Science Labs, Classrooms Upgrade

Science lab Evan Aegerter ’10, left, and Kali Stoehr ’10, right, conduct senior thesis research in collaboration with Thomas Knight, assistant professor of biology (not pictured), to uncover the underlying mechanisms that help coordinate complex movements. They used a variety of anatomical and physiological tools in a mouse model system to identify both the regions of the brain involved in movement in coordination as well as the nature of the neuronal signals that encode it. Knight hopes in the future to extend this research to humans. A number of classrooms and laboratories in the Hall of Science will be renovated this academic year through a grant from the Murdock Charitable Trust.

The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust provided significant support for Whitman’s faculty and academic program with a $350,000 grant to modernize classrooms in the Hall of Science and upgrade teaching and faculty research labs. The improvements over a three-year period will increase opportunities for Whitman students whether they are preparing for careers in the sciences and advanced research or working to become scientifically literate citizens.

“This project will help the college make significant progress toward its goal of creatively expanding and enhancing the learning opportunities available to students enrolled in courses in the natural sciences.”
— Timothy Kaufman-Osborn
provost and dean of the faculty

The grant will assist with the renovation of about 15 classrooms, eight teaching labs and several faculty research labs, creating research space for new faculty members or faculty who previously had inadequate space. The facility upgrades will accommodate state-of-the-art pedagogical and research methods.

“This grant will give a tremendous boost to our science programs,” said John Bogley ’85, vice president for development and college relations. “The growing quality and reputation of science at Whitman, coupled with significant increases in numbers of students and faculty in recent years, give our science programs exciting energy, focus and momentum.

“The improvements made possible by the Murdock grant will impact every student who majors in biology, chemistry or BBMB (biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology),” Bogley said.

“The Murdock Trust understands that it takes a combination of dedicated people, state-of-the-art equipment and superior facilities to provide our students with a Whitman-worthy science education,” said Andrea Dobson ’82, associate professor of astronomy and chair of the faculty.

“Their support over the years has been a crucial element in our ability to hire talented and enthusiastic young science faculty, acquire new instrumentation and create new spaces for teaching and research,” she said.

“This project will help the college make significant progress toward its goal of creatively expanding and enhancing the learning opportunities available to students enrolled in courses in the natural sciences,” said Timothy Kaufman-Osborn, provost and dean of the faculty.

Created by the late Melvin J. (Jack) Murdock, co-founder of Tektronix Inc., the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust’s mission is “to enrich the quality of life in the Pacific Northwest by providing grants and enrichment programs to organizations seeking to strengthen the region’s educational, spiritual, and cultural base in creative and sustainable ways.”