Randall S. Murch, PhD

Dr. Randall Murch

Randall S. Murch, Ph.D. is the Associate Director, Research Program Development, National Capital Region, Virginia Tech. He also holds Adjunct Professorships in the School of Public and International Affairs and the Department of Plant Pathology. He is also a Visiting Professor, Department of War Studies, King’s College London, UK. He is currently on loan to the Department of Homeland Security, Directorate of Science and Technology, Office of Research, as Senior Principal Counselor for Science and Technology, with wide ranging duties and responsibilities; this assignment will end in January 2008.

Following graduate school and brief service in the U.S. Army Reserve, Dr. Murch’s first career was with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), where he was a Special Agent. In his early years with the FBI, he was assigned to the Indianapolis and Los Angeles Field Offices where he performed counterterrorism, counterintelligence and other investigations. During his career, he was assigned to the FBI Laboratory as a forensic biologist, research scientist, department head and deputy director at various times. Interspersed with his Laboratory assignments were four assignments in the Bureau’s technical investigative program: as a program manager for complex operations planning, Intelligence Division; unit chief for a technology development and deployment group, Technical Services Division, squad supervisor, New York Field Office; and, deputy director, Investigative Technology Division. Between his last two FBI assignments, he was detailed to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), Department of Defense, where he was the director of the Advanced Systems and Concepts Office, where he led advanced studies on complex current and future challenges dealing with weapons of mass destruction. While in the FBI he created the FBI’s WMD forensic investigative program, served as the FBI’s science advisor to the 1996 Olympic Games, led forensic investigative aspects of a number of major terrorism cases, and initiated a number of new programs for both the FBI Laboratory and technical investigative program. In 1996, Dr. Murch created the FBI’s Hazardous Materials Response Unit, the nation’s focal point for the forensic investigation of WMD threats, events and hoaxes; this laid the foundation for the creation of new fields in nuclear, chemical and biological weapons forensics. Throughout his FBI career, he also was involved with extensive liaison at the national and international levels in furthering science and technology for law enforcement, counterterrorism and national security purposes. He retired from the FBI in November, 2002 after nearly 23 years of service, and as a member of the Senior Executive Service for the last seven of those years.

From December 2002-December 2004, Dr. Murch was employed as a Research Staff Member, Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), a leading Federally Funded Research and Development Center, where he led and participated in studies for the defense, intelligence and homeland security communities. He is still an Adjunct Staff Member at IDA. He joined Virginia Tech in December, 2004, where he now works in the areas of life science research program development, microbial systems biology, microbial forensics, biosecurity and university strategic planning. He has served or still serves on the Board of Life Sciences, National Research Council; DTRA’s Threat Reduction Advisory Committee; the Defense Intelligence Agency’s BioChem 2020, the FBI’s Scientific Working Group on Microbial Genomics and Forensics and a new standing committee of the National Academy of Sciences for the Department of Homeland Security’s National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center. He has also been or is a member of or advised study committees of the National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine, Defense Science Board and Threat Reduction Advisory Committee.

Murch received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, Washington in 1974, his Master of Science degree in Botanical Sciences from the University of Hawaii in 1976 and his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Plant Pathology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 1979.