I am a Principal Research Scientist working as an Organic Geochemist in the Water Quality Team. I Supervise postgraduate students and I collaborate with colleagues at AIMS and with external researchers and other stakeholders.
  • Head of the Organic Chemistry Section of the International Laboratory of Marine Radioactivity, (I.A.E.A.) Principality of Monaco. Research in the cycling of hydrocarbons in the Mediterranean and participation as an instructor in UN Regional Seas Program 1980-85.
  • Chairman of organic chemistry section of the UNEP/IOC Group of Experts on Methods Standards and Intercalibration (GEMSI) 1982-93.
  • Research Scientist at Bermuda Biological Station for Research and Adjunct Associate Professor with State University of New York, Stony Brook, Marine Science Center 1986-93. Research in the oil spill assessments of the Panama, Valdez and Arabian Gulf Spills. Continued GEMSI workshops.
  • Since 1993 at AIMS, research in the cycling of hydrocarbons and other marker lipids in the Northwest Shelf, Great Barriere Reef, Sepik River outflow, and Gulf of Papua ecosystems, the natural oil seeps in the Timor Sea, and paleo temperature proxies.
  • Consultant on Deep Horizon Oil Spill, Gulf of Mexico 2011.
  • 1970: BSc (Cum laude) in Biochemistry, Michigan State University.
  • 1975: PhD Biological Oceanography. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution - Massachusettes Institute of Technology Joint Program.
Current Research Activities
I am currently using a variety of lipid biomarkers to study the sources, distribution, sinks and degradation rates and general cycling of carbon in the central Great Barrier Reef ecosystem. When need arises, I participate in oil spill assessment studies. I review journal articles for over 15 international journals and occassionally act as guest editor for Organic Geochemistry. I supervise post graduate students that work on related themes.
Expert Committees and Boards
  • Australian National Facility Research Vessel, Scientific Advisory Committee, 1997-present.
  • UNCC Special consultant, Long term impact assessment of 1991 Arabian Gulf War, 2003-04.
  • Australian Academy of Sciences Ocean Sciences Board. appointed for 1995-98.
  • Consultant to Australian EPA on Ocean Dumping Issues, 1995-97
  • Consultant to the States of Queensland and Tasmania for oil spill assessment, 1994-96.
  • NSF Special Consultant, UNESCO for Arabian Gulf Assessment Study, 1991-93
Over 89 science and technical papers in international journals. The following are a selection of recent publications.
  • Burns KA, Opdyke BN, Bostock H, Lea D, Spero H, Gagan M (2011) Dual paleotemperature proxies (Mg/Ca, TEX86,) reveal changes in the surface structure of the eastern tropical Indian Ocean during the Late Quaternary. Submitted to Paleo Oceanogr. October 2011.
  • Burns KA, Brinkman DL (2011). Organic biomarkers to describe the major carbon inputs and cycling of organic matter in the central Great Barrier Reef region. Estuar. Coast. Shelf Sci. 93 (2) 132-141.
  • Brunskill GR, Burns KA, Zagorskis I, Pfitzner J, Logan G (2011) Natural flux of greenhouse methane from the Timor Sea to the atmosphere. J. Geophys. Res.116, G02024, doi:10.1029/2010JG001444.
  • Hasbi G, de Nys R, Burns KA, Whalan S, Dunlap WC (2010) Hepatic coenzyme Q redox balance of fishes as a potential bioindicator of environmental contamination by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Biol. Let. 7,123-126.
  • Burns KA, Brinkman DL, Brunskill GJ, Logan GA,Volk H, Wasmund K, Zagorskis I (2010) Fluxes and fate of petroleum hydrocarbons in the Timor Sea ecosystem with special reference to active natural hydrocarbon seepage. Mar. Chem.118, 140-155.
  • Wasmund K, Burns KA, Kurtböke I, Bourne DG (2009) Novel alkane hydroxylase (alkB) gene diversity in sediments associated with hydrocarbon seeps in the Timor Sea, Australia. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 75, 7391-7398.
  • Wasmund K, Kurtböke I, Burns KA, Bourne DG (2009) Microbial diversity of sediments associated with a shallow methane seep in the tropical Timor Sea, Australia reveals novel aerobic methanotroph diversity. FEMS Microb.Ecol. 68, 142-151.
  • Guenther J, Wright AD, Burns KA, de Nys R. (2009) Chemical antifouling defences of sea stars: Effects of the natural products hexadecanoic acid, cholesterol, lathosterol and sitosterol. Mar.Ecol. Prog.Ser. 365,137-149.
  • Burns KA, Hernes PJ, Brinkman D, Poulsen A, Benner R (2008) Dispersion and cycling of organic matter from the Sepik River outflow to the Papua New Guinea coast as determined from biomarkers. Org. Geochem. 39, 1748-1764.
  • Burns KA, Brinkman D, Brunskill G (2008) Organic carbon and nutrient fluxes to the coastal zone from the Sepik River outflow. Cont.Shelf Res. 26, 283-301.
  • Negri A, Burns K, Boyle S, Brinkman D, Webster N (2006) Contamination in sediments, bivalves and sponges of McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. Environ. Pollut.143, 456-467.
  • Poulsen A, Burns, KA, Lough J, Brinkman D, Delean, S (2006) Trace Analysis of Hydrocarbons in Coral Cores from Saudi Arabia. Org. Geochem. 37(12), 1913-1930.
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