Research projects

Tunicate reduced

Deciphering the metagenome-encoded pathway and domain structure for Palmerolide biosynthesis.

Photo: Antarctic marine ascidians (sea squirts) on the sea floor, 70ft from where Palmerolide natural products with Anticancer activiy have been isolated. (photo credit: Bill Baker)

nanomotion detection
Advancing Nanomotion Sensor Technology to Provide Evidence for Active Life in Ocean Worlds. (NASA Cold-Tech program)

Photo: Detecting signs of microbial life using a sensitive nanomotion detection device.

methane on iceMethanogenic biodiversity and activity in Arctic and Sub-Antarctic ecosystems affected by climate change.

Photo: Methane gas buring through the ice. 

For additinal information:

sampling snowBuilding capacity in Interdisciplinary Snow Sciences for a Changing World.

Photo: Dr. Murray on the Sierra Nevada crest (near Mount Lincoln) where samples were collected monthly to determine snow physical characteristics, levels of dissolved nutrients, dust, and the diversity of life in the snowpack.
For additional information:

collecting sea ice coresAssessing winter picoplankton distributions and carbon cycling in the North Western Antarctic Peninsula Region

Photo: Murray field team collecting sea ice cores to study the levels of ice biota and nutrients in late winter from an ice floe north of Elephant Island, Antarctica. (photo credit: Abe Borker)

bacteria at bottom

The metagenomics and metatranscriptomics analyses of the Lake Vida brine microbial community reveals lifestyles at the low temperature limits of life.

Geochemistry and Microbiology of the Extreme Aquatic Environment in Lake Vida, East Antarctica. Lake Vida III: Developing a comprehensive understanding of Lake Vida – from the past to the present – life, biogeochemical function, geochemical composition and paleohistory of its microbial inhabitants.

europa lander science definition missionEuropa Lander Science Definition Team

Prof. Murray was co‐chair of a team of 21 scientists that set out to establish the science objectives and investigations of NASA’s goals for the first landed mission to the surface of Europa, which are: 1) To search for evidence of life on Europa; 2) To assess the habitability of Europa via in situ techniques uniquely available to a lander mission; and 3) Characterize surface and subsurface properties at the scale of the lander to support future exploration. Europa, a moon of Jupiter is the closest ocean world to Earth, and holds promise as being potentially habitable. The constraints of such a mission are severe – the Europan surface is bombarded by radiation from Jupiter, has no atmosphere, and is a frigid ‐160 oC.

To the report itself:

Wikipedia entry:

Past Research Projects

Antarctic Microbial Biology:

astrobiology in icy worlds

Astrobiology of Icy Worlds Habitability, Survivability, Detectability

Astrobiology of Icy Worlds investigates the detectability of life and biological materials on the surface of icy worlds, with a focus on spectroscopic techniques, and on spectral bands that are not in some way connected to photosynthesis. The primary component is to characterize and quantify methane release from the Alaskan North Slope region and to understand the origin and fate of the methane.

For more information visit the NASA Astrobiology Institute:

sampling antartic winter 

Website: IPY: Bacterioplankton Genomic Adaptations to Antarctic Winter

DRI Project page

floating icebergs

Website: Free-Drifting Icebergs as Proliferating Dispersion Sites of Iron Enrichment, Organic Carbon Production and Export in the Southern Ocean

DRI Project page

ice core collection

Subsurface ice and brine sampling: life detection and characterization in the McMurdo Dry Valleys using an ultrasonic gopher.

DRI Project page

bacteriaGenome Sequencing of two Antarctic bacteria – a marine Actinobacterium, str. PHSC20C1 and a sea-ice associated bacterium, Polaribacter irgensii, 23-P. (Supported by the Marine Microbiology Initiative Program at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation)

DRI Project page

low temp lifestylesGenEx 2 - Gene Expression in Extreme Environments: Extending Microarray Technology to Understand Life at its Limits (Supported by the NSF- LExEn program - LexEn Website

DRI Project page

sequencingEnvironmental genomics of Antarctic marine bacterioplankton using a large-contig sequencing approach.

DRI Project page

Hydrothermal Microbial Biology:

antarctica worm Vent Epibiont Environmental Genome (VEEG) - A meta-genome level analysis of an extreme microbial symbiosis.

DRI Project page

Mammoth Hot Springs

Geobiology and the emergence of terraced architecture during carbonate mineralization.

DRI Project page


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