Virtual Idea Lab

RENAISSANCE WOMAN by LeeAnne Carson, 2002

In the back of the Mary Hill Center on Azusa Pacific University's west campus, sits the office of Dr. Leslie Wickman. The Center for Research in Science (CRIS) is just getting settled into the handful of offices adjacent to the university mailroom. Some furniture has yet to find its place. As director of CRIS, Leslie occupies an office near the front.

Certificates and plaques line one wall. A large bookshelf overflowing with science textbooks and videos covers another - a Willamette University pennant dangling between two shelves. Leslie sits at her desk reading through email from a small laptop. She is preparing to send out two proposals for CRIS to perform research in support of human planetary exploration.

Our interview was brief, but snagging much of this Renaissance woman's free time is difficult. She doesn't have a lot of it. In addition to her position at CRIS (and impressive credits like helping program the Bellagio Hotel fountains and designing space suits for NASA), Leslie is a professor teaching in the Departments of Math and Physics as well as Biology and Chemistry, a consultant for the RAND Corporation, and a member of the California Quake, a team in the Women's American Football League (WAFL).

When she's not working on the proposals or teaching students about the solar system, Leslie is thinking football. The Quake just won the Pacific Conference Championship, and next weekend they will face the Jacksonville Dixie Blues for the Women's World Bowl.

"We're thrilled to have done so well and come so far in our first season," she said. "Now we're favored to win the title, but it's up to us to make it happen."

As a defensive lineman, tight end, and wide receiver, Leslie practices three days a week, with the occasional weekend scrimmage. "I'm enjoying the excitement of playing a new professional women's sport and the fact that I see God working through myself and others."

Leslie has always been involved in sports. She competed in volleyball, basketball, and track in high school and continued her involvement in each after graduation.  At Willamette University, Leslie was on the basketball and track teams, and later she got into competitive beach volleyball, participating in professional tournaments and joining Athletes in Action.

Leslie brings all of her experiences, both scientific and athletic, into the classroom. "I have been able to relate some of what we do on the field to my physical science classes," she said, "especially with Newton's laws of motion."

Leslie plans to play football again next year, but she has a season of beach volleyball to complete first.  After the Quake, volleyball will seem pretty tame.