M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust

As we announced in recent updates, the Murdock Trust is undergoing a sectoral redesign. While we will continue to refine this work through seeking feedback from diverse interest-holders and experts, we are pleased that after months of constituent input and strategic planning, we can share the initial vision and strategy for our five updated sectors. This redesign and the resulting sectoral model do not change the types of organizations we support; they simply recategorize and focus our efforts so that each grant can be better understood as part of the ecosystem in which its ripple effects will be most felt.  

This five-part Sector Strategy Blog Series is a chance for each sector’s lead to introduce their vision and strategy. See the other blogs in the series here: Arts, Culture, & Education; Civic Engagement & Community Services; Health & Environmental Stewardship; and Nonprofit Leadership & Development. 

Written by Dr. Moses Lee, Ph.D., Vice President, Scientific Research Grants and Programming

“We must use scientific methods to search for proven solutions to these identified problems that exist in reality.” –Jack Murdock 

Our benefactor, Jack Murdock, believed strongly in the power of science to enrich society. Jack knew that there were few things more powerful than brilliant minds intent on serving the common good, and that when these individuals were given the time, space, and materials to innovate, lives could be positively changed with the research that emerged.  

Over nearly five decades supporting scientific innovation across the Pacific Northwest, we have seen this to be true. We have witnessed breakthroughs in cancer research, advancements in detecting diseases, discoveries around preserving endangered animal species, innovations in human diet tracking, collaborative investment in understanding the Milky Way, and so much more. The Scientific Research sector at the Murdock Trust exists to support these scientific breakthroughs that lead to human flourishing, and to foster a diverse scientific community in which these ideas can cause ripples of impact. 

Filling Gaps in Funding and Education 

There is incredible talent within Pacific Northwest colleges, universities, and scientists, with enormous potential to change the world for the better. Yet there is a deficit of private and federal funding for some critical types of support needed to drive scientific progress: scientific research instrumentation, capital, investment in the next generation of scientists, and multi-institution collaborations, to name a few.  

Two women wearing protective eyewear with one woman writing with a sharpie
Pacific Lutheran University

To that end, the Scientific Research sector of the Murdock Trust offers grants to enable colleges, universities, and scientists to pursue cutting-edge research in the areas of natural sciences, engineering, and research. These grants are aimed at discovering new and transformative knowledge, opening new fields, training the next generation of scientists, and creating impactful innovation and commercial technologies that empower human flourishing. They are the institution’s highest priority projects, a mark of their significance and potential. Other opportunities in our grant programs include support for the commercialization of bench discoveries to market, funding for collaborative research alliances across institutions, and new science faculty research.  

Convening Scientists

We know, however, that no scientist, no matter how well-resourced, can go it alone. That is why we also offer programs in the form of convenings and scientific research conferences such as the Murdock College Science Research Conference, our flagship annual gathering of students and researchers around a critical and timely theme in the sciences. These gatherings are designed to bring people, ideas, and information together to produce transformative experiences around scientific research and education. They bring the dynamic nature of scientific inquiry into a collaborative environment, and conversations, ideas, and partnerships are nearly always borne as a result.   

One woman presenting scientific research findings to another woman
Partners in Science Conference

Forming Future Scientists

Even as we invest deeply in today’s scientific innovation, we know that our future also lies in our future scientists. Our Partners in Science grants program and conferences are dedicated to transforming how educators teach science in secondary schools. After all, the spark of curiosity and interest in research that ignited today’s award-winning scientists often fanned into flame in their own high school classrooms, and creating a diverse pipeline of students entering the sciences must begin there too.  

Looking Ahead

As we imagine what Jack Murdock would have wanted for the scientific communities of our region, we envision a research community that is collaborative and connected. Innovative and imaginative. Strategic and resourceful, but also bold and hopeful. As in all work at the Murdock Trust, we value projects and partnerships across sectors, those that creatively synthesize science and art, use research methods in new contexts, or apply scientific breakthroughs to healthcare, to name a few. It is when we collaborate across groups that every sector is strengthened and every individual better served.  

Above all, we know that Jack would have wanted to see scientific research unleashed in great ways for the common good – of the Pacific Northwest, and of the world.  

Learn more about the Scientific Research sector and Science Programs here.

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