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Karen Murchie, Ph.D., Shedd's Director of Freshwater Research, smiles warmly in front of Shedd's Great Lakes exhibit.

Karen Murchie, Ph.D.

Director of Freshwater Research

Karen Murchie researches fish migrations in the Great Lakes, exploring how human activities and environmental change can influence fish behavior.


Ph.D., Biology, Carleton University
M.Sc., Biology, University of Waterloo
B.Sc., Biology, University of Waterloo

“One of my favorite aspects of working at Shedd is connecting with the public to share insights on fish behaviors I observe in the wild. I am grateful that I can be a spokesperson for understudied and often unappreciated native species in the Great Lakes region. All fish are inherently amazing and I love sharing their stories.”

Karen Murchie has a diverse background in fisheries research, having worked in freshwater systems from the Arctic to the Amazon, and in marine ecosystems in the Bahamas. She joined the Daniel P. Haerther Center for Conservation and Research at Shedd in 2016, and now oversees a staff of research biologists engaged in freshwater biodiversity conservation efforts focused in the Laurentian Great Lakes region. 

Murchie also maintains a research program focused on understanding how environmental change and human activities affect native migratory fishes. Her aim is to undertake a research approach that embraces the complexity of the environment and the human dimension to further understand fisheries, leading to effective conservation and management strategies.

Murchie has published in a number of peer-reviewed journals, but also enjoys sharing her research via popular press articles. Murchie received her Ph.D. from Carleton University, where her dissertation focused on the physiological ecology and behavior of bonefish in tropical tidal flats. M.S. was obtained at the University of Waterloo, where her research examined young-of-the-year yellow perch ecology at the northern fringe of their distribution. Before joining Shedd, Murchie was an assistant professor at the College of The Bahamas.

Low lipid and urea effects and inter-tissue comparisons of stable isotope signatures in three nearshore elasmobranchs.

Shipley, O.N., K.J. Murchie, M.G. Frisk, E.J. Brooks, O.R. O’Shea, M. Power. (2017). Low lipid and urea effects and inter-tissue comparisons of stable isotope signatures in three nearshore elasmobranchs. Marine Ecology Progress Series 579:233-238.