Wayne Osborn was born in Los Angeles, California on October 8, 1942. He earned an A. B. in Astronomy from the University of California-Berkeley (1964), did graduate work at the University of Maryland-College Park (1964-65), and then earned a M. A. in astronomy from Wesleyan University (1967), a M. S. (1968) and a Ph. D. (1971) in Astronomy from Yale University.
His astronomy interests led him to summer student jobs at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. (1964), Wesleyan University in Middletown (Conn.) (1966), and the U. S. Naval Observatory in Flagstaff (Ariz.), (1967 and 1968). He conducted his observations for his thesis research at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Tucson (Ariz.), (1969).
His research interests in observational astronomy while at CMU included photometry of variable stars, studies of variables and other objects in stellar clusters, lunar and asteroid occultation observations, and astrometry and of asteroids. [Photometry is the accurate determination of brightness and color while astrometry is astronomical position determinations.] This work was carried out with both the CMU on-campus telescope and the NURO (the National Underground Research Observatory) facilities at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona and usually involved student co-investigators. Other research projects have ranged from astrometry with the Hubble Space Telescope to the description of a meteorite recovery in Coleman (Mich.). Most recently he became involved in efforts to preserve and archive historic astronomical photographic plates.
From May 1971 through May 1976 Osborn worked as a contract professor and staff astronomer on a project to establish the Centro de Investigaciones de Astronomía (CIDA, the Venezuelan National Observatory) in Mérida, Venezuela. The project was managed by the Universidad de Los Andes and on the CONICIT Astronomy Project.
Osborn was hired as an assistant professor in the Physics Department at Central Michigan University (CMU) in August 1976. He was promoted to Associate Professor in August 1978 and to full Professor in August of 1985. In 1993, Osborn was responsible for organizing an agreement so CMU astronomy students could travel to NURO to do astronomical observing. CMU astronomy students continued to visit NURO through 2004.
Twice he served as Chairman of his department, August 1979-July 1985 and August 1988-December 1990. He was president of the CMU Faculty Association 1999-2000. From 2001 through 2003 he served as Chair of CMU’s Academic Senate.
Osborn had sabbatical leaves at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona (1983), at CMU and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1991), at CMU (1999-2000), and at the Centre de Donnees Astronomiques, Strasbourg, France (2006).
From July 2006 through August 2007 he served as Interim Vice Provost for Research in the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at CMU, where his work focused on managing CMU’s external grants and contracts ($10 million annually) as well as internal funding programs ($1 million annually). After a one month transitory appointment in the Office of the dean of the College of Science and Technology, he retired on September 30, 2007 and relocated to Delavan, Wisconsin. He was honored for his service to CMU by being appointed Grand Marshal of the December 2007 Commencement exercises.
Osborn is a member of numerous professional and academic organizations, including the International Astronomical Union, the American Astronomical Society, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and the Royal Astronomical Society He has received seven major research grants, a grant to conduct an international conference, and a number of small travel and in-house research grants.
A respected researcher, author, and teacher, Osborn received the Faculty Research Professorship Award (1985), the Michigan Association of Governing Boards Distinguished Faculty Award (1988), and the Student Government Association Instructor of the Month Award (1993), and the CMU Service Award (2006) as well as receiving a CMU Faculty Merit Award (1999). He had published 49 articles and 62 published notes, abstracts and book reviews at the time of his retirement.
Osborn married Maria Theresia Zehnder in Einseideln, Switzerland in 1971. The Osborns have three children, Nathalie Osborn, Christine Osborn Anguilm and Wayne Osborn, Jr.