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Willamette University awarded $500,000 in scientific equipment for research and teaching

by Paul McKean,

Students conduct experiments in physics lab

Willamette University is enhancing the delivery of science education thanks to a $500,000 grant from the Sherman Fairchild Foundation.

The grant supports Willamette’s commitment to making science accessible to majors and non-majors alike through access to cutting-edge research and teaching tools.

“This grant will benefit all students, regardless of their major, and enhance their learning experiences in both lower-level and upper-level science courses,” said Michaela Kleinert, professor of physics. “It will also encourage interdisciplinary collaboration among students and faculty from various majors.”

This funding is already making a difference in undergraduate research through the purchase of drones used in field research this summer. Among other equipment, the university will also purchase fluorometers and spectrometers — sophisticated scientific instruments that enable the study of substances by analyzing their interaction with light. These tools have important applications in areas such as measuring water quality or analyzing blood samples in medical labs.

The support comes from the Sherman Fairchild Foundation’s Scientific Equipment Program, which invites select liberal arts institutions to apply for funding to enhance student and faculty lab equipment.

The grant also builds upon Willamette’s significant investments in interdisciplinary programs in the sciences, such as its recently-announced School of Computing and Information Sciences. These programs equip students with crucial technical and analytical skills as well as the ethical frameworks that will prepare graduates to enter a variety of fields and fulfill their mission to build a better world.

“Ultimately, the grant will allow us to graduate students who are well-prepared, confident, and equipped with contemporary scientific tools to excel in their chosen fields,” Kleinert said.

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