Researchers Who Make an Environmental Difference: Alicia Murchie

Alicia Murchie was a researcher for 5 years. At UMass-Amherst she powered tiny cars with electricity powered by bacteria (Geobacter) and then became the Tissue Culture Manager in the Eggan Lab at Harvard. Noticing the excessive waste created by researchers, she took action. Alicia galvanized lab managers to consolidate purchases–reducing shipping waste and lowering costs by $50,000 in the first year–then contributed to the innovative design of 3 new labs to make them more sustainable.

Alicia Murchie and her team.
Alicia Murchie and her team.

Eventually, she transitioned into Sustainability Manager for the Harvard Longwood Campus where she has contributed to the creation of multiple programs aimed at reducing waste and saving grant money (including Styrofoam recycling, left). A popular program is the Lab Reuse List, which helps labs share unused supplies with labs who need them. The process is simple: take a photo, write a short description, send to the Harvard Sustainability Team, and wait for a lab to “claim” it. View the list here:

A sample of shared lab items.
A sample of shared lab items.

Launched in January, the program saw 500 page views in the first month and a 70% turnover of supplies. Labs have shared items as small as glass pipets and as large as stacked incubators. Alicia estimates that labs have easily saved over $10,000 to date from swapping supplies and simultaneously reduced the amount of waste destined for landfill by salvaging usable supplies from lab moves. For questions about the program, contact Alicia. And to learn more about creating green labs, visit:


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