OCAST grant funds OC science research

Dr. Eric Phelps
Dr. Eric Phelps

Oklahoma Christian University (OC) was one of only two research universities approved for large grants from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology’s Intern Partnership program.

With the $60,000 OCAST grant, OC assistant professor of biology Eric Phelps will work with Charlesson LLC and principal investigator Rafal Farjo to develop new training resources for undergraduate educational programs.

Phelps’ proposal was based on the idea that faculty members need additional exposure to industry-based biotechnology research to prepare students adequately for future careers in the field.

Charlesson LLC, the pharmaceutical company Phelps works for, will match the OCAST grant to help fund the research.

“This grant will provide the groundwork for me to take some of our best science majors to the company to work,” Phelps said. “I hope this will enable more students to experience research from the perspective of a private pharmaceutical company in addition to the academic research they have experienced. It will also provide new areas for me to expand my teaching and the laboratory training perspective I provide to our students.”

Phelps noted that receiving the grant was a testament to teamwork at Oklahoma Christian.

“OCAST’s decision to award this grant speaks volumes about OC’s leadership,” Phelps said. “The grant would not have been possible without the support of Scott LaMascus, David Lowry and Tim VanWagoner.”

LaMascus is OC’s vice president for academic affairs, Lowry is dean of OC’s College of Arts and Sciences, and VanWagoner chairs OC’s Department of Biology.

“We are incredibly proud of Eric for his ambitious research and his dedication to students in the classroom. He is very deserving of this grant,” LaMascus said. “We are also inspired by OC alumnus Ken Parker, another grant recipient.”

OCAST awarded a $50,356 grant to NextThought, a technology company founded and run by Parker, a 1983 Oklahoma Christian graduate who also serves as a member of OC’s Board of Trustees.

RiskMetrics Group, co-founded by Parker, created 150 technology jobs in Oklahoma and sold for $1.55 billion in 2010.

Program goals for OCAST’s Intern Partnership program include developing collaborations among business owners, university professors and undergraduate students. Some of the students become full-time employees on completion of their internships.