Elizabeth A. Murray, PhD
Dr. Elizabeth A. Murray is a native Cincinnatian from a large family. When she was young, Elizabeth always thought she may grow up to be a writer, teacher, scientist, or explorer—now that she is a college professor and forensic scientist, she is active in all of those fields! Elizabeth always loved science; it was her favorite subject in school. In college, she studied biology and discovered that she found humans to be the most interesting animals, so she continued her studies in the field of anthropology. Being a very practical person, Elizabeth wanted her research focus to have tangible results and benefits that could aid society, and this led her to the forensic application of anthropology. It took many years of college and lots of hard work to become a forensic scientist, but Elizabeth says that teaching is still the very best part of her job. She enjoys taking difficult concepts in science and explaining them in a way that is interesting and relevant to her students.
What was your favorite book when you were a child?
- I greatly enjoyed the Nancy Drew series and the Hardy Boys, too! When I was a little older, I began to read the Sherlock Holmes stories. I still have a copy of the collected works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that dates to 1955 and belonged to my father before I was born.
What’s your favorite line from a book?
“Once upon a time,” because I always knew some fascinating journey, interesting tale, or important lesson awaited me after that line!
Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?
Steven Jay Gould who presents scientific concepts about our world and our place in it in a most intriguing way; Oliver Sacks who studies the human mind and body and all that can go wrong with it; and John Grisham for his incredible story-telling abilities.
Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?
I always loved books as a young girl; books took me to far-away places and times, and helped inspire and develop the creativity and critical thinking skills that are important to a scientist. Writing about science for young people has been an interest of mine for some time now, so I am very pleased to have this opportunity! I hope to write other books geared toward young people about unusual aspects of science.
Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?
- Write about a subject very familiar to you and it will give you a strong foothold into your work early in its development. If you get stuck, move to another section of the book and then fill in missing elements of your story or topic later—sometimes seeing where you want to go with an idea helps you figure out how to get there.