Gregory B. Olson

Professor of the Practice

Primary Impact, Materials, Research Type

Contact Info

Office Phone: 617-324-2390
Office: 4-415
Website/Lab: Olson Research Group


Professor Gregory Olson’s research is in computational materials design. He is now considered the father of integrated computational materials engineering (ICME), the industrial practice of computationally designing materials and their processing paths. Professor Olson investigates fracture resistance, creates materials system designs through computational modeling, and develops design methodologies for high-performance alloy steels and other materials, including intermetallic composites, ceramics, and polymers.


Professor Olson joined the MIT Department of Materials Science and Engineering as the Thermo-Calc Professor of the Practice in January 2020. He earned all his degrees from MIT, starting with a BS in 1970. He worked with Professor Morris Cohen for his PhD, finishing in 1974, and held positions as research associate, principal research associate, and senior research associate. In 1988, he took a tenured full professor position at Northwestern University, where he was later awarded the Walter P. Murphy Chair. In 1997 Professor Olson founded Questek Innovations, a company that applies ICME toolkits to solve industrial problems, including the first documented commercial successes in computational steel design. 

Key Publications

Low-hysteresis shape-memory ceramics designed by multimode modeling

Created a category of shape-memory materials from ceramics that can operate at higher temperatures without sustaining much damage.

Shape-memory materials function as actuators, changing shape as a reaction to external stimuli such as heat. Ductile metals, popular materials in this category, withstand damage well. But their utility is limited as they do not function well at high temperatures.

Many applications, such as jet engine operations, require actuators that can withstand the stress generated by high heat. Having a single solid-state ceramic material can help in such situations. Ceramic actuators can potentially also work in microscale applications like lab-on-a-chip devices, which integrate laboratory functions on a single circuit.

Awards & Honors

Foreign Member, Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Science
Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Member, National Academy of Engineering
Gold Medal, ASM International
Fellow, The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society