ROBERT JOHNSTON OLSON                                       March  2001
Associate Scientist
Biology Department
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Woods Hole, Massachusetts  02543
(508) 289-2565

Born:  August 28, 1952
       South San Francisco, California


B.A., Willamette University, Salem, Oregon; cum laude, 1974
Ph.D., University of California, San Diego, 1980

Affiliated Positions

Summer Research Fellow, University of Oregon Marine Station, Charleston, Oregon, 1974.
Research Assistant, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California,
 San Diego, 1974-1979.
Teaching Assistant, Biology Department, University of California, San Diego, 1979.
Postdoctoral Research Associate, Civil Engineering Department, Massachusetts Institute
 of Technology, 1980.
Assistant Scientist, Biology Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 1984-88.
Associate Scientist, Biology Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution,
Senior Scientist, Biology Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution,

Honors and Awards

1970  National Merit Scholar
1973  Oregon Heart Association Summer Fellowship
1974  Alpha Kappa Nu, Willamette University
1979  Dissertation Fellowship, University of California, San Diego
1981  Carl Eckart Prize for outstanding thesis, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Professional Societies and Community Service

Phycological Society
Oceanographic Society
American Geophysical Union
American Society for Limnology and Oceanography
Advisory Board, Flow Cytometry Facility, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences

Oceanographic Cruises and Other Field Work

Southern California Bight Studies, No. 6-15, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Indopac-15, Central North Pacific Gyre, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, June 1977
USCGC GLACIER, Ross Sea, December 1977-January 1978
ARA ISLAS ORCADAS cruise 17, Scotia Sea, September-October 1978 (Chief Scientist)
R/V ISELIN, Sargasso Sea, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, April 1984
CSS HUDSON, Caribbean Sea, Bedford Institution of Oceanography, December 1984
RV KNORR, Puerto Rico - Woods Hole, December 1985
RV GYRE, Woods Hole - Dakar, Senegal, September 1986 (Chief Scientist)
RV ATLANTIS II, Florida - Panama, November 1986 (Chief Scientist)
RV ATLANTIS II, Santa Catalina Basin, California, December 1986
RV OCEANUS, Sargasso Sea, July 11-24, 1987 (Chief Scientist)
RV ENDEAVOR, Sargasso Sea, May 21-June 3, 1988 (Chief Scientist)
RV OCEANUS, Sargasso Sea, May 5-20, 1989
RV OCEANUS, Sargasso Sea, October 14-29, 1989 (Chief Scientist)
USARP, McMurdo Station, Antarctica, January 1978
Bermuda Biological Station for Research, 26 February-1 April 1989
RV OCEANUS, Sargasso Sea, 31 July-20 August 1991
RV ENDEAVOR, Sargasso Sea, 13 January-3 February 1992
RV THOMPSON TT-008, Equatorial Pacific, 15 March-16 April 1992
RV ISELIN, Sargasso Sea, 2-18 July 1993 (Chief Scientist)
RV CAPE HATTERAS, Sargasso Sea, 14-28 May 1994
RV THOMAS THOMPSON 49, Arabian Sea, July 1995
RV THOMAS THOMPSON 53, Arabian Sea,  November 1995
RV OCEANUS, Sargasso Sea, June 1996
RV SEWARD JOHNSON 96-10, North Atlantic, July 1996
RVNATHANIEL B. PALMER, 97-1, Ross Sea, January-February 1997
RV KNORR 150, North Atlantic, April 1997
RV REVELLE 09, Antarctic Polar Front, February-March 1998

Additional Training
 NAUI Advanced Scuba Diver, 1976
 Flow Cytometry Applications in Cell Biology Course, University of Rochester,
  24-28 May 1982
 Recombinant DNA Methodology Workshop, Exon-Intron, Inc., Woods Hole, MA,  November 1989

Educational Responsibilities

Thesis Advisor:
Jeffrey Dusenberry, Ph.D. 1995, MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Biological Oceanography (co-advisor with S.W. Chisholm):  Phytoplankton photoacclimation and mixing in the surface oceans
Michele DuRand, Ph.D. 1995, MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Biological Oceanography:  Phytoplankton growth and diel variations in beam attenuation through individual particle analysis
Heidi Sosik (M.S., MIT, 1987; co-advisor with S.W. Chisholm):  Analysis of chlorophyll fluorescence in marine phytoplankton:  Interpretation of flow cytometric signals
Welkin Pope, MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Biological Oceanography (co-advisor with H. Sosik)

