M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust


Unleashing human potential through research and innovation

Our benefactor believed deeply in the power of science and scientific research to inspire innovation and advancement to help improve the quality of life for all. The Murdock Trust works with leading scientific researchers, educators and institutions to drive leading-edge research across a diverse collection of scientific disciplines to help serve the common good of the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

A few of the areas in Scientific Research we fund include:

Health Diagnostics · Robotics · Clean Energy · Genetics · Marine Biology · Theoretical Physics · Chemistry

Grants Awarded

Science Grantee Stories

Transforming the Classroom

Real world experiences help bring educational lessons to life. We often think about this in terms of students and how they absorb knowledge, but it also applies to teachers. Conducting real world, hand’s on research can provide unique insight into subject matter and interesting examples that can help bring a lesson to life in inspiring and surprising ways.

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The Ripple Effects of a Grant at Whitman College

Grants often have ripple effects on organizations in areas beyond what was funded. At Whitman College, a grant from the Murdock Trust four years ago has had a big impact on its science programs. Renovations to several laboratories in the college’s Hall of Science have paid huge dividends to Whitman professors, the students they collaborate with, the campus community and beyond.

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University of Idaho

The University of Idaho is the leading national research university in its state, expending nearly $110 million annually to contribute to society’s health, knowledge and culture through research in the sciences, social sciences, engineering and art. Undergraduate and graduate students have access to the University’s skilled research professors and state-of-the-art laboratories and equipment.

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The University of Idaho’s Scanning Electron Microscope was the first of its kind in the Inland Northwest.

Port Townsend Marine Science Center

Last September, locals gathered in Port Townsend, Washington, to watch the daylighting of a juvenile female gray whale skeleton. The process of daylighting involves airing bones in the sunshine to bleach them and kill bacteria as a means of preserving them.

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Team Gray Whale, a group of dedicated Port Townsend Marine Science Center volunteers who helped reclaim the bones of a gray whale that died in the Puget Sound in 2016.

WSU Hydrogen Refueling Station

The Murdock Trust Commercialization Initiation Program is designed to help “bring smart ideas off the bench,” supporting scientists as they pivot their work from research to a an application that can be brought to market.

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Science Programs

Research Start-Up Grants for New Science Faculty

This program offers support to supplement start-up costs for the establishment of new faculty positions in the natural sciences at private educational institutions. Grants are primarily targeted at undergraduate colleges and universities in the Trust’s five-state region.

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Professor Linda George, faculty member in the Center for Climate and Aerosol Research, uses Gaia in her research on air quality and public health.

Murdock College Research Program for Natural Sciences

This program is designed to support research in the natural sciences at private, predominantly undergraduate colleges and universities in the Trust’s funding region. Eligible institutions must offer a bachelor’s degree, but not a doctoral degree, in the sciences. Principal investigators must hold a faculty appointment in a natural science department. The program was introduced in 1997 for supporting the life sciences and expanded in 2014 to include the natural sciences.

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Passing the Torch

Murdock College Science Research Program

The goal of the MCSRP — designed exclusively for private four-year liberal arts colleges in the Trust’s funding region — is to strengthen these institutions’ faculty and undergraduate student research efforts in the natural sciences. We award grants to colleges and universities with the capacity for developing division-wide faculty-student research programs that can be sustained with institutional resources and external funding.

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University of Washington

Partners in Science

When high school science faculty can grow their skills and experience by participating in advanced research, their students and schools will benefit. The Murdock Trust supports the Partners in Science Program to give these teachers this valuable learning opportunity.

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RAISE (Research Across Institutions for Scientific Empowerment)–a program of the Collaborative Research Alliance

RAISE will enable research-active natural science faculty from mainly private predominantly undergraduate institutions and small group of research-active public undergraduate universities, to collaborate and pursue synergistic, cutting-edge projects at a higher level of sophistication and scope than each group would pursue on their own.

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Electrical Engineering Professor David Dickensheets, graduate student Sarah Lukes and senior Erwin Dunbar in labs at Montana State University.
MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.

Lynwood W. Swanson Scientific Research Awards

These two awards are part of the Trust’s vision to “Support the Future of Undergraduate Research at Predominantly Undergraduate Institutions in the Pacific Northwest.” The Lynwood W. Swanson Scientific Research Award is intended to recognize a senior faculty exemplar with an established, productive, and nationally recognized research program, while the Lynwood W. Swanson Promise for Scientific Research 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 of experience as a faculty member.

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Dr. Tamily Weissman received the 2017 Lynwood W. Swanson Promise for Scientific Research Award at the annual Murdock College Science Research.

Scientific research is in our DNA. When you’re engaged in scientific research, you are asking asking the question, ‘Why?’ You are pushing the boundaries of knowledge.

Waded Cruzado, Ph.D., President, Montana State University

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The Trust guides nonprofit organizations through every level of their development through grants and other resources.

The Trust has a wealth of knowledge and experience that can make all the difference to you and your organization.