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M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust Honors Standout Educators and Students in Science Fields

Pacific Lutheran and Reed professors headline awards given for outstanding efforts in science research and education

For Immediate Release

November 11, 2019 – This week, the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust continued its commitment to support and honor the important work of scientific research at predominantly undergraduate Pacific Northwest Universities at the twenty-eighth annual Murdock College Science Research Program Conference.

This year’s conference, themed “Collaboration–A Key to Success in Undergraduate Research,” included multiple awards for outstanding college and university educators as well as exciting news about a new program designed to increase collaboration among scientific institutions.

“Our benefactor, Jack Murdock, believed deeply in the importance of scientific research as a source of innovation and inspiration to help improve the lives of all individuals, families and communities,” said Dr. Steve Moore, executive director, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. “We are grateful to have the opportunity to recognize, honor and celebrate the tireless work of the outstanding researchers and educators who seek to serve the common good of our region through science.”

Pacific Lutheran and Reed Professors Honored

Dr. Dean Waldow, Professor of Chemistry, Pacific Lutheran University received the Lynwood W. Swanson Scientific Research Award for his exemplary research in the field of polymer chemistry and his commitment as a mentor to students over more than 25 years. Dr. Alison Crocker, Assistant Professor of Physics, Reed College was honored with the Lynwood W. Swanson Promise for Scientific Research Award for her research regarding the relationship between star formation and galaxy structure and for her investment in involving undergraduate students in her work.

The prestigious honors were established in 2016 to recognize two exemplary educators from the Pacific Northwest. The “Swanson Award” highlights a senior faculty exemplar with an established, productive and nationally recognized research program, while the “Swanson Promise Award” calls out a junior faculty member who has demonstrated exceptional potential in these areas through early research and work with students. Both awards were named in honor of noted educator, researcher, entrepreneur, and former trustee, Dr. Lynwood Swanson, upon his retirement from the Murdock Trust.

“It is an honor to recognize the valuable work of both Dr. Waldow and Dr. Crocker,” said Dr. Moses Lee, Senior Program Director for Scientific Research and Enrichment Programs, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. “Throughout his career, Dr. Swanson inspired and engaged students and young people through his own passion for science and discovery. He believes strongly in the ability of science to solve real world challenges and for educators to serve as mentors to the next generation of researchers. We are so proud to be able to honor Dr. Swanson’s

legacy and recognize the outstanding work of those who seek to continue that effort, such as Dr. Waldow and Dr. Crocker.”

Dr. Dean Waldow will receive a $15,000 cash prize as part of his award and Dr. Alison Crocker will receive a $7,500 cash prize. A portion of each cash award is set aside specifically to help fund further student research and supplies.  

The awards were formally presented at the 2019 Murdock College Science Research Program (MCSRP) Conference in Vancouver, WA. The annual conference drew hundreds of college students and science educators from across the Pacific Northwest.

In addition to the two faculty awards, The Murdock Trust also honored several college students for research presentations delivered at the event. They include:

The 2019 John Van Zytveld Award in the Physical Sciences

A transparent UVA-1 biocompatible photoresin towards 3D printed lab-on-a-chip
Name: Samartha Shrestha and Christopher Roberts
Institution: Whitworth University
Mentor: Dr. Philip Measor

The 2019 John Van Zytveld Award in the Life Sciences

 “Song recognition and hybridization in a new secondary contact zone of white-crowned sparrows, Zonotrichia leucophrys”
Name: Will Brooks
Institution: University of Puget Sound
Mentor: Dr. Peter Wimberger

Murdock Poster Prize 2019 – Ecology-Evolution-Biodiversity

“Potential Factors Impacting the Severity of Seagrass Wasting Disease in the Salish Sea”
Name: Kallan Richards (presenter) and Noah Cline
Institution: Walla Walla University
Mentor: Dr. Cecilia Brothers

Murdock Poster Prize 2019 – Ecology-Evolution-Biodiversity

“Structural and spatial characteristics of Acer macrophyllum influence epiphyte communities in the Hoh temperate rainforest”
Name: Kaela Hamilton
Institution: University of Puget Sound
Mentor: Dr. Carrie Woods

