Sara K. Olson

Associate Professor of Biology; Coordinator of Molecular Biology
  • Expertise


    Sara Olson’s research focuses on the role of the extracellular matrix during early embryonic development. In particular, her lab uses the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans as a model organism to investigate assembly of the trilaminar eggshell and permeability barrier using fluorescence microscopy, biochemistry, molecular biology and genetic approaches.

    Research Interests

    The role of the extracellular matrix during early embryonic development

    Areas of Expertise


    • Cell Biology
    • Developmental Biology
    • Molecular Biology
    • Biochemistry
    • Glycobiology
  • Work


    Olson SK, G Greenan, A Desai, T Muller-Reichert, and K Oegema. "Hierarchical assembly of the eggshell and permeability barrier in C. elegans." Journal of Cell Biology, 198:731-748, 2012.

    Carvalho A*, S Olson*, E Gutierrez*, K Zhang, L Noble, E Zanin, A Desai, A Groisman, and K Oegema. "Acute drug treatment in the early C. elegans embryo." PLoS One, 6:e24656, 2011. *Equal author contributions, Undergraduate co-author

    Lawrence R, SK Olson, RE Steele, L Wang, L Zhang, R Warrior, RD Cummings, and JD Esko. "Evolutionary differences in glycosaminoglycan fine structure detected by quantitative Glycan Reductive Isotope Labeling." Journal of Biological Chemistry, 283:33674-84, 2008.

    Olson SK, JR Bishop, JR Yates 3rd, K Oegema, and JD Esko. "Identification of novel chondroitin proteoglycans in C. elegans: Embryonic cell division depends on CPG-1 and CPG-2." Journal of Cell Biology, 173:985-994, 2006.

    Hwang HY, SK Olson, JD Esko, and HR Horvitz. "Caenorhabditis elegans early embryogenesis and vulval morphogenesis require chondroitin biosynthesis." Nature, 423:439-443, 2003.

    Pinhal MA, B Smith, S Olson, J Aikawa, K Kimata, and JD Esko. "Enzyme interactions in heparan sulfate biosynthesis: uronosyl 5-epimerase and 2-O-sulfotransferase interact in vivo." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 98:12984-9, 2001.

    Tsuda M, K Kamimura, H Nakato, M Archer, W Staatz, B Fox, M Humphrey, S Olson, T Futch, V Kaluza, E Siegfried, L Stam, and SB Selleck, "The cell-surface proteoglycan Dally regulates Wingless signaling in Drosophila." Nature, 400:276-80, 1999.

  • Education


    University of California, San Diego

    Bachelor of Arts
    Lawrence University

    Professional Experience

    Postdoctoral fellow
    University of California, San Diego

    Recent Courses Taught

    • Cell Biology with Lab
    • Introductory Cell Chemistry and Cell Biology with Lab
  • Awards & Honors

    Awards & Honors

    Hirsch Research Initiation Grant, Pomona College, $10,000, 2013-2015

    National Academies Education Fellow in the Life Sciences, 2011

    National Institutes of Health, Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award (IRACDA), 2008-2011

    National Institutes of Health, Predoctoral Training Grant in Genetics, 2000-2003

    National Institutes of Health, Predoctoral Training Grant in Cancer Biology, 1999-2000

    Lawrence University, Magna cum laude honors in course, 1999

    Phi Beta Kappa, member, 1998-present