Committee Member:

Daniel Vaulot, MIT/WHOI Ph.D. 1985.  Cell cycle controls in marine phytoplankton.
Joon Won Choi, MIT/WHOI M.S. 1988.  The effects of algal density on growth of heterotrophic microflagellates.
E. Virginia Armbrust, MIT/WHOI Ph.D. 1990.  The life cycle of the centric diatom Thalassiosira weissflogii:  Control of gametogenesis and cell size.
Alan Lewitus, MIT/WHOI Ph.D. 1990.  Physiological studies of phototrophy and heterotrophy in two algae with contrasting nutritional characteristics, Pyrenomonas salina (Cryptophyceae) and Poterioochromonas malhamensis (Chrysophyceae).
Karina Gin, MIT/WHOI Ph.D. 1996.  Microbial size spectra from diverse marine ecosystems.
Elizabeth Minor, MIT/WHOI Ph.D. 1997.  Compositional heterogeneity within oceanic POM : a study using flow cytometry and mass spectrometry.
Lisa Moore, MIT Ph.D. 1997.  Physiological ecology of Prochlorococcus: a comparison of isolates from diverse oceanographic regimes.
Deana Erdner, MIT/WHOI Ph.D. 1997.  Characteristics of ferredoxin and flavodoxin as molecular indicators of iron limitation in marine eukaryotic phytoplankton.
Nicole Poulton, MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Biological Oceanography.
Rebecca Green, MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Biological Oceanography.

Summer Student Fellow advisor, Heidi Sosik, 1986

WHOI Postdoctoral Scholar advisor:
 Dr. Mark Brzezinski, 1987
 Dr. Anya Waite, 1992
 Dr. Heidi Sosik, 1993

WHOI Teaching:

Phytoplankton section of the Biology "Mega-course" for incoming graduate students (with Don Anderson), lectures and laboratory projects, 1985-1993.
Aquatic Photosynthesis (Biology Topics graduate course, with Heidi Sosik), 2000

Lectures in courses at other institutions:
 Marine Ecology, Marine Biological Laboratory summer course (lecture and laboratory),  1989, 1990
 Remote Sensing, Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, 1990

WHOI Committees

 Graduate Student Admissions (1985, 1993-94)
 Marine Operations (1990-1992)
 Mellon Award Review (1991)
 Biology Department ad hoc committee on staff appointment (1991)
 Postdoctoral Scholar Selection (1992)
 Keck Award Review (1994)
 Coastal Research Center Review Panel (1997)
 Departmental Promotion Review (1999, 2000)


1. Olson, R. J., T. E. Trumble and W. Gamble.  1974.  Alterations in cholesterol and fatty acid biosynthesis in rat liver homogenates by aryloxy acids.  Biochem. J. 142: 445-448.

2. Kiefer, D. A., R. J. Olson and O. Holm-Hansen.  1976.  Another look at the nitrite and chlorophyll maxima in the central North Pacific.  Deep-Sea Res. 23: 1199-1208.

3. Kiefer, D. A., R. J. Olson and W. H. Wilson.  1979.  Reflectance spectroscopy of marine phytoplankton.  Part 1.  Optical properties as related to age and growth rate.  Limnol. Oceanogr. 24: 664-672.

4. Olson, R. J.  Phosphate interference in the analysis of nitrate.  1979.  Limnol. Oceanogr. 25: 758-760.

5. Olson, R. J.  Nitrate and ammonium uptake in Antarctic waters.  1980.  Limnol. Oceanogr. 26: 1064-1074.

6. Smith, R. C., K. S. Baker, O. Holm-Hansen and R. Olson.  1980.  Photoinhibition of photosynthesis in natural waters.  Photochem. Photobiol. 31: 581-592.

7. Olson, R. J., J. SooHoo and D. A. Kiefer.  1980.  Steady-state growth of the marine diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana.  Uncoupled kinetics of nitrate uptake and nitrite production.  Plant Physiol. 66: 383-389.

