Diane O'Brien named new interim director of IAB

Head shot of woman
UAF photo by JR Ancheta
Diane O'Brien

Diane O’Brien, a longtime UAF professor, has been named the interim director of the Institute of Arctic Biology.

O’Brien was hired at UAF in 2004 as a jointly appointed faculty member with IAB and the Department of Biology and Wildlife. A full professor at since 2015, she has also served as deputy director of the Center for Alaska Native Health Research and as IAB’s deputy director. Originally from upstate New York, she earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Amherst College and her doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology from Princeton University.

O'Brien's research investigates nutritional questions in public health and ecology using natural abundance stable isotope ratios. A recent focus of her lab has been the exploration and validation of molecular stable isotope ratios as dietary biomarkers for use in nutritional epidemiology and other types of public health research.

O’Brien replaces Brian Barnes, who stepped down as director on July 1 after leading IAB for 20 years. Barnes will continue to lead the Alaska INBRE program as director, and to serve as the co-science director of Toolik Field Station. 

The IAB was established in 1963 to advance knowledge of high-latitude biological systems through the integration of research, student training and service to the state of Alaska and the nation. IAB has programs on high-latitude ecosystems and their response to climate change, genetic and physiological adaptations to extreme environments, including hibernation, the dynamics of Alaska’s wildlife populations and their management, and biomedical research relevant to Alaska’s people, including infectious disease ecology, food systems research, and behavioral health.