David Murphy, Ph. D.

Professor of Environmental Studies Environmental Studies Department

Ph.D. in Environmental Science
State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Master of Science in Environmental Science
State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Bachelor of Arts in Biology
The College of the Holy Cross

David Murphy

Dr. David Murphy is an environmental scientist who focuses on the intersection of energy, economics and the environment. As an interdisciplinary scientist, his research poses broad questions that bridge disciplines. How are economic growth and environmental damage connected? How can renewable energy be used to transition away from fossil fuels? These questions address the major challenges facing society over the next centuries and directly inform both Dr. Murphy’s research and associated coursework at St. Lawrence University.

Dr. Murphy uses life-cycle analysis to calculate the energy and environmental cost of energy technologies and systems. For example, Dr. Murphy’s most recent work analyzes the impact that the current renewable energy policies in New York State may have on greenhouse gas emissions and the energy return on investment of the electrical grid system. Dr. Murphy has done similar work in the past, examining the greenhouse gas and energy impacts of other renewable energy technologies and fossil fuel energy production systems.


After years of teaching renewable energy in higher education, Dr. Murphy realized that students need a broad understanding not only of how each renewable energy technology functions but also how those technologies can be blended together in electrical grid systems leading to a broader renewable energy transition. To meet this demand, Dr. Murphy recently published the textbook Renewable Energy in the 21st Century.

Dr. Murphy has also served as an advisor for the environmental non-governmental organization (NGO), the Alaskan Wilderness League, as an energy policy expert. In 2017, Dr. Murphy was commissioned to analyze the potential budgetary and energetic impacts of drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Dr. Murphy and his research assistant, a senior SLU Environmental Studies Major, traveled to Capitol Hill to meet with congressional members to discuss the findings of their analysis.

Dr. Murphy has also published widely in the popular press. Most recently he was published in USA Today, discussing how Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos should spend his 10 billion to ameliorate climate change. He has also been published on various topics related broadly to energy, economics and the environment in other outlets, such as The Hill, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and MarketWatch, amongst others.

Dr. Murphy has been featured on a number of episodes of the podcast The Energy Transition Show with Chris Nelder, a popular podcast in energy technology and climate change activist circles.

Episode 7 - Energy Return on Investment 

Episode 100 - Teaching Energy Transition

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