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Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology

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Dr. Sharon Gray

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
B.Sc. Integrative Biology, 2006
Ph.D. Plant Biology, 2013

Sharon Gray

It is with great sadness that we learned Sharon Gray, a postdoctoral student in plant biology at UC Davis and a former member of the Genomic Ecology of Global Change theme working with Prof. Andrew Leakey at the IGB, was killed on October 4, 2016 after a civil unrest altercation in Ethiopia. Sharon was traveling to begin a new research project in the area with charitable organizations including the Netherlands Institute of Ecology when protesters attacked her car.

Sharon was a promising young scientist who was warm-hearted, kind, and highly respected among her peers. She was one of our first participants in the OLLI Citizen Scientist program and led by example in both her research and her interaction with others.

Our deepest condolences to the Gray family, to Sharon’s husband Cody Markelz who was also a member of the Leakey group, and to her friends, colleagues, and fellow researchers here at Illinois and at UC Davis. She will be missed.

A memorial page has been created at the School of Integrative Biology. If you have additional photo memories you would like to share please send to Jeff Hass at

Written By
Nicholas Vasi
Date Published
Photos By
Kathryn Faith