Meet Brittney Murray: future microbiologist

July 31, 2015
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Brittney Murray, a recent graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, is exploring the microbiome of the gut during her internship at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. She will attend the University of Alabama in Huntsville in the fall and aspires to become a microbiologist studying infectious disease. Photo by Julie Russell/LLNL (Download Image)

Meet Brittney Murray: future microbiologist

Carenda L Martin, martin59@llnl.gov, 925-424-4715

Editor's Note: This is one in a series of articles highlighting the diverse group of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory summer students.

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The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) student internship program is designed to allow students to engage in work-study employment opportunities in relevant science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and administrative fields during the summer academic break. This year, LLNL is proud to welcome more than 600 students from universities nationwide and around the world.

Introducing Brittney Murray...

Full name: Brittney Leshay Murray

Hometown: Tuscaloosa, Alabama

University attending/educational background: I recently graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a degree in life science. In the fall, I will be attending the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) to pursue a master's in microbiology.

Major: Microbiology

Graduation year: 2017

LLNL Directorate you are working in: Physical and Life Sciences

What interested you in pursuing a summer internship at the Laboratory?

I was interested in pursuing a summer internship at LLNL because of its great reputation as well as the large number of opportunities it provides. Students can come here and thrive whether they have a background in life science, chemistry, computer science or physics.

What are you working on at the Laboratory?

This summer I am working on a project that will explore the microbiome of the gut. We are attempting to determine the role of the gut flora in metabolizing acetaminophen.

What do you enjoy most about interning at the Laboratory?

I enjoy the opportunity to reach out across the various departments. I have the ability to see what is going on in several departments and can attend the events that interest me. I was surprised by LLNL's devotion to promoting life-long learning. There are students here ranging from freshmen to postdocs.

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Summer intern Brittney Murray presents a poster last year at the United States Military Academy's chemistry and life science poster session for "Projects Day." The poster was titled, "Life Cycle Changes in Malaria Parasites Due to the Manipulation of Calcium Uptake."

What have you learned (or are learning) that has made a difference to you?

While at the Lab, I have learned that there are a vast amount of opportunities available. I had an extremely limited scope prior to coming here. I have learned that there are so many paths and possibilities in pursuing an aspect of science that interests me.

Where do you see yourself after graduation? What is your dream job?

As a graduate of West Point, I am committed to serving in the United States Army. My dream job within the Army would be to serve as a microbiologist studying infectious disease. Following my time in the Army, I aspire to return to West Point as an instructor.

Who/what has inspired you to pursue an education and career in a STEM field?

I have been inspired to pursue a career in a STEM field by my mentors at West Point. Ericka Rovira has served as my mentor since my plebe (freshman) year. She encouraged me to find a major that I loved and to pursue it wholeheartedly. She helped me to realize that anything worth having will not to be easily attained. My research advisor, Col. Carl Brinkley, also helped me to find my niche in a STEM field. He helped me to see that research can be interesting and also serve as a method to help people.

What has been your biggest challenge to overcome?

My biggest challenge thus far has been determining what I wanted to be when I grew up and figuring out how to get there. Obtaining higher education can be difficult for some, but there are so many programs and opportunities available that it can be reached. I am an example.

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment so far?

My biggest accomplishment thus far has been graduating from West Point. I can definitely say that my degree was well earned.

As a college student, what is the most important lesson you have learned?

The most important lesson that I have learned has been time management. Time management is a crucial skill to have no matter what the field or job.

What advice would you give a high school student?

I would tell a high school student to first figure out their educational goals and how they can achieve them. After they have set themselves up to reach those goals, they should go have fun and enjoy their high school experience. The real work begins in college.

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Brittney Murray, a first time summer student at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, loves spending time with family and friends. Murray also enjoys Alabama football and hiking. Here she is on a recent hike at Mt. Diablo.

What do you like to do in your spare time? What are your hobbies?

I love spending time with my friends and family. I also enjoy hiking and Alabama football. Roll Tide.

What is next for you/what are you looking forward to?

My next steps are to complete my master's degree at the University of Alabama in Huntsville before serving in the United States Army for the next six (or more) years. I'm looking forward to using my abilities while serving the nation.

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To learn more about summer internships and the Laboratory's scholar programs, visit the scholars@llnl website.

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