M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust


2021 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 2021 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 exceptional 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.

2021 Lynwood W. Swanson Scientific Research Award

The 2021 Lynwood W. Swanson Scientific Research Award was given to Dr. Christopher Irwin Smith, Professor of Biology, Willamette University.  Dr. Smith’s research into the diversity of Yuccas has received global recognition in addition to his scholarly work with undergraduates and his own, public-facing science communications.
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2021 Lynwood W. Swanson Promise for Scientific Research Award

The 2021 Lynwood W. Swanson Promise for Scientific Research Award was given to Dr. Andrea Kunder, Assistant Professor of Physics, St. Martin’s University. In addition to investing in hands on research for her undergraduate students, Dr. Kunder has conducted significant research into the structure, composition, and dynamics of old stars in the Milky Way.
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2021 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.

2021 John Van Zytveld Award In The Physical Sciences

Abigail Robb, Whitworth University, with collaboration from mentor Dr. Eric Davis.
“Electric Field Dependence of Ions Produced through Electrospray Ionization Using Ion Mobility Spectrometry”

2021 John Van Zytveld Award In The Life Sciences

Madison Stanaway, University of Portland with collaboration from mentor Dr. David Wynne.
“Using Genetic Analysis in Caenorhabditis elegans to Investigate the Role of Heterochromatin Protein 1 in Cell Division”

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

2021 Murdock College Science Research Poster Awards

A. Murdock Poster Prize in Ecology/Evolution/Biodiversity (2 prizes given):

Alexi Ebersole, University of Puget Sound
Mentor: Dr. Stacey Weiss
“Diets of Coastal and Inland Western Fence Lizard Populations in Washington State”

Alissa Cole and Mason Hoskins, Pacific University
Mentor: Dr. Stacey Halpern
“Fertilizer and Neighbor Plants Change Variability in Herbivory by the Generalist Beet Army Worm (Spodoptera exigua) on Kale (Brassica oleracea)”

B. Murdock Poster Prize in Developmental Biology/Physiology:

Kayla Meredith, Seattle University
Mentor: Dr. Stephen Luckey
“Quantitative Transcriptomics Reveals the Importance of Cold Acclimation for Prolonged Anoxia Run for your Life! A Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Exercise Intensity on Cardiovascular Outcomes in A Rat Model of Hypertension”

C. Murdock Poster Prize in Molecular Biology/Cell Biology (2 prizes given):

Torrey Lind, Lewis and Clark College
Mentor: Dr. Sharon Torigoe
“Deciphering the Cis-Regulatory Code for Klf4 Expression in Pluripotent Stem Cells”

Abby Sims, George Fox University
Mentor: Dr. John Schmitt
 Protocadherin-γ Modulates CaM Kinase Activity and Breast Cancer Cell Growth”

D. Murdock Poster Prize in Neuroscience-Psychology-Exercise Science:

Avery Owen, George Fox University
Mentor: Dr. Anthony P. Barnes
“Characterization of a Novel GPR39 Signal Transduction Pathway”

E. Murdock Poster Prize in Biochemistry:

Cassidy Sebastian, Gonzaga University
Mentor: Dr. Shannon L. Cravens
“Investigating the Effects of Uracil Damage on Dz8-17’s Therapeutic Potential”

F. Murdock Poster Prize in Organic Chemistry:

Hayden Houck, Western Washington University
Mentor: Dr. Mike Larsen
“Preparation of Covalent Adaptable Networks via Synthesis and Guanylation of Styrenic Carbodiimides”

G. Murdock Poster Prize in Analytical/Inorganic/Physical/Physical Organic/Computational Chemistry (2 prizes given):

Sandra Montgomery, Pacific Lutheran University
Mentor: Dr. Dean Waldow
“Single Ion Polymer Electrolyte Synthesis”

Julien Dagan, Pacific University
Mentor: Dr. Julie Layshock
“Considerations for the Quantification and Detection of Naloxone in Surface Water”

H. Murdock Poster Prize in Environmental Science/Geology:

Gabriella Camera-Faurot, Alaska Pacific University
Mentor: Dr. Jason Geck
“Comparison of a Water Level Measurement Performance for Two Different Sensors (Pressure Transducer versus Acoustic) at the East and West Forks of the Eklutna River”

I. Murdock Poster Prize in Microbiology:

Lauren Augusta, University of Puget Sound
Mentor: Dr. Mark Martin
“Designing Diagnostic Screening for Luminescence Mutations in Photobacterium leiognathi Strain KNH6”

J. Murdock Poster Prize in Physics and Engineering:

Maxwell Piper, Reed College
Mentor: Dr. Alison Crocker
“Stellar Velocity Dispersion Corrections for Late-Type Galaxies”

2021 Neal Thorpe Memorial Lecture

Dr. Helen Y. Chu, M.D., M.P.H.
Associate Professor, University of Washington Schools of Medicine and Public Health
Title: “Preparing for the Next Pandemic

Biographical Sketch
Dr. Chu is Associate Professor at the University of Washington Schools of Medicine and Public Health, and an expert on respiratory viruses and vaccines. She has made substantial contributions to the COVID response in Washington State. Along with a team of scientists, she leads the Seattle Flu Study, a study focused on pandemic preparedness which first identified COVID-19 community transmission in the United States. She established the first cohort of COVID-19 survivors in the United States, which allowed for major early contributions to development of treatments and vaccines for SARS-CoV-2. She has worked closely with local public schools in Snohomish, Seattle, and Yakima to do studies in young children to understand testing and school-based transmission, and has led the Husky Coronavirus Testing program, the testing program for University of Washington students, faculty, and staff. She has also worked with multiple other underserved populations including the homeless populations in Seattle. She serves on the NIH Expert Working Groups for Maternal COVID Vaccines, COVID, and Respiratory Viruses. As an acknowledgment of her contribution to the state-wide COVID response, she received the Researcher of the Year Award from the Puget Sound Business Journal, the SHERO award from the National Organization for Women, the UW School of Public Health Changemakers Award, the Seattle Mariners Hometown Hero Award, the Seattle Seahawks 12 Flag Raiser, and the Washingtonian of the Year Award from the State of Washington.

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