Alison Murray (scientist)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
For the Canadian director of films, documentaries and music videos, see Alison Murray, and for the Scottish author and illustrator, see Alison Murray (author).
Alison Murray
Alison Elizabeth Murray.jpg
Alison Murray at Lake Vida
BornAlison Elizabeth Murray
Alma materBS California Polytechnic State University
MS San Francisco State University
PhD University of California, Santa Barbara
AwardsNevada System of Higher Education Regents Researcher Award (2014)
Scientific career
FieldsMicrobiology of polar extremophiles
Microbial Oceanography
InstitutionsDesert Research Institute

Alison Murray is an American biochemist and Antarctic researcher, best known for her work demonstrating the existence of microbial life within an ice-sealed Antarctic lake (Lake Vida).[1] She studies how microorganisms persist and function in extremely cold and harsh environments, including those that lack oxygen and biological sources of energy.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Murray was born and raised in Carmel, California and attended Carmel High School. She received her B.S. in Biochemistry at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in 1989,[3] followed by participation in a work-study program that turned into a Research Assistant position at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Science (formerly, Bermuda Biological Station).

Following two years of work experience she joined the Biogeochemical Reactions in Estuaries - Land Margin Ecosystem Research Program at Tomales Bay, earned her M.S. degree at San Francisco State University in Cell and Molecular Biology in 1994[3] where she studied with James T. Hollibaugh to develop molecular fingerprinting approaches for marine microorganisms.

Murray's Ph.D. was earned in Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology under the mentorship of Edward F. DeLong, from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1998.[3] It was during this time that she participated in two research expeditions to the Antarctic where she studied the ecology of planktonic marine Archaea (Crenarchaeota) with circumpolar distributions and demonstrated significant shifts in bacterial community composition and archaeal biomass over the extremes of the high latitude seasonal cycle.[4]

Career and impact[edit]

Murray's postdoctoral research (1999-2001) was conducted at the Center for Microbial Ecology at Michigan State University in which she studied in the emerging field of functional genomics with Distinguished Professor James M. Tiedje. She then moved to Desert Research Institute (DRI) in Reno, Nevada, USA in 2001 where she is a research professor.

Murray is best known for her work discovering the existence of microbial life at −13 °C existing within an ice-sealed the Antarctic Lake Vida,[1] the largest of several unique lakes found in the McMurdo Dry Valleys. This research finding was profiled by BBC TV,[5] National Public Radio,[6][7] and in the international news media including The Guardian,[8] Los Angeles Times[9] and Nature.[10]

Murray's research has provided critical insights into how microorganisms persist and function in extremely cold and harsh environments, including those that lack oxygen and biological sources of energy.[11] Making use of molecular genomic tools to describe microbial life, her work has helped answer questions about how microbes function and survive in extremely cold environments[11] and how environmental changes affect the functioning and diversity of these organisms, as well as potential feedbacks that might impact the sustainability of cold-environment ecosystems.[12]

The research has altered the scientific view of biological diversity in high latitude ecosystems[13] where microbes are significantly more diverse than originally surmised and exhibit strong seasonal gradients in community composition; they have been found to exist in places originally thought to be uninhabitable.[1][1].

Her research has shown how microbes respond to different environmental gradients and how they contribute and control fundamental ecological processes resulting in a better understanding of how high latitude ecosystems function and how they might respond to broad scale perturbations such as climate change. (e.g.[11]).

Awards and honours[edit]

Murray was recognized with the Nevada System of Higher Education Rising Researcher Award in 2009[14] and the Nevada Regents’ Researcher Award in 2013.[15]

Other activities[edit]

Murray served as Representative to the Life Sciences Standing Committee for the US in the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research for eleven years and played roles in the Census of Antarctic Marine Life,[16] and in biodiversity data management.

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • Murray, A. E., Lies D., Li G., Nealson K., Zhou J., and Tiedje J. M. "DNA/DNA Hybridization to Microarrays Reveals Gene-Specific Differences between Closely Related Microbial Genomes."Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 98, no. 17 (2001): 9853-858.
  • Murray, A.E., Kenig, F. Fritsen, C.H., McKay, C.P., Cawley, K.M., Edwards, R., Kuhn, E., McKnight, D.M., Ostrom, N.E., Peng, V., Ponce, A., Priscu, J.C., Samarkin, V., Townsend, A.T., Wagh, P., Young, S.A., Yung, P.T. and Doran, P.T. Microbial life at −13 °C in the brine of an ice-sealed Antarctic lake Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 109 (50) (2012) 20626-20631. doi:10.1073/pnas.1208607109.
  • Murray, AE, CM Preston, R Massana, LT Taylor, A Blakis, and EF DeLong. Seasonal and spatial variability in coastal Antarctic bacterioplankton assemblages. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 64(7) (1998)2585-2595.
  • Murray, A.E., Hollibaugh, J.T., Orrego, C. Phylogenetic compositions of bacterioplankton from two California estuaries compared by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis of 16S rDNA fragments. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 62 (7) (1996) 2676-2680


  1. ^ a b c Murray, Alison E.; Kenig, Fabien; Fritsen, Christian H.; McKay, Christopher P.; Cawley, Kaelin M.; Edwards, Ross; Kuhn, Emanuele; McKnight, Diane M.; Ostrom, Nathaniel E. (2012-12-11). "Microbial life at −13 °C in the brine of an ice-sealed Antarctic lake". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 109 (50): 20626–20631. Bibcode:2012PNAS..10920626M. doi:10.1073/pnas.1208607109. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 3528574. PMID 23185006.
  2. ^ "Ancient Microbes Found Living Beneath the Icy Surface of Antarctic Lake".
  3. ^ a b c "Alison Murray". Retrieved 2016-08-21.
  4. ^ Murray, A. E.; Preston, C. M.; Massana, R.; Taylor, L. T.; Blakis, A.; Wu, K.; DeLong, E. F. (1998-07-01). "Seasonal and Spatial Variability of Bacterial and Archaeal Assemblages in the Coastal Waters near Anvers Island, Antarctica". Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 64 (7): 2585–2595. ISSN 0099-2240. PMC 106430. PMID 9647834.
  5. ^ BBC World News America : KQED : November 28, 2012 4:00pm-4:30pm PST : Free Streaming, retrieved 2016-08-21
  6. ^ "Unlocking A Frozen Lake's Bacterial Secrets". Retrieved 2016-08-21.
  7. ^ "Insight: Marathon Follow-Up / Dr. Peter Mansoor / Antarctic Bacteria / Me and Him Are Killing English -". Retrieved 2016-08-21.
  8. ^ Sample, Ian; correspondent, science (2012-11-26). "Antarctic lake find pushes known boundaries of what life can endure". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-08-21.
  9. ^ Bardin, Jon (2012-11-27). "Beneath 50-foot ice layer, an Antarctic lake full of life". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2016-08-21.
  10. ^ Schiermeier, Quirin. "Life abounds in Antarctic lake sealed under ice". Nature. doi:10.1038/nature.2012.11884.
  11. ^ a b c "The Antarctic Sun: News about Antarctica - Winter Microbes (page 1)". Retrieved 2016-08-21.
  12. ^ "The Antarctic Sun: News about Antarctica - Iceberg as Carbon Dioxide Sinks (print version)". Retrieved 2016-08-21.
  13. ^ "Freshwater Flows Into the Arctic and Southern Oceans Appear to Determine the Composition of Microbial Populations | NSF - National Science Foundation". Retrieved 2016-08-21.
  14. ^ "DRI Desert Research Institute - DRI Desert Research Institute". Retrieved 2016-08-21.
  15. ^ PRESS, LAS VEGAS BUSINESS (2014-03-17). "On the Move, March 17". Retrieved 2016-08-21.
  16. ^ "Alison Murray". Retrieved 2016-08-21.

External links[edit]