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Grants in Action: Understanding Evolution in the Pacific Northwest

Throughout his life, Jack Murdock was driven to understand how things worked. In his Southeast Portland repair shop, he investigated the internal functions of the radio and many other electronic devices. It was this passion for knowledge and understanding that helped him develop a new version of the oscilloscope with Tektronix co-founder Howard Vollum and would serve as a driving force throughout his life.

This passion for understanding is a primary reason why the Trust invests millions of dollars every year into scientific programs and research. Work in labs and at universities across the Pacific Northwest can help uncover the mysteries of our world and help local residents live a better life.

One example of this work in action is a recent study published by the University of Montana. Utilizing support from the Murdock Trust, associate professor Jeffrey Good and graduate student Matthew Jones have demonstrated a unique evolutionary trait in Snowshoe Hares in the Pacific Northwest. Simply put, the team shows that the local animals have evolved over generations so their winter coat more accurately matches their environment, with northern hares growing a white coat to blend in with the snow, while those in more mild climates maintain a brow coat year round.

This research will play an important role in future discussion and study regarding how organisms adapt to their environment over time, particularly when change takes place over a rapid timeframe. Our congratulations to associate professor Good and his research team for this fascinating discovery!