Alison Elizabeth MurrayMolecular, biological and genomic research
About Dr. Alison Murray
Dr. Murray is a molecular microbial ecologist and biological oceanographer 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 free-living and symbiotic microorganisms 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 taken Murray and her team to the Southern Ocean to study broad large scale ecosystem patterns in picoplankton. Murray’s also been involved in NASA’s new Ocean Worlds program and was co-chair of a Europa Lander Science Definition Team. Much of her work has been dedicated to developing environmental genomics technologies for detecting and studying organisms sampled directly from the environment, thereby circumventing the need for cultivation. Her research is interdisciplinary in nature, drawing upon oceanography, geosciences, computational biology, astrobiology and chemistry. She collaborates with a large network of scientists nationally and in Europe, Australia and New Zealand with expertise in these fields.
Dr. Murray’s research has taken her and members of her research group to the Antarctic Peninsula and Northwestern Weddell Sea and the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica, the North Slope of Alaska and coastal Arctic, 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 the Sierra Nevada snowpack to characterize the nature and diversity of organisms in snow (i.e. snow algae and bacteria) and throughout the water column of Lake Tahoe in different periods of stratification through the year.
Research Areas of Expertise
- Diversity, ecology, and evolution of archaea and bacteria, focus on marine systems
- Polar microbial ecosystems
- Environmental microbial genomics, specifically, functional and comparative genomics
- Astrobiology, life detection methods
- For information on Dr. Murray’s research projects, please continue to her research projects page.
- For information on Dr. Murray’s laboratory, please continue to her Molecular Microbial Ecology Genomics Laboratory.
- Dr. Murray participated in a Public Panel discussion and public debate on the link between life in the Antarctic and outside planet earth – Antarctica into Space at the SCAR Biology meeting, in Leuven Belgium, July 2017.
- Dr. Murray served as the co-chair for the Europa Lander Science Definition team June 2017-Dec 2018.
|Ph.D.||1998||University of California,|
Santa Barbara, CA
|Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology|
|M.S.||1994||San Francisco State University,|
San Francisco, CA
|Cell and Molecular Biology|
|B.S.||1989||Cal Poly State University,|
San Luis Obispo, CA
Adjunct Professor, University of Nevada, Reno:
- Molecular Microbiology and Immunology Undergraduate Program, College of Science
- Biology Department
- Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate Program
- Environmental Sciences Graduate Program
- Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
- Molecular Biosciences
2019 – Arctic Microbiomes: From Molecules and Microbes to Ecosystems and Health – Under the leadership of the Sentinel North program at Université Laval (Quebec City, Canada), the International PhD School (IPS) is a unique transdisciplinary training program aiming to understand the key role of microbiomes in shaping the structure and functioning of the Arctic, including their impacts on food webs, ecosystem services, and human health. Course blog can be found here – https://sentinellenord.ulaval.ca/en/arctic-microbiomes-field-report
2018 – Microbial Diversity and Evolution (MICR 401/601), UNR, Spring. 3.0 unit lecture and discussion based course offered at the undergraduate and graduate level.
2015 – Microbial Oceanography: Genomes to Biomes, UH. Intensive graduate and Postdoctoral training course for students with interests in marine microbiology and biological oceanography. Sponsored by the Agouron Institute, SOEST, NSF and C-MORE. Honolulu, Hawaii, June.
2010 – Nevada Geobiology Summer Short Course, UNR. NASA Space Grant sponsored intensive field and laboratory course targeting graduate students in science and science education fields. Reno, Nevada July.
2010 – Integrative Biology and Adaptation of Antarctic Marine Organisms. An NSF-sponsored intensive field and laboratory course held at McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Director: Prof. D. Manahan, USC, Los Angeles, January.
2008 Integrative Biology and Adaptation of Antarctic Marine Organisms. An NSF-sponsored intensive field and laboratory course held at McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Director: Prof. D. Manahan, USC, Los Angeles, January.
2006 – Integrative Biology and Adaptation of Antarctic Marine Organisms. An NSF-sponsored intensive field and laboratory course held at McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Director: Prof. D. Manahan, USC, Los Angeles, January.
2004 – Current Topics in Microbial Ecology Seminar, Dept. Environ. Sciences & Health, UNR, Spring.
2001 – Integrative Biology and Adaptation of Antarctic Marine Organisms. An NSF-sponsored intensive field and laboratory course held at McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Director: Prof. D. Manahan, USC, Los Angeles, January.
|2019||DRI Science Medal|
|2018||Advisor of the Year, Desert Research Institute|
|2016||Co-chair, NASA Europa Lander Science Definition Team|
|2014||Nevada System of Higher Education Regents Researcher Award|
|2009||2008 Regents Rising Researcher Award, Nevada Board of Regents|
|2006||2006 Peter B. Wagner Medal of Excellence for DRI Scholars in the Early States of Career Development|
|2005||Distinguished Alumni Award, Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies, SFSU|
For an up-to-date list of peer-reviewed publications, please visit Alison Murray’s directory page: https://www.dri.edu/directory/alison-murray-research/