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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

2022 Cottrell Scholar Award
2020 Searle Scholars Award
2020 Carver Trust Young Investigator Award
2020 NIH Maximizing Investigators' Research Award
2016 American Chemical Society Irving S. Sigal Postdoctoral Fellowship
2015 MIT Davison Prize for best Inorganic Chemistry Thesis
2010 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship
2009 MIT Robert T. Haslam Presidential Fellowship
2009 MIT Department of Chemistry Award for Outstanding Teaching
2009 University of California, San Diego, Harold C. Urey Award
2008 American Chemical Society Student Affiliates Research Fellowship
2008 University of California, San Diego Chancellor’s Research Fellowship
2006 San Diego City College Science and Engineering Scholarship
2005 Association for Women in Science Community College Scholarship

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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