Has Your Faith Affected Your Promotions?

Dr. Cristie Jo Johnston: Has your outspoken Christianity, your outspoken faith, caused any problems with your promotions here at Rice University? Because we see that in other parts of the country. What about for you here?

Dr. James Tour: Nothing has happened in promotions as far as professorial promotions at Rice. I came to Rice as a chaired professor and I’ve maintained that chair. Thirty years ago, things were different than they are now. In 2004, approximately when the Dover trial occurred, there was a sort of change where people started thinking more critically toward Christians. I have been held back tremendously in awards and in societies – in professional societies that have not permitted me to come in because of my faith – because of my not buying in wholeheartedly to the mantra of evolution.

Dr. James Tour’s scientific research areas include nanoelectronics, graphene electronics and photovoltaics, carbon supercapacitors, lithium ion batteries, chemical self-assembly and carbon nanotube and graphene synthetic modifications. He has also worked extensively on carbon composites, hydrogen storage, and practical applications in medicine and oil recovery for nanoengineered carbon. He is perhaps best known for his carbon-based fullerene-wheeled “nanocars,” a 2005 breakthrough feat in nanoengineering that produced functional, rolling vehicles just a few nanometers in size.

Tour also built small humanoids using similar technology. An example called the “NanoKid” became the basis for a school-based learning program for children that introduced them to nanoscience. His commitment to science education continued with his more recent Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero science educational package development for middle school education.

Tour received his bachelor of science degree in chemistry from Syracuse Univ., and his Ph.D. in synthetic organic and organometallic chemistry from Purdue Univ. He joined the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology at Rice University in 1999. Tour has more than 650 research publications, more than 120 patents and averages more than 3,000 citations per year.

The girl who changed my life – Christie Jo Johnston

I have been thinking about her all day.  She is so kind and has a heart filled with such goodness.  If she has any fault, she ignores herself and puts everyone and everything before her.  So, I asked my wife, Cristie Jo Johnston, to head home and begin an new era where once-and-for-all she put “Cristie first,” after, of course, our wonderful Lord.

Ours is a love affair.  It began in October of 1978.  On March 6 we will celebrate 36 years of marriage,  Sincerely, I have enjoyed every day of it!  I thought I might incrementally tell you how we met and why the sizzle of our romance never faded.

I’ll make our introduction brief:  Cristie, age 18, after high test scores was told she had failed the State of Michigan Board to receive her cosmetology license.  To say she was shocked would be an understatement.  Every semester she receive straight “A’s.”  Simultaneously to this jarring disappointment, her Dad, Al Huf, was asked by a friend to come here a young 19-year-old evangelist named, Jerry Johnston, holding an evangelistic outreach at Calvary Baptist Church in Holland, Michigan.  Confused and disheartened by her failure, she reluctantly accepted her Dad’s invitation to attend and they sat on the second-row-from-the-front of the church auditorium.

God was moving mightily and the crusade had extended to three weeks every night.  Thousands of people attended.  On the second Sunday night, prior to my message, as spiritually as I knew how I leaned over to the pastor, Earl Webb, and asked, “Who is that gorgeous girl on the second row?”  He told me she was one of the four Huf girls.  Immediately, I was interested.  One week later when she asked me to sign her Bible I doted and took my time really transfixed just looking at her.

Cristie would later learn there was a clerical error in Lansing, Michigan, and she had, indeed, passed the bar exam with high grades and her cosmetology license was immediately granted with a written apology.  Was it an accident that the registrar made the error?  Cristie probably would not have accompanied her Dad to my Crusade had she had not been asking, “God, what is going on?  I have a job already secured at one of the best salons in Grand Rapids, Michigan.”  The Lord used that “disappointment” as a big “appointment” for us to meet.  I’ll give you the next chapter in a few days.  By the way, I married her 5 1/2 months later, and I am crazy about her.