Professor Olsen's research focuses on the genetic basis of evolution in plants: how is the genetic variation that we find within a species shaped by natural selection, population history, and other evolutionary forces?
One way that he looks at this question is by using crop domestication as a model for rapid evolutionary change. The wealth of genetic and genomic information available for crops makes them useful for studying the molecular evolution of genes in response to selection and other forces. In Olsen's lab they also study the evolutionary genetics of wild plant species. Topics of interest include the genetic basis of adaptive variation, the forces affecting genome-wide patterns of linkage disequilibrium, and phylogeography.