Research

Both a scientist and a Christian: One student’s career journey

During his time at Seattle Pacific University, Dylan Marashi regularly assisted a professor with research centered on destroying prostate cancer cells.

The SPU biochemistry graduate, who is currently pursuing a master of bioethics at Harvard Medical School, is passionate about scientific research and study. But Dylan also considers his Christian faith central to his life.

“At SPU, I’ve found that being a scientist doesn’t mean I can’t be a Christian, nor does being a Christian mean I can’t be a scientist,” he says.

This commitment is key to SPU’s identity as an ecumenical faith-based institution. Professors come from a variety of Christian backgrounds and traditions, but each make a point to integrate faith into their teaching.

“Seeing how one can inform the other — I think that’s necessary,” Dylan says. “I can hold both [faith and science] in tandem, and they’re not at odds … In order for me to walk through the world, I need to have both informing the way I understand, perceive, and think about the way the world operates.”

As Dylan sought to determine his next steps after graduation, he regularly met with his faculty advisor, Assistant Professor of Biology Max Hunter.

As director of SPU’s pre-professional health sciences program, Hunter walks alongside future medical students on their path of career and vocational discernment. This makes a powerful impact: For the past decade, 85–90 percent of Seattle Pacific students who applied to medical school were accepted. Comparatively, the average nationwide acceptance rate for pre-med students has been closer to 50 percent.

“Dr. Hunter challenged me to say, ‘Dylan, are you trusting? Are you willing enough to let God establish where he wants you to go?’ At that point in time, I didn’t know where exactly I wanted to go after SPU, [or] what type of program I wanted to enter into, and so we started praying quite a bit about what doors might open.”

Dylan Marashi working in the science labNow, as he pursues his master’s degree at Harvard Medical School, Dylan is focusing specifically on new and emergent gene editing technologies. It’s a field that gets a fair amount of buzz, but it’s not often viewed through a faith- or Gospel-focused lens. To Hunter, that is part of what makes SPU’s commitment to holding faith and science together so deeply meaningful.

“We are called to be the salt and light of the world,” Hunter says. “We are called to shepherd institutions and organizations.”

“[Dylan is] trying to figure out what God is doing in the world, what God is doing in his life, how he’s a part of God’s story; and is using his mind in the sciences and philosophy to participate in God’s work in the world.”

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