M.J. MURDOCK CHARITABLE TRUST HOSTS 32ND MCSR CONFERENCE, ANNOUNCES AWARDS FOR FACULTY, STUDENTS
(Vancouver, WA) – On November 10-11, close to 500 students and faculty from colleges and universities across the Pacific Northwest gathered for the 32nd annual Murdock College Science Research (MCSR) Conference. This event celebrated outstanding student research, faculty leadership, and collaboration within the scientific community. It gave students a chance to share their discoveries through oral and poster presentations, network with peers and faculty, learn from a keynote lecture, and develop critical science communication skills.
“The Murdock Trust is fortunate to have a rich history of nearly fifty years supporting scientific research in our region,” said Dr. Moses Lee, Vice President for Scientific Research Grants and Programming, Murdock Trust. “Investing in innovation and building capacity, through science, scientific research in particular, and other sectors, was a priority for our benefactor, Jack Murdock, and his legacy lives on today through the creative and collaborative research of these students and faculty. This conference is an exciting opportunity to honor that legacy and celebrate the way it is lived out in these young scientists.”
Faculty Awards Announced
One of the most important influences on students as they build their futures is faculty who can demonstrate the potential and power of a scientific career. To that end, the Murdock Trust gives Lynwood W. Swanson Awards to two outstanding faculty members for their contributions in discovering new knowledge, working with undergraduate students, and teaching in the research laboratory. These awards are given in honor of Dr. Lynwood Swanson, a Trustee of the Murdock Trust for 30 years in addition to his distinguished career as a scientist in electron optics and professor in the Pacific Northwest.
“It is hard to overstate the impact that scientists, researchers, and innovators committed to the common good can have on our region and on the world,” said Romanita Hairston, CEO, Murdock Trust. “Dr. Swanson is one example of this, as was Jack Murdock. But we believe that these two award winners are equally bearers of this torch. It is an honor to recognize them and thank them for their leadership.”
The Swanson Scientific Award recognizes a senior faculty member with an established, productive, and nationally recognized research program.
- The 2023 Lynwood W. Swanson Scientific Research Award was given to Dr. Stacey Weiss, Professor and Chair of Biology and William McCormick Professor of Natural Sciences, University of Puget Sound. This award recognizes Dr. Weiss’s scholarship on behavioral and microbial ecology, and her deep commitment to providing transformational experiences to students in her research lab and classroom.
The Swanson Promise Award recognizes a junior faculty member with less than ten years of faculty experience who has demonstrated an exceptional potential in establishing an exemplary, productive, and sustainable research program.
- The 2023 Lynwood W. Swanson Promise for Scientific Research Award was given to Dr. Kelly Chacón, Arthur F. Scott Associate Professor of Chemistry, Reed College. This award recognizes Dr. Chacón’s internationally recognized application of spectroscopic approaches to answering bioinorganic chemistry questions, and for their committed mentorship, especially to undergraduates from historically marginalized backgrounds.
Both awards come with a citation and a cash prize that is shared by the professor and institution.
Student Presentation Awards
At the end of the conference, students were awarded the following honors based on poster and oral presentations throughout the two days.
2023 John Van Zytveld Life Sciences Award
Name: Micah Bell
Institution: Gonzaga University
Mentor: Dr. Brook Swanson
Rhinoceros Beetles Carry Informational Chemicals About Body Size and Sex
2023 John Van Zytveld Physical Sciences Award
Name: Elliot Wald
Institution: Carroll College
Mentor: Dr. John Rowley
Metal-oxide Photovoltaic Cells Synthesized using Materials Abundant in the Martian Regolith
2023 Murdock Poster Prize for Ecology-Evolution-Biodiversity (Section A, three prizes)
Name: Michelle Winfield
Institution: Pacific University
Mentor: Dr. Christopher Templeton
Can zebra finches overcome noise-induced cognitive impairment through habituation?
