Nichole Phillips was on her way to medical school when she heard a different calling.
"I had always been interested in religion, but medical school was my goal," recalled Phillips, an assistant professor of religion and human difference in Emory's Candler School of Theology. "Taken together, I thought I would be a more empathetic, compassionate physician."
So she embraced them both: an undergraduate biochemistry major and religion minor who was both president of her pre-med society and deeply involved in ministry to black women through Ethos, a Wellesley College student organization for women of African descent.
With research interests that today span religion, psychology, African American history and culture, as well as community and ritual studies, Phillips still considers herself a scientist: "I'm both a social scientist of religion and a practical theologian," she explains.
As a Humanistic Inquiry Program (HIP) Fellow, a position supported through a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to strengthen the humanities and expand interdisciplinary inquiry, Phillips is in her element — among a new generation of humanities scholars with both deep training in the humanities and broad training in other areas.
"I think it's wonderful," she says. "Because I hold science and religion in tension, I've always been interdisciplinary. I'm bringing sociology, anthropology and ethnography into the conversation about the science of religion."
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