M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust


2016 Lynwood W. Swanson Scientific Research Awards

Lyn Swanson

The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust has announced the winners of its new annual scientific research awards at the 2016 MCSR Conference. The awards are open to invited nominations from private undergraduate institutions within the Pacific Northwest, encompassing Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. The “Swanson Award” is intended to recognize a senior faculty exemplar with an established, productive, and nationally recognized research program, while the “Swanson Promise Award” is aimed at recognizing a junior faculty who has demonstrated an exception potential in establishing an exemplary, productive, and sustainable research program. The latter award is intended to honor a junior professor with less than 10 years experience as a faculty member.

A panel of national experts evaluates the nominations, and the criteria for these awards are focused on research accomplishments that include the following.

  • Discovery research accomplishments with national recognition
  • Substantial engagement of undergraduate students
  • Recognized leadership in developing and promoting research at undergraduate institutions
  • Evidence of continuing growth in productive research

The awards honor the longtime work of Dr. Lynwood Swanson, who recently retired after serving as a Trustee at the Murdock Trust for 30 years. Dr. Swanson began his career as a professor at Linfield College, before moving his research to Oregon Graduate Institute. In 1971, he co-founded FEI, a world-leader in electron optics and focused ion beam technologies in scanning and transmission electron microscopies.

Lynwood W. Swanson Scientific Research Award:
Dr. Mary Alberg, Professor of Physics and Arline Bannan Chair of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Seattle University
For her work in theoretical nuclear physics of mesons and baryons, mentorship of undergraduate student researchers at Seattle University, and founding of the Anacapa Society.

Lynwood W. Swanson Promise for Scientific Research Award:
Dr. Sarah Schaack, Associate Professor of Biology, Reed College
For researching the nature of mutations, particularly those caused by mobile DNA, and for deeply involving her undergraduate students in this work.


2016 John Van Zytveld Oral Presentation Awards

At each annual MCSR conference, students giving oral presentations compete for two awards: The John VanZytveld Physical sciences Award and The John VanZytveld Life sciences Award. The awards consist of a ribbon, a cash prize for the students and their academic departments, as well as a gift for their faculty research advisors. The criteria used by judges of faculty and students in selecting the awardees are as follows:

  • Knowledge of material (understanding the background, research question, hypothesis, data collection and analysis, and limitation of the research)
  • Creativity of the project
  • Effective communication (clarity – slides and verbal presentation; organization; pace; answering questions)
  • Level of preparation
  • Ability to keep me interested

These awards are made in recognition of Dr. John Van Zytveld, a longtime Senior Program Director at the Murdock Trust and a champion for undergraduate research and science education in the region.

John Van Zytveld Award In The Physical Sciences: Riley Meister
Faculty mentor: Dr. Osasere Evbuomwan
“Development and Analysis of a Zinc-responsive Lanthanide Complex for Effective Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer via PARACEST MRI”
Gonzaga University

John Van Zytveld Award In The Life Sciences: Megan Schwehr
Faculty mentor: Dr. Cecilia Toro
“Exploring GABA Receptor Circuitry in the Zebrafish Lateral Line”
Linfield College

Murdock Poster Prizes

Students presenting their research in a poster format are also recognized at each conference. One Murdock Poster Prize is presented to a poster in each research field, and it consists of a ribbon, a cash award and a gift for the faculty research advisor. The criteria used by faculty judges in selecting the awardees are as follows:

  • Graphics relevance and visual impact
  • Spelling and grammar
  • Informational content
  • Presentation content and research outcomes
  • Presentation delivery
  • Answering questions
  • Overall presentation

