Olds Joins Ranks of University Professors

Posted: December 13, 2000 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Emily Yaghmour

Jim Olds, director and chief executive officer of the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, has been appointed to the position of university professor, making him one of only 10 George Mason faculty members to hold this title. According to the Faculty Handbook, the rank of university professor is reserved for “men and women of unusually great stature and eminence from the world of national and international achievement.”

Olds’s appointment is “a testimony to the innovative quality of his research in neuroscience, and the tremendous research leadership he has provided to Krasnow and the university,” says Provost Peter Stearns.

“Jim is a very gifted neurobiologist and an exceptional scholar in his field,” says Harold Morowitz, Robinson Professor of Biology and Natural Philosophy, and chair of Olds’s nominating committee.

In his research, Olds focuses on the way the brain stores and retrieves memory. He developed an imaging method that allows scientists to see what happens in the brain when a memory is stored and retrieved. His research led him to the surprising finding that, at least in mammals, memories are stored “in a much more dispersed fashion than many of us had intuitively thought.” The storage of memory is “not limited to isolated colonies of nerve cells,” he says.

Olds became director of Krasnow in July 1998 and has taught classes at George Mason since 1996 as an adjunct professor in the Department of Psychology. His appointment as university professor will “bring closer the relations between the university and the Krasnow Institute,” says Morowitz.

“I think the university and the institute are two independent institutions that clearly help each other and need each other,” says Olds. “I think the university-institute relationship will only become closer over time.”

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