PSU awarded $45,000 from M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust’s Partners in Science program
Author: University Communications
Posted: May 10, 2017

Portland State University was recently awarded $45,000 from M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust’s Partners in Science (Partners) program. The grants, at $15,000 each, will fund three different projects and give local high school teachers at David Douglas High School, Valley Catholic High School and Beaverton High School the opportunity to engage in research with an outstanding research mentor at PSU. 

“The importance of the collaboration between PSU and high schools in our local community is essential," said PSU President Wim Wiewel. "These grants, and the Partners program as a whole, equip science teachers with the research experience to implement better practices in their own classrooms.” 

The grants were awarded to the following partnerships: 

  • Dr. Anne W. Thompson, assistant professor of biology at PSU, and Heather Blair, teacher at David Douglas High School, to research the influence of physical dynamics on the ecology of phytoplankton in the open ocean.
  • Dr. Martin Lafrenz, assistant professor of geography at PSU, and Aleta Boddy, teacher at Valley Catholic High School, to research the importance of plant-mycorrhizae mutalism in salt marshes.
  • Dr. Catherine de Rivera, assistant professor of environmental science at PSU, and Jeffrey Buckingham, teacher at Beaverton High School, to track urban animals to determine animal paths and barriers to their movement.

2017 marks the 28th year of M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust’s participation in Partners and more than 500 teachers throughout the Trust’s five-state funding region who have been awarded this grant. As a part of the program, the Trust hosts an annual national conference where teachers present their research results, hear presentations from renowned researchers, and network with other teachers and researchers from across the United States. 

“Our goal is to improve science education and encourage best practices of teaching to be more inquiry focused,” said Steve Moore, executive director of the Murdock Trust. “We are honored to be involved with a such a vital program at PSU.” 

For more information on the Partners in Science program or how to apply for grants, go to

About Partners in Science (Partners) Program:
The Partners in Science Program (Partners) was founded by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement (Research Corp) in 1988. The Trust joined Partners in 1990, and in 1999 became the administrator of the program. The program pairs high school science teachers for two summers with a mentor doing cutting-edge research in an academic lab or a lab associated with another nonprofit institution. Teachers are given the opportunity to present the results of their research at an annual national conference of peers. The Trust awards approximately 25 Partners in Science grants each year to fund these teacher-mentor research opportunities in the Pacific Northwest.

About M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust:
M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust, created by the will of the late Melvin J. (Jack) Murdock, provides grants to organizations in five states of the Pacific Northwest – Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington – that seek to strengthen the region’s educational and cultural base in creative and sustainable ways. Since its inception in 1975, the trust has awarded nearly 6,000 grants totaling more than $850 million. Go to for more information.