Olson, Wilma K.

Project Description

All of the processes necessary for the survival of a living system hinge on its ability to store and read the genetic information encoded in its DNA. The packaging of the long human genome into the very small confines of the nucleus is complicated by the necessity of maintaining the accessibility of the DNA for genetic processing. The Olson group is establishing new chemistry- and physics-based computational methodologies to unravel the mystery of how genomes can at once be tightly packed and yet available for read-out. Aside from the fundamental importance to an understanding of biology, knowledge of the interplay between local and large-scale biomolecular structure and genetic function could transform life-science technologies. That is, if certain environmental pressures perturb genomic structure and switch genes on or off, then perhaps one might be able to engineer such changes in an organism and correct diseased states or optimize production of desired products.



Course Experience:
Physics (two semesters)
Calculus (three semesters)
familiarity with computer programming

Current Undergraduate Researchers

  • Samantha Davenport (Physics)

Publications with Undergraduate Co-authors

Olson, Wilma K., Gorin, Andrey A., Lu, Xiang Jun, Hock, Lynette M., and Zhurkin, Victor B., “DNA Sequence dependent Deformability Deduced from Protein DNA Crystal Complexes,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA 95, 11163 11168 (1998)

Tolstorukov, Michael Y., Colasanti, Andrew V., McCandlish, David M., Olson, Wilma K., and Zhurkin, Victor B., “A Novel Roll-and-Slide Mechanism of DNA Folding in Chromatin: Implications for Nucleosome Positioning,” J. Mol. Biol. 371, 725-738 (2007)