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Rustum Roy

Rustum Roy

Newsweek has accurately described Dr. Roy as "the leading contrarian" among U.S. scientists. The U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Science, Technology, and Research gave him its only standing ovation in 16 years after one of his recent testimonies. Rustum Roy is the only practicing prominent scientist who has studied and written about U.S. science policy from the inside. His criticisms of U.S. policy, regarded as far out a decade ago, are now called "prescient".

Interview
Faith and Reason

Rustum Roy is among the two or three active leading materials scientists in the U.S. Author of over 600 papers with major contributions to real science from glass ceramics to sol-gel technology to diamond films and nanocomposites. He is the senior-most member in the U.S. National Academy of Engineering specializing in ceramic materials - today one of the hottest fields in science; he is a foreign member of the Swedish, Japanese, and Indian National Academies.

When the history of postwar American higher education is written, Rustum Roy will be remembered as the most effective champion of interdisciplinarity and integrative learning. In materials science and engineering, the prototype of interdisciplinarity in the science disciplines, Roy not only established working models locally in both degree programs and research and led them to national prominence, but he led the campaign in the U.S. and abroad to institutionalize "materials" as a permanent part of acedamia. Conferences, workshops, committees all helped, but the establishment of a new professional society - the Materials Research Society - of which he was the principal architech, proved to be the most effective strategy.

A decade later, Roy launched a similar campaign, again starting locally, to institutionalize formally the bridge in American education across the widening chasm of C.P. Snow's "Two Cultures." He became the prime mover in the Science, Technology, and Society (STS) movement, which, between 1970 and 1990, had established itself on 100 university campuses and had a foothold in 2000 colleges and had successfully infiltrated into the K-12 system.

Rustum Roy was also intensely involved in reforming religious institutions, locally, nationally, and worldwide. The direction was always towards greater inclusivity. He helped start what is one of the oldest ecumenical house churches in the country, and was for 30 years on the board of the pioneering national ecumenical retreat center, Kirkridge. Since giving the prestigious Hibbert lectures in London, incorporating the insights of science and technology into the world's religions, he has become a spokesman for a "radical pluralist" integration among the world's religions and cultures.

What is most interesting about Rustum Roy is the breadth, not only of his interests, but his activities and achievements. Perhaps the best way to gauge the breadth of his interests is to note the subjects of his well-known books (outside his science); science policy; sexual ethics; radioactive waste management; liturgies for small groups. He is equally at home among the world's leading theologians and clergy as he is among scientists and engineers from industry or academe, and among social reformers and activists.

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