"For the kind of work I do," Murphy said, "it doesn't matter if you live on the ocean or 5 hours away by plane. In geological oceanography, I'm studying core samples that come from the bottom of the ocean. With ship costs running upwards from $65,000/day, access to the existing cores stored at the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) repository across campus is much more important to me."
Murphy decided to study oceanography at A&M after completing his undergraduate work in marine biology at Hawaii Pacific University and master’s degree in marine science at UC Santa Barbara.
"As an undergraduate, I thought I'd probably go to work for an environmental consulting firm, but in my senior year I had a class with an outstanding professor who really piqued my curiosity by presenting questions that I felt needed to be answered. After that I switched to geological oceanography and have been working to answer some of those questions ever since."
When looking for a Ph.D. program, Murphy chose A&M because of the faculty and graduate students he encountered here. "I was very impressed by Debbie Thomas and the other faculty members I interviewed with," Murphy said. "They asked me 'What are you interested in?' instead of just telling me about the work they were doing and how I could help them with it."
"I was also impressed by the active Oceanography Graduate Student Council," he added. "There seemed to be a nice sense of community within this department and a feeling that the department was growing and heading in a direction that I wanted to be part of."
Murphy is very grateful to his graduate advisor, assistant professor Debbie Thomas, for all the support she has given him in his work. He credits this support as making the difference in his successful bid for one of five Schlanger Ocean Drilling Fellowships, a highly competitive, merit-based award for outstanding graduate students to conduct research related to IODP. The $28,000 per year award is for stipend, tuition, benefits, research costs, and travel.