Office for the Promotion of Women in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics
Faculty Profile
Olson, Wilma K.
Wilma's Profile
Olson, Wilma K.

Phone: 732-445-3993

Ph.D., Stanford University, 1971

Professional Summary/CV [.PDF]

Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, School of Arts and Sciences, New Brunswick; Rutgers
Areas of Interest
Theoretical and Computational Studies of the Relationship of Chemical Architecture to the Conformation, Properties, and Interactions of Biological Macromolecules (especially Nucleic Acids), Bioinformatics, Chemical biology, Molecular Recognition.
Teaching Areas
Molecular Biophysics, Biophysical Chemistry, Computational Biochemistry.
Memberships and Professional Service
American Chemical Society; American Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology; Biophysical Society, Chairperson Minority Affairs Committee 2005-6, President 2002, President-elect 2001, Selected as Fellow 2000-, Executive Board Member 1993-95; AAAS: Election to Fellow, 1995; Member at Large, Section on Chemistry, 1998-2002; Iota Sigma Pi (Chemistry); New Jersey Academy of Sciences; New York Academy of Sciences; Phi Kappa Phi; Sigma Pi Sigma (Physics); Sigma Xi; Editorial Advisory Boards - Journal of Biological Chemistry (1998-2003), Biophysical Chemistry (1990-2001); Computational and Theoretical Polymer Science (1991-99), Biopolymers (1977- ); Biophysical Journal (1992-98); International Journal of Biological Macromolecules (1983-95); Associate Editor - Multiscale Modeling and Simulation (2005-), Annual Reviews in Biophysics and Biomolecular Structure (1994-2003); Reviews Editor - Biophysical Journal (2006- 2007).
Grants, Honors, and Awards
Douglass College Medal, 2001; American Chemical Society - North Jersey Section, Sister Marian Josť Smith Excellence in Education Award, 2000; New Jersey Woman of Achievement Award, 1998; Wellcome Visiting Professorship, New York University, 1997; American Women in Science, New York Area Scientist of the Year Award, 1994; National Lecturer and National Award for Excellence and Leadership in Biophysics, Biophysical Society 1994; National Institute of General Medical Sciences MERIT Award, 1988-98; Rutgers University Board of Trustees Research Award, 1993.
Academic Interests and Plans
The goal of our research is to understand the influence of chemical architecture on the conformation, properties, and interactions of nucleic acids. The work attempts to clarify the role of local structure (e.g., primary base sequence, polyelectrolyte sugar-phosphate backbone) and ligand binding (e.g., proteins, drugs) on the overall folding of DNA and RNA. A second goal is to uncover structural details of nucleic acid structural transitions, such as those involving different DNA duplexes. The research combines a variety of computational approaches (Monte Carlo and molecular dynamics simulations, potential energy calculations, developments and applications of polymer chain statistics, finite element analysis, systematic molecular modeling) with new developments in polymer theory. Problems of current interest include: (1) new computational methods to generate and analyze the folding of RNA, the junctions of DNA and RNA helices, and the sequence-dependent supercoiling of the DNA double helix; (2) computer simulation of the DNA conformational transitions; (3) improved procedures to analyze local structural morphology and to model the effects of base sequence and electrostatics on macromolecular flexibility; (4) new computational models of protein-nucleic acid interactions.