Karen Murchie, Ph.D.

I am the Director of Freshwater Research at Shedd Aquarium and I oversee a team of biologists focused on addressing wildlife conservation concerns in the Great Lakes region, while also leading a research program focused on migratory fishes.

Though the outdoors have always been a special place to explore, my passion for the aquatic world was sparked from a snorkeling experience during an undergraduate field course in Jamaica where I was befriended by a fairy basslet, a colorful fish, that lingered near my mask during my first snorkel to local reefs. From that point on, I turned my attention to pursuing a career in fisheries. I have since had the opportunity to marvel at fishes and their various habitats from the Arctic to the Amazon, and many places in between. After I finished my Master of Science degree, I took time to experience positions in government and environmental consulting. Following my Ph.D., and a one-year post-doc, I became an assistant professor for five years before joining Shedd Aquarium in 2016. What I love about my career is gaining insight into the lives of fascinating fishes and sharing my experiences with others. I am extremely fortunate to have been lovingly cheered on by my family and friends through my pursuits. I grew up in a rural area where most science careers I was exposed to were in the medical or agricultural realm, or teaching. Through amazing mentorship and exploring various careers related to fisheries and the environment, I have gained an incredible network of colleagues and friends, along with diverse experiences. Fisheries careers have typically been male-dominated, especially for field-based research, but a shift is occurring. It is important for me to encourage and support others such that they can see themselves in whichever career they have a passion for.

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