Nate Boland in the lab with students
Assistant Professor of Chemistry Nate Boland explores ways to measure pH with students in his lab.

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Photography by Matt Banderas ’04

Assistant Professor of Chemistry Nate Boland and Assistant Professor of Physics Greg Ogin are the latest Whitman recipients of grants from the Murdock Trust College Research Program for Natural Sciences to support research projects and student learning.

Boland's research in environmental chemistry focuses on nutrient and toxic metal bioavailability and mobility in the environment. With this grant, he will investigate the mechanisms of metal ion mobilization and acquisition exploited by plants, microbes and fungi to satisfy their nutritional needs.   

"I am excited for the opportunity to continue a project I started with Andrew Wildman '15 that revealed a novel mechanism for accelerated nutrient metal ion capture," said Boland. "I am grateful to the M. J. Murdock Trust and their support of three years of student research that will yield peer-reviewed publications and will provide our students with a powerful capstone experience to the Whitman chemistry education."  

Assistant Professor of Physics Greg Ogin conducting precision optics research.

Ogin, who studies optics and precision measurement, was recently part of an international team of scientists who detected gravitational waves. The grant will support his efforts to develop better ways of measuring thermo-optic properties of the thin film materials used in precision high-reflective mirror coatings, furthering our understanding of the noise sources associated with them. Three students will participate in the work over three years.  

"The techniques I'll be able to employ using this grant will help me make better, more precise versions of the measurements I'm currently doing," Ogin said.  "They open up the lab to a wide range of low-noise precision measurement techniques in the future."  

The M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust was created by the will of the late Melvin J. (Jack) Murdock, cofounder of Textronix, Inc., in Beaverton, Oregon. Its mission is to enrich the quality of life in the Pacific Northwest by awarding grants that serve the arts, public affairs, education, scientific research, health and medicine, human services and people with disabilities.  

Other Whitman faculty members with active Murdock research grants include Assistant Professor of Physics Moira Gresham, Associate Professor of Chemistry Mark Juhasz, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dalia Rokhsana, Assistant Professor of Biology Arielle Cooley and Assistant Professor of Geology Nick Bader. Assistant Professor of Biology and Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology Britney Moss also received a Murdock start-up award, which supplements the start-up packages for new positions.  

For a list of additional grant recipients, click here