St. Albert Initiative

Big Questions at the Intersection of Science and Faith

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Looking for an opportunity to learn from great Catholic scientists about the harmony of faith and science? Are you interested in the Big Questions for believers on the frontiers of scientific discovery? The Society of Catholic Scientists and the Science & Religion Initiative of the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame welcome members of the public to register for the inaugural St. Albert Initiative on Friday June 4, 2021 at the Washington Hilton in Washington, D.C. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn from and converse with distinguished scientists who embrace both the Catholic faith and modern science, following the example of St. Albert the Great, patron saint of science.

Due to the age groups in attendance at the St. Albert Initiative, we are requiring that all persons 18+ have received the COVID-19 vaccine or otherwise be in possession of a valid medical exemption. If this poses a problem, please contact the organizers at

This event is partially funded by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

Event Highlights

  • Plenary Talks on Science and Faith, Cosmology and Extraterrestrial Life, and Creation and Evolution 
  • ‘Lightning Round’ Talks on crucial topics: God and the Dinosaurs; What is Human Life and When does it Begin?; Is the Universe Made for Life?; Modern Science, the Church, and Galileo; and Overturning the Myths About Science and the Catholic Church

Program Date and Location

  • When: Friday June 4, 2021 from 10:00 am - 4:15pm
  • Where: Washington Hilton, Washington, DC
  • Given the ever-changing nature of the current COVID-19 health situation, we are suggesting that all non-refundable air or rail travel is not booked until May 1, 2021.

How Do I Register?

  • Sample permission slips for attending high school students can be found here.

Click Here to Register



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1919 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009

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Plenary Talks

Stephen Barr

Modern Science and the Catholic Faith

Professor Stephen M. Barr


Prof. Barr’s talk will look at the widespread assertion that science and traditional Christian belief are incompatible. He will show that this perception arises to a large extent from misconceptions about what the Church has traditionally taught, what modern science has actually discovered, and what the history of the Church’s relationship with science was really like. 

Steve Barr is Professor Emeritus of theoretical particle physics at the Bartol Research Institute and the University of Delaware. He has published over 150 research articles on such topics as the origin of ordinary matter and dark matter in the early universe, unified theories of the fundamental forces, and the properties of electrons, neutrinos, and other basic particles. He has written frequently on science and religion for the journal First Things and other national publications and is the author of Modern Physics and Ancient Faith (University of Notre Dame Press, 2003) and The Believing Scientist: Essays on Science and Religion (Eerdmans, 2016). He is a co-founder and the first president of the Society of Catholic Scientists.


Karen Oberg

Habitable Planets and Extraterrestrial Life

Professor Karin Öberg

In Prof. Öberg’s talk she will explain what drew her to become a Catholic and what drew her to become a scientist. She will tell about some of her work in astrochemistry, where she studies the chemistry involved in how planets form, and how this affects whether planets are habitable. She will then discuss the possibility of extraterrestrial life from both the scientific and theological points of view.

Karin Öberg is a Professor in the Department of Astronomy at Harvard University (Ph.D. Astrophysics 2009, Univ. of Leiden). Prof. Öberg does research in astrophysics/astrochemistry, especially the impact of chemistry on planet formation, and the link between planet formation and planet habitability. Among other awards she is the recipient of a Simons Fellowship (2020), the AAS Newton Lacy Pierce Prize (2016), the Packard Fellowship (2014), and the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship (2014). She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Society of Catholic Scientists, and is a speaker for the Thomistic Institute.


Daniel Kuebler

Creation & Evolution, Chance & Purpose: A Catholic Perspective

Professor Daniel Kuebler

Prof. Kuebler's presentation argues for the compatibility of the scientific theory of evolution and the theological doctrine of creation. It focuses particularly on the interplay between order and chance that is observed in evolutionary science and emphasizes the distinction and compatibility between theological and biological explanations of what it means to be human.

Dan Kuebler is Dean of Applied and Natural Sciences and Professor of Biology at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio where he teaches courses on evolution, cell physiology, and neurobiology, as well as maintaining an undergraduate research laboratory that studies adult stem cells in human bone marrow and adipose tissue. Dan is the co-author of The Evolution Controversy: A Survey of Competing Theories (Baker Academic, 2007) and has written both academic and popular articles on issues related to science, religion, and ethics. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Society of Catholic Scientists


Lightning Round Talks


Travel, Accommodation, and COVID Protocols

Event Location and Hotel

  • Washington DC Hilton Hotel, 1919 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington DC, 20009
  • Link to the hotel’s webpage can be found here
  • Mention ‘The Catholic Scientists Conference’ to get the preferred rate of $137 per night

COVID Protocols

  • The Society of Catholic Scientists and the Science and Religion Initiative, under the advisement of the Washington DC Hilton Hotel, have put in place preventative measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. These measures can be reviewed here.
  • Event participants, event speakers, and hotel employees are expected to adhere to relevant COVID-19 safety protocols, as specified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention including, but not limited to, masking and social distancing.


St. Albert Image credit: "David and Jaclyn Warren, Brilliant, Pauline Books/Word on Fire Press, 2020"