Personal profile

Personal profile

Professor Olshansky began her studies at San Diego City College before transferring to UC San Diego and graduating with highest honors in 2009 with a B.S. in Chemistry. She went on to MIT as an NSF and Presidential graduate research fellow, earning a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry in 2015. Following research at UC Irvine as an ACS Irving S. Sigal Postdoctoral Fellow, she joined the faculty at the University of Illinois in 2018.

Research Interests

Bioinspired inorganic chemistry, synthesis of metal complexes capable of undergoing triggered conformational changes, preparation of switchable artificial metalloproteins, applications in biomedical research and renewable energy.

Professional Information

Research in the Olshansky lab is focused on mimicking the way that biological systems use structural changes as a vehicle for the interconversion of different forms of energy (e.g. converting binding energy, protein-protein interactions, sunlight, or pH gradients into chemical energy). This mechanistic paradigm is prevalent in biology and represents a powerful means with which to direct energetically demanding reactions without the need for excessive energy input.

We are inspired by the countless enzymatic systems that, upon stimulation, use macromolecular changes to gate reactivity. Biomimetic metallocofactors are prepared both synthetically and through the generation of artificial metalloproteins. In both cases stimulus-responsive conformational changes target changes in metal ion coordination geometry and secondary sphere interactions to affect changes in the intrinsic properties of the metallocofactor (E°', pKa, spin state, substrate activation). In turn, these changes are leveraged to do work, with applications ranging from biomedical imaging and targeted drug delivery to solar fuels production.

We are a multidisciplinary group and use a combination of synthetic, physical and biochemical methods to achieve these goals. Students from all areas are encouraged to apply.

Honors & Awards

2024 Paul Saltman Young Investigator Award

2023 National Academy of Sciences Kavli Fellow

2022-2027 Department of Energy Early Career Research Award

2022 San Diego City College Working in Industry Alumni Award

2022-2025 Cottrell Scholar Award

2021-2025 Vallee Scholars Award

2021-2023 Lincoln Excellence for Assistant Professors Award UIUC

2020-2023 Searle Scholars Award

2020-2023 Carver Trust Young Investigator Award

2020-2025 National Institutes of Health Maximizing Investigators' Research Award for Early-Stage Investigators (R35) 

Office Address

Department of Chemistry
University of Illinois
A326 CLSL, MC-712, Box 58-6
600 South Mathews Avenue
Urbana, IL 61801

Office Phone


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