Category: CMS-Nursing


A number of UCO faculty were recently awarded a $1,187,961, six-year grant from the National Science Foundation as part of its Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program. This project titled “Master Teachers Conducting STEM Practices and Action Research” will create a new partnership among the University of Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Public Schools, and the Central Oklahoma STEM Alliance to serve the national need of developing highly effective biology and mathematics teacher leaders in secondary education in Oklahoma.

The Noyce program supports talented STEM undergraduate majors and professionals to become effective K-12 STEM teachers and experienced, K-12 teachers to become STEM master teachers in high-need school districts. Fourteen central Oklahoma high school biology and math teachers will become Master Teaching Fellows. They will conduct STEM research and educational action research, do leadership training, and continue professional development and community building with each other while teaching in high-need schools. The program will orient these teachers to effectively support and mentor other teachers, especially those with emergency and alternative certifications.

Program organizers include UCO’s: Allyson Fenwick, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biology; Liz Lane-Harvard, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Mathematics & Statistics; Elizabeth Allan, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of the Department of Biology, and Mike Nelson, Ph.D., Professor and Assistant Dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies. The program evaluator is Cynthia Murray, Ph.D., Professor of Mathematics and Statistics. Additional UCO faculty are senior personnel on the project and will mentor Fellows.

Dr. Ben Tayo, Associate Professor of Engineering & Physics was awarded a National Institutes of Health, R-15 grant. The grant, a three-year, $425,928 research grant will bring deeper insights on a new class of materials for DNA detection. The ability to detect and discriminate DNA bases by reading it directly using simple and cost-effective methods is an important problem whose solution can produce value for areas such as cancer and human genetic disorder research. Despite progress in sequencing techniques, there are still several challenges to be overcome. Because of the challenges, the need for cheaper and faster approaches for automated sequencing is crucial. This research will employ high-performance computing and machine learning resources to investigate the potential of several two-dimensional crystalline materials for DNA sequencing. The knowledge gained from this research will provide deeper insights that will help guide the integration of these materials as active components of electronic devices for fast, direct-read, and affordable DNA sequencing. This award will strengthen the research environment at the University of Central Oklahoma and engage students in computational research.

Dr. Emily Hendryx from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics was awarded a three-year, $410,515 grant from the National Institute of Health. Titled “Summarizing Cardiac Data: An Automated Approach for Identifying Representative Heartbeats in the Clinical Setting,” this project involves a collaboration with Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital to use applied mathematics and data science in removing noise and summarizing pediatric electrocardiogram data recorded at hospital bedsides. This project will provide a way to present a representation of a patient’s recent cardiac health history to clinicians and deliver clinical decision support toward improving patient outcomes. Co-advised by Dr. Tyler Cook from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, this project will also offer undergraduate students an opportunity to participate in innovative interdisciplinary research.

Dr. John Rhee from the Department of Computer Science received a $87,873 grant from Sandia National Laboratories as part of his effort to build better cybersecurity services for cloud-based software systems. Once completed, the tools developed in his project titled “TelScope: Discovering Blind Spots of Telemetry Diagnosability” will be used to reveal gaps between telemetry requirements and implemented telemetry collection for cloud services.

Dr. Morshed Khandaker from the Department of Engineering and Physics received an Oklahoma Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) grant for his project “Anti Corrosion Behavior of Mg and Zn nanoparticle incorporated nanofiber membrane.” This $5,000 award will be used to evaluate the structural efficacy of magnesium- and zinc-loaded nanofiber membrane coating on steel in reinforced concrete.

First Nursing Broncho Blueprint

The Department of Nursing is featuring its first Broncho Blueprint class in Fall 2021. “Broncho Blueprint in the Office of Undergraduate Studies at UCO provides an early exposure, discipline-based learning experience that gives incoming UCO students professional and personal skills to advance in career readiness and transformative learning so they can be productive, creative, ethical, and engaged citizens.” Twenty-five freshman students interested in pursuing the nursing profession enrolled in this Block 1 course to investigate the scope of the discipline and experience some hands-on applications.  Students met virtually with a nursing panel that included UCO nursing faculty to discuss the wide range of career opportunities available and to share their personal pathways. As seen in the picture, the freshmen students visited the STEM lab and, assisted by faculty volunteers, engaged in dressing changes, nasopharyngeal suctioning, and performing IM injections on the mannikins. They also were introduced to the Sim Man by the Lab Manager Diane Gaston, who gave them a wink and a groan (the mannikin not Diane). The Nursing Department looks forward to participating in the Broncho Blueprint in the coming semesters and assisting UCO freshman students in their decision of pursuing nursing as a profession.

