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Baylor professor ranked among most brilliant

April 21, 2010

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Daniel Cernero | Staff Photographer
Professor Robert Marks discusses his ranking in the top 20 Christian professors Tuesday in his office in the Rogers Engineering and Computer Science Building.

By Sara Tirrito
Staff Writer

A distinguished professor in electrical and computer engineering, Dr. Robert Marks' work spans multiple areas, including computer program evolution simulation, swarm intelligence work for the U.S. Navy, intelligent design and information theory.

Recently, Marks was honored as one of the 20 Most Brilliant Christian Professors by collegecrunch.org. The list includes professors from universities such as Boston, Princeton, Stanford and Cambridge, among others.

"It was a complete surprise. I had no idea the list was coming out," Marks said. "It's astonishing. That's the greatest sort of thing that can happen, when something comes totally out of the blue. I think the really surprising thing is some of the incredible people on there whose company I keep."

Marks' work dealing with aspects of intelligent design has caused controversy on campus in the past, leading to the removal of his evolutionary informatics website from the university's server. However, Marks remains hopeful that Baylor will become more open to controversial research of this type.

"They want to be recognized as a research university and also celebrate the lordship of Christ," Marks said. "We're told as Christians we should not pursue the recognition of man. Our job should be rather to please our Lord, not man, and this isn't present in every decision that Baylor makes, but certainly in a number of them and will determine whether Baylor will achieve this lofty goal of being a research university that celebrates the lordship of Christ.

"I think if there's anywhere in the world there should be a dialogue about the sort of work I'm doing, it should be at Baylor."

In his time at Baylor, Marks has worked with various professors in the electrical and computer engineering department.

"I came to Baylor because of 2012 -- they wanted to be a cutting-edge university in terms of research and celebrate the lordship of Christ and I said that's what I want to spend my career doing," Marks said. "I spend most of my time actually doing research with other people; that's why I feel that I'm here."

Currently, Marks is working on a project with Dr. Charles Baylis, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, who said Marks' work stands out because of his desire to honor Christ through his research.

"From what I can tell and what I've observed, Dr. Marks is interested in doing his work to bring honor to Jesus Christ. He's committed to following Jesus Christ first and honoring him first and he sees his research as a way of doing that," Baylis said. "I think it's interesting too because I think our mission here at Baylor is so unique. We train our students to first be followers of Christ who happen to be engineers. I think he embraces that role of training students to do that."

Dr. Ian Gravagne, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering said that because Marks' work integrates both faith and academics, it can serve as a reminder that faith doesn't have to be abandoned in pursuit of knowledge.

"I think it's also important for the world generally to see that from within Christianity can also come some of the greatest intellectual ideas," Gravagne said. "That's not a new concept, but I think lately we've sort of forgotten that many of the giants in science and mathematics in the past were Christians."

Marks said he hopes being included on collegecrunch's list will also help show others that faith and intellect can coexist.

"I hope this list in general shows there is no reason that a person who is intellectually gifted should not be a Christian," Marks said.