Jason Osborne - Pushing the Limits for Discovery
My field excursions take me into areas that, for the most part, humans have not explored. Most of my days in the field are spent underwater in swamp rivers along the Atlantic Coastal Plain. The area east of route 95 along the eastern seaboard of the United States is a sweet spot for my underwater geology and paleontology. I search underwater formations where rivers have luckily done most of the excavation for me. The downside (and risky side) is that I’m challenged by next to zero or zero visibility, heavy currents, underwater obstacles such as trees, fishing line, nets, caverns, broken glass and the occasional bull shark or alligator depending on the area I’m searching.
There are many challenges to my type of field research, mostly physical and due to extreme conditions. This process takes a ton of upfront research from USGS core or auger samples to finding the right underwater conditions. I take advantage of flooding rivers since raging water will flush out loose sediment. The downside is that I have to “hang on” underwater using a screwdriver to pull myself along the river bottom. My visible world is usually one foot in front of me. The payoff is incredible. I’ve found several new species, many first occurrence of species and possible a new genus of prehistoric whale.
My fieldwork is shared in classrooms where I create educational experiences for K-12 students and teachers through STEM methodology, research, and engaging field investigations. I’ve been able to share my field work through presentations at venues such as The White House, Google Headquarters, XSTEM, TEDx, USA Science and Engineering festival, and various institutes and universities.
You can find some of my expeditions and contributions to science on media outlets such Nature, Science, Scientific American, Popular Science, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, MSNBC, CNN, and NPR. Read more about my work here.