8. Williams, P. J., A. F. Carlucci and R. Olson.  1980.  A deep profile of some biologically important properties in the central North Pacific Gyre.  Oceanol. Acta 3: 471-476.

9. Olson, R. J.  1981. 15N tracer studies of the primary nitrite maximum.  J. Mar. Res. 39: 203-226.

10. Olson, R. J.  1981.  Differential photoinhibition of marine nitrifying bacteria:  A possible mechanism for the formation of the primary nitrite maximum.  J. Mar. Res. 39: 227-238.

11. Ward, B. B., R. J. Olson and M. J. Perry.  1982.  Microbial nitrification rates in the primary nitrite maximum off Southern California.  Deep-Sea Res. 29: 247-255.

12. Olson, R. J., S. L. Frankel, S. W. Chisholm and H. M. Shapiro.  1983.  An inexpensive flow cytometer for the analysis of fluorescence signals in phytoplankton:  Chlorophyll and DNA distributions.  J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 68: 129-144.

13. Olson, R. J. and S. W. Chisholm.  1983.  Effects of photocycles and periodic ammonium supply on three marine phytoplankton species.  I.  Cell division patterns.  J. Phycol. 19: 522-528.

14. Wheeler, P., R. J. Olson and S. W. Chisholm.  1983.  Effects of photocycles and periodic ammonium supply on three marine phytoplankton species.  II.  Ammonium uptake and metabolism.  J. Phycol. 19: 529-533.

15. Chisholm, S. W., D. Vaulot, and R. Olson.  1984.  Cell cycle controls in phytoplankton:  Comparative physiology and ecology.  In:  L. Edmunds (ed.) Cell Cycle Clocks, Marcell Dekker, NY, pp. 365-393.

16. Olson, R. J., D. Vaulot, and S. W. Chisholm.  1985.  Marine phytoplankton distributions measured using shipboard flow cytometry.  Deep Sea Res. 10: 1273-1280.

17. Watras, C. W., V. C. Garcon, R. J. Olson, S. W. Chisholm and D. M. Anderson.  1984.  Zooplankton grazing on Gonyaulax tamarensis: Short-term, in situ experiments with natural plankton communities.  J. Plank. Res. 7: 891-908.

18. Olson, R. J., C. J. Watras and S. W. Chisholm.  1986.  Patterns of individual cell growth in marine centric diatoms.  J. Gen. Microbiol., 132: 1197-1204.
19. Olson, R. J. and S. W. Chisholm.  1986.  Effects of light and nitrogen limitation on the cell cycle of the dinoflagellate Amphidinium carteri.  J. Plank. Res., 8: 785-793.

20. Olson, R. J. and S. W. Chisholm.  1986.  Effects of environmental stresses on the cell cycle of marine phytoplankton.  Plant Physiology 80: 918-925.

21. Glibert, P. M., Kana, T. M., Olson, R. J., Kirchman, D. L. and Alberte, R. S.  1986.  Clonal comparisons of growth and photosynthetic responses to nitrogen availability in marine Synechococcus spp.  J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 101: 199-208.

22. Vaulot, D., R. J. Olson and S. W. Chisholm.  1986.  Light and dark control of the cell cycle in two marine phytoplankton species.  Exp. Cell Res. 167: 38-52.

23. Chisholm, S. W., E. V. Armbrust and R. J. Olson.  1986.  The individual cell in phytoplankton ecology:  Cell cycles and applications of flow cytometry.  In:  T. Platt {Ed.}, The Physiological Ecology of Photosynthetic Picoplankton in the Ocean.  Canadian Bulletin of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 214: 343-369.

24. Vaulot, D., R. J. Olson, S. Merkel and S. W. Chisholm.  1987.  Cell cycle response to nutrient starvation in two phytoplankton species.  Mar. Biol. 95: 625-630.

25. Olson, R. J., S. W. Chisholm and E. R. Zettler.  1988.  Analysis of Synechococcus pigment types in the sea using single and dual beam flow cytometry.  Deep-Sea Res. 35: 425-440.

26. Chisholm, S. W., R. J. Olson and C. S. Yentsch.  1988.  Flow cytometry in oceanography:  applications and prospects.  Oceanography Report (EOS) 69: 562.

