Dean's Biography

James Olson, PhD, P.Eng., is the dean of the Faculty of Applied Science and a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of British Columbia. 

Olson has served as the director of the Pulp and Paper Centre and as interim director of the Institute for Computing, Information and Cognitive Systems at UBC. He was also associate dean of research and industry partnerships at the Faculty of Applied Science from 2014 until his appointment as interim dean in June 2017. He began his five-year term as dean on March 1, 2018. 

Olson has played an instrumental role in the recent expansion of UBC’s engineering program, including the formation of the new School of Biomedical Engineering and the growth of various diversity, outreach, research and study programs. He has also created and led two research consortiums involving multiple companies and universities. These groups are working not only to develop innovative technologies and high-value energy products, but also to train highly qualified personnel and strengthen partnerships with industry, government and academic institutions. 

A Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineers, Dean Olson has received two NSERC Synergy Awards, two NSERC Discovery Accelerator Supplements, an APEGBC Meritorious Achievement Award, the BC Lieutenant Governor’s Innovation Award, the 2009 Fundamental Research Committee’s Van den Akker Gold medal and nine best paper awards. He has supervised dozens of graduate and undergraduate students and has co-authored more than 100 refereed journal articles. 

Olson holds a BASc in engineering physics and a PhD in chemical engineering from UBC. 

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