Future of Energy: Cherry A. Murray

February 22, 2011 – "In Deep Water: The Gulf Oil Spill Disaster and the Future of Offshore Drilling in the U.S."
Cherry A. Murray, Dean, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Member, National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling

On April 20, 2010 the U.S. faced the worst accidental oil spill—and by some assessments—environmental disaster in the history of the country. The Transocean Deepwater Horizon rig, 41 miles off the coast of Louisiana, blew up, killing 11 and leaking millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

As the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshoring Drilling wraps up its investigative report, Commission member Cherry A. Murray will offer a rare insider's look on carrying out President Obama's charge to "follow the facts wherever they led."

Rich Sears, who served as the Senior Science and Engineering Advisor on the Commission and is a former VP of Deepwater Services at Royal Dutch Shell, will then give a primer on such wells are drilled and explore the what and why of the blowout that doomed the Deepwater Horizon.

Murray will conclude with a summary of the recommendations given by the Commission to the U.S. Congress and the oil/gas industries. Both will answer questions about the lessons learned from the accident and suggest ways to move forward.

About Dean Murray
Cherry A. Murray, who has led some of the nation's most brilliant scientists and engineers as an executive at Bell Laboratories and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, was appointed dean of Harvard University's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), on July 1, 2009. She also holds the the John A. and Elizabeth S. Armstrong Professorship of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Previously, Murray served as principal associate director for science and technology at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., where she lead 3,500 employees in providing core science and technology support for Lawrence Livermore's major programs. She is the current president of the American Physical Society (APS).

Before joining Lawrence Livermore in 2004, Murray had a long and distinguished career at the famed Bell Laboratories, home to creative researchers who went on to win numerous Nobel Prizes, garner tens of thousands of patents, and invent revolutionary technologies such as the laser and the transistor. She was hired into Bell in 1978 as a staff scientist, marking the beginning of a career that culminated in her position as senior vice president for physical sciences and wireless research.

Murray was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1999, to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001, and to the National Academy of Engineering in 2002. She has served on more than 80 national and international scientific advisory committees, governing boards, and National Research Council (NRC) panels, including chairing the Division of Engineering and Physical Science of the NRC, and serving on the visiting committee for Harvard's Department of Physics from 1993 to 2004.

A celebrated experimentalist, Murray is well-known for her scientific accomplishments using light scattering, an experimental technique where photons are fired at a target of interest. Scientists can then gather insights into surface physics and photonic behavior by analyzing the spray of photons in various directions from such collisions.

She is also a leader in the study of soft condensed matter and complex fluids, hybrid materials that show properties of different phases of matter. The control of suspensions, foams, and emulsions has application for the development of everything from novel drug delivery systems to "lab-on-a-chip" devices.

In 1989, Murray won the APS's Maria Goeppert-Mayer Award for outstanding achievement by a woman physicist in the early years of her career, and in 2005, she was awarded APS's George E. Pake Prize in recognition of outstanding work combining original research accomplishments with leadership and development in industry. In 2002, Discover Magazine named her one of the "50 Most Important Women in Science."