The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust has awarded herpetologist and Professor of Biology Kate Jackson the Lynwood W. Swanson Scientific Research Award for 2022. The honor was announced this weekend at the 31st Annual Murdock College Science Research Conference in Vancouver, Washington.

“Receiving the Lynwood Swanson research award, it’s so surprising–my colleagues and I do this kind of research with students and engage in scientific research without ever expecting that it will be formally recognized, so it’s wonderful and surprising to have that happen,” Jackson said. 

Part of the Murdock trust’s overall mission to support the future of undergraduate research in the Pacific Northwest, the award recognizes senior faculty members with established research programs and includes $20,000 of funding to support student-faculty research. Jackson won for her “internationally recognized work to advance scientific knowledge of herpetology, snakes and snakebite in Africa and to mentor the next generation of scientists.” 

A panel of experts evaluated award nominees on criteria comprising discovery and research success, engagement with students, leadership in developing and promoting research at undergraduate institutions and evidence of continuing growth in productive research. One of the foremost experts on the snakes of West Africa, Jackson works to promote biodiversity conservation and lifesaving snakebite management initiatives. 

“She’s always thinking about how to bring people together to collaborate and grow collectively, and make important work happen,” said Whitman President Sarah Bolton.  

The theme of this year’s conference, co-hosted by Lewis & Clark College, was “One Earth, One Community, Enriched by Science.” In addition to Jackson, a delegation of Whitman students and faculty as well as President Bolton attended to celebrate their research accomplishments.