Murdock Poster Prize in Ecology/Evolution/Biodiversity:
Anne Vonada

Faculty mentor: Dr. Arielle Cooley
“Analysis of Candidate Genes for the Gain and Loss of Anthocyanin Pigmentation in Mimulus cupreus”
Whitman College
Clara Prentiss, Tyler Griffin, Carmen Hoffbeck
Faculty mentor: Dr. Jeremy Weisz
“A Functional Ecological Comparison of Three Sponge Species from the Lower Florida Keys”
Linfield College
Murdock Poster Prize in Developmental Biology/Physiology:
Donovan Sneddon, Thalia Wiens, Madelaine Beckett, Laura de la Giroday
Faculty mentor: Dr. Dennis Venema
“Dominant Effects of an Akap200 Insertion Mutation on Gliotactin Hypomorphic Genotypes With Defects in Frizzled-Independent Planar Cell Polarity”
Trinity Western University
Murdock Poster Prize in Molecular Biology/Cell Biology:
Jacqueline Tan
Faculty mentor: Dr. Julia Mills
“ILK Regulates Cancer Cell Survival in an Rb-Dependent Manner”
Trinity Western University
Calvin Vetter
Faculty mentor: Dr. Sarah Comstock
“Investigation of Susceptibility to Cataract Development in An Obese Mouse Model”
Corban University
Murdock Poster Prize in Neuroscience/Psychology/Exercise Science:
Whitney Sia
Faculty mentor: Dr. Virginia Brooks (Oregon Health & Science University)
“Sex Differences in Leptin-induced Increases in Sympathetic Nerve Activity: The Role of Brain Microglia”
Willamette University
Murdock Poster Prize in Biochemistry:
Alison Zander
Faculty mentor: Dr. Jennifer Shepherd
“Overexpression and Characterization of the rquA Gene Product Involved in the Biosynthesis of Rhodoquinone”
Gonzaga University
Murdock Poster Prize in Organic Chemistry:
Claire DeAngeli, Sophia Wax
Faculty mentor: Dr. Sarah Kirk
“Development of New Drugs as Potential Treatment for Eye Disease”
Willamette University
Murdock Poster Prize in Analytical/Inorganic/Physical/Physical Organic/Computational Chemistry:
Timothy Dobson
Faculty mentor: Dr. Edward J. Valente, Dr. Eugene Urnezius
“One Stone, Two Birds: Simultaneous Oxidative Dehalogenation and Transesterification Reactions on Phosphonate-appended 2,5-Dichloroquinone”
University of Portland
Makayla McKibben, Kayla Riley
Faculty mentor: Dr. J. Charles Williamson
“Exploration of Pre-Transition Droplet Formation in Liquid-Liquid Binary Systems”
Willamette University
Murdock Poster Prize in Environmental Science/Geology:
Natasha Dacic
Faculty mentor: Dr. Jaime Goode
“How Wildfire Shapes Geomorphic Complexity and Aquatic Communities in Tributaries of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, Idaho”
College of Idaho
Murdock Poster Prize in Microbiology:
Eleanor Thaler, Jamie Steach
Faculty mentor: Dr. Gyorgyi Nyerges
“Antibiotic Resistance Gene Profiles Among Soil and Manure Bacterial Communities”
Pacific University
Murdock Poster Prize in Physics:
Riley Jordan
Faculty mentor: Dr. Nathaniel Paust
“Variable Stars in M92 and M15”
Whitman College

2016 Neal Thorpe Memorial Lecture

Jan Newton, Ph.D.
Title: “Observing the Ocean from the Pacific Northwest and Beyond: Why it Matters”

Biographical Sketch
Dr. Jan Newton is a principal oceanographer with the Applied Physics Laboratory of the University of Washington, and an affiliate professor in both the University of Washington School of Oceanography and the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs. Dr. Newton serves as co-director of the recently established Washington Ocean Acidification Center, which operates from the College of the Environment and fosters connections among researchers, policymakers, industry, and others to address key priorities established by the state legislature concerning ocean acidification. She also is the executive director of the Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems (NANOOS), which is part of a broader program of Integrated Ocean Observing Systems throughout the United States. Dr. Newton’s expertise is in biological oceanography, and her work focuses on the physical, chemical, and biological dynamics of Puget Sound and coastal Washington, including understanding effects from climate and humans on water properties.

Graduate School & Vendor Exhibition Participants

Boise State University
Montana State University
Oregon Health & Science University
Oregon State University
University of Alaska Fairbanks
University of Idaho
University of Montana
University of Oregon
University of Washington
Washington State University
Western Washington University

Faculty Enrichment Workshop

“Supporting Women Faculty in STEM Fields” was the focus of the Faculty Enrichment Workshop that was held during the afternoon of November 5th on the campus of Gonzaga University, at the conclusion of the 2016 Murdock College Science Research Conference. Dr. Mia Bertagnolli, Professor of Biology of Gonzaga University, and Dr. Sarah Kirk, Professor of Chemistry and Associate Dean of Faculty Development of Willamette University, were co-chairs of this workshop.

Lunch Hour Discussion on National Student Scholarships in the Pacific Northwest

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