Student Highlight- Jordan Gray

Jordan Gray has been serving as a tutor for the nursing department since January 2020. She states “during my time as a tutor I have enjoyed developing close relationships with the faculty and staff as well as making connections with students. My favorite part about my job is helping students achieve their goals and watching them grow as a student nurse.” Jordan has served in a variety of leadership positions across campus and hopes to continue leading and helping others long after leaving the UCO campus. She is set to graduate in May 2021 and hopes to become an ICU nurse. Tutoring has given her a passion for educating and eventually she hopes to continue her education so she is able to continue to teach new nurses.

Featured Faculty- Diane Gaston, MS, CCRN-K, RN

During my nursing career experience of over 40 years, I have worked in the hospital setting as a staff nurse, charge nurse, supervisor, manager, critical care educator, and house supervisor. In the academic setting, I have taught various classes and clinical practice at the associate and baccalaureate levels. I am a member of the national and local chapter of American Association of Critical-Care Nurses and a national and local chapter member of Sigma Theta Tau (Honor Society of Nursing).

I am passionate about honoring and being responsible for the students’ future patients. Seeing that the students develop their critical-thinking skills as well as their bedside skills is the highest priority for me so that they can provide the excellent quality of care their future patients deserve.

I have had the privilege of teaching the following courses in my career: Foundations of Nursing (class, lab and clinical), Health Assessment (class and lab), Critical Care Nursing (class and clinical), Introduction to Nursing, Medical-Surgical (class and clinical), and Clinical – Leadership and Community.

I received my Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Central Oklahoma in 1977 and my Master of Science in Nursing from Southern Nazarene University in 2010. I was certified as a Critical Care Registered Nurse from 1988-January 2018, and currently, I have the following certifications: Critical Care Registered Nurse – Knowledge (January 2018-present), Advanced Cardiac Life Support Provider (1987-present), and Healthcare Provider BLS (CPR) for the American Heart Association (1977-present).

My areas of expertise include: Critical Care Nursing, Rapid Response Assessment, and Clinical Critical-Thinking Exercises and Hospital Administrative Skills – House Supervisor.

I have had the honor to work in a variety of settings in nursing, including Medical-Surgical Nursing and Post Coronary Care Nursing for 6 years, Critical Care Nursing Experience as a staff nurse, lead nurse, supervisor, nursing manager, clinical nurse educator, and clinical instructor and faculty for over 30 years.

My awards and honors include Deaconess Hospital Servant Leader Council Member, 1998-2007; Deaconess Hospital Exemplary Nurse Program, 2007; Summa Cum Laude, Southern Nazarene University, 2010; and 21st Century Pedagogy Institute New Teacher-Scholar, 2019.

When I have time to reflect, I like to write poetry and have had a poem published in “On the Wings of Poetry”, 2004 by Famous Poets Press.

Nursing Student Spotlight: Emily Riley Holmes

Emily HolmesEmily graduates in December of 2020 with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. During her years in the nursing program she has been involved in the Student Nurses Association by being a part of the philanthropy team, as president elect, and now serving as president of the organization. After four years of involvement along with serving in various officer positions, Emily is now an alumna of the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority.
She currently is working at Integris Baptist on the mother/baby unit as a nurse tech and hopes to work there after graduation as a nurse.

Kathy Smith, Nursing Faculty Member, Earns DNP

Kathy SmithDr. Kathy Smith completed her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in August of 2019. She is currently in her eighth year as faculty in the Nursing Department at the University of Central Oklahoma and serves as an Assistant Professor and Coordinator of the Fast Track in Nursing. Having graduated from UCO in 2006 with her nursing degree, Dr. Smith enjoys empowering students to become nurses. She worked in Cardiac Intensive Care as an RN prior to teaching. She serves as a faculty advisor and financial advisor for the Student Nurses Association at UCO. Dr. Smith is a consultant for the Oklahoma Nursing Student Association and President for the Beta Delta at-Large Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. Her areas of interest are Diabetes and empowerment, vulnerable populations, leadership, mental health, transformative learning, and faculty learning communities. She has served as a member of the Embodied Brain Learning Community for the past several years. Dr. Smith has received many awards and recognitions including March of Dimes Nurse of the Year Nominee and Finalist in the Education Category, presentation of DNP Project to the President and Vice President of Academic Affairs of Graceland University, Most Distinguished Teacher-Scholar, Teacher-Scholar, and Distinguished Teacher-Scholar. Dr. Smith and a colleague received the 2017 Masonic Endowment for Transformative Learning Award.