Murdock Poster Prize 2019 – Developmental Biology-physiology

“Identifying How Sonic Hedgehog Signaling Affects Cardiac Neural Crest Migration Following Fetal Alcohol Exposure”
Names: Pia Fornell
Institution: University of Portland
Mentor: Dr. Laura Dyer

Murdock Poster Prize 2019 – Molecular and Cell Biology

“Regulation of Functional hERG Isoform Expression by Poly(A) Binding Protein N1”
Name: Laney Search and Rachel Drgastin (co-presenters)
Institution: George Fox University
Mentor: Dr. Matthew Stump

Murdock Poster Prize 2019 – Neuroscience-Psychology-Exercise Science

“The Role of Endolysosomal Trafficking protein Rab7A in DLX 5/6 Interneuron Development”
Name: Andrew Neumann
Institution: George Fox University
Mentor: Dr. Jim Smart

Murdock Poster Prize 2019 – Biochemistry

“Quantitative NMR Analysis Reveals New Trends in Substrate Specificity of Benzoate Dioxygenase”
Name: James Bent
Institution: Whitman College
Mentor: Dr. Jon Collins

Murdock Poster Prize 2019 – Organic Chemistry

“A practical synthesis of fluorinated catechol derivatives using silver(I) fluoride”
Name: Alan Brooke
Institution: Trinity Western University
Mentor: Dr. Chadron Friesen

Murdock Poster Prize 2019 – Analytical-Inorganic-Physical Chemistry

“Physicochemical properties of 2,5-dihydroxy-1,4-quinones appended with phosphonato groups”
Names: Kailin Mooney
Institution: University of Portland
Mentor: Dr. Eugene Urnezius

Murdock Poster Prize 2019 – Analytical-Inorganic-Physical Chemistry

“Endothermic singlet fission in di-benzoic acid perylene oligomers”
Name: Jennica Kelm
Institution: Pacific Lutheran University
Mentor: Dr. Nadia Korovina

Murdock Poster Prize 2019 – Environmental Science-Geology

“sUAV Mapping of the Porcupine Bay Road Landslide Complex”
Names: Ethan Ducken
Institution: Eastern Washington University
Mentor: Dr. Chad Pritchard

Murdock Poster Prize 2019 – Microbiology

“Microbial community composition of Oregon marine sediment: In search of novel archaea”
Name: Helen Madeen (presenter), Cassie Cosler, Jamie Smith, Mayely Polanco, and Alexandra Bless
Institution: Willamette University
Mentor: Dr. Rosa Leon Zayas

Murdock Poster Prize 2019 – Physics and Engineering

PIC Simulations of Multipole Plasma Trap Diagnostics and Loading Methods
Name: Henrique Miller
Institution: University of Alaska Anchorage
Mentor: Dr. Nathaniel Hicks

Inspiring Collaboration

In addition to honoring work completed by faculty and students, the 2019 MCSR Conference introduced a renewed commitment to inspire and support new research that has yet to begin. Leaders from numerous scientific institutions joined together to unveil RAISE (Research Across Institutions for Scientific Empowerment).

Formerly known as the Collaborative Research Alliance, RAISE seeks to create opportunities for researchers at mainly private colleges and universities and a few public research-active, primarily undergraduate institutions around the Pacific Northwest to connect and collaborate on new projects.

“Science does not exist in a vacuum,” said Dr. Lee. “The best research and findings often come when teams working on similar areas of research are able to combine their efforts, share their findings, and inspire one another to pursue new and cutting-edge tracks of discovery. RAISE will present a variety of opportunities for educators and researchers around the Pacific Northwest to grow and expand their work.”

For more information about the MCSRP Conference and how the Murdock Trust invests in science education and research, please visit www.murdocktrust.org.

About the 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 and cultural base in creative and sustainable ways. Since its inception in 1975, the Trust has awarded more than 6,700 grants totaling more than $1 billion. Of which, about $200 million supported projects in scientific research. For more information, find the Murdock Trust on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and on our website.

About Dr. Lynwood Swanson

After starting his career as a professor and administrator at Linfield College, Dr. Swanson moved to Oregon Graduate Institute before co-founding FEI, a world-leader in electron optics and focused ion beam technologies in scanning and transmission electron microscopies. In conjunction with his extensive career in science education and research, Dr. Swanson served as a tireless advocate for these fields as a trustee for thirty years.

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