What is the Selman Living Laboratory?

The Selman Living laboratory is a field research and teaching facility located in the rolling hills & plains of Woodward County in northwestern Oklahoma. It is the official field station of the Biology Department at the University of Central Oklahoma. The Selman Living Laboratory provides a wide array of natural environments, including large bat caves for research and teaching. Full living accommodations are available on site. We invite researchers and students from all majors to use this site or contact the UCO 's Department of Biology about research and course opportunities. The Selman Living Laboratory is recognized as a Natural Heritage Site by Oklahoma Biological Survey.

History of the lab

The site part of the historic Selman Ranch, originally homesteaded in the early 1900's. Prior to that, it served as grazing lands leased from Cherokee Native Americans by large cattle companies, including one from England.One reason this field station, the SLL, became established was because of UCO 's long educational involvement with the Selman cattle ranch. Because of her interest in education and conversation, Mrs. Betty Selman wanted the Selman Cave System preserved as an education and research site. In 1998, the SLL was established with a $300,000 grant from the Oklahoma State Department of Tourism, which provided for the purchase of the Selman Cave System. To protect the surrounding watershed and the cave , Mrs. Selman donated 129.5 ha and several caves to UCO. Once deeded over to UCO, this tract of land became the nucleus of the SLL.  

University of Central Oklahoma

The SLL operates under the auspices of UCO located in Edmond, Oklahoma. UCO is the oldest (est.1890) university in Oklahoma and is recognized for excellence in teaching, graduate and undergraduate research, and community service. It is a comprehensive, multicultural, metropolitan institution committed to serving over 17,000 traditional and nontraditional students each semester. It is accredited by North Central Association of Colleges and Schools as a bachelor's and master's degree granting institution. The University is increasing its support to the SLL. It is committed to the educational, research, and outreach goals of the SLL. It has added the SLL to the university 's strategic plan and is providing for maintenance of the facilities, the utilities and design concepts.

The UCO Biology department, with about 1,000 majors, offers a B.S. in Biology, Biology Education and Medical technology and M.S. in Biology. The faculty is exemplary, possessing degrees from institutions of higher learning. The faculty has had affiliations with other field stations/sites that provide the experience to oversee operations of the SLL.


We have received support through the university, the National Science Foundation, and others for two additional metal bunkhouses, a small classroom, a storeroom, two restroom buildings with showers, a storage shed, a trailer (with additional restrooms, an office area, and a small kitchen), a tornado-resistant multipurpose building, and two astronomy domes. 


The SLL is located about 16 km SW of Freedom (pop. 264) in rural northwestern Oklahoma and approximately 50 km from the larger towns of Woodward and Alva. The nearest cross-streets are N2110 Rd and E0210 Rd in Freedom, OK 73842. Climatically, this region is characterized by an average annual temperature of 15°C (50°F) and an annual rainfall of 69 cm (27.2 in). 

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