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Oral history interview with Bradley B. Olwin

  • 1994-Nov-30
  • 1994-Dec-01 – 1994-Dec-03

Bradley B. Olwin was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, but his family moved to Los Alamos, New Mexico, when Olwin was an infant. There his father was an engineer who worked on the Poseidon Missile warhead and on nuclear testing at the test sites in Nevada; his mother was a housewife. Olwin has one younger brother, who now works as an engineer for the Boeing Company in Seattle, Washington. Olwin's family was a close one, engaging in outdoor weekend activities like skiing, water skiing, hiking, camping, backpacking. He still travels to the Cascade Mountains to climb, camp, and backpack. In high school he loved science but also studied Russian literature. Olwin matriculated at University of California at San Diego because he wanted to be an oceanographer; but he soon switched his major to chemistry, which he loved. He also kept up his Russian during college. While still an undergraduate Olwin worked in Stuart Brody's lab and in Susan Taylor's lab. Olwin applied and was accepted to the University of Washington, where he entered the pharmacology department. After rotations in Joseph A. Beavo's and Daniel R. Storm's labs, he joined the Storm lab. He found a mentor in his lab postdoc, David C. LaPorte; there he used anisotropy to study calmodulin-binding interactions. In his third year of graduate school Olwin and his first wife, whom he had married before he left San Diego, were divorced. Subsequently, Olwin met and married Jennifer Martin, who was also a student in pharmacology at the University of Washington. They have two children. Olwin accepted a postdoc at University of California at San Francisco in Zach Hall's lab, but because Jennifer was not able to transfer to San Francisco Olwin left Hall's lab after just one year and went to Stephen Hauschka's lab at University of Washington, where he stayed for three years. From there he accepted an assistant professorship at the University of Wisconsin. Because his wife could not get a job there eventually Olwin decided to accept a professorship at Purdue. There Jennifer also was offered a position, and there they remain today. Olwin continues to work on the effects of fibroblast growth factor (FGF) on cell differentiation and regulation, cell de-differentiation, and signaling.

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