Name: Christina Riddle and Kelvin Sakyi
Institution: College of Idaho
Mentor: Dr. Robert Laport
Investigating Genetic Diversity of Castanea dentata Planted in the Pacific Northwest
Name: Gabriela Kuglen-Alvarez
Institution: Lewis & Clark College
Mentor: Dr. Margaret Metz
Leaf area variation through developmental stage and canopy position in Myristicaceae
2023 Murdock Poster Prize for Developmental Biology-Physiology (Section B)
Name: Sara Helmstetter
Institution: Reed College
Mentor: Dr. Kara Cerveny
Becoming a Neuron: Exploring Visual Input Influences on the Rate of Neurogenesis in the Zebrafish Optic Tectum
2023 Murdock Poster Prize for Molecular and Cell Biology (Section C, two prizes)
Name: Mariah Canton
Institution: University of Puget Sound
Mentor: Dr. Bryan Thines
Cell Cycle Regulation in Plants by the F-BOX STRESS INDUCED 1 (FBS1) Gene
Name: Marharyta Tkachenka
Institution: Whitman College
Mentor: Dr. Dan Vernon
Temporal and Spatial Dynamics of PIRL9 Expression in Arabidopsis thaliana: Insights from a Developmental Time Course
2023 Murdock Poster Prize for Neuroscience-Psychology-Exercise Science (Section D)
Name: Anna-Marie Ahn
Institution: Lewis & Clark College
Mentor: Dr. Tamily Weissman-Unni
Investigating alpha-synuclein’s role as a DNA repair protein in Parkinson’s Disease
2023 Murdock Poster Prize for Biochemistry (Section E)
Name: Melissa Duncan
Institution: Willamette University
Mentor: Dr. Cooper Battle
Creating an Adaptable G4 Quadruplex Sensor
2023 Murdock Poster Prize for Organic Chemistry (Section F)
Name: Shawn Vinogradsky and Andrew Harter
Institution: Whitman College
Mentor: Dr. Marion Gotz
Exploring stereochemical aspects of proteasome inhibition by peptide epoxyketones
2023 Murdock Poster Prize for Analytical-Inorganic-Physical Chemistry-Computational Chemistry (Section G, two prizes)
Name: Kaden Seely
Institution: University of Portland
Mentor: Dr. Buck Taylor
Computational investigation into electronic and steric effects on the decomposition of ethenolysis catalysts
Name: Jeffrey Buetow
Institution: Pacific Lutheran University
Mentor: Dr. Dean A. Waldow
Optimizing OECT performance with polymer blends: Studying volumetric capacitance in Poly(3-hexylthiophene) based organic transistors
2023 Murdock Poster Prize for Environmental Science-Geology (Section H)
Name: Emma Hardy
Institution: Rocky Mountain College
Mentor: Dr. Megan Poulette
Alpine Plants and Snowmelt at a GLORIA Site in Wyoming
2023 Murdock Poster Prize for Microbiology (Section I)
Name: Harrison Goeldner
Institution: Trinity Western University
Mentor: Dr. Laura Onyango
Antibacterial Efficacy of Zn Based Particles Against Biofilm Forming Bacteria
2023 Murdock Poster Prize for Physics and Engineering (Section J)
Name: Claire Skaggs
Institution: St. Martin’s University
Mentor: Dr. Andrea Kunder
Fingerprints of Pulsating Stars in the Bulge and Globular Clusters
The Murdock Trust’s Investment in the Northwest Scientific Community
This conference is just one of many ways the Murdock Trust helps cultivate a vibrant scientific research community in the Pacific Northwest. Additionally, the Trust provides grants for major scientific instrumentation, capital projects, research collaborations, commercialization initiatives, new faculty research, high school science teacher development, and more.
“The Pacific Northwest is a region with incredible scientific research capacity thanks to our outstanding institutions, faculty, and students,” said Dr. Lee. “This conference is an opportunity to encourage and uplift them so that they can return to their institutions and continue the good, hard work of scientific inquiry that will have ripples of change for generations.”
For more information on this year’s conference or the Murdock College Science Research Program, please contact Colby Reade, Senior Director of Strategy and Communications, at email@example.com.
About M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust
The Murdock Trust, created by the will of the late Melvin J. (Jack) Murdock, provides grants to organizations in five states of the Pacific Northwest – Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington – that seek to strengthen the region’s educational, spiritual, and cultural base in creative and sustainable ways. Since its inception in 1975, the Trust has awarded more than 8,300 grants totaling more than 1.3 billion. For more information, find the Murdock Trust on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and on our website.