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Linfield hosts young scientists at Murdock conference

Linfield student researchFaculty and students traded places as 400 undergraduate students and professors from the Pacific Northwest converged at Linfield College to share research findings with one another.

Twenty-five private liberal arts colleges in the region participated in the annual Murdock College Science Research Conference, held Nov. 12-13, which offered science and math students an opportunity to share oral presentations and research posters, and offered faculty an opportunity to provide mentoring.

Sponsored by the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust, the event is designed for private four-year liberal arts colleges in the region and is hosted by a different school each year. The goal is to strengthen faculty and undergraduate student research in the sciences.

The annual conference spotlights student and faculty collaborative science research funded by the Murdock College Science Research Program and by other sources such as college research endowments and outside research grants. Linfield students gave oral and poster presentations, and had a chance to compare their work with research by peers from other institutions.

“The quality of the work the students are presenting is incredible,” according to Elizabeth Atkinson, associate professor of chemistry at Linfield. “Throughout the year, undergraduate students have the opportunity to do real research with faculty and that really makes a difference in their educations.”

Not only does the Murdock conference provide an opportunity for students to learn about the work of their peers, but they also gain experience in talking about their research in front of a large audience. These opportunities are invaluable for science students who continue into professional or graduate school programs involving research or clinical work.

Juniors Amanda Cordes, Katie Armes and Bonnie Hastings gave oral presentations. Cordes, who has plans for the Peace Corps and graduate school in her future, is studying a threatened pine species. “It’s important to get the story of this tree out to other people so that they can become more aware of both its importance and its threatened situation,” she said.

Other Linfield students who participated in the conference include seniors Andrew Carpenter, Cameron DuBois, Robert Ferrese, Carson Moscoso, Quinn Murphy, Claire Steele, Christopher Turpin and Chris Watson; juniors Kathryn Baker, John Frank, Lily Ratliff, Joelle Reyes, Kari Tanner, Jannell Wilder and Amanda Wolf; sophomores Dylan Bartholomew, Katrina Lee and Yangfan Wu; and 2010 graduate Frank Andrews.

Faculty members representing chemistry, biology, physics and computer science, also took part in the conference. They are Christopher Gaiser, professor of biology and event organizer; Elizabeth Atkinson, associate professor of chemistry; Michael Crosser, assistant professor of physics; Dan Ford, assistant professor of computer science; Brian Gilbert, associate professor of chemistry; Anne Kruchten, assistant professor of biology; Joelle Murray, associate professor of physics; Mike Roberts, professor of biology; John Syring, assistant professor of biology; and Chad Tillberg, assistant professor of biology.