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Jim Olds

University Professor of Neuroscience, Policy and Government


Jim Olds is University Professor of Neuroscience and Public Policy at George Mason University. His research is at the intersection of AI and macrosystems biology and is supported by the USAF. He served from 2014-2018 as head of the Biological Sciences Directorate at the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), responsible for an annual budget of $750M. Olds’ former directorate funds the majority of non-biomedical research at America’s research institutions. While there, he was also NSF lead for President Obama’s White House BRAIN project, deputy lead for NSF on Vice President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot and co-chaired the White House Life Sciences Subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council.

Prior to his time at NSF, Olds was the Director of George Mason University’s Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, Chair of the Molecular Neuroscience Department and the Shelley Krasnow University Professor of Molecular Neuroscience.

Olds received his PhD in neuroscience from the University of Michigan and his BA in chemistry from Amherst College.

Areas of Research

  • Artificial Intelligence/Edge computing
  • Macrosystems Biology
  • Metagenomics of continental-scale ecosystems
  • Crisis Management in Science Agency Administration