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Diane M. O'Brien

Diane O'Brien
Research Interests: 

I am interested in how naturally-occurring variations in stable isotope ratios can be used as markers for nutritional and physiological processes. Currently a large portion of my research is devoted to the development of these markers for use in nutritional epidemiology. I work closely with the Center for Alaska Native Health Research at UAF [CANHR] to develop tools for linking dietary patterns to chronic disease in Alaska Natives and other populations.  If you are interested in working in my lab, please send me an email with your interests.

Diane M O'Brien
230 Arctic Health Research Building
Postal Address: 
Institute of Arctic Biology
PO Box 757000
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Fairbanks, AK 99775-7000


  • 2015-now   Professor, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • 2009-2015  Associate Professor, University of Alaska Fairbanks  
  • 2004-2009  Assistant Professor, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • 2003-2004  Assistant Professor, Wellesley College
  • 2001-2002  Visiting Assistant Professor, Swarthmore College
  • 2000-2003  Visiting Scientist, Carnegie Institution of Washington Geophysical Laboratory
  • 1998-2003  Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University


  • 1998          PhD, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University
  • 1991          BA, Department of Biology, Amherst College


O'Brien, D.M. et al., 2008. Use of stable isotopes to examine how dietary restriction extends Drosophila lifespan. CURRENT BIOLOGY, 18, pp.R155-R156.


O'Brien, D.M. & WOOLLER, M.J., 2007. Tracking human travel using stable oxygen and hydrogen isotope analyses of hair and urine. RAPID COMMUNICATIONS IN MASS SPECTROMETRY, 21, pp.2422-2430.
WILKINSON, M.J., YAI, Y. & O'Brien, D.M., 2007. Age-related variation in red blood cell stable isotope ratios (delta C-13 and delta N-15) from two Yupik villages in Southwest Alaska: A pilot study. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CIRCUMPOLAR HEALTH, 66, pp.31-41.


SCOTT, J.H. et al., 2006. An examination of the carbon isotope effects associated with amino acid biosynthesis. ASTROBIOLOGY, 6, pp.867-880.


O'Brien, D.M., BOGGS, C.L. & FOGEL, M.L., 2005. The amino acids used in reproduction by butterflies: A comparative study of dietary sources using compound-specific stable isotope analysis. PHYSIOLOGICAL AND BIOCHEMICAL ZOOLOGY, 78, pp.819-827.
SUAREZ, R.K. et al., 2005. Energy metabolism in orchid bee flight muscles: carbohydrate fuels all. JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY, 208, pp.3573-3579.


FISCHER, K., O'Brien, D.M. & BOGGS, C.L., 2004. Allocation of larval and adult resources to reproduction in a fruit-feeding butterfly. FUNCTIONAL ECOLOGY, 18, pp.656-663.


American Society for Nutrition

Current Graduate Students (More info)
  • Jessica Johnson
Current Post-Doctoral Fellows (More info)
  • Laura Oxtoby
Past Graduate Students
  • Justin Smith, MS 2018 -- Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands, Colorado State University at Fort Wainwright, Alaska
  • Garrett Savory, MS 2013 -- Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands, Colorado State University at Fort Wainwright, Alaska
  • Sarah H. Nash, PhD 2013. -- Cancer Surveillance Director at Alaska Native Tumor Registry, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
  • Trixie Lee Pittman, PhD 2012 -- Associate Professor of Biology at Harding University
  • Caroline van Hemert, PhD 2012 -- Research Wildlife Biologist at the Alaska Science Center, USGS.  Also an author!
  • Justine Sears, MS 2008
Past Post-Doctoral Fellows
  • Dr. Hee Young Yun -- 
  • Dr. Kyungcheol Choy -- Department of Cultural Anthropology, Hanyang University, Ansan, South Korea
  • Dr. Thomas Larsen -- Department of Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany
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