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Promise for Scientific Research Award to Dr. Tamily Weissman

November 16, 2017

The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust has recognized Dr. Tamily Weissman, Associate Professor of Biology and Program Co-Director of Neuroscience, with the 2017 Lynwood W. Swanson Promise for Scientific Research Award. This prestigious award highlights one junior faculty member in the Trust’s region who has demonstrated exceptional potential in establishing a productive and nationally recognized research program through early research and work with students. The recognition comes with a $7,500 grant to further support Dr. Weissman’s research with undergraduates. 

The Trust invited Lewis & Clark to nominate one faculty member to be considered for this award—and Dr. Weissman’s nomination materials made it abundantly clear why she was the best candidate: she is a nationally recognized scholar in her field and outstanding mentor to her students; she has developed a productive and high impact research program and attracted significant external funding for her work; and she is an innovative and compassionate educator. As former Dean Kodat’s letter of nominated stated, “…there are so many reasons that Dr. Weissman is deserving of this recognition—including but not limited to her high quality and productive research accomplishments, her meaningful and caring engagement of undergraduate students, her leadership in developing and promoting research at Lewis & Clark and beyond, and the likelihood that she will continue on this path.” 

In presenting this Award to Dr. Weissman, and the Senior Research Award to Linfield faculty member Dr. William Mackie, at the 2017 Murdock College Science Research Program (MCSRP) Conference in Spokane on November 10, Executive Director Steve Moore stated, “Dr. Swanson has a deep passion for science, how it can inspire students and how it can solve real world challenges,” said Steve Moore, Executive Director, Murdock Trust. “These two awards bring to light shining examples of educators in the Pacific Northwest who are investing in our collective future through their research and their mentorship of students.” (The attached picture is from the award ceremony, courtesy of Dr. Moses Lee, Program Director at the Trust.)  Indeed, the Trust is very familiar with Dr. Weissman’s research—she is the recipient of several competitive grants from the Trust, including a Research Start-up award, two Natural Sciences Research grants (one a competitive renewal), and a Collaborative Research Alliance involving Reed College and Whitworth University (current). 

Dr. Weissman’s research program asks basic questions about how a complex nervous system forms from a tiny cluster of cells, how cells interact with each other during development, and why some cells surprisingly die during both development and disease. Beyond these specific research questions, she is also passionate about training the next generation of scientists. By incorporating undergraduate students into every aspect of her work, students develop into strong scientists and learn to communicate their science confidently and effectively to others. The mission of Dr. Weissman’s research program integrates four key goals:

  1. To study how neurons arise and form circuits in the developing brain;
  2. To develop & use a zebrafish model to study mechanisms underlying cellular degeneration;
  3. To help students learn to become strong scientists in a supportive environment;
  4. To use innovative imaging methods to publish high-quality, beautiful images that make the nervous system visually accessible to others, helping to inspire excitement about science.

More information about Dr. Weissman’s work is available at

More information about how the Murdock Trust invests in science education and research is available at

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