As a team of Dominican friars and scholars committed to the preaching of the gospel, we are convinced that the Thomistic intellectual tradition can provide insightful and compelling responses to these questions. Each of us brings specialized training in biology, physics, philosophy, or theology to our collaboration.

Our Team

Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, O.P., Ph.D., S.T.D.

Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, O.P., completed his Bachelor of Science in Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania, and then earned his Ph.D. in Biology from M.I.T. where he was a fellow of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). He was ordained a priest in the Order of Preachers in May of 2004. He earned his License in Sacred Theology in Moral Theology at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC, in 2005, and a Doctorate in Sacred Theology (S.T.D.) at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, in 2015. He completed his M.B.A. at Providence College in 2020.

Fr. Austriaco currently serves as Professor of Biology and of Theology at Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island, and Director of  He is also a research fellow at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines. His first book, Biomedicine and Beatitude: An Introduction to Catholic Bioethics, was published by the Catholic University of America Press in 2011. It was recognized as a 2012 Choice outstanding academic title by the Association of College and Research Libraries.


Robert Barry, Ph.D.

Robert Barry is a native of Connecticut, and completed his Ph.D. in Systematic Theology under Fr. Matthew Lamb in 1996. Since then, he has taught Theology at Providence College, serving terms as department Chair and Director of Graduate Studies in Theology. His research and writing has focused on Thomas Aquinas’s teachings on evil and sin, with a special focus on the topic of original sin.

Fr. James Brent, O.P., Ph.D., S.T.L.

Fr. James Brent, O.P. was born and raised in Michigan. He pursued his undergraduate and graduate studies in Philosophy, and completed his doctorate in Philosophy at Saint Louis University on the epistemic status of Christian beliefs according to Saint Thomas Aquinas. He has articles in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy on Natural Theology, in the Oxford Handbook of Thomas Aquinas on “God’s Knowledge and Will”, and an article forthcoming on “Thomas Aquinas” in the Oxford Handbook of the Epistemology of Theology. He earned his STL from the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception, and was ordained a priest in the same year. He taught in the School of Philosophy at The Catholic University of America from 2010- 2014, and spent the year of 2014-2015 doing full time itinerant preaching on college campuses across the United States.

Brian Carl, Ph.D.

Brian Carl is currently Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the Center for Thomistic Studies at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas. He received his doctorate in philosophy from The Catholic University of America in 2015. He specializes in Thomistic metaphysics and philosophical theology.

Fr. Richard Conrad, O.P., Ph.D.

Fr. Richard Conrad, O.P., did a PhD in synthetic organic chemistry at Cambridge before joining the Dominican Order and studying philosophy and theology in Oxford, and theology in Rome. Besides fulfilling the roles of novice master for 8 years, and of prior and/or parish priest in various communities, he has taught in the Studium at Oxford, and at Maryvale Institute in Birmingham, where for a time he directed a master’s degree. His courses have chiefly covered the Trinity, Original Sin and Redemption, Grace, the Sacraments, and the Theological Virtues. From 2014 to 2021, Fr. Richard was Director of the Aquinas Institute of Blackfriars Hall, Oxford.

Fr. Thomas Davenport, O.P., Ph.D.

Fr. Thomas Davenport, O.P. is a Dominican Friar and Assistant Professor of Physics at Providence College. He earned his doctorate in physics from Stanford University studying theoretical particle physics. Since joining the Dominicans he has earned a Masters in Philosophy from the Catholic University of America, focusing on the philosophy of science and natural philosophy. He has written and spoken in a number of forums on the relationship between faith and science including being a contributor to the first phase of the Thomistic Evolution project.

Daniel D. De Haan, Ph.D.

