Kunder in physics clsas
November 15, 2021

Lacey, WA – Saint Martin’s University's Andrea Kunder, Ph.D., assistant professor of physics, was recognized with the prestigious Lynwood W. Swanson Promise for Scientific Research Award from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. The award honors junior faculty members who demonstrate exceptional potential to establish exemplary, productive, and sustainable research programs. The Murdock Trust posted this video to highlight Dr. Kunder's work and impact.

"Research and teaching are essential to university life," affirmed Kate Boyle, Ph.D., Saint Martin's provost and vice president of academic affairs. "At a teaching university, such as Saint Martin’s, research occurring with undergraduate students allows them to explore knowledge creation under the guidance of an experienced researcher – their faculty member.  This not only enriches their experience, but allows them to connect teaching and learning with research. Opportunities presented by faculty, such as Dr. Kunder, are priceless when considering the development of our students."

"It is an honor to be recognized with this award," shared Dr. Kunder. "It is so rewarding to watch my students begin to understand difficult concepts and develop new skills as they focus on trying to solve one unknown problem over the course of the summer. Every student has pushed me to think about my research in a deeper way. Every student has challenged me to think more deeply about what is means to be a student, a professor, and member of society today.”

Dr. Kunder received her bachelor's degree from Willamette University and her Ph.D. from Dartmouth College. Her area of expertise is astrophysics, with more than 80 refereed scientific publications, including being an editor of an Astronomy Society of the Pacific Conference Series. Her research projects have involved observations of stars over large areas of the sky, acquiring both spectra and images of celestial objects to determine their properties. An expert in using old stars to study the Galactic bulge, she is the principal investigator of the Bulge Radial Velocity Assay for RR Lyrae stars (BRAVA-RR), a survey funded by the National Science Foundation. Dr. Kunder came to Saint Martin’s University after a postdoctoral fellowship at the Leibniz Institute of Astrophysics (AIP) in Germany, and the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile.  She has been teaching at Saint Martin's University since 2017 and over the years has recruited students to her lab from across the university, including math, chemistry and engineering majors.

The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust was established by the last will and testament of the late Melvin Jack Murdock, co-founder of Tektronix, lifelong resident of the Northwest and dedicated philanthropist.  Since it was founded in 1975, the Murdock Trust has provided more than $1 billion in grants and support to more than 3,000 non-profits in the Pacific Northwest.  

Saint Martin’s University is an independent coeducational university, with undergraduate and graduate offerings, located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 13 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 29 majors, 11 master’s programs, one doctorate program and seven certificate programs spanning the arts and sciences, business, counseling, education, engineering, nursing and leadership. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,300 undergraduate students and 250 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and more students to its extended campus located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Genevieve Chan
Vice President, Marketing and Communications