Kathie L. Olsen

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Kathie L. Olsen is an American neuroscientist who is noted for her work in scientific policy. Between August 2005 and January 2009, she was the Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer of the National Science Foundation.


Olsen obtained a B.S. degree in biology and psychology in 1974 from Chatham College, graduating with honors. She then obtained her doctoral degree at the University of California, Irvine in neuroscience in 1979 with her doctoral thesis, titled Hormonal mechanisms controlling the development and regulation of male-female differences. Upon obtaining her doctorate she accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at the Department of Neuroscience at Children's Hospital Boston of Harvard Medical School.


Since 2010 Olsen has been Founder and Managing Director of Science Works DC, a consulting firm that helps academic institutions, educational coalitions, companies, and research entities create successful, well-supported science programs and projects. ScienceWorks is dedicated to the use of science and technology research and education as the foundation for innovation, quality of life, and economic vitality. The firm draws on a matrix of experts across many disciplines to provide guidance, review and evaluation for governments, institutions of higher education, non-profits and private industry, both domestic and international.

Olsen became Senior Advisor in the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Office of Information and Resource Management on January 18, 2009. In this position, Olsen advised the Foundation's Chief Human Capital Officer as well as NSF senior management on opportunities for NSF-wide management improvement in areas such as strengthening merit review and interdisciplinary research processes, workforce planning, Program Officer training and development, and succession planning.

Prior to her appointment as Senior Advisor, Olsen was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer of NSF in August 2005. As such, she was responsible for the day-to-day management and oversight of program creation and administration; national and international collaborations; merit review processes; strategic and long-term planning and performance; budget development, implementation and reporting; personnel; and operations.

Olsen joined NSF from the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in the Executive Office of the President where, since 2002, she had been the Associate Director and Deputy Director for Science. Her responsibilities included overseeing national and international science and education policy development and federal agency program coordination for the physical sciences, life sciences, environmental science, behavioral and social sciences and education.

Prior to OSTP, Olsen served as Chief Scientist for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) (May 1999-April 2002) and the Acting Associate Administrator for Biological and Physical Research (July 2000-March 2002). As Chief Scientist, she served as the Administrator's senior scientific advisor, principal advisor on budget content of the scientific programs and principal interface with the national and international scientific community. As Acting Associate Administrator during the formulation of the new Enterprise for Biological and Physical Research, she oversaw budget development and implementation, recruitment and development of professional and support staff and strategic planning.

Olsen was recruited to NASA from the NSF, where since 1997 she had been Senior Staff Associate for the Science and Technology Centers in the Office of Integrative Activities. From February 1996 until November 1997, she was a Legislative Fellow and detailee from NSF to the Office of Senator Conrad Burns of Montana. Between 1984 and 1996, she served NSF in a variety of administrative and scientific leadership positions. At various times in her early professional career, Olsen also served as a Research Scientist at the State University of New York – Stony Brook's Long Island Research Institute and Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at the Medical School, as well as Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology at the George Washington University. Her research on neural and genetic mechanisms underlying development and expression of behavior was supported by the National Institutes of Health.


In 2005, Olsen was awarded the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit the Highest honor bestowed by the King of Norway to non-Norwegians.

In 2003, Olsen was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Olsen holds numerous other awards from foreign entities, government agencies, institutions and scientific societies. These include the NSF Director's Award of Excellence; awards for outstanding contributions from the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society and the Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology; the Barry M. Goldwater Educator Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, National Capital Section; the University of California, Irvine Lauds and Laurels Distinguished Alumna Award; and the Barnard College Medal of Distinction. She is also an elected Fellow of the Association for Women in Science and an elected member of the Explorers Club. She has been awarded honorary doctoral degrees from Chatham College, Clarkson University, and University of South Carolina.

Significant publications[edit]


  • Haug, M, R. Whalen, R.E; Aron, Cl., and Olsen, K (Eds.). The Development of Sex Differences and Similarities in Behaviour. Kluwar Academic Publishers, Dordrecht/Boston/London, 1993.

