For the past 50 years, the Canadian Scientific and Christian Affiliation has facilitated discussions about science and Christian faith in Canada. As part of our 50th-anniversary celebrations, we asked 50 CSCA members to comment on their personal connections to science, scripture, and Canadian scenery. We will share these contributions throughout 2023 in the hope that you will find them engaging and encouraging.
CSCA member of the week: Hank Bestman, Emeritus Professor of Biology and Biochemistry at The King’s University; Emeritus VP Academic and Research
1. Why did you choose your scientific discipline?
In my final undergraduate year at Dordt University, Harry Cook encouraged me to continue my studies in graduate school. Since I liked both chemistry and biology and had an agricultural background, I elected to complete a Master’s and Ph.D. degree in herbicide physiology at the University of Alberta in Edmonton with the goal to work in the agricultural industry. My Ph.D. thesis research was one of the first to both identify and quantify the self-inhibition of herbicide movement in plants. About half a year before the completion of the doctoral work, the King’s University in Edmonton was looking for a second faculty member in the biology department; one who could develop the plant component of the biology curriculum, and who could also teach Biochemistry, and develop other relevant biology courses. I was encouraged to apply, and ended up, after a selection process, being appointed to the tenure track position. I ended up not only teaching for twenty-four years at the King’s University, but worked together with John Wood, Harry Cook, and Heather Prior, developing and broadening the biology program, making one of the largest departments at the King’s University. Several of the students that I have mentored during these years have presented at ASA meetings. Since administration was one of my emerging gifts, I ended up serving King’s as the Vice-President Academic and Research for an additional nine years. Currently, my main interests are in Systems Biology and biological complexity. Note: The King’s University started in Edmonton in 1979. This was the same year that I started my graduate program.
2. What is one of your favourite Bible verses and why?
My favourite Bible verses are found in Job, especially chapters Job 38 and following. As a biologist/biochemist, how can you not stand in awe of the complexity of the natural world, and how it all functions so beautifully together? The more I read, discover, and reflect, the more my faith is enriched. What a privilege to have had, and continue to have opportunities to discover this complexity!
3. Which Canadian city or landscape do you love exploring and why?
As a retired couple, my spouse and I are exploring the South Eastern part of Alberta, especially the Cypress Hill area. This area was not covered during the Ice Age. For many years this was the place to take our King’s University ecology students on a field trip. Besides the wide vista of the surrounding landscape, the night sky is absolutely stunning. No light pollution!