27. Chisholm, S. W., R. J. Olson, E. R. Zettler, J. Waterbury, R. Goericke and N. Welschmeyer.  1988.  A novel free-living prochlorophyte abundant in the oceanic euphotic zone.  Nature 334: 340-343.

28. Cowles, T.J., R.J. Olson and S.W. Chisholm.  1988.  Food selection by copepods:  discrimination on the basis of food quality.   Mar. Biol. 100: 41-49.

29. Armbrust, E. V., J. D. Bowen, R. J. Olson and S. W. Chisholm.  1989.  The effects of light on the cell cycle of a marine Synechococcus.  Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 55: 425-432.

30. Frankel, D. S., R. J. Olson, S. L. Frankel and S. W. Chisholm.  1989.  Use of a neural net computer system for analysis of flow cytometric data of phytoplankton.  Cytometry 10: 540-550.

31. Olson, R. J., E. R. Zettler and K. O. Anderson.  1989.  Discrimination of eukaryotic
phytoplankton cell types from light scatter and autofluorescence properties measured by flow cytometry.  Cytometry 10: 636-643.

32. Sosik, H., S. W. Chisholm, and R. J. Olson.  1989.  Chlorophyll fluorescence from single cells: interpretation of flow cytometric signals.  Limnol. Oceanogr.
34: 1749-1761.

33. Olson, R. J., S. W. Chisholm, E. V. Armbrust and E. R. Zettler.  1990.  Pigments, size and distribution of Synechococcus in the N. Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.  Limnol. Oceanogr. 35: 45-58.

34. Armbrust, E. V., R. J. Olson and S. W. Chisholm.  1990.  Induction of spermatogenesis in a centric diatom:  the role of light and the cell cycle.  J.Phycol. 26: 470-478.

35. Olson, R. J., E. R. Zettler, M. A. Altabet and S. W. Chisholm.  1990.  Spatial and temporal distributions of prochlorophyte picoplankton in the North Atlantic Ocean.  Deep Sea Res. 37: 1033-1051.

36. Amann, R., B. B. Binder, R. J. Olson, S. W. Chisholm, R. Devereux and D. A. Stahl.  1990.  Combining 16s rRNA-targeted oligonucleotide probes with flow cytometry for analyzing mixed microbial populations.  Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 56: 1919-1925.

37. Brzezinski, M.A., R.J. Olson and S.W. Chisholm.  1990.  Silicon availability and cell cycle progression in marine diatoms.  Mar. Ecol. Progr. Ser. 67: 83-96.

38. Olson, R.J., S.W. Chisholm, E.R. Zettler and J.A. Dusenberry.  1991.  Advances in oceanography through flow cytometry.  In:  Demers, S. {Ed.}, Individual Cell and Particle Analysis in Oceanography, Springer-Verlag, 416 pp.

39. Chisholm, S.W., S.L. Frankel, R. Goericke, R.J. Olson, B. Palenik, J.B. Waterbury, L. West-Johnsrud and E.R. Zettler.  1992.  Prochlorococcus marinus nov. gen. nov. sp.:  an oxyphototrophic marine procaryote containing divinyl chlorophyll a and b.  Archives of Microbiology 157:297-300.

40. Olson, R.J., E.R. Zettler and M.D. DuRand.  1993.  Phytoplankton analysis using flow cytometry.  In:  Kemp, P.F., B.F. Sherr, E.B. Sherr and J.J. Cole {Eds.}, Handbook of Methods in Aquatic Microbial Ecology, Lewis Publ., 777 pp.

41. Vaulot, D., D. Marie, R.J. Olson and S.W. Chisholm.  1995.  Prochlorococcus is highly synchronized to the diel cycle in the equatorial Pacific and divides up to once a day.  Science 268:1480-1482.

42. Olson, R.J. and E.R. Zettler. 1995.  Potential of flow cytometry for "pump and probe" fluorescence measurements of  phytoplankton photosynthetic characteristics.  Limnology and Oceanography 40:816-820.

43. Minor, E.C., T.I Eglinton, J.J. Boon and R.J. Olson.  1995.  Compositional heterogeneity within oceanic suspended particulate organic matter:  Preliminary results from Direct Temperature-resolved Mass Spectrometry.  Marine Chemistry 57:27-54.

