Tri-City educators awarded $45,000 to improve teaching practices - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Tri-City educators awarded $45,000 to improve teaching practices

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Photo of Thomas Collins (professor at WSU Tri-Cities) Photo of Thomas Collins (professor at WSU Tri-Cities)
Photo of Rama Devagupta (teacher at Southridge High School) Photo of Rama Devagupta (teacher at Southridge High School)

KENNEWICK, WA -The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust’s Partners in Science (Partners) program recently awarded $45,000 to Tri-City area educators. The grants, at $15,000 each, were awarded to the Washington State University Foundation, the Kennewick School District and the Pasco School District, and will give local high school teachers the opportunity to engage in research with outstanding mentors.

“These grants, and the Partners program as a whole, equip science teachers with the research experience to implement better practices in their own classrooms,” said Kennewick School District Superintendent Dave Bond. “This is an outstanding opportunity for our district.”

The grants were awarded to the following partnerships:

Thomas Collins, assistant professor of grape and wine chemistry at Washington State University Tri-Cities, and Raef Pedersen, teacher at Chiawana High School, to research chemical characterization of grape berries and leaves from smoke-exposed grapevines.

Amoret Bunn, research scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Rama Devagupta, teacher at Southridge High School, to research building responsible science between scientific institutions and security forces.

Leo Fifield, research scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Michael See, teacher at Delta High School, to research thermoplastic adhesives application to carbon fiber composite materials.

2018 marks the 28th year of M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust’s participation in Partners and more than 500 teachers have been awarded this grant throughout the Trust’s five-state funding region. As a part of the program, the Trust hosts an annual national conference where teachers present their research results, hear presentations from renowned researchers, and network with other teachers and researchers from across the United States.

“Our goal is to improve science education and encourage best practices of teaching to be more inquiry focused,” said Steve Moore, executive director of the Murdock Charitable Trust. “We are honored to be involved in such vital programs within Tri-City area school districts.”

For more information on the Partners in Science program or how to apply for grants, go to

About Partners in Science (Partners) Program:

The Partners in Science Program (Partners) was founded by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement (Research Corp) in 1988. The Trust joined Partners in 1990, and in 1999 became the administrator of the program. The program pairs high school science teachers for two summers with a mentor doing cutting-edge research in an academic lab or a lab associated with another nonprofit institution. Teachers are given the opportunity to present the results of their research at an annual national conference of peers. The Trust awards approximately 25 Partners in Science grants each year to fund these teacher-mentor research opportunities in the Pacific Northwest.

About M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust

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. Since its inception in 1975, the Trust has awarded nearly 6,400 grants totaling more than $938 million. It is one of the most active regional or national foundations working in the Pacific Northwest.