Dr Daniel D. De Haan is a Research Fellow in the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion in the Faculty of Theology and Religion at Oxford University. He is the principal investigator of the Conceptual Clarity Concerning Human Nature project sponsored by the Templeton World Charity Foundation. Previously he was a postdoctoral researcher on the Renewal of Natural Theology project directed by Professor Alister McGrath at the University of Oxford. Before coming to Oxford, he was a postdoctoral fellow on the neuroscience strand of the Theology, Philosophy of Religion, and the Sciences project at the University of Cambridge directed by Professor Sarah Coakley. He is a graduate of the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium and the University of St. Thomas, Houston, USA. His research focuses on philosophical anthropology, philosophy of mind and neuroscience, the metaphysics of hylomorphism, philosophy of religion, and medieval philosophy and theology especially in the work of Thomas Aquinas and Avicenna. He is the author of Necessary Existence and the Doctrine of Being in Avicenna’s Metaphysics of the Healing (Brill, 2020).

Fr. Simon Francis Gaine, O.P., D.Phil.

Fr. Simon Francis Gaine, O.P., was born in London, and studied theology at the University of Oxford. His doctorate was on the relationship between uncreated and created grace in modern Catholic theology. He worked for the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, before entering the Dominican Order in 1995.

After training for the priesthood at Blackfriars, Oxford, he was Catholic Chaplain to the University of Edinburgh from 2001 to 2003. Since 2003 he has taught fundamental and dogmatic theology at Blackfriars and is a member of the Faculty of Theology and Religion at Oxford. From 2012 to 2019 he was the Regent of Blackfriars Hall. He is the author of Will There Be Free Will in Heaven? Freedom, Impeccability and Beatitude (2003) and Did the Saviour See the Father? Christ, Salvation and the Vision of God (2015).

Raymond Hain, Ph.D.

Raymond Hain is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Associate Director of the Humanities Program at Providence College in Providence, RI. His research  focuses on ethics and culture (especially in the Aristotelian and Thomistic tradition), applied ethics, and philosophy and literature. His most recent work includes “Tocqueville on Religion” in The Anthem Companion to Tocqueville and the edited volume Beyond the Self: Virtue Ethics and the Problem of Culture.

Sr. Stephen Patrick Joly, O.P., Ph.D.

Sr. Stephen Patrick Joly, O.P. is a perpetually professed member of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. She earned her Ph.D. in Cell and Microbial Biology from The Catholic University of America in 2018. Her dissertation was titled “Identification of SUP5: A Protein that Interfaces with the Deviant ATP-Binding Site of the Yeast Pdr5 Multidrug Transporter”. Sr. Stephen Patrick is currently a high school science teacher at Lansing Catholic High School and has taught Honors and General Chemistry, Anatomy & Physiology, AP Biology, Physical Science, and Meteorology & Astronomy. She is a member of the Society of Catholic Scientists.

Fr. Humbert Kilanowski, O.P., Ph.D., S.T.L.

Fr. Humbert Kilanowski, O.P. is a Dominican priest of the Province of St. Joseph and is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics  at Providence College.  Born and raised in Connecticut, Fr. Humbert moved with his family during high school to Ohio, where he majored in math and astronomy at Case Western Reserve University. He  earned a doctorate in math at the Ohio State University.  Immediately thereafter, he joined the Dominicans and was ordained a priest in 2018. He wrote his licentiate thesis in theology on the compatibility between the Catholic faith and scientific data on human evolution. Fr. Humbert  is an active member of the Society for American Baseball Research.

Fr. John Baptist Ku, O.P., S.T.D.

Fr. John Baptist Ku, O.P., was born in Manhattan and grew up in Fairfax, Virginia. After graduating from the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Virginia, he worked in software design at AT&T for five years before entering the Dominican Order in 1992. After obtaining his S.T.B./M.Div. (1998) and S.T.L. (2000) at the Dominican House of Studies, he served for three years in St. Pius Parish in Providence, R.I., before going on to complete his studies doctoral studies at the University of Fribourg in 2009. He was awarded the Thomas Aquinas Dissertation Prize by the Aquinas Center for Theological Renewal at Ave Maria University (2010) for his dissertation on God the Father in the Theology of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Fr. John Baptist now teaches at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., where he has served as book review editor of The Thomist, chaplain to commuter students, and chaplain to the Immaculate Conception Chapter of Third Order Dominicans. From 2015-2018, he was student master at St. Dominic Priory, where he was also subprior from 2016-2018. In 2019, he became assistant book review editor of The Thomist.

