His curriculum vitae is chock full of intimidating, polysyllabic words—words like ubiquitination, immunocytochemistry, and nucleopolyhedrovirus. Which is pretty much what you’d expect from someone with two master’s degrees in biotechnology and virology, a PhD in molecular virology, and a post-doctoral fellowship in neuroscience.
But behind words that most of us can’t even pronounce, let alone understand, Franciscan University’s newest biology professor, Dr. Joseph Pathakamuri, sees not only something intelligible, but something beautiful.
“The beauty of the human being is so great,” he explains. “And now advances in science make it possible for us to experience that beauty at a molecular level. Biology points to God; it explores the mysteries of being human.”
Part microbiologist, part mystic, Pathakamuri comes to Franciscan from India by way of British Columbia, where he completed his graduate studies. It was on his way to World Youth Day in 2000, when he stumbled across a group of Franciscan students, that Pathakamuri first learned about the University. He was so impressed by them that he briefly considered throwing in the towel on his doctoral studies and moving to Steubenville. That urge struck again when he visited campus the following year.
“I remember standing outside Cosmas and Damian [the University’s science hall], with my hands up against the glass, and thinking how much I’d like to see inside,” he recalls.
But it wasn’t for five more years, with his doctorate in hand and his new bride, Nicole, on his arm, that Pathakamuri finally made his way back to Franciscan…and his way into SS. Cosmas and Damian,where he now spends a good many of his waking hours.
Besides teaching students to probe the depths of the mysteries of God through science, Pathakamuri also keeps busy playing his Djembe (an African drum), often in impromptu jam sessions with students, cooking massive amounts of Indian food to feed the “starving” college kids he regularly invites over for dinner, and proudly walking his newborn son, Jerome, around campus.
“I’m thinking of making a T-shirt for him that says, ‘A dollar to hold me,’ on it. For Jerome’s education fund of course,” he explains. As for what he loves most about teaching at Franciscan?
“Teaching students in the morning, then receiving Jesus with them at noon.”
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