T. Mark Olsen Associate Teaching Professor

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

Academic 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. Therefore, I challenge my students to think critically, formulate and test hypotheses and engage fully as individuals and collaborative research teams in problem solving, discovery and critical analysis. Pedagogy such as placed-based education and investigative team research encourages active, reflective and collaborative learning for my science majors and non-majors.

Because many of my students are First Year Science Major Intents, I strive to develop the skillsets, mindset and connections with upper class science students to foster their integration into Notre Dame’s scientific community. I ardently campaign for early participation in the watershed opportunity of genuine undergraduate research. To this end, I coordinate an annual internship information event during which undergraduate research interns provide helpful advice on internships types, search and application logistics, in addition to sharing their personal motivations, experiences and benefits.

Besides my work with science majors, I engage non-science majors and precollege students in collaborative exploration of many of today’s pressing environmental issues via investigative projects that meld field and laboratory investigation, class discussion and group seminar presentation.



  • Edmund Joyce, CSC Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching 2018
  • Concurrent Associate Professional Specialist, First Year of Studies, 2015-2018
  • Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award 2001
  • 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:

  • National Science Foundation STEP Grant Recipient
  • Hoosier Environmental Council Place-Based Educator
  • National Science Bowl Writer/Reviewer
  • NASA Climate Change Educational Initiative Grant Reviewer
  • Notre Dame Fly Fishing and Angling Club Advisor
  • Notre Dame Multicultural Programs Mentor
  • Sustainability Minor Capstone Mentor
  • Undergraduate Research Internship Information Night Founder and Coordinator
  • SPF Teaching Faculty Executive Committee Member