College of Arts and Sciences admitted to the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust's College Science Research Program

Trust awards a $325,000 grant to the College's Natural Sciences Division

Pacific University’s College of Arts and Sciences has been admitted to the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust’s College Science Research Program and will receive a $325,000 grant over a three-year period from the Trust as part of its acceptance into the program.

The goal of the program is to strengthen faculty and undergraduate student research efforts in the natural sciences. Grants are awarded to institutions that possess the capacity to develop division-wide, faculty-student research programs that can be sustained with institutional resources and external funding.

The Pacific Undergraduate Research Program: Opportunities for Student Exploration (PURPOSE) is a plan the University’s College of Arts and Sciences recently adopted to strengthen its commitment to research, exploration and discovery across the curriculum.  The plan is the framework in which Trust resources will be applied.

The Trust’s investment in science research at Pacific marks the next major step in the University’s long-term investment in the division, which includes the departments of biology, chemistry, environmental studies, and physics, the departments in which the grant will be applied. Other departments in the division include exercise science, mathematics and computer science. 

James Butler, associate professor of physics at Pacific, will lead the endeavor as the project’s primary investigator. He said the grant will finance summer research stipends for faculty and students, equipment purchases, and other program requirements.

The grant will be administered through the Pacific Research Institute for Science and Mathematics (PRISM), which is one piece of the broader PURPOSE plan.         Funds from this grant will allow PRISM to provide opportunities for approximately 36 undergraduates to do research projects in collaboration with Pacific faculty over the next three years.

“Acceptance into the Trust’s College Science Research Program and the corresponding financial grant will create unparalleled opportunities for our students to be engaged in research and offer the next generation of researchers, teachers and professionals invaluable experience as they enter their careers,” College of Arts and Sciences Dean John W. Hayes said. 

Butler said the result of this collaboration will likely produce an increase in peer-reviewed publications, presentations at professional conferences, and result in higher levels of funding from other external sources.

Proposed research programs include the study of bone cancers, laser research, analysis of enzymes in the global nitrogen cycle, and environmental toxicology, among others.

In order to build on the momentum provided by this grant, the University plans to establish a science endowment fund for ongoing research initiatives across the division, and procure funding to transform its existing science complex at the Forest Grove campus into a new state-of-the-art research and learning center.

While the grant will directly benefit only the natural sciences division, Hayes believes the gift will set a positive tone in support of research throughout the University. 

“The impact of this activity will reach beyond the natural sciences,” Hayes said. “As we deepen our research emphasis across the University, we anticipate establishing similar programs in other undergraduate fields.” 

Posted by Joe Lang ( on Dec 22, 2009 at 9:41 AM

Edited by Stephanie Haugen ( on May 3, 2012 at 2:26 PM

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