Stephen Case

Associate Professor
College of Arts and Sciences
Chemistry and Geoscience
Ph.D., 2014, University of Notre Dame
M.A., 2007, University of Mississippi
B.S., 2005, Olivet Nazarene University

During Dr. Case's time as a student at Olivet, he worked as a planetarium operator and gained experience on both opto-mechanical and digital projection systems. Today, he is the director of Strickler Planetarium on Olivet's campus. He also teaches astronomy, history of science (spring 2015), Honors Program courses and Freshman Connections.

He brings his cross-disciplinary background to science instruction and planetarium show development. In 2014, he completed a doctorate degree in the history and philosophy of science at the University of Notre Dame. His doctoral dissertation is "Making Stars Physical: John Herschel's Stellar Astronomy, 1816-1871." His website is

Researching and sharing about the astronomy of Sir John Herschel — one of the most important scientists of the Victorian era — was a career-defining experience for Dr. Case. In 2018, the University of Pittsburgh Press published his first nonfiction book, Making Stars Physical: The Astronomy of Sir John Herschel. This is the first ever book-length treatment about the historically significant contributions Herschel made to astronomy.

As Olivet's planetarium director, Dr. Case oversaw the complete refurbishment and update of Strickler Planetarium from a slide-based analogue projection system to a full-dome digital system. These changes greatly enhanced the planetarium's capabilities and turned it into a powerful multimedia instructional tool.

His research has appeared in Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences, Mercury, Endeavor, Annals of Science, and Zondervan’s Dictionary of Christianity and Science. He has presented his research on the history of astronomy at the Newberry Library, the History of Science Society Annual Meeting, and the Biennial Workshop on the History of Astronomy.

In 2013, Dr. Case was awarded an ISLA-Mellon grant to organize and host a conference on Evidential Reasoning in Astronomy & Cosmology on Notre Dame's campus. He also served as coordinator for the 2009 Great Lakes Planetarium Association Illinois state meeting; on the steering committee for the 2008 International Planetarium Society Conference, Chicago; and as a delegate to the 2006 National Science Foundation's National GK-12 Conference, Washington, D.C.

His interests include the historical and cultural aspects of the physical sciences, specifically the history of astronomy and changing conceptions regarding the physical nature of the stars. While working on his master's degree at the University of Mississippi, he was an NSF GK-8 fellow and conducted research on the Millington-Barnard Instrument Collection, a collection of scientific instruments assembled before the Civil War. As a member of the Center for Math and Science Education, he developed a science curriculum for area elementary and middle school classrooms. He also taught engineering courses there.

Read Dr. Case's curriculum vitae here.

Dr. Case and his wife, Christine — who is a 2005 Olivet graduate — are the parents of four children.