Karen Reynolds Wins Scholarship

Student awarded scholarship

By Lee Heddlesten

Oklahoma Christian student achieves success through scientific research benefiting the university. Senior biology major Karen Reynolds won a $3,000 scholarship from the Council of Undergraduate Research. The council is an organization of members of predominately small undergraduate institutions like OC that have banded together to promote undergraduate research.

Reynolds said the scholarship allowed her to work on a project studying bacterial infections and hormonal reactions in mice. Reynolds worked with OC graduate Jenny Gipson, student Bo Novosad and OC biology professor Molly Hill on the experiment over the summer. The group traced the effect of troglitazone, a drug used by diabetic patients, on the hormone levels of the mice exposed to the infection. “We found that troglitazone has significant protection effects against inflammation,” Reynolds said.

Hill plans to have the research published in a scientific journal, which would be an amazing achievement for Reynolds. “The degree of student involvement in undergraduate research is what gives the department its academic reputation among other colleges and universities, “Hill said. The scholarship is also used to draw incoming freshmen to the OC science department. “We use it as a recruiting tool,” Hill said. “I always have Karen and Bo sit down with prospective students to talk about what they’re doing in the lab.”

To make the project possible, Hill moved her lab from the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center to the OC campus. The equipment gives students new opportunities to perform research. Hill initially planned to pay Reynolds salary from a grant received to perform the experiment. Reynolds’ scholarship saved $3,000 of the grant money. The $3,000 savings allowed Hill to use the money for the other student projects. “It gave us supply money and helped pay the other students’ salaries. It was definitely a big help,” Hill said.

Reynolds will graduate in December 2000 and will then apply for medical school. Hill said the scholarship cements an already impressive resume for Reynolds. “It is so rare for a student applying to medical school to have a publication that she could go to any graduate school in the country,” Hill said. “They would grab her in a second.” Reynolds said that she has gained valuable skills that will help her in the future. “I think it’s a great program that gives you real life experience where you apply what you learn in the classroom to an actual research center,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds plans to begin medical school in the spring of 2001 after a trip to Vienna. “I feel like I need a little rest before I get started again,” Reynolds said.