Rev Fr Dr Andrew Ekpenyong
Merging faith and physics
Sitting above the entrance to Cambridge University’s famous Cavendish Laboratory is a passage from Psalm 111: “The works of the Lord are great; sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.” The Rev. Andrew Ekpenyong, Catholic priest and Assistant Professor of Physics at Crieghton University in Nebraska, first saw this message during his time as a post-doctoral student at Cambridge University. Upon seeing it, Ekpenyong’s world of science and faith joined in harmony.
Ekpenyong draws inspiration from this because he is not only a physicist and professor at Creighton, but he also is a diocesan priest who aims to improve the lives of his people back home Nigeria through science.
Native of Ibiono Ibom and an ordained priest of the Catholic Archdiocese of Calabar, Rev Fr. Dr Ekpenyong attended St. Patrick’s College, Calabar where he developed his interests not just for faith but also for sciences and decided to pursue both.
Ekpenyong saw the good that priests could do and followed the path to priesthood. He looked up to scientists in his studies, and followed the path laid out by his teachers. He took interest in and read a lot about Albert Einstein and other physicists and constantly sought of how he could make science to save humanity.
Ekpenyong began teaching at Creighton in 2014 and immediately got involved with research with the goal of bettering human life. His interest is biomedical physics and he has several discoveries and innovations to his name. One of these is his 2014 discovery of a
new quality to neutrophils — a type of white blood cells which can be pulled with optical stretchers to impact a range of human illnesses including acute respiratory distress syndrome, and other life-threatening problems.
During Ekpenyong’s post-doctoral work at Cambridge, he not only made the discovery about neutrophils, but he also made a commitment to donate his entire salary to the building of research hospitals in his village, Afua, Ibiono Ibom and Akpabuyo and Ogoja in Cross River State.
Akwa Ibom Celebrates a priest and scientist, who believes that the scientific society “owes” something to the Christian service. “It shouldn’t be strange that people of faith can be people of science; it is a serious fallacy to present sciences as something antithetical to faith.”