Two Willamette professors receive grants to fund their science research

by University Communications,

Two Willamette University professors were awarded grants from the MJ Murdock Charitable Trust to continue their science research.

Assistant physics professor David Altman received a two-year, $20,000 renewal grant to study the role of force in regulating the function of myosin motors, a protein that powers such processes as muscular contraction.

For his work, Altman is studying how myosin achieves its mechanical function and how this function is regulated in living cells. The Murdock grant, with further support from Willamette’s Science Collaborative Research Program, will also fund two Willamette undergraduates to assist Altman with his research.

Assistant biology professor Melissa Marks also received a $44,000 grant from the foundation’s College Research Program for Life Sciences Program.

With the funding, Marks and four research students will identify the genes that encode the pathway for production of outer surface carbohydrates in the bacteria, Caulobacter crescentus. The purpose of the project is to better understand the ecological and evolutionary role for these extracellular polysaccharides in aquatic bacteria.

To date, ten Willamette faculty members have received 16 grants worth $631,200 from the Murdock College Research Program for Life Sciences program.

The Murdock College Research Program for Life Sciences Program is designed to support faculty and undergraduate research in the life sciences at private, predominantly undergraduate colleges and universities in the Pacific Northwest.