Book Chapters

  • Olsen, K.L. and Carlson, A., "Federal Science Policy: A Perspective from Inside the Beltway" In Defining Values for Research and Technology-The University's Changing Role. Greenough, W.T, McConnaughay, P. J., and Kesan, J. P. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, NY, Champaign-Urbana, 2007.
  • Olsen, K.L., "Sex and the Mutant Mouse: Strategies for Understanding the Sexual Differentiation of the Brain," in NATO Advanced Research Workshop: The Development of Sex Differences and Similarities in Behaviour. M. Haug, R. Whalen, Cl. Aron, and K.L. Olsen (Eds.) The Development of Sex Differences and Similarities in Behaviour. Kluwar Academic Publishers, Dordrecht/Boston/London, 1993.
  • Olsen, K.L., "Genetic Influences on Sexual Behavior Differentiation," in Sexual Differentiation: A Life-Span Approach, Handbook of Neurobiology. Handbook of Behavioral Neurobiology. A. Gerall, H. Moltz, and I.L. Ward (Eds.) 10, pp. 1–40, Plenum Press, 1992.
  • Olsen, K.L., "Aromatization: Is It Critical for Differentiation of Sexually Dimorphic Behaviors?" in Neurobiology, R. Gilles and J. Balthazart (Eds.) Springer-Verlag, Berlin/Heidelberg, pp. 149–164, 1985.
  • Olsen, K.L., "Genetic Determinants of Sexual Differentiation," in Hormones and Behavior in Higher Vertebrates, J. Balthazart, E. Prove, and R. Gilles (Eds.) Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg, pp. 138–158, 1983.
  • Fox, T.O., Olsen, K.L., Vito, C.C., and Wieland, S.J., "Putative Steroid Receptors: Genetics and Development," in Molecular Genetics and Neurosciences: A New Hybrid, F.O. Schmitt, S.J. Bird, and F.E. Bloom (Eds.), Raven Press, New York, pp. 289–306, 1982.

