In a brightly-lit lab on a Sunday afternoon, a group of Gonzaga University students, led by assistant professor Dr. Kylie Allen, shuffle test tubes in and out of a special, climate-controlled “glove box.” Each tube holds a living organism with the potential to reduce carbon dioxide to methane, a major greenhouse gas, and it can also oxidize methane anaerobically. While practical applications may be years and countless trials down the road, the room permeates with excitement as the researchers discuss their work in understanding the mechanism of the reactions and the potential uses in biofuel production and reduction of carbon emissions in the atmosphere. The project is supported by a Natural Sciences grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust.
A few doors down, also supported by a Natural Sciences grant from the Murdock Trust, another team of students, led by assistant professor Dr. Osasere Evbuomwan, are studying the interaction of Zn(II) with metal complexes. Early results suggest that the novel metal complexes designed by these researchers bind with Zn(II), and this causes an alteration in the magnetic resonance (MR) properties of the metal complexes. Such responsive metal complexes have the potential to help doctors diagnose certain diseases like prostate cancer more effectively and efficiently.
These are just two of the many examples of how students and faculty at Gonzaga are investing time and resources to try to solve real world challenges, while simultaneously engaging their students in the discovery and learning process. The Murdock Trust staff were fortunate to get an up-close look at some of this work during a recent visit to the school’s campus and to learn more about Gonzaga’s philosophy on the relationship between education and real-world impact.
Since it was founded 130 years ago, Gonzaga has focused on building academic institutions that are grounded in addressing specific community needs. From concerns about our environment to health care to the way we power our homes and vehicles, students and staff invest their educational endeavors in research and study that will directly improve their local community and even have applications that reach around the country and the world.
At the Murdock Trust, we have been proud to support the research and scientific discovery of Gonzaga faculty, alumni and students for several decades with over $4.6 million in funding, and we look forward to seeing what future work unfolds from this campus. Thank you for allowing us to visit!