Montana State University

MSU graduate wins Swiss research fellowship

July 12, 2013 -- By Carol Schmidt, MSU News Service

Kevin Murray, a recent graduate of Montana State University with a degree in biochemistry, has won a Seydel Fellowship, funding a year of research at the prestigious École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. Murray will study the complicated atomic interactions of an enzyme that has potential use in fuel cells, work that he began as an undergraduate at MSU. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.   High-Res Available

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Kevin Murray, a recent graduate of Montana State University with a degree in biochemistry, has won a fellowship to a prestigious research institution in Switzerland where he will study the complicated atomic interactions of an enzyme that has potential use in fuel cells.

Murray, who graduated from MSU last December, has won a Seydel Fellowship that will provide him $20,000 to study for one year at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne.  Murray will work in the Laboratory for Computational and Molecular Design doing further work on a project he started at MSU under Robert K Szilagyi, professor of chemistry.

The Seydel Fellowship is similar to a Fulbright Fellowship in that it is administered by the Institute of International Education, but is privately funded and is given to scientific researchers, according to Sally O'Neill in MSU Office of International Programs.

While an undergraduate Murray had already done some research with another scientist at EPFL, who suggested that Murray apply for a fellowship there. While in Lausanne, which is the French-speaking area of Switzerland, Murray's work will be to develop an atomic-level computational model of the iron-hydrogenase enzyme, looking at its potential to produce hydrogen gas. The research could have application in future hydrogen fuel cell technology.

His biochemical research is just one of many academic interests for Murray. Since graduating from MSU, the Butte native and Billings West High School graduate has been serving an internship working on health policy with the U.S. Senate Finance Committee in Washington, D.C. While attending MSU, Murray also had summer internships at the National Cancer Institute, one of the National Institutes of Health and the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.  He is interested in combining his research and medical interests to become a medical researcher and is now applying for admission to medical schools with M.D.-Ph.D. programs, which he hopes to begin after his year fellowship in Switzerland.

Murray's interest in healthcare may come genetically to the great-grandson of the late U.S. Sen. James E. Murray, a Democrat from Butte. Among other accomplishments, Sen. Murray was a trailblazer who tried to pass national health insurance bills under U.S. presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman.

The younger Murray also plays jazz piano and loves to rock climb and mountain bike. In fact, his love of the mountains was one of the reasons he applied for the fellowship to Switzerland. He said while he was at MSU he studied abroad in Copenhagen, which allowed him to travel throughout western Europe. It was then when he first considered further study in Switzerland.

"I have always loved the mountains of Montana. Switzerland has been known as one of the leading centers in science (and chemistry in specific)," Murray said. "I thought it would be a great place to both enjoy the landscape and engage in high quality research."

The research/mountain combination is one of the reasons that Murray said he graduated from MSU. He started at the University of Montana. He said he transferred to MSU because of the high-level research possibilities it could provide in the research areas that interested him.

"Research opportunities (at MSU) are unparalleled," Murray said.  "It's been a great place for me."


Sally O'Neill (406) 994-7688,

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