Jeffrey M. Osborn is Dean of the School of Science and Professor of Biology at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ).
Prior to joining TCNJ, he served as Professor and Chair of Biology, as well as Director of the Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics Talent Expansion Program at Truman State University in Missouri. He was a recipient of the Walker and Doris Allen Fellowship for Faculty Excellence, Truman’s highest award for recognizing outstanding faculty members.
Dean Osborn received a B.S., with honors, from Texas State University–San Marcos, where he majored in Biology. While pursuing the baccalaureate degree, he engaged in undergraduate research and served as an Undergraduate Laboratory Instructor. He remained at Texas State University to complete an M.S. in Botany and then earned a Ph.D. in Plant Biology from Ohio State University.
His teaching has covered a broad range of areas, including introductory-level biology and botany courses for both science majors and non-science majors. He has also taught numerous upper-level classes and seminars; some include Comparative Plant Morphology, Paleobotany, Plant Anatomy, and several Microscopy-related courses. He has also taught an interdisciplinary course titled Understanding Biology through Art. Dr. Osborn employs an array of pedagogical methods, directly incorporates authentic research projects into his courses, and has contributed to major curricular reform efforts both at his own institutions and at the national level. He has led several institutional and multi-institutional programs to support the institutionalization of undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative activity, or URSCA, as well as the advancement of undergraduates and faculty members who are underrepresented in higher education. Through these efforts, Dr. Osborn has worked with over 400 colleges and universities across the U.S.
Dr. Osborn is an administrator-teacher-scholar. He and his students conduct research in plant evolutionary biology, studying both fossil and living plants. The majority of their work is phylogenetically oriented and considers evolutionary questions about pollen development, character evolution, and pollination biology in seed plants. In recent years their research has focused on ancient lineages of flowering plants and closely related gymnosperms. Their recent research has also been interdisciplinary in scope, approaching problems from biological–mathematical and biological–engineering perspectives.
His research program also encompasses several areas of higher education, including the pedagogical, scholarly, and institutional aspects of undergraduate engagement in research, scholarship, and creative activity; the leadership of organizational and cultural change; the teacher-scholar role of faculty; faculty workload models, and the integration of undergraduate research and other high-impact educational practices into the curriculum.
Dr. Osborn has received over $10.8 million in funding as a principal investigator and co-principal investigator. His efforts have been supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, National Science Foundation, Henry Luce Foundation, J. William Fulbright Foundation, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Petroleum Research Fund–American Chemical Society, Botanical Society of America, International Water Lily and Water Gardening Society, as well as intramural grants. In addition to his own grants, he has helped lead his institutions in winning over $20 million in additional competitive grant support for mission-central efforts.
Dr. Osborn has mentored numerous undergraduate student collaborators, authored/co-authored many peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and book reviews, and delivered numerous invited and contributed presentations.
He has received numerous awards. Dr. Osborn is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR). He is also the recipient of the Centennial Award from the Botanical Society of America, the the Antarctica Service Medal of the United States of America from the National Science Foundation, and the Outstanding Researcher Award from Sigma Xi, Kirksville Chapter.
Dr. Osborn has spent research leaves from his home institutions at the Swedish Museum of Natural History, the University of Alberta, the University of Kansas, and conducting fieldwork in Antarctica.
Dr. Osborn is a Past-President of the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR), a national professional organization of over 13,000 individual and 750 institutional members representing all disciplines and over 1,000 colleges and universities of all types. Additionally, he served as a principal investigator of CUR’s National Science Foundation-funded national projects providing comprehensive support for faculty, institutions, state systems and consortia. He also currently serves as an Associate Editor for the American Journal of Botany and serves on the External Advisory Board of the State of Oklahoma’s IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence Program, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Osborn served two consecutive terms as Program Director and member of the Executive Board of the Botanical Society of America. As the Botanical Society of America’s Program Director, he coordinated and planned the scientific and educational program at the annual ‘Botany’ conference, which draws over 1,000 attendees each year. He has also served on the Peer Review Committees for the Council for International Exchange of Scholars–Fulbright Senior Scholar Program and for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)–Research Competitiveness Program. He is a Past-President of the Kirksville Chapter of Sigma Xi, and was in the inaugural cohort of the ‘Faculty for the 21st Century’ program of Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL), a national alliance focused on strengthening the nation’s undergraduate science and mathematics community.