Associate Professor of Physics, and OKWU’s beloved cardboard-boat sailor, Dr. Brian Turner loves to make learning an adventure. His students have the privilege of cardboard-boat building and sailing across the OKWU pond, trebuchet construction and launching contests, and even BB gun target practice! “My philosophy is this,” says Dr. Turner, “Math and science are everywhere. Therefore, do things that are fun and inspiring, and look for the math and science within it. Life should be an adventure, and so should education.”
When asked why he chose to study Physics, Dr. T said, “I was born during the heydays of the NASA program, and my mom claims I wanted to be a ‘moon man’ as a young child. I don’t remember that, but I do remember loving math and winning a state competition in ninth grade. From there I wanted to be an engineer, until God guided me and asked me to serve as a professor.”
While studying at Southern Nazarene University, Dr. T was an RA, trumpet player, singer, and cartoonist for the newspaper. After majoring in Physics and Mathematics at SNU, obtaining his PhD in Physics at UT Dallas, and serving on a research team at UT, he began his teaching career at Lyon College in Arkansas. When asked what led him here to OKWU, he applauded Lyon College by saying, “It was a blast because the school was full of very gifted students, and they could accomplish great things academically. But I felt restless, and wanted to be at a place that was devoted and committed to Christ. That led me here.” He moved here to Bartlesville and joined Oklahoma Wesleyan University in 1999.
The Eagle also had the opportunity to ask him a little more about his experience as a professor:
The Eagle: What is your favorite part of your job?
Dr. T: In most ways, I have a dream job. My job is built around the Lordship of Christ. I get to explore and research the beautiful areas of math and science. I have lots of room to use my creativity and desire for fun. But most of all, I get to hang out with college students, who are hilarious, energetic, fun, and awe-inspiring.
The Eagle: What is the hardest part of your job?
Dr. T: Grading.
The Eagle: What is your funniest story from teaching Physics?
Dr. T: I have had many hilarious moments, from cardboard-boat disasters, to my own trip to the ER. But the funniest occurred when my neighbor spotted flashlights shining in my house during the “Mission Impossible” event. He thought it was a real burglary, and called the police to send in a SWAT team.
The Eagle: How have you seen God use you through your knowledge and teaching of Physics?
Dr. T: I believe that studying nature is a way to understand certain aspects of the Creator. Therefore, I get to help students see God’s creativity, passion, rationality, consistency, and beauty. But overall, I believe that trying to be the servant of my students (whether in the classroom or not) is the best way to point them to Christ.
The Eagle: What is one thing from your spiritual life that stands out to you as something that can encourage or inspire others?
Dr. T: When I was deciding my career path between industry and Christian higher education, a spiritual mentor asked me a simple question: where would you make the most difference? I chose education, and that has made all the difference. There is nothing more joyful than asking God what his dream is for your life, and then giving Him your all to make it happen.
If you ask his students, Dr. T is making a big difference not only by the way he teaches, but also by the way he interacts with his students. He is sure to let them know from the beginning that he is right by their sides on the journey through his class. With his Christ-like attitude, Dr. T adds much light and hope to learning for his students.
Cover Photo: OKWU Flickr