Research Overview

The Olsen Lab focuses on engineering new biofunctional and bioinspired materials and understanding the novel polymer physics required to control the nanoscale structure and properties of these complex systems.  To do this, we apply cutting-edge polymer chemistry and protein engineering to synthesize new materials at the interface of biology and the physical sciences.  To intelligently design such systems, we investigate the relationships between molecular structure and self-assembly, applying concepts from block copolymer assembly and polymer gels to understand complex biohybrid materials.  Our efforts are aimed at applying biological components or biological design principles to dramatically extend the capability of soft materials such as engineering plastics, energy converters, catalysts, and biomedical hydrogels.  Through the study of natural polymer systems, we also hope to produce a new sustainable source of functional polymers.


– Congratulations to newly minted Dr. Reginald Avery for passing his thesis defense!

– Congratulations to our 2018 graduates Dr. Aaron Huang (Course X PhD) and Amy Wang (Course X S.B.)!

– Good luck to Rui Wang, who is starting as an Assistant Professor at UC Berkeley in January 2019!

– Welcome to several new members in the group, Henry, Selin, and Kento! Congratulations to the new parents Sieun, Basak, Takuya, and their spouses!

– Congratulations to Danielle and Chelsea for winning the DPOLY poster competition at the 2018 APS March Meeting!

– Prof. Olsen is awarded the 2018 John H. Dillon Medal from the American Physical Society!

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