Michael J. Bozack,
  Surface Science Laboratory, 
  Department of Physics,
  Auburn University
  [Oct. 8, 2013]–It’s rare for me to walk among the crepe myrtles at Auburn University and not remember that the Christian life is high adventure, filled with unexpected twists and turns crafted by the God who loves us.  In my case, the fork in the road was a brush with academic suicide.During my graduate studies in physics at Michigan State, a rare opportunity arose to go to seminary.  As a young Christian, I wanted to learn more about the Scriptures and to serve the Lord as a teacher, speaker, and writer.  The decision was difficult.  It would mean leaving my first love (physics) temporarily, traveling to the West Coast to enroll at Western Conservative Baptist Seminary in Oregon, and then later continuing with doctoral studies in physics.Problem was, it had academic suicide written all over it.  

Nobody expected I would ever find my way back to physics after being in seminary for two years, much less survive the rigorous PhD comps. Everyone thought I would lose my edge, my training, and be left in the dust by my peers.  Not a wise decision.

Turns out, it was the best decision I ever made.  It would have been much riskier NOT to follow the path I thought God was leading me.  I got a great Bible education under many of the contributors to the Nelson Study Bible, found a forefront Ph.D. program in surface physics, worked under a major professor who was a Christian, and later was chief surface scientist at Intel Corporation.  None of this would have happened in East Lansing.

God’s script for your life is always best.  

Nowadays, God continues to bless my brush with academic suicide by giving me openings to talk to my college students about Christianity.  Even here in the midst of the Bible belt, nobody expects a physics professor to have a degree in theology.  The questions come easily once my students learn about my background and openness about spiritual and scientific matters, and that I care.

Career Enhancement?

An interesting footnote is a book I published in 2009 entitled Street-Smart Advice to Christian College Students.  It talks about my walk with the Lord and offers Christian students and parents straight talk about how to navigate college successfully.  When deciding to write the book, I got the same feeling I had years before when facing the seminary decision — “Why should I write such a book, when I get zero credit for it from the career standpoint?  I could be writing another journal article, a grant for extramural funding, or working on lecture notes.”

But then, who cares in the broad extent of life whether you have 196 or 197 papers to your name?  In many ways, we’ve got unprecedented opportunity and rewards that are often more satisfying. Rather than piling up credentials, I really love producing the next generation of Christian leaders–young men and women who will have their highest aspiration in reverence for God and obedience to His commands (Eccles. 12:13).


(c) 2013 Michael Bozack