David Altman awarded grant to study molecular motors

Physics professor David Altman was awarded a $36,345 grant from the MJ Murdock Charitable Trust to study myosin, an important protein that acts as a molecular motor, powering processes such as muscular contraction. With additional funding from Willamette's Science Collaborative Research Program, Altman will work with four undergraduate students over the next two summers to perform research on myosin function.

Using a laser to manipulate the protein, the faculty-student team will conduct experiments to analyze the molecular motor's range of motion. They will also perform experiments to study myosin's function in retinal cells, where it is involved in the proper maintenance of the cell's light-absorbing structures. Insight into these physical processes could lead to treatments for some types of retinal degradation. 

Participating students will present final research findings in a formal paper, deliver an oral presentation and prepare a display for an in-house symposium and off-campus regional meeting of undergraduate research.

The MJ Murdock Charitable Trust focuses on the Pacific Northwest. Altman's research is funded by the Murdock College Research Program for the Life Sciences, which is "designed to support research in the life sciences at private predominantly undergraduate colleges and universities in the Trust's grantmaking region."