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Murray PhotoMichelle Murray (

Funding body: SFI

In 2004, Michelle made a career change from a private sector administration position which she held for a number of years.   She decided to pursue a lifelong interest in plants and took up employment in the horticulture sector where she worked for three years before embarking on a full-time degree in Horticulture at UCD.  During her degree programme Michelle had the opportunity to work at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, where she was ultimately inspired.  She graduated in 2011 with a First Class Honours Bachelor of Agricultural Science (BAgrSci) degree.  After a short break from studies and a spell working in the Irish food sector, Michelle realised that her passion for plants would win out and decided to seek out research opportunities in the plant sciences.  The opportunity to undertake a doctorate under the supervision of Dr Jennifer McElwain presented itself and Michelle was delighted to be offered a PhD on an SFI project to investigate vegetation responses to climate change.  The aim of the PhD is to investigate the impact of recent climate change by developing a global database of biome-level plant stomatal conductance responses of selected woody taxa to the rise by 61 ppm of CO2 over the last 40 years, with the ultimate aim of developing improved climate model prediction of continental runoff and flood risk for the years 2030 and 2050, and to assess the impact that plant responses to CO2 will have on the hydrological cycle at both global and regional levels.

This will be achieved by sampling representative woody vegetation types from all nine world biomes.  Firstly, Sub-sampling of an historical archieve of herbarium specimens from 22 of 173 global vegetation sites called CLAMP (Climate Leaf Analysis Multivariate Programme), collected by the late Jack Wolfe in the 1970s and 1980s, which is currently housed at the Smithsonian, Washington DC, will be undertaken. Secondly, all 22 CLAMP sites will be resampled to compare the same stomatal traits, 40 years on.


UCD Plant Palaeoecology and Palaeobiology Group Updated: July 2013
Professor J.C. McElwain