Sr. Mary Elizabeth Merriam, O.P., Ph.D.

Sister Mary Elizabeth Merriam, O.P. is a member of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, Ann Arbor, MI. She received her teaching certification from Eastern Michigan University, her M.A. in theology from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, and her Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan.

Sr. Mary Elizabeth has taught high school physics and chemistry since 2010. She has participated in Notre Dame Science and Religion Seminars and has a special interest in integrating faith and science. She enjoys spending time with her Sisters, praying, doing art and crafts, cooking, and reading.

Fr. Isaac Augustine Morales, O.P., Ph.D.

Fr. Isaac Augustine Morales, O.P. was born and raised in the northern suburbs of Chicago. He received a BSE in Civil Engineering from Duke University in 1998. In 2002 he received an MTS with a concentration in biblical studies from the University of Notre Dame, and in 2007 a doctorate in New Testament from Duke.

Before joining the Order of Preachers in 2012, Fr. Isaac taught in the Department of Theology at Marquette University. Since his ordination to the priesthood in 2018, he has served as an Assistant Professor  in the Department of Theology at Providence College.

Fr. Jordan Schmidt, O.P., Ph.D.

Fr. Jordan Schmidt, O.P.,  grew up in North Dakota, and entered the Order of Preachers in 2006.  Upon his ordination in 2012, he was appointed associate pastor of St Mary’s parish in New Haven, CT. He was subsequently assigned to the priory of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC to undertake doctoral studies in biblical theology at the Catholic University of America. After graduating in January 2018, Fr. Jordan was appointed to the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception where he teaches various courses in the Old Testament.

Daria Spezzano, Ph.D.

Daria Spezzano is an Associate Professor of Theology at Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island. She holds a Ph.D. in Theology from the University of Notre Dame, an M. Phil. in Biological Anthropology from Yale, and a Master’s in Liturgical Studies from The Liturgical Institute. Her book, The Glory of God’s Grace: Deification according to St. Thomas Aquinas was published by Sapientia Press in 2015. Her research has focused on Aquinas’s theology of grace, charity, and sacraments.

Fr. Mariusz Tabaczek, O.P., Ph.D.

Fr. Mariusz Tabaczek, O.P., is a Polish Dominican and theologian. He holds Ph.D. in philosophical theology from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA and Church Licentiate from the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland. He is a professor of theology and member of the Thomistic Institute at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Rome.

He is interested in the science-theology dialogue, especially in the issues concerning science and creation theology, divine action, and evolutionary theory. His research also goes to other subjects related to systematic, fundamental, and natural theology, philosophy of nature, philosophy of science (philosophy of biology, in particular), philosophy of causation, and metaphysics. His works address a whole range of topics, including: the notion of species, metaphysics of evolutionary transitions, concurrence of divine and natural causes in evolutionary transitions, definition and role of chance and teleology in evolution, classical and new hylomorphism, classical and contemporary (analytical) concepts of causation, emergence, science-oriented panentheism and its critique, and various aspects of divine action in the universe.

He published a number of articles on metaphysics and the issues concerning the relation between theology and science in Zygon, Theology and Science, Scientia et Fides, Nova et Vetera, Forum Philosophicum, American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, Sophia, and Polish Annals of Philosophy. He coauthored two chapters in the second edition of Science and Religion: A Historical Introduction (ed. by Gary Ferngren) and has written the entry on “Emergence” for the Palgrave Encyclopedia of the Possible. He is also the author of two monographs. The first entitled Emergence. Towards A New Metaphysics and Philosophy of Science was published in 2019 and was announced as one of the best metaphysics books to read in 2019 by Bookauthority. The second book Divine Action and Emergence. An Alternative to Panentheism (published in 2021) offers a critical analysis of the theory of divine action based on the notion of emergent phenomena and provides a constructive proposal of a theological reinterpretation of divine action in emergence, from the point of view of the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition of philosophy and theology.

His upcoming third monograph will concentrate on the contemporary Aristotelian-Thomistic view of theistic evolution.