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5 Things About Me: Neuroscientist James Olson

AAAS member James Olson loves to move fast and close to the ground, spurring his passion and hobby of flying airplanes. He is a general aviation pilot. (Photo: Robert Spokane, Ph.D.)

James Olson
Professor of Emergency Medicine
Professor of Neuroscience, Cell Biology and Physiology
Wright State University, Boonshoft School of Medicine
Dayton, Ohio

Background: I started in an engineering physics program as an undergraduate, moved to biophysics in graduate school and there discovered neuroscience, where I've been working ever since.  The analytical skills I picked up in engineering together with the ability to apply principles of physics to problems in biology have served me well.  I am now interested in understanding how the brain regulates its volume, how it adapts to conditions of increased or decreased water content (volume) to maintain normal function, and how a persistent increase in brain volume (edema) leads to cellular injury.

Question 1: What are you most proud of in your work?
Answer: The successes of my students and laboratory assistants.  They have gone on to successful careers in medicine, psychology, pharmaceuticals, and science.  I'm pleased to have played a small part in their training and strive to keep up with their progress.

Question 2: Tell us about a hobby or passion outside of work.
First, I like moving fast and low to the ground.  Therefore, I ski when I can, ride a road bike when the weather is above 45 degrees Fahrenheit, and fly airplanes as general aviation pilot.  Second, I enjoy pumping nylon on my acoustic guitar (classical music) and playing electric bass in blues bands.  Finally, I photograph with black and white film and make prints in my darkroom.  For the latter I have teamed up with a poet/physician colleague of mine to publish over 30 pieces in medical journals that reflect on experiences of the scientist, physician, and academician.

Question 3: If you could have one day in another profession, what would you want to do?
: I'd probably want to be a pilot and fly my blues band to a live gig where I'd do a photo shoot between sets.

Question 4: What's playing on your iPod/music player?
Answer: Artists from my list of Top 25 Most Played: Jackson Brown; Feist; Amy MacDonald; Peggy Sue; Green Day; Jesca Hoop; Rolf Lislevand; Sonos; Dropkick Murphys; Paul Simon; The Proclaimers; Adrienne Young and Little Sadie; Brandi Carlile; Temple of the Dog; Joshua Bell; Allison Krause and Union Station; Jeff Beck; Los Lobos; Annie Lennox; Aretha Franklin; John Williams; Rodrigo y Gabriela.

Question 5: If you had to go live on a desert island, what are the three things you would bring with you?
Answer: The three things I would miss the most and would have the greatest difficulty living without: my wife and two sons.