Alison Murray

Dr. Alison Murray

Dr. Alison Murray
Dr. Alison Murray

Title: Associate Research Professor
Affiliation: Division of Earth and Ecosystem Sciences
Location: DRI Reno
Phone: 775.673.7361

Keywords: microbial ecology, genomics, extreme environments, Antarctic, polar, biogeochemistry, microbial diversity, astrobiology, biological oceanography, adaptation

Professional Interests

Dr. Murray is a molecular microbial ecologist with research interests centered around a common theme of utilizing molecular biological and genomic approaches to describe the diversity of life, understand the evolutionary history, ecological roles, and physiological capacity and capabilities of microorganisms that inhabit environments (or other organisms) several of which are considered to be at the extremes of where life exists. Dr. Murray has had long term interests in developing technologies to study microorganisms in the natural environment. Recent work has been dedicated to developing environmental genomics technologies for studying gene expression in organisms sampled directly from the environment, thereby circumventing the need for cultivation. Her research is interdisciplinary in nature, drawing upon oceanography, geosciences, computational biology, and chemistry. She collaborates with a number of scientists with expertise in these fields.

Dr. Murray’s research has taken her and members of her research group to the Antarctic Peninsula and the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica, deep sea hydrothermal vents of the East Pacific Rise, and Yellowstone National Park to study the microorganisms inhabiting these diverse, and extreme ecosystems. She has also worked locally in Lake Tahoe to characterize the diversity of organisms throughout the water column and in different periods of stratification through the year.

Research Areas of Expertise

  • Microbial diversity and evolution
  • Archaeal and bacterial ecology
  • Microbial genomics, specifically, functional and comparative genomics
  • Development of molecular biology techniques to solve ecological problems

Research Project Web Sites

Research Highlights


Atmospheric Sciences (DAS)
Air quality and atmospheric research including meteorology, visibility and pollutant transport.

Western Regional Climate Center
Climate Information and Data Services
Providing jointly developed products, services and capabilities that enhance the delivery of public climate info.

Diversity at DRI
An Inclusive Mission of Research Excellence
Diversity at DRI
Offering a supportive and diverse environment for our students, faculty/staff and visitors.

Land and Life
Earth and Ecosystems Sciences (DEES)
Research into changing landscapes including the soils, plants, animals and humans that affect them.

GreenPower Program
K-12 Outreach and Education
Supporting Nevada educators in science-based, environmental education with free tools, resources, and training.

Renewable Energy at DRI
Discovering New Energy Production Methods
dri-renewable-energyExpanding renewable energy research throughout Nevada and around the U.S.

Hydrologic Sciences (DHS)
Study of the natural and human factors that influence the availability and quality of water resources.

DRI Nevada Medal Event
2014 Medalist - Dr. Albert "Yu-Min" Lin
Proudly honoring outstanding achievement in science and engineering with gala events in Reno and Las Vegas.

Nevada Center of Excellence
Supporting Nevada's Economic Development
Center of ExcellenceCombining NSHE water expertise and IBM’s advanced technologies to grow tomorrow's workforce.