Associate Professor of Integrated Science and Humanities
His primary research interest focuses on understanding the reception of science in the Muslim world and how Muslims view the relationship between science & religion.
He recently led a 4-year National Science Foundation funded study on the reception of biological evolution in diverse Muslim societies. He is also leading a study to understand and analyze the discourse and participants in online Islam and Science videos.
His other research interests include analyzing reconciliation efforts over sacred objects and places of astronomical importance. His past astronomy research focused on understanding star formation in spiral galaxies.
He has taught courses on "Evolution, Islam, and modernity", "Science in the Muslim world", "Creating science fiction short films using real science" (with Dr. Jason Tor), "Science & Religion: Biological evolution in the public sphere", "Aliens: Close Encounters of a Multidisciplinary Kind" and "History and Philosophy of Science & Religion" (with Dr. Laura Sizer) at Hampshire College. Salman also runs Irtiqa, a science & religion blog with an emphasis on scientific debates taking place in the Muslim world, hosts an online astronomy video series in Urdu, Science ka Adda, and has a regular astronomy segment for the Bill Newman show on WHMP and for Monte Belmonte on WRSI 93.9.
This course can be summed up as: everything you wanted to know about aliens but were afraid to ask (a scientist). The course will explore the topic of extraterrestrial intelligence from the perspective of several different fields. We will look at the history of UFO sighting claims and analyze the reliability of eye-witness testimonies, explore psychological & sociological reasons behind claims of alien abductions, and analyze the current state of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) from the perspective of astronomy and planetary research. We will also examine how film and television have shaped our view of aliens in popular culture. We will conclude the course by looking at religions that have been inspired by UFOs and extraterrestrials.
Millions of people worldwide have been inspired to pursue science by shows written and hosted by Carl Sagan, David Attenborough, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye, and others. What makes their videos appealing? How do they communicate complex scientific ideas in a simple language? In this course, students will learn how to develop ideas for a science video, write a script, and host a science-themed show for online audiences. The students are expected to work in small groups for their projects.
This seminar course will look at the way Muslims across the globe are negotiating the relationship between Islam and modern science. We will, in particular, focus on the way evolutionary biology is received in various parts of the Muslim world and what can that tell us about the interaction between culture, politics, religion, and science. Students will be expected to do research as part of the class and present their findings at the end of the semester. Countries to be discussed in the class include, but are not limited to Malaysia, Pakistan, Turkey and the Muslim diaspora in Europe and in the United States. Prerequisite: One class in Middle Eastern history or Middle East sociology, or Islam.
Do you have an idea for a science fiction story? Can it be developed into a short film? In this course students will develop science fiction short films that have a basis in scientific ideas from the fields of biology, astronomy, physics, or scientific ethics. Students are expected to work in small groups towards a goal of producing short films and writing an individual paper justifying the science used in their film. Students with some experience in science, film, or creative writing are welcome. Prerequisite: one science OR film OR creative writing course.
Biological evolution is often at the center of science and religion debates. While there is a broad consensus amongst biologists about the common descent of humans from prior species and the processes that drive biological evolution, public debates continue over the validity of evolution. According to the latest Gallup poll, 42% of Americans believe in a creationist view of human origins, and there are constant efforts by various school boards across the country to include some form of creationism in biology classes. Despite all the scientific evidence, why is biological evolution at the center of public debates today? In this course, we will look at sociological, psychological, and cultural factors that shape the public reception of evolution in the US and abroad. We will also look at the reliability of polling surveys and will conclude the course by analyzing the role of media in public evolution debate, from the Scopes Trial to the recent debate between Bill Nye and creationist, Ken Ham.