44. Waite, A.M., R.J. Olson, H.G. Dam and U. Passow.  1996.  Sugar-containing compounds on the cell surfaces of marine diatoms measured using Concanavalin A and flow cytometry.  J. Phycology 31:925-933.

45. Zettler, E.R., R.J. Olson, B.J. Binder and S.W. Chisholm.  1995.  Iron enrichment bottle experiments in the equatorial Pacific:  Responses of individual phytoplankton cells.  Deep-Sea Research 43: 1017-1029.

46. Binder, B.B., S.W. Chisholm, R.J. Olson, S.L. Frankel and A.Z. Worden.  1996.  Dynamics of picophytoplankton, ultraphytoplankton, and bacteria in the central equatorial Pacific.  Deep-Sea Research 43: 907-931.

47.  DuRand, M.D. and R.J. Olson.  1996.  Contributions of phytoplankton light scattering and cell concentration changes to diel variations in beam attenuation in the equatorial Pacific from flow cytometric measurements of pico-, ultra-, and nanoplankton.  Deep-Sea Research 43: 891-906.

48.  Olson, R.J., A.M. Chekalyuk and H.M. Sosik.  1996.  Phytoplankton photosynthetic characteristics from fluorescence induction assays of individual cells. Limnol. Oceanogr. 41: 1253-1263.

49.  DuRand, M.D. and R.J. Olson.  1998.  Diel patterns in optical properties of the chlorophyte Nannochloris sp.:  Relating individual cell to bulk measurements.  Limnol. Oceanogr. 43: 1107-1118.

50.  Shalapyonok, A., R.J. Olson and L. Shalapyonok.  1998.  Ultradian growth in the marine planktonic photosynthetic prokaryote Prochlorococcus.  Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 64:1066-1069.

51.  Dusenberry, J.A., R.J. Olson, and S.W. Chisholm. 1999. Phytoplankton single cell fluorescence distributions reflect vertical mixing.  Limnol. Oceanogr. 44:431-435.

52.  Gin, K.Y.H., S.W. Chisholm and R.J. Olson.  1999.  Seasonal and depth variation in microbial size spectra at the Bermuda Atlantic time series station.  Deep-Sea Research I. 46:1221-1245.

53.  Minor, E.C., T. Eglinton, J.J. Boon and R.J. Olson.  1999.  A protocol for the characterization of oceanic particles via flow cytometric sorting and direct temperature resolved mass spectrometry.  Analyt. Chem. 71: 2003-2013.

54.  Olson, R.J., H.M. Sosik and A.M. Chekalyuk. 1999.  Photosynthetic characteristics of marine phytoplankton from pump-during-probe fluorometry of individual cells at sea.  Cytometry, 37:1-13.

55.  Dusenberry, J.A., R.J. Olson, and S.W. Chisholm. 2000.  Field observations of phytoplankton single cell fluorescence distributions.  J. Mar. Systems 24: 221-232.

56.  Goericke, R., R.J. Olson and A. Shalapyonok.  2000.  A novel niche for Prochlorococcus sp. in low-light suboxic environments in the Arabian Sea and the Eastern Tropical North Pacific.  Deep-Sea Research I  47:1183-1205.

57.  Olson, R.J., H.M. Sosik, A.M. Chekalyuk and A. Shalapyonok. 2000.  Effects of iron enrichment on phytoplankton in the Southern Ocean during late summer: Active fluorescence and flow cytometric analyses.  Deep-Sea Research II 47:3181-3200.

58.  Shalapyonok, A., R.J. Olson and L.S. Shalapyonok.  2001.  Arabian Sea phytoplankton during Southwest and Northeast Monsoons 1995:  Composition, size structure and biomass from individual cell properties measured by flow cytometry.   Deep-Sea Research II 48:1231-1261.
59.  Dusenberry, J.A., R.J. Olson, and S.W. Chisholm. 2001.  Photoacclimation kinetics of single-cell fluorescence in laboratory and field populations of Prochlorococcus.  Deep-Sea Res. I 48:1443-1458.

60.  DuRand, M.D.D., R.J. Olson and S.W. Chisholm.  2000.  Phytoplankton population dynamics at the Bermuda Atlantic Time-Series station in the Sargasso Sea.  Deep-Sea Research II (in press).