Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

August 31, 2005

Whitworth's Flourishing Science Program Receives Grant
for Faculty/Student Research

Whitworth has received a grant that provides seed capital for a science initiative that will yield new research and career experiences for its growing number of science students and increased funding opportunities for a cadre of new faculty. A $109,000 grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust will fund summer science fellowships for eight students to conduct research during the next two summers with recently hired professors in biology, chemistry and physics.

"This grant is an exciting opportunity for our newest faculty to initiate research projects that will edify our students and attract additional funding from national agencies such as the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and NASA," says Associate Professor of Physics Richard Stevens, who is directing the project.

Participating students will team with the newest Whitworth science faculty: Kerry Breno, chemistry; Michael Sardinia, biology; and Kamesh Sankaran and John Larkin, physics. The faculty/student teams will conduct research on topics including neurodegenerative disorders; evaluation of chemicals for photodynamic therapy (for potential treatment of cancer and macular degeneration); environmentally friendly methods for making plastics; and simulating space-thruster designs for NASA missions.

In addition to conducting research with faculty, the summer science fellows will meet weekly with faculty to share their research activities and discuss career opportunities in the sciences.

"We expect to develop this program over time to give more students the opportunity to engage in meaningful research with faculty," says Michael Le Roy, '89, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty. Le Roy is leading Whitworth's initiative to strengthen the sciences, which have seen record growth in recent years. Since the $2.4 million renovation of the Eric Johnston Science Center, in 1999, the number of Whitworth science majors has increased more than 50 percent.

The science initiative is one of the top priorities of Whitworth's 2005-2010 strategic plan. The goals of the initiative include developing a science endowment to support undergraduate research; acquiring new research equipment and maintaining that which is already in place; adding classrooms and research space to the science center; and strengthening the curriculum for science majors who plan to go directly into jobs in their chosen fields upon graduating.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The college enrolls 2,400 students in more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs.


Richard Stevens, associate professor of physics and department chair, Whitworth College, (509) 777-4508 or rstevens@whitworth.edu.

Julie Riddle, public information office, Whitworth College (509) 777-3729 or jriddle@whitworth.edu.

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