Katie Mattinen ’20, Biology

Posted on November 9th, 2017 by

Katie Mattinen is fascinated by how things work. She says that she’s most fascinated with the technical details of science, which has contributed to her interest in neuroscience. Neuroscience, to Katie, is a way to learn what “exact chemicals and neurotransmitters are making people do things”. She is currently on the Pre-Med track at Gustavus, and is exploring pursuing a career in psychiatry or neurology. Katie isn’t exactly sure where her interest in science will take her, but she’s confident that she’ll end up somewhere in the medical field.

Katie has many gifts and talents that contribute to her affinity with science. She says that she’s very good at “picking up on processes”, which helps her in her science classes. She’s also very good at listening to people and problem-solving. These are both skills that might help her if she does end up in psychiatry, as she’d have to “figure out what a person has, and how to best treat it”. In addition to her scientific gifts, Katie loves making pottery. Katie is very influenced and inspired by her mom, who she says “is a business woman who knows how to hold her own against all the guys who are on her level”. She is also influenced by her grandpa, and hopes to be as generous and caring as him. Katie says that she’s talked to her grandpa a great deal about pursuing a career in therapy or psychiatry, and because he’s in the social work field he “has a lot of good tips”.

In addition to her gifts and interest in science, Katie is guided by her religious beliefs. She believes in God, and says that her “main theology would be that God has this unconditional love for us, and because of that we should then go out and love other people unconditionally as best we can”. All of her other beliefs stem off of this core belief. Katie also believes in the importance of family and loyalty. She says that she’s not sure what exactly the scientific professionals around her believe, but she suspects that for many scientists God doesn’t play a critical role. This suspicion doesn’t make Katie particularly uncomfortable, because she thinks it’s fine that other people have different beliefs. As she puts it, “I am able to see the relationship between my faith and the science-y aspects of [my life], and maybe some other people just can’t see how those two can be interconnected”. Katie believes that science and her faith can support each other.

Even though Katie is comfortable with accepting the teachings of both science and religion, there are some areas of overlap between the two that concern her. She says it worries her that we can’t be sure “what is a metaphor and what isn’t” in the Bible, or trying to figure out what God is saying is real and what God is saying is a metaphor. Katie struggles with this in part because, depending on what teachings of the Bible are metaphorical and what teachings are literal, her faith in both science and in God could be undermined. She is also worried that she might be questioned in her faith by people who see it as compromising her scientific vocation, saying that she’s fearful that she might face adversity because of her faith in her future studies and career. Katie believes that while science isn’t inherently hostile towards religion, people generally don’t talk about their faith in the scientific community.

Katie believes that studying science has deepened her faith. She says that “as I’m learning more about things, and how they intricately work together”, she has become more and more convinced that “there’s no way that this could just happen!”. Learning more about science has led her to believe more strongly that God has a role in creation.  Katie sees science as a way to “uncover all the things that God has created deep inside us”, and believes that God is excited when we as humans discover more about the ways that things work. As she puts it, “I can just imagine God up there like ‘Oh, you’re figuring it out! You’re getting closer!’”. Overall, Katie believes that her faith is calling her to “love others whenever possible and do good”. She’s currently trying to figure out how God has equipped her to live out this calling, and where exactly her skills can be utilized the best. Although she doesn’t know exactly where in the scientific or medical fields she’ll end up, Katie is confident that the way for her to live out her faith is to pursue science.


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