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All OC Science Students Perform Undergraduate Research

  • Academics
  • CNHS
Professor working in lab with students

Oklahoma Christian University’s College of Natural and Health Sciences was established in 2014 with OC alum Jeff McCormack, Ph.D., as dean. OC’s science program has forged a reputation for producing exceptional graduates.

“We have an outstanding science program,” McCormack said. “Henry Shin, founder of Excitant Therapeutics, is a great example. The Graduate School Liaison at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Molly Hill (Ph.D.), is also a graduate from here. We’ve got great graduates.”

Dean of the College of Natural and Health Sciences at Oklahoma Christian University Jeff McCormack, Ph.D.

OC’s College of Natural and Health Sciences offers degree tracts in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology in the natural sciences area. It offers degree pathways for nursing and medical laboratory science in the health sciences area.

Nursing has become one of the most popular degree programs on campus.

“The last statistic I saw, 11 percent of the student population at Oklahoma Christian claimed nursing as a major,” McCormack said. “And we have very high acceptance to graduate schools, anywhere from 90 to 100 percent.”

In 2019, OC nursing students achieved a 92% NCLEX pass rate.

One of those on-going success stories is senior McKenna Box, a biology major from the Deer Creek area of Edmond who has already been accepted into medical school at the University of Oklahoma.

After serving multiple undergraduate research internships that included OU’s Stephenson Cancer Center, Box attributes the supportive OC faculty for helping him successfully negotiate the rigorous academic challenges of his undergraduate degree program.

100% of undergraduates at OC perform research and present the findings at conferences and at on-campus academic events.

“Definitely, my professors and the relationship you can have with the professors have been the best part of my experience OC,” he said. “I can go to any professor, Dr. Long, Dr. Alcon, Dr. McCormack, and talk to them about more things than schoolwork. I can talk to them about life, questions I have about faith and how faith and science interact. They are less my professors and more my friends.”

OC students like McKenna Box in the health and natural sciences pursue knowledge in challenging disciplines that are often seen as at odds with spiritual values. How does OC confront the tension between religion and science?

“We do not shy away from asking the hard questions here,” McCormack said. “Our students wrestle with that. I wrestle with it every day. We know that God holds the truth, and we’re not shy from seeking the truth. Sometimes the truth as it is uncovered and unveiled in the sciences cause us to be uncomfortable. Sometimes that truth as we continue to peel back another layer of the onion, if you will, we discover from that a new glimpse of God.

Professor of Chemistry Bill Luttrell, Ph.D. teaches organic chemistry, toxicology and earth science. He serves as a sponsor for the OC Summer Undergraduate Research Program. His research interests are the effects of environmental and workplace exposures to chemical toxins on drug metabolizing enzyme systems in the human body.

“Does it create tension with what people have believe in the past?” he continued. “Yeah, it does. But we do not shy away from that. We want this to be a safe place for students to ask questions.”

OC’s College of Natural and Health Sciences also distinguishes itself by the research experience it offers students, McCormack said. Students in OC’s genetics course analyze raw data from gene sequencing and publish their findings.

“That’s huge,” he said. “I don’t know of any other school that can say this. If a student comes here and majors in the natural sciences, 100 percent of our students get an undergraduate research experience.”

Oklahoma Christian University is a higher learning community transforming lives for Christian faith, scholarship and service with a 14-to-one student teacher ratio. Driven by missions - not just majors, OC believes everyone has an important significance to this world. Located at 2501 East Memorial Road on a 200 acre residential campus, OC is home to extraordinary callings and undergraduate research.