The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust has helped Pacific University launch a significant undergraduate research program, one that is giving students like Tyler Oshiro ’13 unprecedented opportunities.Jenni Luckett | Editor
“Cytochrome P450 2A6 purification and mechanism-based inhibition by trans-cinnamic aldehyde” doesn’t mean much to most people. But to Tyler Oshiro ’13, it means a lot.
Oshiro, who majored in chemistry with his eye on a career in the health professions, participated in Pacific University’s undergraduate research program, a summer program that puts students to work alongside faculty in their research projects.
“(Dr. Jeannine Chan), who started as my biochem professor, allowed me the opportunity to do research over the summer,” Oshiro said. “She went out of her way to make sure that I was able to gain that experience.”
Undergraduate research at Pacific is possible, in part, because of the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, which has given nearly $3 million to Pacific University in the last several years, most in support of undergraduate science and research programs.
The trust, created by the late Jack Murdock, co-founder of Tektronix Inc., provides funding for a variety of community projects in a five-state Pacific Northwest region. In higher education, much of the focus is on the natural sciences and research.
Among other things, the trust gave Pacific funding to ramp up its undergraduate research opportunities in order to join the Murdock College Science Research program — which came with its own grants.
“One of the primary goals is to provide students with opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have at private universities,” said Brian Hess, senior director of development, corporate and foundation relations at Pacific.
Oshiro came to Pacific on a Pacesetters Scholarship. He wrote a regular column in The Pacific Index, served as student representative on the Board of Trustees, acted with the Theatre Department, and played intramural sports (“mostly for the T-shirts,” he joked).
Research was an added academic bonus: Last November, he attended the Murdock Undergraduate Research Conference, “to present in front of hundreds of students and professors from other schools, all brought together by a common love of knowledge and the pursuit of scientific answers,” he said. Oshiro received the John Van Zytveld Award for Best Paper, an award that came with $500 for him and $2,000 for Pacific’s chemistry department.
Today, the Hawai‘i native is still hoping to pursue medical school. In the meantime, he’s working at Intel, in a job another science professor, Dr. Juliet Brosing, helped him find.
“We’re lucky at Pacific,” he said. “Lucky that our teachers do more than see us in the classroom but really care about where we are in life and, more importantly, where we’re going.”
The Murdock College Science Research Program grant is phased over a three-year period. It enables the university to build a sustainable research program that will eventually be funded without private grant assistance. We invite you to help us create an endowment to provide ongoing support of the undergraduate research program. The ambitious goal is to secure private gifts of at least $300,000 for the fund in each of the next two years. Your gift will leverage increased support from the Murdock Trust. You can read more about some of the faculty and student research being conducted at Pacific University in our Spring 2014 issue, publishing in February.