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Whitworth biology professor receives $30,000 grant from M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust

May 9, 2013

Whitworth University Assistant Professor of Biology Grant Casady, Ph.D., recently received a $30,000 grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust to fund two summers of research at Whitworth’s Verbrugge Environmental Center (VEC).

The VEC occupies 605 forested acres about 35 miles northeast of Spokane. The land, which has been entrusted to the university, serves as an educational resource for environmental research and allows students to have field experiences.

“There are three reasons that I am especially excited to receive the grant,” Casady says. “First, it is an acknowledgement by the external scientific community that the work we are doing here at Whitworth is valuable. Second, it provides at least two years of funding to pursue a really interesting area of research. This is nice because in ecological research a single year of data is rarely enough to describe ecological processes adequately. Finally, it will allow several students to participate in my research, which is something that I really enjoy, and that is very valuable for them as they pursue their future career goals.”

Casady plans to work alongside students at the VEC, evaluating the differences in the seasonal growth of trees and the vegetation beneath the forest’s canopy. They will monitor the changes of the vegetation by placing cameras throughout the VEC, taking field measures of vegetation structure, and using satellite images.

Casady’s hope for this research is to better understand how climate changes influence different parts of an ecosystem. This understanding will educate people on how to manage natural resources to prepare for potential future conditions. For more information about the center and its resources, please visit Verbrugge Environmental Center.

Casady joined the Whitworth faculty in 2011. His areas of expertise are landscape and disturbance ecology, natural resource conservation, and remote sensing science.

The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust provides grants and enrichment programs to organizations that seek to strengthen and enrich the quality of life in the Pacific Northwest.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.