Message from the Natural Science Divisional Dean

Honeycutt Chairperson

Welcome to the Natural Science Division! As divisional dean, I have the privilege of working with an outstanding faculty and staff. All of us are committed to the total intellectual development of our students, and it is our goal to prepare them for the pursuit of meaningful vocations full of purpose, service, and leadership.

All programs in the Natural Science Division seek to foster scientific inquiry that allows students to gain an understanding of the nature of science and its place in society. Several themes are held in common across all disciplines within our division. These include: 1) Scientific inquiry is based on an objective protocol, the scientific method, which seeks to address observations of the natural world. Successful pursuit of a scientific career requires curiosity, skepticism, tolerance of ambiguity, openness to new ideas, and the willingness to share knowledge. 2) Science has limits in terms of what can be addressed, and it is important for scientists to understand what science can test and what it cannot. Through the years, scientific discovery has taught us that no knowledge is absolute, but with further evidence is subject to revision. 3) Becoming a scientist requires hands-on experience that transcends formal lectures. This experience is gained through laboratory exercises and student driven research projects. 4) Science and faith are not mutually exclusive worldviews. We encourage our students to be able to articulate the distinctive roles that faith and science play in answering important questions about the world and how it works.

If you seek an education in the Natural Science Division at Pepperdine University, you will learn from a faculty who excel in scholarship, teaching, and service. I encourage you to visit the individual websites of our 40 full-time faculty members. As you will see, many have received national and university teaching awards, and all are committed to excellence in academic scholarship.  Moreover, they strive to provide students with research experiences beyond the classroom. Through private, university, state and federal funding, our faculty members integrate research experiences for undergraduates with their own scholastic interests.

Our summer research programs are the major hallmark of our effort to provide research experiences for undergraduates.  These include Summer Undergraduate Research in Biology (SURB, funded by the National Science Foundation), Pepperdine's Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP), and the division's research programs supported by various charitable donations. These programs currently provide training for nearly 40 students each summer.  Results of many student projects are presented at state and national meetings and published in leading scientific journals.

Recently, the division received a one million dollar challenge grant from the John Stauffer Charitable Trust. These funds will be used to endow a summer undergraduate research program in chemistry.

We are proud of our classroom and laboratory facilities. In the summer of 2009, the Rockwell Academic Center was fully renovated resulting in three new research laboratories, one new teaching lab, and several new classrooms. In the summer of 2008, the Keck Science Center was remodeled creating nine new research laboratories and one teaching laboratory. These new research labs greatly increased our capacity to engage students in undergraduate research in biology, chemistry and sports medicine. In addition to the new physical plant, students are exposed to a broad array of research equipment (e.g., automated sequencer, flow cytometers, gas chromatograph with mass spectrometer, NMR), which provides training usually not received until graduate school. More importantly, laboratory sections in our courses are kept small to ensure that students receive personal instruction from a professor.

Student accomplishments subsequent to graduation are probably the best metric of a program's overall success. Our students have been highly successful in terms of admission to both professional and graduate schools. Over the past 14 years, the acceptance rate to medical school is 73%, which is considerably higher than the national average. In the past three years, Natural Science Division graduates have a 100% acceptance rate to dental, physical therapy, physician assistance, and veterinary schools. Aside from professional schools, many of our students are accepted to prestigious graduate programs in biology, chemistry, and mathematics, several have received Fulbright Scholarships, and 10 have received graduate research fellowships from the National Science Foundation.

It is my hope that you consider our various programs in the Natural Science Division, and I encourage you to peruse our website. Thank you for your interest in our division and its various programs.

Rodney L. Honeycutt