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Excellence in Research

Physics Professor Mary Alberg receives inaugural award from Murdock Trust

Written by Mike Thee
November 22, 2016

Mary Alberg, professor of physics and the Arline Bannan Chair of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, is the recipient of a new research award presented by the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. 

Alberg received the Lynnwood W. Swanson Scientific Research Award, which honors a senior natural sciences faculty member from a Pacific Northwest institution whose work has gained national recognition and demonstrated leadership in engaging undergraduate students and promoting research at their institution. She stood out among other nominees for her work in theoretical nuclear physics of mesons and baryons, her mentorship of undergraduate student researchers and her founding of the Anacapa Society

Widely regarded as a leader in her field, Alberg was named a fellow of the American Physical Society in 2014, a distinction she earned “for seminal contributions to understanding the sea of the nucleon and other baryons, and her extraordinary service to the physics community.” 

Alberg’s teaches a wide variety of physics courses, from introductory through upper-level nuclear and particle physics. Her research, which has been funded by the National Science Foundation, is in theoretical and phenomenological nuclear physics, including quarks and gluons in protons, neutrons and mesons. (Watch a video profile of Alberg here.) 

The inaugural Swanson Scientific Award and the Swanson Promise for Scientific Research Award were announced earlier this month at the Murdock College Science Research Conference in Spokane. Open to faculty at private undergraduate institutions within the Pacific Northwest, encompassing Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska, the awards include a $15,000 combination of cash, student stipends and support for supplies.

The Swanson awards honor the longtime work of Lynwood Swanson, who recently retired after serving as a Murdock trustee for 30 years. ‘‘Through these awards we endeavor to shine a light on the important research happening at private undergraduate institutions across the region,’’ said Steve Moore, Executive Director of the Murdock Trust. 

In addition to Alberg’s award, Woo-Joong (Andy) Kim, associate professor of physics at SU, was recognized as the Honorable Mention for the Lynnwood W. Swanson Promise for Scientific Research Award, which honors emerging junior faculty members. 

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 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 6,000 grants totaling more than $863 million. The trust is one of the most active regional or national foundations working in the Pacific Northwest.

(Pictured above, l. to r.: Mary Alberg, professor of physics and Arline Bannan Chair of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Seattle University; Steve Moore, executive director, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust; Michael Quinn, dean of the College of Science and Engineering, Seattle University; and Moses Lee, program director, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust)