Laura Olsen

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Arthur F Thurnau Professor, Academic Program Director, Undergraduate Program in Biology, Professor of MCDB & Professor of EEB

830 N. University

Office Location(s): 4103C Nat. Sci.
Lab Address: 4119, 4125 Nat. Sci. 734.647.3970
Phone: 734.763.0976
Olsen Lab Website
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  • About

    Proteins synthesized in the cytoplasm must be targeted to their proper subcellular location and transported across the appropriate organellar membrane boundaries. Dr. Olsen's research focuses on the assembly of peroxisomes, which are small organelles present in all eukaryotes. A combination of cell biology, biochemistry, and molecular biology are used to investigate the mechanisms of protein transport into peroxisomes. Recent projects have included the development of an in vitro assay to reconstitute import, characterization of the energetics and chaperones involved in the process, and studies on the molecular mechanisms responsible for import of proteins along different import pathways. Most recently, the Olsen lab has begun a collaborative project to define the proteome of plant peroxisomes and to investigate the novel proteins discovered with this approach. In addition to being an intrinsically interesting basic biological problem, an understanding of protein trafficking in cells is critical as scientists design strategies to genetically engineer crop plants. It also provides an experimental vehicle to investigate the mistargeting of peroxisomal proteins, which is the cause of many severe neurological disorders in humans.

    Dr. Olsen earned her Ph.D. degree from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and was an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Davis. She was awarded the Class of 1923 Memorial Teaching Award in 1996, the Amoco Foundation Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2000, and is now an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor.