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Dr. Chris OsburnAssociate Professor
Tel. (919) 515-0382
4150 Jordan Hall
Curriculum Vitae
Research web site

B.A., Geological Sciences, Indiana University, 1995

B.S., Public Affairs (Environmental Science & Management), Indiana University, 1991

Ph.D., Lehigh University, 2000

I am interested primarily in the biogeochemistry of dissolved organic matter (DOM) in surface waters both fresh and salty.  Current and past research efforts have examined DOM, in numerous estuaries on both US coasts, in the western Canadian Arctic (Mackenzie River and Beaufort Sea), in the coastal waters of Denmark, and in saline lakes in the West Central US.  The comparative analysis of multiple and diverse systems is critical to my research effort.

I have two main research goals: understanding organic matter sources and its transformation in the larger context of regional carbon cycling.  In understanding DOM sources, I employ carbon stable isotope measurements, organic geochemical biomarkers (e.g., lignin), and spectroscopic techniques (uv-visible absorption and fluorescence).  In understanding DOM transformations, I have focused on photochemical degradation of DOM because this serves as a major transition of organic C to inorganic C (mostly as CO2).   This research has been connected to remote sensing of surface waters, anthropogenic effects on coastal systems, and global climate change.

Future research efforts will extend into the biogeochemistry of pore water DOM in surface sediments.  In addition, I am interested in understanding carbon flux between dissolved and particulate phases, especially in transition areas between fresh water and salt water (the pycnocline) and between surface sediments and overlying waters (the benthic nepheloid layer).  Critical to these studies will be high resolution measurement and processing of biogeochemical data.  Multivariate statistical techniques and geospatial analysis will be necessary additions to my research effort.

My current teaching duties include Earth Systems Chemistry and Organic Geochemistry.  I plan to develop courses in Geological Limnology and Arctic Ocean Biogeochemistry.  In these courses, I want students to appreciate how data collection, manipulation, and interpretation all contribute to an understanding of concepts and principles.

Representative publications (* indicates student author)

Dixon*, J. L., Osburn, C. L., Paerl, H. W., & Peierls, B. L. (2014). Seasonal changes in estuarine dissolved organic matter due to variable flushing time and wind-driven mixing events. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 151, 210-220.

Brym*, A., Paerl, H. W., Montgomery, M. T., Handsel*, L. T., Ziervogel, K., & Osburn, C. L. (2014). Optical and chemical characterization of base-extracted particulate organic matter in coastal marine environments. Marine Chemistry, 162, 96-113.

Bianchi, T. S., Osburn, C. L., Shields, M. R., Yvon-Lewis, S., Young, J., Guo, L., & Zhou, Z. (2014). Deepwater Horizon Oil in Gulf of Mexico Waters after 2 Years: Transformation into the Dissolved Organic Matter Pool. Environmental science & technology, 48(16), 9288-9297.

Zhou, Z., Guo, L., Shiller, A. M., Lohrenz, S. E., Asper, V. L., & Osburn, C. L. (2013). Characterization of oil components from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico using fluorescence EEM and PARAFAC techniques. Marine Chemistry, 148, 10-21.

Voli*, M. T., Wegmann, K. W., Bohnenstiehl, D. R., Leithold, E., Osburn, C. L., & Polyakov, V. (2013). Fingerprinting the sources of suspended sediment delivery to a large municipal drinking water reservoir: Falls Lake, Neuse River, North Carolina, USA. Journal of Soils and Sediments, 13(10), 1692-1707.

Genereux, D. P., Nagy*, L. A., Osburn, C. L., & Oberbauer, S. F. (2013). A connection to deep groundwater alters ecosystem carbon fluxes and budgets: Example from a Costa Rican rainforest. Geophysical Research Letters, 40(10), 2066-2070.

Bianchi, T. S., Garcia‐Tigreros, F., Yvon‐Lewis, S. A., Shields, M., Mills, H. J., Butman, D., Osburn, C. L., Raymond, P. A., Shank, G. C., DiMarco, S. F., Walker, N., Reese, B. K., Mullins-Perry, R., Quigg, A., Aiken, G. R., & Grossman, E. L. (2013). Enhanced transfer of terrestrially derived carbon to the atmosphere in a flooding event. Geophysical Research Letters, 40(1), 116-122.

Osburn, C. L., Handsel*, L. T., Mikan, M. P., Paerl, H. W., & Montgomery, M. T. (2012). Fluorescence tracking of dissolved and particulate organic matter quality in a river-dominated estuary. Environmental Science & Technology, 46(16), 8628-8636.

Osburn, C. L., & Stedmon, C. A. (2011). Linking the chemical and optical properties of dissolved organic matter in the Baltic–North Sea transition zone to differentiate three allochthonous inputs. Marine Chemistry, 126(1), 281-294.

Montgomery, M. T., Boyd, T. J., Osburn, C. L., & Smith, D. C. (2010). PAH mineralization and bacterial organotolerance in surface sediments of the Charleston Harbor estuary. Biodegradation, 21(2), 257-266.


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