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Kristin O'Brien

Kristin O'Brien
Research Interests: 

Broadly, my research interests lie in understanding interactions between organisms and their environment. As an integrative biologist, I am interested in how processes at the cellular and molecular level drive changes at the organismal level. 

Currently, research in my laboratory is focused on the thermal tolerance of Antarctic fishes and metabolic remodeling in response to temperature in the threespine stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus.

Kristin M. O'Brien
Professor of Biology
323E Margaret Murie Building
318 Margaret Murie Building
Postal Address: 
  • B.S. Zoology, Duke Unversity, 1990
  • Ph.D. Zoology, University of Maine, Orono, 1999
  • NIH NRSA Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Colorado, Boulder, Dept. of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, 1999 - 2004
  • 2018 - present, Professor of Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • 2010 - 2018, Associate Professor of Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • 2004 - 2010, Assistant Professor of Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • 2004 - present, Affiliate Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • 1999 - 2004, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Colorado, Boulder



O'Brien, K.M. et al., 2020. Characterization of the hypoxia-inducible factor-1 pathway in hearts of Antarctic notothenioid fishes. Comp Biochem Physiol B Biochem Mol Biol, 250, p.110505.





American Physiological Society

Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology

  • 2018 - 2021 An energy-sensitive pathway of cold-induced metabolic remodeling in threespine stickleback. P.I., National Science Foundation
  • 2017 - 2018 The effect of polyglutamine and glutamic acid repeats on HIF-1 function. P.I., Alaska INBRE Pilot Award
  • 2014 - 2017 Collaborative research: The physiological and biochemical underpinnings of thermal tolerance in Antarctic notothenioid fishes. P.I., National Science Foundation
  • 2011 - 2014 Collaborative research: Redox balance in Antarctic notothenioid fishes; Do icefish have an advantage? P.I., National Science Foundation
  • 2008 - 2011: Collaborative research: Linkages among thermal tolerance and mitochondrial form and function in notothenioid fishes. P.I., National Science Foundation
  • 2007 - 2012: CAREER: The molecular mechanisms of cold-induced mitochondrial biogenesis. National Science Foundation
  • 2006 - 2007 The mitochondrion as a temperature sensor: Molecular mechanisms regulating cold-induced mitochondrial biogenesis in oxidative muscle of Gasterosteus aculeatus. AK EPSCoR
  • 2005 - 2008 Collaborative research: Differential expression of oxygen-binding proteins in Antarctic fishes affects nitric oxide- mediated pathways of angiogenesis and mitochondrial biogenesis. Co-PI, National Science Foundation
  • 2005 - 2007 Cellular protection against nitrosative stress. American Heart Association
  • BIOL 115 Fundamentals of Biology I  This course is an introduction to the principles of biology for science majors, with an emphasis on the chemistry of life, cell structure and function, molecular biology, metabolism and physiology. 
  • BIOL 360/ CHEM 360 Cell and Molecular Biology In this course we investigate how cells function. Topics include how cells use the information encoded in DNA to produce RNA and proteins, cell signaling, oxidative phosphorylation, photosyntheisis, protein sorting, cell division, cancer, aging, and the molecular basis of disease.  
  • BIOL 363/MATH 693 Synthetic Biology Students in this course will couple molecular biological techniques and computer modeling of biological systems to design and construct a novel synthetic microorganism. 
Current Graduate Students (More info)
  • Michelle Johannsen
Current Post-Doctoral Fellows (More info)
  • Louise Cominassi
Past Graduate Students

Corey Oldham, M.S. 2016

Kelly Keenan, M.S. 2015

Laura Teigen, M.S. 2014

Irina Mueller, Ph.D. 2012

Julieanna Orczewska, M.S. 2011

Aaron Kammer, M.S. 2010

Matt Urschel, M.S. 2009





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