Steven Pennings

My parents were medical missionaries with the Reformed Church of America. They met in Bahrain, and later married. I was born in Kuwait and grew up in Bahrain through high school. I had a highly intercultural childhood that taught me that there is always another way to think about things. I love meeting people from other cultures and learning how they think about the world. I married another missionary kid, and we lived in California, Guam, Georgia and Texas. Along the way we converted to Orthodox Christianity, joining a Russian Orthodox parish in Texas. I appreciate the historical rootedness of the Orthodox faith, its utter lack of interest in contemporary culture, and its emphasis on the practice rather than the theory of Christian faith. I'm over 50, so my life is more than half over. I'm trying to learn a few important things, and get my act together, before my time runs out.

My Life

My hobbies

I play the guitar and bass guitar, and I keep a saltwater aquarium.

Best advice I ever received

You can learn something from everyone simply by observing them. Everyone has a skill or a good quality that you can emulate, and everyone has flaws that you can try to avoid.

My undergrad alma mater

Brown University

In college I drove

a pair of tennis shoes.

If I weren't a professor, I would

Probably unemployed. I don't think I'm fit for anything else. Whenever I showed a glimmer of competence at something else, it would thrill my father. I'd clear the drain trap under the sink and he'd say "Well, if this science thing doesn't work out, maybe you could be a plumber".

Favorite books

John Cassian The Conferences. Serious Christianity for grownups

Favorite movies

Lord of the Rings Trilogy. The Big Lebowski. Open Range.

Current Research

My lab studies the ecology of coastal marsh plants. We're interested in long-term change, in plant-herbivore interactions, in geographic variation, and in the invasion of mangroves into salt marshes in Texas. Find out more at our web site.