Professor Jonathan Lunine

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Professor Jonathan Lunine

McDonald Agape Visiting Scholar

This semester, Prof. Jonathan Lunine, David C. Duncan Professor in the Physical Sciences at Cornell University, joined the faculty of the Pontifical Faculty at the Dominican House of Studies for a semester-long appointment as the McDonald Agape Visiting Scholar. 

This partnership is made possible through a grant by the McDonald Agape Foundation, whose mission is encouraging Christian scholars and academic scholarship. The McDonald Agape Foundations grant, made to the Thomistic Institute, will support a visiting scholar at the Dominican House of Studies for one semester each academic year through the 2025-2026 academic year. 

Lunine is Director of the Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science and does research in astrophysics, planetary science, and astrobiology. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and among other awards is the recipient of the Jean Dominique Cassini Medal of the European Geosciences Union (2015) and the Basic Sciences Award of the International Academy of Astronautics (2009). 

The author of several books, Lunine is also co-investigator on the Juno mission now in orbit around Jupiter, using data from several instruments on the spacecraft, and on the MISE instrument for the Europa Clipper mission. He is on the science team for the James Webb Space Telescope, focusing on characterization of extrasolar planets and Kuiper Belt objects. 

Lunine’s appointment at the Dominican House of Studies is for spring semester 2023. During his time in D.C., Lunine will co-teach a course titled “Knowing the Cosmos: Contemporary Astronomy, Theology, and Philosophy” with Fr. Dominic Legge, O.P., associate professor of systematic theology at the Dominican House of Studies and Director of the Thomistic Institute.

The course “will engage fundamental questions about the visible order God has created, both from the perspective of contemporary astronomy, and from that of theology and philosophy, especially as informed by the principles of the Thomistic tradition,” according to the course description. 

Lunine will also help lead an intellectual retreat for Thomistic Institute students, undertake academic research, and participate in the academic and spiritual life of the Dominican House of Studies. He has previously collaborated with the Thomistic Institute as a speaker for Thomistic Institute conferences and other events and has filmed several episodes for the Aquinas 101: Science and Faith YouTube series. 

The Thomistic Institute is an academic institute of the Pontifical Faculty at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. It exists to promote Catholic truth in the contemporary world by strengthening the intellectual formation of Christians at universities, in the Church, and in the wider public square. 

Photo by Jesse Winter

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