If there is a piece of advice that Kathie Olsen would give students, it would be this: “Be aware that you’re most likely going to be changing your directions and your careers throughout your entire life and you need to be open to it and look forward to the opportunities.”
She should know, because that’s how the professional path for this neuroscientist, consulting firm executive and long-time science policy leader for the federal government has unfolded over the past 30 years.
Had you told Kathy at the time that she completed her training in neuroscience that she would eventually become Chief Scientist for NASA, be confirmed by Congress as assistant director for science at the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and later confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer of the National Science Foundation (NSF), she “would have started laughing!”
Kathie’s career path took on an additional twist recently when she left her 20-year career in the federal government to start ScienceWorks, a Washington, DC-based consulting firm that helps individuals and organizations succeed in science and engineering research. Kathie serves as managing director of the company.
“In all these exciting endeavors,” she says, “I feel fortunate that I’ve been able to be a voice for science and technology, helping others to recognize the importance of these fields as foundations for innovation, quality of life and economic vitality.”
What advice would you have for students about pursuing a diverse career path?
Read more about Kathie here.
And watch this spirited discussion from the Research Channel between Kathie and former astronaut Mae Jemison.