Kenneth M. Olsen

Kenneth M. Olsen

Professor of Biology
Research Associate, Missouri Botanical Garden

Contact Information

Biology Department
Campus Box 1137
Washington University
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
(314) 935-7013


To see a full list of my publications and presentations, download my C.V.

Google Scholar Profile



  • Washington University in St. Louis, Biology major, French minor, B.A., May 1991, College Honors.
  • The University of Texas at Austin, Department of Botany, M.A., August 1993.
  • Washington University in St. Louis, Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences (Program in Population and Evolutionary Biology), PhD, August 2000.
  • Post-doctoral work: North Carolina State University, Department of Genetics, Aug. 2000 - Jan 2005.

Current Support

  • NSF PGRP: RESEARCH-PGR: Characterizing the genomic basis of weedy rice competitiveness. IOS-1947609. PI: K.M. Olsen; co-PIs: A.L. Caicedo, Y. Jia, C.N. Topp. Total costs: $2,560,467.  March 2020 – February 2023.
  • Living Earth Collaborative: Below-ground perspectives on biodiversity: Root systems, comparative genomics, and domestication of North American grapevines. Lead PIs: A.J. Miller (St. Louis University) and K.M. Olsen.  $16,400 to Washington University (total: $30,730).  Awarded April 2018.

Recent Past Support

  • NSF IOS-IEP 1557770. Genetic and physiological mechanisms of local climatic adaptation in a widespread perennial plant species. PI: K.M. Olsen, co-PIs F.B. Fritschi, Univ. MO, P. Munoz, Univ. FL.  February 2016-January 2019.  Total costs to Washington University: $709,181.
  • US Golf Association: Identifying the physiological and genetic basis of salt tolerance in seashore Paspalum.  PI: E Kellogg (Donald Danforth Plant Science Center); co-PIs: K.M. Olsen, I. Baxter (DDPSC).  Jan 2018 - Dec 2018. $39,997 
  • NSF Dissertation Research: Ecological genomics of local adaptation in a perennial plant species, DEB-1601641. PI: K.M. Olsen, co-PI: Sara Wright.  Total costs: $19,825. June 2016 – May 2018. 
  • US Golf Association: Developing phenotypic and genomic tools to study salt-tolerance in seashore paspalum.  PI: E Kellogg (Donald Danforth Plant Science Center); co-PIs: K.M. Olsen, I. Baxter (DDPSC).  May 2016 – April 2017. $30,000.
  • I-CARES (WU International Center for Advanced Renewable Energy & Sustainability): Harvesting natural variation in Camelina species for biofuel improvement. PI: K.M. Olsen; Collaborators: Jordan Brock (EEPB PhD student), T. Kutchan (Donald Danforth Plant Science Center), I. Al-Shehbaz (MO Botanical Garden), M. Lysak (Central European Institute of Technology)  May 2016 – April 2017.  $40,000.
  • NSF PGRP-CGSP: Genomic structure and contemporary evolution of weediness in red rice. Plant Genome Research Program, IOS-1032023. Co-PI. (PI: A. L. Caicedo, UMass-Amherst; co-PI: Y. Jia, USDA). Total costs: $2,490,833; subaward to Washington University: $533,178. October 2010 – January 2017.
  • Clover cyanogenesis: integrating ecological and molecular genetics in the study of adaptation.  NSF CAREER award, DEB-0845497. PI: K.M. Olsen. Total costs: $915,500. August 2009 – July 2014.
  • Dissertation Research: Determining the mechanisms of recurrent cline evolution in white clover (Trifolium repens), NSF DEB-1110588. PI: K.M. Olsen, co-PI: Nicholas Kooyers. Total costs: $13,539. June 2011 – May 2013.
  • The evolutionary genomics of invasive weedy rice. NSF (Plant Genome Research Program), DBI-0638820. PI: K.M. Olsen; co-PIs: A.L. Caicedo (UMass-Amherst) and Y. Jia (USDA). Total costs: $1,121,523. October 2006 – September 2010
  • Evolutionary response to parallel selective pressures in cultivated rice species.  NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Fellowship (PHS 416-1).  Sponsor for post-doctoral fellow Briana Gross; Total costs: $141,318. August 2007 – July 2010
  • Human exploration and dispersal history of the coconut (Cocos nucifera L.).    National Geographic Society, 8178-07, PI: Kenneth M. Olsen, Total costs: $20,000. March 2007 – February 2009 


  • Evolution (Bio3501), Fall 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
  • Evolution (U29-525), Summer 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018, 2020
  • EEPB graduate seminar: Ethics and Research Science (Bio5011), Spring 2008, 2013
  • EEPB graduate seminar: Seminar in Population Biology (Bio580), Spring 2007, 2009,  2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
  • Plant Biology graduate seminar (Bio572), Spring 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010