Richard Murray headshot photo

Richard Murray

Director, Division of Ocean Sciences
National Science Foundation

Tell us about your work / research. What kinds of things do you do?

I am currently responsible for the Ocean Sciences research and technology portfolio at the NSF, including the research grants programs, ships, submersibles, AUVs/ROVs, etc. I am serving a 4-year appointment (maximum) while on leave from home institution of Boston University. I am a sedimentary chemist who studies past changes in the ocean (biological, chemical, physical, geological) and how such changes relate to climate.

What sparked your initial interest in your career?

I started out a geology major at Hamilton College knowing I wanted to get into oceanography. I enrolled at the Sea Education Association in Woods Hole as part of my undergraduate work and was hooked. I then went to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin for one year, and then to Berkeley for my Ph.D.

Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?

So, so, so many people that it is impossible to itemize. I think the common feature is that some folks simply inspired me to be confident enough in my ideas and skills and that it is okay to not have certain skills as well.

What element of your work / study do you think is the most fascinating?

Whenever I pull a sediment core from miles beneath the sea surface and realize I am looking at Earth history over millions of years...well, it can be very humbling.

What other jobs led you to your current career?

In college, I was also very nearly a double major in writing, and still greatly enjoy writing whenever possible and reading voraciously.

What are your degrees and certifications?

AB at Hamilton College in 1985; Participated in Sea Education Association in 1983; Ph.D. at University of California at Berkeley in 1991, followed by a brief post-doc research position at the Graduate School of Oceanography, URI, and then moving to Boston University in 1992.

What are your hobbies?

Hockey--playing it. Watching it. Sailing--doing it, reading about it, dreaming about it.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a career like yours?

Go for it. Don't listen to the gloom and boomers. If you like it, run with it.


Richard participated in the following Ocean Exploration Trust expeditions: