Clayton David Carlson
Associate Professor of Biology
on faculty since 2010
Biology is the study of God’s creation. The majesty of his work in fashioning humanity.
In Dr. Clay Carlson’s classes, students learn to view science in entirely new ways and to see God clearly. In the Foundation courses, students recognize gifts given to them that they had never before considered. “Recognition of those gifts will lead to praise, changed lives with better health, and more informed conversations with medical professionals,” Carlson believes. In his upper level biology courses, Carlson and his students explore the limits of scientific knowledge. “By learning the limits of the field, students are called to begin their work of expanding those limits.”
What drew him to Trinity:
Carlson was looking for a college where he could take both God and science very seriously. “I feel called to follow God and honor God for all the beautiful works of creation. That means I can only teach at a place that is unafraid of any science, a place that will joyfully engage any scientific result and will seek to praise and honor God through it.”
Carlson is fascinated by many things, but two areas of particular interest include the ways gene expression is regulated in eukaryotic cells and the interpretation of genomic science through the lens of Christian philosophy.
“With one set of instructions (our DNA) we can make skin cells, brain cells, and stomach cells. Through molecular biology we are able to learn how cells accomplish this miraculous feat. Why would anyone study something besides this?!?” His interest in integrating Christian philosophy and science has developed more naturally. “As I have grown in my faith and in my profession, learning how to interweave these sometimes discordant disciplines takes time, effort, and patience.”
When he’s not teaching:
Carlson chases around his kids and talks with his wife. He serves at his church, Hope Church in Oak Forest, and serves on the school board for Southwest Chicago Christian Schools. “I also play instruments, make jam, run, and ride my bicycle. But I have no love for the last two.”
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, 2009
B.S., University of Wisconsin, River Falls, Wisconsin, 2002
Courses and Publications/Research
Read more about Carlson’s research on his website.
- Biology 101 – Human Biology
- Biology 110 – Introduction to Biology
- Biology 204 – General Microbiology
- Biology 303 – Genetics
- Biology 316 – Advanced Molecular Biology
Papers and Publications
General Interest Publications
“I Am Plural.” Christianity Today. November 2016
“Wrestling with Miracles.” Perspectives Journal. May 2016
“Born to Be Wild?” The Behemoth. December 2015
“After Paris, It's Time for Christians to take on Climate Change.” The Network. February 2016
“Sin, evil, and the Zika virus.” Think Christian. February 2016
“It’s time for a Christian consensus on climate change.” ThinkChristian. December 2015
“Embracing the mystery of Biblical miracles.” ThinkChristian. November 2015
“Has a line been crossed in regard to human DNA?” ThinkChristian. May 2015
“Mice in the image of God?” ThinkChristian. March 2015
“Bringing pathos into the vaccination conversation.” ThinkChristian. February 2015
“Having ‘the talk’ with college biology students.” ThinkChristian. October 2014
“Thunderstorm at a bus stop.” Catapult Magazine. April 2014
“Epigenetics: sign of the Fall or reason for hope?” ThinkChristian. March 2014
“Cursed children and redemptive action in Ethiopia’s Omo valley.” ThinkChristian. January 2014
“Why I signed that evangelical scientists’ letter on climate change.” ThinkChristian. July 2013
Clayton D. Carlson. Deeply Connected to God's Good World: The Human Microbiome. Christian Scholar's Review. Accepted.
Derek Frejd, Kiera Dunaway , Jennifer Hill , Jesse Van Maanen , Clayton Carlson. "The Genomic and Morphological Effects of Bisphenol A on Arabidopsis thaliana" PLOS One. 2016 September 15.
Clayton D. Carlson. Transgenerational Epigenetic Inheritance. Perspectives on Science and the Christian Faith. 2014, June.
Matthew J. Brody, Matthew R. Mysliwiec, Tae-gyun Kim, Clayton D. Carlson, Eunjin Cho, Kyu-Ho Lee, and Youngsook Lee. “Lrrc10 is a novel cardiac-specific target gene of Nkx2-5 and GATA4” Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology. 2013
Matthew R. Mysliwiec, Clayton D. Carlson, Josh Tietjen, Holly Hung, Aseem Z. Ansari and Youngsook Lee. “Jarid2 (JUMONJI, at rich interactive domain 2) regulates notch1 expression via histone modification in the developing heart”. The Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2012 January 6.
Peterson-Kaufman, KJ; Carlson, CD; Rodríguez-Martínez, JA.; Ansari, AZ “Nucleating the Assembly of Macromolecular Complexes”. ChemBioChem. 2010 September 24.
Clayton D. Carlson*, Christopher L. Warren*, Karl E. Hauschild, Mary S. Ozers, NaveedaQadir, DeveshBhimsaria, Youngsook Lee, Franco Cerian and Aseem Z. Ansari. Specificity Landscapes of DNA binding molecules predict biological function. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2010 February 22.
Badis G, Chan ET, van Bakel H, Pena-Castillo L, Tillo D, Tsui K, Carlson CD, Gossett AJ, Hasinoff MJ, Warren CL, Gebbia M, Talukder S, Yang A, Mnaimneh S, Terterov D, Coburn D, Yeo AL, Xuan Yeo Z, Clarke ND, Lieb JD, Ansari AZ, Nislow C, and Hughes TR. A new library of yeast transcription factor motifs reveals a widespread function for Rsc3 in targeting nucleosome exclusion at promoters. Molecular Cell. 2008 Dec 24.
Hauschild KE, Carlson CD, Denato LJ, Moretti R, Ansari AZ. Transcription Factors. In Wiley Encyclopedia of Chemical Biology. Edited by T. Begley. John Wiley and sons. 4:566-584 2008 May 15.
Keles S, Warren CL, Carlson CD, Ansari AZ. CSI-Tree: A regression tree approach for modeling binding properties of DNA-binding molecules based on cognate site identification (CSI) data. Nucleic Acids Research. 2008 Apr 13
Awards and Memberships
Honors and Awards
- Arnold E. and Catherine M. Denton Mentoring Award (2008)
- American Heart Association Greater Midwest Predoctoral Fellowship (2006-2008)
- Regional Discussion Fellow, The Creation Project of the Henry Center for Theological Understanding
Professional Society Membership
- American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 2002-Present
- American Chemical Society, 2005-2010