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Whitworth and Whitman Professors Awarded for Outstanding Efforts in Science Research and Education

November 15, 2018
A pair of Washington professors have been recognized for their outstanding achievements in the fields of scientific research and education.

This week, the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust announced Kraig Wheeler, Ph.D., the Hugh W. Johnston Professor of Chemistry at Whitworth University, as the 2018 recipient of the Lynwood W. Swanson Scientific Research Award. Moira Gresham, Ph.D., associate professor of physics at Whitman College, received the Lynwood W. Swanson Promise for Scientific Research Award.

The two prestigious honors were established in 2016 to honor two exemplary educators from the Pacific Northwest. The Swanson Award recognizes a senior faculty exemplar with an established, productive and nationally recognized research program.

“Kraig Wheeler epitomizes the Whitworth tradition of teaching with mind and heart,” Whitworth University President Beck A. Taylor says. “His stellar research accomplishments and his desire to involve Whitworth’s students in his projects not only advance science, but also help to propel the next generation of scientists who will change the world.”

The Swanson Promise Award highlights a junior faculty member who has demonstrated exceptional potential in these areas through early research and work with students. Both awards were named in honor of noted educator, entrepreneur and former trustee Lynwood Swanson, Ph.D., upon his retirement from the Murdock Trust.

“The exploration of science and education of youth were two passions that our benefactor, Jack Murdock, held dearly throughout his life,” says Steve Moore, executive director of the Murdock Trust. “In every phase of his career, Dr. Swanson has helped inspire and engage students and young people through his own passion for science. He believes strongly in the ability of science to solve real-world challenges and for educators to serve as mentors to the next generation of researchers. We are so proud to be able to honor Dr. Swanson’s legacy and recognize the outstanding work of Dr. Wheeler and Dr. Gresham.”

Wheeler will receive a $15,000 cash prize as part of his award, and Gresham will receive a $7,500 cash prize. A portion of each cash award is set aside specifically to help fund further student research and supplies.

Both awards were formally presented at the 2018 Murdock College Science Research Program (MCSRP) Conference in Vancouver, Wash. The annual conference drew hundreds of college students and science educators from across the Pacific Northwest.

For more information about the MCSRP Conference and how the Murdock Trust invests in science education and research, please visit

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of more than 3,000 students, offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Trisha Coder, media relations manager, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or