Desmond Murray

Desmond Murray

Desmond Murray

Title: Associate Professor of Chemistry
Office Location: Halenz Hall 323
Phone: (269) 471-6087


Post-doctoral Fellow, Harvard University
PhD, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan
BS, Andrews University


Desmond Hartwell Murray is an associate professor of chemistry at Andrews University; a chemistry instructor for Berrien County Math Science Center; the founder of Building Excellence in Science and Technology (BEST Early); the lead editor and contributor to the 2017 American Chemical Society Symposium book, The Power and Promise of Early Research; the editor and a columnist for Benton Spirit Community Newspaper; and chair of the Andrews University Community Engagement Council. He received a BS in Chemistry from Andrews University, a PhD in Chemistry from Wayne State University, and was a postdoc at Harvard University. He teaches both high school and college students and has supervised over 1000 students - high school, college and graduate level - in research. He develops and engages students in public science initiatives, such as Lab Tales and public service announcements using print, online and social media outlets. Murray was recognized for these efforts in 2012 by Michigan Science Teachers Association as the College Science Teacher of the Year and in 2018 by Andrews University faculty with the John Nevins Andrews Medallion. 

Current Research or Professional Activities

My philosophy of research begins with a constant and deep recognition of the divine spark that enables human curiosity and creativity. Research is, for me, an intensely sacred calling that winds through inspiration and revelation, imagination and service. It is a journey of discovery as implied by its Middle French root word - recherche - 'to go about seeking.'

I believe the attitude of a relentless researcher is eternally embedded in the Old Testament story of Jacob wrestling with God, and in the New Testament text, "Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." In addition, Emily Dickinson's poem tagline, "This World Is Not Conclusion," and Elen G. White's statement that "there are mines of truth yet to be discovered," express powerful reasons 'to go about seeking.' This informs my ethos and approach in promoting and providing early research opportunities for all God's children in one of the most consequential adventures known to humans.

My areas of interest, research and expertise are synthetic methodology and organic synthesis of small densely functionalized molecules using simple and ecofriendly processes for applications in areas of biomedicine, argrichemicals, material science and sensors. Multiple research projects in the following thematic areas are ongoing: agglutinators (synthetic antibodies), biomedical and environmental diagnostics ('spy' molecules), electrophilic carbonyl additions, green chemistry (via calcium based catalysts, natural catalysts and enzymes), hybrid drugs (anticancer, antibacterial and antifungal), insecticidal/pesticidal hybrid compounds and transfectors (molecular transporters). Many of these projects form the basis for both interdisciplinary and interlevel research collaborations.