Jan. 20, 2021
Chelsie Balli is serving at Biola as the director of the quantitative reasoning program. This role will enhance the department’s contribution to the University’s core curriculum and requires a unique blend of mathematics and administrative expertise. Chelsie believes that the integration of faith and learning is a key element of the educational theory and practice of a Christian University which includes equipping students for all aspects of life after college. She has studied how confidence and understanding in mathematics are related to a person’s confidence and success in other areas of life, and she strives to equip her students with that very confidence. Chelsie comes to Biola after nearly seven years of progressive leadership responsibility in Mathnasium Company Centers, an organization consisting of 1,000 stores worldwide enhancing the understanding of mathematics in children matched with her graduate education in curriculum and instruction.
Presently Dr. Marla Campbell teaches with the faculty of the School of Intercultural Studies following five years in the Education Department at Biola University. Prior to this, Marla served as Dean of Students at Bethany College and as a missionary in the Balkans of Eastern Europe then later with Asia-Pacific Education working with Bible colleges. All of these have offered opportunities to fulfill her desire to reach the lost, especially through the teaching and training of others who will carry on the task. During her 14 years of teaching in Christian high schools, Dr. Campbell had a vision for taking drama ministry teams nationally and internationally with the development of Parable Drama. Her mission opportunities have taken her throughout the USA and to over 60 countries. Whether at home or abroad, Marla has always had a focus on education and ministries with a strong passion for biblical integration, intentional living and spiritual formation. She enjoys opportunities to teach and speak in a variety of these venues as well as in women's ministry settings. Equipping Christian educators in public or private schools, whether at home or abroad, remains a primary focus for both speaking and publishing.
Dennis Eastman spent 15 years serving in multiple roles in the field of education (Social Studies teacher, coach, Athletic Director and Director of Faculty Induction) before becoming the principal of Nova Academy Early College High School, in Santa Ana, California. During his tenure as principal, U.S. News and World Report recognized Nova Academy with a Bronze Medal ranking as one of the most improved schools in California.
Eastman is currently serving Biola University as the Director of Secondary Education where he is able to combine his faith, expertise and enthusiasm for teaching and coaching into preparing the next generation of high quality educators.
Over the past ten years, Eastman has travelled extensively internationally with the goal of working alongside administrators and faculty in local schools to create inclusive, active, and effective learning strategies for all students.
Eastman's research agenda has focused on equipping teachers in student motivation, program design, creating an environment of attempt for all learners and preparing teachers in international settings.
Octavio Javier Esqueda is a professor of Christian higher education in the doctoral programs in educational studies at Talbot School of Theology at Biola University. He was born and raised in Guadalajara, México, where he graduated with honors with a Licenciatura in Latin American Literature from the University of Guadalajara as well as two additional diplomas, one on religion and society and the second on journalism. He graduated with honors from Dallas Theological Seminary with an M.A. in Christian Education and completed his doctorate (Ph.D.) in Higher Education at the University of North Texas. Before coming to Biola University he taught at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He and his wife, Angélica, have two children Darío and Salma. Dr. Esqueda has several publications on theological education, Christian higher education, and literature. Teaching is his passion and has had the opportunity to teach in several countries on different academic levels. He is an avid soccer fan.
Richard Gunasekera, Ph.D., has enjoyed a 20-year career in higher education as professor and a scientist in the field of Biochemical Genetics and Forensic DNA. He earned his bachelor’s in biochemistry at Baylor University, where he researched and published in organic synthesis as an undergraduate. Gunasekera earned a master’s degree in bio-organic chemistry from the University of Houston-Clear Lake, a master’s in molecular genetics and a doctorate in Biomedical Sciences at the Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. Before coming to Biola in 2018, Gunasekera founded the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Houston-Victoria and acted as the Department Head and later as Director of Graduate Studies. He has held faculty and research positions at Texas A&M University Health Science Center, the University of Houston-Clear Lake, and Rice University in Houston. Gunasekera’s research now spans several interdisciplinary fields such as cancer biology, forensic DNA studies, nano-biotechnology and biochemical genetics. He has also received awards for excellence in teaching, research and as a distinguished faculty member from his previous institutions.
Working with his students and colleagues in research Gunasekera stays committed to the student and the classroom. He believes that all teaching in the sciences is an extension of rigorous research and discovery, and that a science professor is best when he professes what he practices in the laboratory. Thus, he considers teaching both graduates and undergraduates in the classroom and laboratory in a Christ-centered environment as his first calling. He is committed to work as a team member to contribute toward building a world class institution and continue to make Biola a national leader in the sciences.
Joe Henderson is a scholar of English literature and the Old Testament, uniting his love of reading well with his love of reading the Bible. His doctoral research on the poetry of the book of Jeremiah is the fruit of his interest of both the history of biblical interpretation and of literary criticism. His other interests include Robert Louis Stevenson's novels, Paul's theology, Milton's Prose, Brevard Childs' hermeneutics, Flannery O'Connor's stories, and Charles Wesley's hymns.
Dr. Kim specializes in the critical integration of theology and psychology with a particular interest in exploring the interrelationship of faith, spirituality, intellect, personhood, morality, and culture. He brings over 20 years of ministry experience to the classroom. His areas of expertise include faith formation & discipleship, philosophy of ministry, and qualitative research methods. He co-edited and contributed multiple chapters to Christian Formation: Integrating Theology & Human Development and The Heritage of Christian Education. He is a past recipient of Lilly Research Grants administered by the Association of Theological Schools (2007 & 2012). In addition to full-time teaching, he serves as a paper/research presentation coordinator for the North American Professors of Christian Education (NAPCE) and is actively involved in local church ministry.
Kevin Lawson cares deeply about strengthening the educational ministry of churches. For 11 years, he served on church staffs as a minister of Christian education. He holds degrees in Christian education, biblical studies and educational administration, and carries out research on local church educational ministry, church staff issues, theological and historical foundations of Christian education, children’s spiritual formation, and other related topics. Lawson teaches on the historical foundations of Christian education, leadership issues and educational research methods, and does ministry consultation. His recent publications include: Supervising and Supporting Ministry Staff: A Guide to Thriving Together (co-authored with Mick Boersma, 2017); Associate Staff Ministry: Thriving Personally, Professionally, and Relationally (co-authored with Mick Boersma, 2014); Infants and Children in the Church: Five Views on Theology and Ministry (co-edited with Adam Harwood, 2017), Understanding Children's Spirituality: Theology, Research, and Practice (editor, 2012) and has contributed chapters to Shaped by God: Twelve Essentials for Nurturing Faith in Children, Youth, and Adults (2010), Introducing Christian Education and Formation (2008), Nurturing Child and Adolescent Spirituality: Perspectives from the World's Religious Traditions (2006), Children's Spirituality: Christian Perspectives, Research, and Applications (2004), and multiple entries in the Encyclopedia of Christian Education (2015). His research and writing has been published in several periodicals, including Christian Education Journal, Evangelical Missions Quarterly, Religious Education, Journal of Youth Ministry, Growing Churches, The Journal for Case Teaching and two international journals. He serves as editor of the Christian Education Journal and “Christian Educators of the 20th Century Project.” He chairs the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities’ Council for Collaboration in Doctoral Education and works with the International Council for Evangelical Theological Education on issues of doctoral education development.
Sean McDowell is a gifted communicator with a passion for equipping the church, and in particular young people, to make the case for the Christian faith. He connects with audiences in a tangible way through humor and stories while imparting hard evidence and logical support for viewing all areas of life through a biblical worldview. Sean is an associate professor in the Christian Apologetics program at Biola University. He is the Resident Scholar for Summit California.
Sean still teaches one high school Bible class, which helps him have exceptional insight into the prevailing culture so he can impart his observations poignantly to fellow educators, pastors and parents alike. In 2008, he received the Educator of the Year award for San Juan Capistrano, Calif. The Association of Christian Schools International awarded Exemplary Status to his apologetics training. Sean is listed among the top 100 apologists. He graduated summa cum laude from Talbot School of Theology with a master’s degree in theology and another in philosophy. He earned a doctorate in Apologetics and Worldview Studies in 2014 from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Traveling throughout the United States and abroad, Sean speaks at camps, churches, schools, universities and conferences. He has spoken for organizations including Focus on the Family, the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Backyard Skeptics, Cru, Youth Specialties, Hume Lake Christian Camps, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Association of Christian Schools International. Sean has also appeared as a guest on radio shows such as The Michael Medved Show, Family Life Today, Point of View, Stand to Reason, Common Sense Atheism and the Hugh Hewitt Show. Sean has been quoted in many publications, including the New York Times.
Sean is the author, co-author or editor of over 18 books including So The Next Generation Will Know (David C. Cook, 2019), Sharing the Good News with Mormons (Harvest House, 2018), Evidence that Demands a Verdict (Harper Collins, 2017), A New Kind of Apologist (Harvest House, 2016); The Beauty of Intolerance (Barbour, 2016); The Fate of the Apostles (Routledge, 2015); Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage (Baker, 2014); Is God Just a Human Invention? (Kregel, 2010) and Understanding Intelligent Design (Harvest House, 2008). Sean has also written multiple books with his father, Josh McDowell, including The Unshakable Truth, More Than A Carpenter and Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Sean is the general editor for The Apologetics Study Bible for Students. He has also written for YouthWorker Journal, Decision Magazine and the Christian Research Journal. Follow the dialogue with Sean as he blogs regularly at seanmcdowell.org.
In April 2000, Sean married his high school sweetheart, Stephanie. They have three children and live in San Juan Capistrano. Sean played college basketball at Biola and was captain his senior year on a team that went 30-7.
Michael Thigpen enjoys teaching and writing on a wide variety of topics in the Old Testament. His special areas of interest are prophetic literature, God’s motives and the theology of work and economics in the Old Testament. Thigpen currently serves as the Executive Director of the Evangelical Theological Society. Prior to his appointment as Executive Director in 2009, he taught Old Testament and Hebrew at the undergraduate level. Thigpen has extensive pastoral experience, having served most recently as pastor at the J-Town campus of Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, KY. He is the author of Divine Motive in the Old Testament: A Comprehensive Survey and Analysis and the iVocab series of language aids for Hebrew, Greek, and Syriac. In addition to his work with Talbot and ETS, Thigpen serves as Lecturer at Munster Bible College in Cork, Ireland.
Erik Thoennes is committed to teaching biblical and systematic theology so that he and his students love God and people more fully. He strives to make the necessary connections between the study of theology, obedience to Jesus and fulfilling the Great Commission. He has taught theology and evangelism at the college and seminary levels for several years and is a frequent guest speaker at churches, conferences and retreats, in addition to co-pastoring a local church. Thoennes has received the University award for faculty excellence and professor of the year. His research interests include godly jealousy, the atonement, the exclusivity of Christ and theology of culture.
Laurie Wilson received her master’s degree in Greek and Latin and her doctoral degree in classics from the University of St. Andrews where she was an H.B. Earhart Foundation Fellow and a Postgraduate Fellow in the James Wilson Programme for Constitutional Studies. This background reflects her passion for classical reception studies and interdisciplinary research, which has focused on Augustine, Cicero and writings from the American founders.