Professor Olson received his Ph.D. in experimental psychology from the University of Oregon in 1970. Since then he has been a faculty member at the University of Colorado, where he is now Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, Fellow of the Institute for Behavioral Genetics, and Director and Principal Investigator of the Colorado Learning Disabilities Research Center. He is a charter member of the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading, served as the Society’s President, and received its Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award in 2006. He currently serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Learning Disabilities and Scientific Studies of Reading.
Professor Olson's research since 1980 has focused on the etiology and remediation reading disabilities. Data from identical and fraternal twins have been used to assess the genetic and environmental influences on reading and related language deficits. Linkage and association analyses of the fraternal twins’ DNA have isolated a region and possible causal alleles on the short arm of chromosome 6 related to these deficits. The remediation of reading and language deficits has been explored through the use of computers in the Boulder schools in collaboration with former student and current colleague Barbara Wise. Professor Olson initiated the Colorado component of the International Longitudinal Twin Study in 2000 to study reading and related skills beginning in preschool with follow-up assessments through the end of the fourth grade.
Wise, B.W., Ring, J., & Olson, R.K. (2000). Individual differences in gains from computer-assisted remedial reading with more emphasis on phonological analysis or accurate reading in context. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 77, 197-235.
Gayan, J., & Olson, R.K. (2001). Genetic and environmental influences on orthographic and phonological skills in children with reading disabilities. Developmental Neuropsychology, 20 (2), 487-511.
Gayan, J., & Olson, R.K. (2001). Genetic and environmental
influences on orthographic and phonological skills in children
with reading disabilities. Developmental Neuropsychology,
20 (2), 487-511.
Olson, R.K. (2004). SSSR, environment, and genes. Scientific Studies of Reading, 8(2), 111-124.
Olson, R.K., Keenan, J.M., Byrne, B., Samuelsson, S., Coventry, W.L., Corley, R., Wadsworth, S.J., Willcutt, E.G., DeFries, J.C., Pennington, B.F., & Hulslander, J. (2011). Genetic and environmental influences on vocabulary and reading development. Scientific Studies of Reading, 15(1), 26-46. NIHMSID # 251907. DOI: 10.1080/10888438.2011.536128
Olson, R.K., Hulslander, J., Christopher, M., Keenan, J.M., Wadsworth, S.J., Willcutt, E.G., Pennington, B.F., & DeFries, J.C. (in press). Genetic and environmental influences on writing and their relations to language and reading. Annals of Dyslexia. DOI: 10.1007/s11881-011-0055-z