Lisa Olshansky

 Lisa Olshansky

Contact Information

Department of Chemistry
University of Illinois
A326 CLSL, MC-712, Box 58-6
600 South Mathews Avenue
Urbana, IL 61801
Charles W. and Genevieve M. Walton Scholar and Assistant Professor of Chemistry
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Professor Olshansky began her studies at San Diego City College before transferring to UC San Diego and graduating with highest honors in 2009 with a B.S. in Chemistry. She went on to MIT as an NSF and Presidential graduate research fellow, earning a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry in 2015. Following research at UC Irvine as an ACS Irving S. Sigal Postdoctoral Fellow, she joined the faculty at the University of Illinois in 2018.

Research Interests

  • Bioinspired inorganic chemistry, synthesis of metal complexes capable of undergoing triggered conformational changes, preparation of switchable artificial metalloproteins, applications in biomedical research and renewable energy.

Research Description

Research in the Olshansky lab is focused on mimicking the way that biological systems use structural changes as a vehicle for the interconversion of different forms of energy (e.g. converting binding energy, protein-protein interactions, sunlight, or pH gradients into chemical energy). This mechanistic paradigm is prevalent in biology and represents a powerful means with which to direct energetically demanding reactions without the need for excessive energy input.

We are inspired by the countless enzymatic systems that, upon stimulation, use macromolecular changes to gate reactivity. Biomimetic metallocofactors are prepared both synthetically and through the generation of artificial metalloproteins. In both cases stimulus-responsive conformational changes target changes in metal ion coordination geometry and secondary sphere interactions to affect changes in the intrinsic properties of the metallocofactor (E°', pKa, spin state, substrate activation). In turn, these changes are leveraged to do work, with applications ranging from biomedical imaging and targeted drug delivery to solar fuels production.

We are a multidisciplinary group and use a combination of synthetic, physical and biochemical methods to achieve these goals. Students from all areas are encouraged to apply.

Distinctions / Awards

  • 2016 American Chemical Society Irving S. Sigal Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 2015 MIT Davison Prize for best Inorganic Chemistry Thesis
  • 2010 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship
  • 2009 MIT Robert T. Haslam Presidential Fellowship
  • 2009 MIT Department of Chemistry Award for Outstanding Teaching
  • 2009 University of California, San Diego, Harold C. Urey Award
  • 2008 American Chemical Society Student Affiliates Research Fellowship
  • 2008 University of California, San Diego Chancellor’s Research Fellowship
  • 2006 San Diego City College Science and Engineering Scholarship
  • 2005 Association for Women in Science Community College Scholarship

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Olshansky, Lisa, Raúl Huerta-Lavorie, Andy I. Nguyen, Jaicy Vallapurackal, T. Don Tilley, A. S. Borovik, and Ariel Furst Artificial Metalloproteins Containing Co4O4 Cubane Active Sites Journal of the American Chemical Society 140 8 2018, p. 2739–2742.
Olshansky, Lisa, Brandon L. Greene, Chelsea Finkbeiner, JoAnne Stubbe, and Daniel G. Nocera Photochemical Generation of a Tryptophan Radical Within the Subunit Interface of Ribonucleotide Reductase Biochemistry 55 23 2016, p. 3234–3240.
Olshansky, Lisa, JoAnne Stubbe, and Daniel G. Nocera Charge Transfer Dynamics at the α/β Subunit Interface of a Photochemical Ribonucleotide Reductase Journal of the American Chemical Society 138 4 2016, p. 1196–1205.
Olshansky, Lisa, Arturo A. Pizano, Yifeng Wei, JoAnne Stubbe, and Daniel G. Nocera Kinetics of Hydrogen Atom Abstraction from Substrate by an Active Site Thiyl Radical in Ribonucleotide Reductase Journal of the American Chemical Society 136 46 2014, p. 16210–16216.
Pizano, Arturo A, Lisa Olshansky, Patrick G. Holder, and JoAnne Stubbe Modulation of Y356 Photooxidation in E. coli class Ia Ribonucleotide Reductase by Y731 Across the α2:β2 Interface Journal of the American Chemical Society 135 36 2013, p. 13250–13253.
Minnihan, Ellen C, Nozomi Ando, Edward J. Brignole, Lisa Olshansky, Johnathan Chittuluru, Francisco J. Asturias, Catherine L. Drennan, Daniel G. Nocera, and JoAnne Stubbe Generation of a Stable, Aminotyrosyl Radical-induced α2β2 Complex of E. coli class Ia Ribonucleotide Reductase Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 110 10 2013, p. 3835–3840.