DR. ROGER WIENS ’ 82 HAS ALWAYS BEEN ENAMOURED WITH SPACE. In the 1970s, when Mars was closer to Earth than ever before, Wiens and his brother Doug built a telescope and made sketches of the red planet’s features.
When he came to Wheaton College, Wiens’ interest in Mars was further piqued when he studied physics under professor Doug Phinney, who introduced him to diverse research topics from moon rocks to meteorites.
Wiens didn’t expect to go on to lead the team that would design, build, and operate a laser mounted on the Mars Curiosity rover. Now, as the Principal Investigator for the Curiosity rover’s ChemCam laser, co-author of more than 160 research articles, and recipient of an honorary degree from the University of Toulouse, France, Dr. Wiens can detail how his liberal arts education at Wheaton has served his career.
He cites how theology and philosophy courses taught him to see “science as a form of worship, and an affirmation of why we believe what we believe.” He says English and speech-writing courses helped him in publishing press releases about the Mars rover and his personal record of his experiences in his 2013 book Red Rover: Inside the Story of Robotic Space Exploration, from Genesis to Curiosity.
Of course, Weins has a great appreciation for his physics and math professors, who “taught me how science and faith in God work together; that God is sovereign over the seemingly ordinary things in nature as well as over those things that we don’t understand.” Through his disciplined curiosity, Wiens has given many a deeper understanding of the universe.