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Beth Sorensen
Office of Communications


Reed College has recently been awarded an M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust grant of $363,000 for a physics advanced laboratory. The laboratory will expose junior-level physics majors to the concerns and techniques of modern experimental physics research and facilitate their evolution into autonomous researchers.

The research-based, upper-division, instructional physics laboratory consists of flexible, contemporary, component-based research stations that allow students to create unique lab set-ups and develop independent research skills. New equipment for the stations includes a telescope with a CCD detector that will allow more research in astronomy, an argon ion laser, and a scanning tunneling microscope. Two LabView stations will be added to introduce computer-based data analysis to physics students. This new laboratory will outfit junior physics majors with many of the tools and experiences necessary for the senior thesis, a year-long independent research project that students undertake during their senior year.

The instructional laboratory project is directed by associate professor of physics John Essick. Essick, who joined the Reed College faculty in 1993, does his primary research in the field of solid state physics. The recipient of numerous research grants, Essick's results have been published in Physical Review Letters and Applied Physics Letters. Other members of the advanced laboratory project include physics department members John Powell and Robert Reynolds.

The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust was created by the will of the late Melvin J. Murdock, co-founder of Tektronix, Inc. and resident of Vancouver, Washington. Murdock was an idealist who felt that science was a main source of knowledge and that knowledge was the key to resolving issues. The Trust reflects Murdock's beliefs by providing grants to organizations that seek to strengthen the Northwest region's cultural and educational base in creative and sustainable ways.