Kristopher Murray ‘15, a senior majoring in biochemistry in Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences, has been awarded a Graduate Research Fellowship by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
A member of the prestigious Renée Crown University Honors Program, Murray will pursue a Ph.D. in integrated biomedical sciences at the University of Notre Dame. In applying for the fellowship, Murray proposed using the opportunity to study bacterial cellulose synthase genes in poplar trees. Such genes—which are proposed to increase cellulose content, while disrupting the crystallinity of the cell wall—would assist with bioethanol production.
The Pittsburgh, Pa., native credits the fellowship to support from his mentor, Professor Heather Coleman; the McNair Scholars Program; and the honors program.
“The University has helped me become the type of researcher I’ve always wanted to be,” he says. “It’s given me the confidence and experience that I’ve needed to be successful in the classroom, the laboratory, and beyond.”
Coleman, an assistant professor of biology, returns the compliment. “I’ve had the pleasure of watching Kris evolve as a researcher, while he worked on his honors thesis,” she says. “His intellectual prowess, strong work ethic, perseverance, and integrity are nothing short of extraordinary. He’s destined for great things at Notre Dame.”
Murray is also a member of the professional chemistry fraternity Alpha Chi Sigma; the University’s Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program; and Better Together, a social justice initiative of which he serves as vice president.
“A well-rounded education is the key to a successful life,” he adds. “I am grateful for the University giving me so many different kinds of experiences. They’ve made me a better student and a better person.”
The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions.