History and Founder


"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." -- John Quincy Adams, 6th President of the United States (1825-1829)


Dr. Murray is endlessly curious about what if!

Ideas for new research projects are constantly being scribbled down on paper napkins, writing pads, and any scrap of writable surface.

Murray seeks to share his enthusiasm with young minds and give them opportunities to make ideas come alive in the laboratory. Early research participation was born out of a relentless desire to discover and create and by the circumstances of being employed to teach chemistry at both the college and high school levels.


In the spring semester of 1998 the independent research periods began in the sophomore organic chemistry lab as a way to seamlessly integrate teaching and research. Then in the summer of 2001 the first two high school apprentices – Tamira Jennings and Damon Travis, both from Benton Harbor High, began working in what would evolve to be the BEST summer research program.



"Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination." --- John Dewey (1859-1952) American Educational Philosopher.

Dr. Desmond H. Murray, founder of BEST and Associate Professor of Chemistry at Andrews University, believes that ‘given  (a) the scientific and technological challenges, (b) the opportunities of the twenty-first century and  (c) the global economic importance of science and technology, it is urgently critical that we change when we engage young people in the processes of research, discovery and innovation. We can no longer afford to wait for students to be in graduate school to have them become active participants in the key driver of the global economy.


Over the last ten years, Dr. Murray has put this belief into practice. Over 600 students, college and high school, have been actively engaged in hands-on early research participation laboratory projects. These authentic research experiences have taken place in both curricular and non-curricular settings during the academic school year as well as the summer months. The main vehicles for early research participation are (i) the independent research periods (IRPs) conducted during the spring semester of sophomore organic chemistry laboratory course, and (ii) the summer research program (SRPs).


  • Post-doctoral Fellow, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
  • Ph.D. Chemistry, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
  • B.Sc. Chemistry, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, MI
  • Cambridge Advanced Levels, St. George’s College, Barataria, Trinidad
  • High School Certificate, Caribbean Union College (now University of the Southern Caribbean), Maracas, Trinidad


  • Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Andrews University
  • Founding CEO, Building Excellence in Science and Technology (BEST)
  • Director, Socrates AfterSchool Project
  • Editor and Columnist, Benton Spirit Community Newspaper
  • Science Education Consultant
  • Editor & Publisher, ChemSemBlog- Soft Skills for a Hard Science
  • Proposal Reviewer, National Science Foundation
  • Charter Member, Wayne State University Student Affiliate,  National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers  (WSU/NOBCChE)
  • High School Teacher (Chemistry, Mathematics, Religious Studies), Harmon's SDA High School, Tobago


  • College Science Teacher of the Year, Michigan Science Teachers Association, 2012.
  • Outstanding Service, Andrews University College of Arts & Sciences, STEM Division, 2012.
  • Thought Leader in Education, Business Review West Michigan, 2010.
  • Finalist in Business Review's Innovation Michigan Exposition, 2007.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award, 2006.
  • Andrews University Legacy of Freedom Award, 2004.
  • Berrien Community Foundation Youth Leadership & Volunteerism Award, 2004.
  • Michigan Campus Compact Community Service-Learning Award, 2002.
  • Organic Chemistry Class Excellence in Teaching Award, 1999.