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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


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.


O'Brien, D.M., BOGGS, C.L. & FOGEL, M.L., 2003. Pollen feeding in the butterfly Heliconius charitonia: isotopic evidence for essential amino acid transfer from pollen to eggs. PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, 270, pp.2631-2636.


O'Brien, D.M., FOGEL, M.L. & BOGGS, C.L., 2002. Renewable and nonrenewable resources: Amino acid turnover and allocation to reproduction in lepidoptera. PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 99, pp.4413-4418.


O'Brien, D.M. & SUAREZ, R.K., 2001. Fuel use in hawkmoth (Amphion floridensis) flight muscle: Enzyme activities and flux rates. JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL ZOOLOGY, 290, pp.108-114.


American Society for Nutrition

Current Graduate Students (More info)
  • Jessica Johnson
Current Post-Doctoral Fellows (More info)
  • Laura Oxtoby
  • Hee Young Yun
Past Graduate Students
  • Garrett Savory, MS 2013
  • Sarah H. Nash, PhD 2013. -- Currently an NIH National Cancer Institute Postdoctoral Fellow in Cancer Prevention. 
  • Trixie Lee, PhD 2012 -- Currently an Assistant Professor in the Biology Department at Harding University
  • Caroline van Hemert, PhD 2012 --Currently a Research Wildlife Biologist for the USGS
  • Justine Sears, MS 2008
Past Post-Doctoral Fellows
  • Dr. Kyungcheol Choy -- currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Wooller lab at UAF
  • Dr. Thomas Larsen -- currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Leibnitz Laboratory for Radiometric Dating and Stable Isotope Research, Christian Albrechts Universitat zu Kiel. website:
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