M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust


2018 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 2017 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.

2018 Lynwood W. Swanson Promise for Scientific Research Award:
Dr. Moira I. Gresham, Associate Professor of Physics, Whitman College
“For her influential work in theoretical particle physics and cosmology alongside her dedication to teaching and mentoring undergraduates.”  

2018 Lynwood W. Swanson Scientific Research Award:
Dr. Kraig A. Wheeler, Hugh W. Johnston Professor of Chemistry, Whitworth University
“For research and innovation in applied crystallography, national leadership in undergraduate faculty-student collaborative research and inter-institutional science collaboration, and mentoring of future scientists.”

2018 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.

2018 John Van Zytveld Award In The Physical Sciences:
Annie K. LamarFaculty mentor: Dr. America Chambers
“Low-Resource Neural Machine Translation of Ancient Languages”
University of Puget Sound

2018 John Van Zytveld Award In The Life Sciences:
Simran HandaFaculty mentor: Dr. Greg Hermann
Investigating the putative GEF of a Rab GTPase in lysosome-related organelle biogenesis
Lewis & Clark 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

A. Murdock Poster Prize in Ecology/Evolution/Biodiversity:
Erin Stewart
Faculty mentor: Dr. Michael Cramer, University of Notre Dame
“An Ear for Fear: The Influence of Background Noise on the Foraging Behavior of Peromyscus maniculatus gracilis (Woodland Deer Mice)”
University of Puget Sound

Tessa Nanja
Faculty mentor: Dr. Peter Hodum
“Using Age to Assess Retention Time of Ingested Plastic in Seabirds”University of Puget Sound
B. Murdock Poster Prize in Developmental Biology/Physiology:
Cole Malibiran & Allegra VanderWilde
Faculty mentor: Dr. Laura Dyer
“Shear stress patterns during coronary artery development”
University of Portland
C. Murdock Poster Prize in Molecular Biology/Cell Biology:
Natalie Klee
Faculty mentor: Dr. Sharon Torigoe
“Analysis of Klf4 regulation in stem cells through the proximal promoter”
Lewis & Clark College
Katareanna Coen, Dallyce Vetter, Joel Johnson, Levi Miles, Cassandra Davis, James Donnell, and Tessa Nelson
Faculty mentor: Dr. Sarah Comstock
“Differential Effects of High Sugar Diets on Hepatic Metabolic Pathways in Obese Mice”
Corban University
D. Murdock Poster Prize in Neuroscience/Psychology/Exercise Science:
Katie Wentz
Faculty mentor: Dr. David R. Horton, United States Department of Agriculture and Dr. Rodney Cooper, Heritage University
“Erythritol, the artificial sweetener that’s good for your waistline, but bad for insects
Heritage University
E. Murdock Poster Prize in Biochemistry:
Zachary Sherlock
Faculty mentor: Dr. Megan Bestwick
“Copper Modulation to Effect Yeast Lifespan”
Linfield College
Liza Briody-Pavlik
Faculty mentor: Dr. Mark Juhasz
“Kinetics of Ligand Exchange with the Influence of Low Molecular Weight Organic Acids (LMWOAs)”
Whitman College
F. Murdock Poster Prize in Organic Chemistry:
Madeleine Duncan
Faculty mentor: Dr. Britney Moss
“Chemoenzamatic Approaches to the Total Synthesis of Epoxyquinol A”
Whitman College
G. Murdock Poster Prize in Analytical/Inorganic/Physical/Physical Organic/Computational Chemistry:
Geneva Diepenheim, Christopher Harb, and Stephen Gift
Faculty mentor: Dr. Julie Layshock
“Chemicals of Emerging Concern in Plants, Sediment, and Water in a Constructed Wetland in Oregon”
Pacific University
Efrain Venegas-Ramirez
Faculty mentor: Dr. Maximilian Schlosshauer
“Building a Quantum Random Number Generator
University of Portland
H. Murdock Poster Prize in Environmental Science/Geology:
Shannon Hansell & Anna Wood-Gaines
Faculty mentor: Dr. Kristin Sweeney
“Quantifying relationships between rock hardness, shore platform topography, and intertidal biota: Oregon Coast”
University of Portland
I. Murdock Poster Prize in Microbiology:
Anna Miller
Faculty mentor: Dr. Tracie Delgado
“Orlistat, a fatty acid inhibitor, blocks Herpesvirus production”
Northwest University
J. Murdock Poster Prize in Physics:
Melissa Kohl
Faculty mentor: Dr. Janet Davis
“Sub-Classification of Blip Glitches Using Convolutional Neural Networks”
Whitman College

2018 Neal Thorpe Memorial Lecture

Dr. Pallavi Dhagat, Professor of Engineering, Oregon State University
Title: “My Journey into Engineering and My Research in Magnetic Materials and Devices for Electrical and Biomedical Applications”
Biographical Sketch
Dr. Pallavi Dhagat is a Professor in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Oregon State University, where she teaches and conducts research on magnetism and magnetic devices. She is also the President-elect of the IEEE Magnetics Society, an international organization to further research and education in magnetism. Dr. Dhagat grew up in India and came to the U.S. for graduate studies. She holds a PhD degree in Electrical Engineering and an MBA degree from Washington University in St. Louis and Oregon State University, respectively. Her research focuses on developing new measurement techniques and applications for magnetic materials and devices, and being multidisciplinary in nature requires her to collaborate with and learn from chemists, biologists, and physicists worldwide.

Graduate School & Vendor Exhibition Participants

Boise State University
Central Washington University
Eastern Washington University
Linfield College
Montana State University
Oregon Health & Science University
Oregon State University
Seattle Pacific University
University of Alaska Fairbanks
University of Idaho
University of Montana
University of Oregon
University of Washington
Walla Walla University
Washington State University
Western Washington University

Faculty Enrichment Activity

This year, those who toured the OHSU Center for Spatial Systems Biomedicine saw some of the most advanced microscopes light and electron (scanning and transmission) microscopes. Participants also got to hear about some of the cutting-edge research being pursued by scientists at OHSU using these instruments.

Faculty Enrichment Lunch Discussion on “Major National Student Awards and Partners in Science”

  • Download the program from the 2018 Murdock College Science Research Conference
  • Check out these videos from Linfield College | Twitter | Facebook
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