T. Mark Olsen Associate Teaching Professor

Majors Introductory Biology, Non-Majors Biology and PreCollege Programs
T. Mark Olsen

Research Interests:

Science is by its very nature forever dynamic; new discoveries are constantly being made and previous conclusions modified in the wake of these findings. I challenge my students to think critically, formulate and test hypotheses, generate their own conclusions and engage in analysis and discussion with instructors and peers. I place a premium on my students’ active participation in their learning be they precollege, undergrads or grad students. I impress on them the importance of engaging fully as individuals and collaborative research teams in problem solving, discovery and critical analysis. I continually strive for innovation and excellence in my course design and teaching. My teaching methods (placed-based education, inquiry-based group research for my majors and non-majors) encourage active, reflective and collaborative learning. My evaluations (research papers, seminar and poster presentations, field-based environmental assessments) evaluate my students’ ability to integrate and apply course concepts and techniques.

Because the majority of my students are First Year Students, I develop skillsets and connections to foster their integration into the scientific community at Notre Dame and campaign for early participation in the watershed opportunity of undergraduate research. I encourage interaction with and mentoring by upper class science students and require student attendance and personal reflection (e-portfolio submissions) at annual College of Science symposia given by Notre Dame undergraduate research interns.



  • Associate Teaching Professor 2000-Present
  • Academic Co-Director, Summer Scholars Program, Life Science 2000-Present
  • Assistant Teaching Professor 1994-2000
  • Ph.D. Comparative Physiology and Biochemistry, University of Notre Dame 1994
  • M. S. Ecology, University of Notre Dame 1989
  • Interpretive Naturalist, New York Department of Environmental Conservation 1984-1986
  • A. B. Biology, Summa cum Laude, St. Michael’s College 1981
  • Research Intern, DOE Argonne National Laboratory 1980


Selected Professional Activities:

  • Hoosier Environmental Council Place-Based Educator
  • National Science Bowl Writer/Reviewer
  • NASA Global Climate Change Educational Initiative Grant Reviewer
  • National Science Foundation STEP Grant Recipient
  • Notre Dame Multicultural Programs Mentor for First Year Students
  • Notre Dame Fly Fishing and Angling Club Advisor
  • Faculty Coordinator for College of Science Undergraduate Research Information Symposium
  • Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning Faculty Teaching Award Recipient