M.J. Murdock Trust awards nearly $60,000 to George Fox University for ecology research

May 6th, 2019

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Funds will be used to study forest recruitment and climate change in western forests

NEWBERG, Ore. – Biology students at George Fox University will have the opportunity to conduct significant research in the field following a $59,998 Murdock Natural Sciences grant that funds the study of forest recruitment and climate change in western forests.

Awarded this spring, the grant will allow students and assistant professor of biology Paige Parry to conduct research that will help determine the environments certain tree species can persist in and migrate to, with the ultimate goal of predicting species’ responses to ongoing climate change.

The grant will support student training and engagement in all aspects of the research project, including study design, field work, statistical modeling, computer programming, and presenting research findings through peer-reviewed publications and at national research conferences.

“This work will ultimately contribute to a causative understanding of species range dynamics through a key demographic process that is hypothesized to be particularly important in determining the environments in which species can persist in and migrate to,” Parry explained. “It therefore has important applications for predicting species’ responses to ongoing climate change. Our hope is to quantify range-wide variation in recruitment in response to climate and microsite conditions and to determine the relative contributions of these factors to range dynamics, particularly in the context of future climate.”

No fewer than six undergraduate students (two per year) will be involved in the research and will be provided with structured training in statistical modeling, computer programming, field data collection methods, research dissemination, and all other components of designing and carrying out an independent research project.

Parry added that students will gain valuable skills in data science and statistical inference, which are identified as among the most pressing needs in undergraduate biology, and will be provided with opportunities to engage in the broader research community through extensive research collaborations, dissemination at national research conferences, and publication.

“This project is expected to substantially enhance opportunities for authentic, research-based undergraduate education within the biology program at our university,” she said.

The nearly $60,000 grant brings Murdock’s contributions to George Fox to $1.6 million since 2011.

“The depth and breadth of research done at George Fox University continues to impress us,” said Moses Lee, senior director for scientific research and enrichment programs at M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. “This grant will provide important insights into how climate change is affecting the range of western forests.”

Steve Moore, executive director of the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, added, “Our benefactor, Jack Murdock, believed strongly in the value and power of scientific research, exploration and inspiration. We are grateful to be able to partner with institutions that are investing tirelessly in the work of growing our scientific knowledge and inspiring the next generation of scientific researchers and educators.”

The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, created by the will of the late Melvin J. (Jack) Murdock, provides grants to organizations in five states of the Pacific Northwest – Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington – that seek to strengthen the region’s educational and cultural base in creative and sustainable ways.

George Fox University is ranked by Forbes among the top Christian universities in the country and is a Christian college classified by U.S. News & World Report as a “Best Regional University.” Money magazine ranked it the No. 1 school in Oregon in its 2017-18 “Best Colleges for Your Money” list. More than 4,000 students attend classes on the university’s campus in Newberg, Ore., and at teaching centers in Portland, Salem and Redmond, Ore. George Fox offers bachelor’s degrees in more than 40 majors, degree-completion programs for working adults, six seminary degrees, and 13 master’s and doctoral degrees.


Paige Parry
Assistant Professor of Biology
George Fox University

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