Significant Articles

  • Olsen, Kathie. L.; Neysa M. Call; Melissa A. Summers; and Ann B. Carlson. The Evolution of Excellence: Policies, Paradigms, and Practices Shaping U.S. Research and Development. In China, India, and the United States (Special Issue). Technology in Society: An International Journal. Vol. 30, No. 3-4, 2008.
  • Silver, R.; Boahen, K.; Grillner, S.; Kopell, N.; Olsen, K. L. (2007). "Neurotech for Neuroscience: Unifying Concepts, Organizing Principles, and Emerging Tools". Journal of Neuroscience 27 (44): 11807–11819. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3575-07.2007. PMC 3275424. PMID 17978017.  edit
  • Goldin, D. S.; Dahl, C. A.; Olsen, K. L.; Ostrach, L. H.; Klausner, R. D. (2001). "Biomedicine. The NASA-NCI collaboration on biomolecular sensors". Science 292 (5516): 443–444. doi:10.1126/science.1059744. PMID 11330296.  edit
  • Charest, N. J.; Zhou, Z. X.; Lubahn, D. B.; Olsen, K. L.; Wilson, E. M.; French, F. S. (1991). "A frameshift mutation destabilizes androgen receptor messenger RNA in the Tfm mouse". Molecular endocrinology (Baltimore, Md.) 5 (4): 573–581. doi:10.1210/mend-5-4-573. PMID 1681426.  edit
  • Yarbrough, W. G.; Quarmby, V. E.; Simental, J. A.; Joseph, D. R.; Sar, M.; Lubahn, D. B.; Olsen, K. L.; French, F. S.; Wilson, E. M. (1990). "A single base mutation in the androgen receptor gene causes androgen insensitivity in the testicular feminized rat". The Journal of Biological Chemistry 265 (15): 8893–8900. PMID 2341409.  edit
  • Olsen, K. L.; Heydorn, W. E.; Rodriguez-Sierra, J. F.; Jacobowitz, D. M. (1989). "Quantification of proteins in discrete brain regions of androgen-insensitive testicular feminized Tfm mice". Neuroendocrinology 50 (4): 392–399. doi:10.1159/000125254. PMID 2812273.  edit
  • Olsen, K. L.; Edwards, E.; Schechter, N.; Whalen, R. E. (1988). "Muscarinic receptors in preoptic area and hypothalamus: Effects of cyclicity, sex and estrogen treatment". Brain Research 448 (2): 223–229. doi:10.1016/0006-8993(88)91259-0. PMID 3378147.  edit
  • Olsen, K. L. (1988). "A comparison of the effects of three androgens on sexual differentiation in female hamsters". Physiology & behavior 42 (6): 569–573. doi:10.1016/0031-9384(88)90159-x. PMID 3261873.  edit
  • Whalen, R. E.; Gladue, B. A.; Olsen, K. L. (1986). "Lordotic behavior in male rats: Genetic and hormonal regulation of sexual differentiation". Hormones and behavior 20 (1): 73–82. doi:10.1016/0018-506x(86)90030-9. PMID 3957262.  edit
  • Olsen, K. L.; Whalen, R. E. (1984). "Dihydrotestosterone activates male mating behavior in castrated King-Holtzman rats". Hormones and behavior 18 (4): 380–392. doi:10.1016/0018-506x(84)90024-2. PMID 6519654.  edit
  • Olsen, K. L. (1983). "Effects of 17 beta-hydroxy-17 alpha-methyl-estra-4,9,11-triene-3-one (R 1881): Evidence for direct involvement of androgens in the defeminization of behaviour in rats". The Journal of endocrinology 98 (3): 431–438. doi:10.1677/joe.0.0980431. PMID 6604780.  edit
  • Olsen, K. L.; Whalen, R. E. (1982). "Estrogen binds to hypothalamic nuclei of androgen-insensitive (tfm) rats". Experientia 38 (1): 139–140. doi:10.1007/bf01944575. PMID 7056359.  edit
  • Olsen, K. L.; Whalen, R. E. (1981). "Hormonal control of the development of sexual behavior in androgen-insensitive (tfm) rats". Physiology & behavior 27 (5): 883–886. doi:10.1016/0031-9384(81)90058-5. PMID 7323196.  edit
  • Whalen, R. E.; Olsen, K. L. (1981). "Role of aromatization in sexual differentiation: Effects of prenatal ATD treatment and neonatal castration". Hormones and behavior 15 (2): 107–122. PMID 7250905.  edit
  • Olsen, K. L.; Whalen, R. E. (1980). "Sexual differentiation of the brain: Effects on mating behavior and 3H-estradiol binding by hypothalamic chromatin in rats". Biology of Reproduction 22 (5): 1068–1072. doi:10.1095/biolreprod22.5.1068. PMID 7417642.  edit
  • Olsen, K. L. (1979). "Induction of male mating behavior in androgen-insensitive (tfm) and Normal (King-Holtzman) male rats: Effect of testosterone propionate, estradiol benzoate, and dihydrotestosterone". Hormones and behavior 13 (1): 66–84. PMID 521021.  edit
  • Olsen, K. L. (1979). "Androgen-insensitive rats are defeminised by their testes". Nature 279 (5710): 238–239. doi:10.1038/279238a0. PMID 440434.  edit
  • Whalen, R. E.; Olsen, K. L. (1978). "Prednisolone modifies estrogen-induced sexual differentiation". Behavioral biology 24 (4): 549–553. PMID 747592.  edit
  • Whalen, R. E.; Olsen, K. L. (1978). "Chromatin binding of estradiol in the hypothalamus and cortex of male and female rats". Brain Research 152 (1): 121–131. doi:10.1016/0006-8993(78)90138-5. PMID 679020.  edit
  • Whalen, R. E.; Martin, J. V.; Olsen, K. L. (1975). "Effect of oestrogen antagonist on hypothalamic oestrogen receptors". Nature 258 (5537): 742–743. doi:10.1038/258742a0. PMID 174000.  edit

PhD Thesis

  • Hormonal mechanisms controlling the development and regulation of male-female differences, Doctoral thesis, 1979

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

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