of using science in conjunction with philosophy and ethics to more fully understand the world we live in. Headmaster Burke thanked Professor Öberg, saying, “You talked about beauty and truth today, and the beauty and truth of your presentation stirred our souls.”