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Paula Olsiewski, PhD

Contributing Scholar

Professional Profile

Dr. Olsiewski is a Contributing Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. She is a pioneering leader in policy and scientific research programs in the microbiology and chemistry of indoor environments. Dr. Olsiewski leads the Center’s work on indoor air quality policy to mitigate airborne disease and global catastrophic biological risks.

During her 2 decades at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, she led innovative and multidisciplinary programs that inspired, accelerated, and produced lasting impact. Her expertise in partnering with academic, governmental, and for-profit stakeholders fostered innovation and built research capacity through the creation of diverse stakeholder networks. Her accomplishments include the creation and direction of the microbiology of the built environment, chemistry of indoor environments, and biosecurity programs.

Dr. Olsiewski is recognized as a leading expert in biosecurity and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She was Chair of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Homeland Security Research Subcommittee and was a member of the EPA Board of Scientific Counselors Executive Committee 2014-2022. She is a member of the Academy of Fellows of the International Society for Indoor Air Quality and Climate and Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in chemistry.

Dr. Olsiewski’s acumen in board governance, recruitment and development, and fundraising has helped both scientific and philanthropic organizations improve their operational efficacy and programmatic outcomes. Early in her career, Dr. Olsiewski was Vice President of Product Development at Enzo Biochem and President of Neo/Tech Corp. She is an active board member of the Critical Path Institute, an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the drug development and regulatory process. She is also Vice Chair of the Spondylitis Association of America and was board chair of Asphalt Green—a not-for-profit organization in New York that encourages a lifetime of participation in sports and fitness.

Dr. Olsiewski received a PhD in biological chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). As an alumna, she was a member of the MIT Corporation and President of the MIT Alumni Association, earning her the association’s top honor: the Bronze Beaver award. Dr. Olsiewski was a member of MIT’s Initiative for Faculty Race and Diversity Advisory Committee and is an advocate for diversity and ongoing supporter of MIT's Women in Chemistry. She also received a BS in chemistry, cum laude, from Yale University.