Don Olson received his BS in chemistry in 1957 from Gonzaga University and his PhD in analytical chemistry from Purdue University in 1961. He conducted postdoctoral research at UCLA (1961–1962) and was a NATO postdoctoral fellow at the H. C. Ørsted Institute in Denmark (1962–1963). In 1963, he joined Shell Development, the research arm of Shell Oil. During his career at Shell, Don’s research ranged over several fields of chemistry, including a new analytical technology called flow injection analysis (FIA). He is now an internationally recognized leader in the field. He has authored over more than 30 papers and holds more than 20 patents. At retirement in 1992, he held the position of senior staff research chemist at Shell.
In addition to his industrial work, Don has been active in the academic world. He has taught a number of short-courses on FIA, analytical quality assurance, and electroanalytical chemistry. He was a member of the Industrial Advisory Board of the Center for Process Analytical Chemistry, as well as an affiliate professor, at the University of Washington.
Don is currently an entrepreneur. In 1992, he found Global FIA Inc., where he still serves as CEO, to develop and market new FIA technology. Olson and two other scientists at Global FIA developed a new technology called Zone Fluidics, which takes flow analysis to a higher level of capabilities and scope.
For most of his life, Don was an agnostic. He came to Christ in his 60s. He was a member of the Harbor Covenant Church in Gig Harbor, Washington, for 15 years. While there, he served on the Adult Christian Education Committee, taught several classes on topics like science and faith, wrote numerous articles for the church newsletter, and led a Bible study group. He is now a member of the Believers Fellowship Church in Gig Harbor. He recently made trips to China and India to teach at YWAM’s Discipleship Training School (India) and lecture at universities on modern scientific discoveries that support Christian beliefs. Don also served for a number of years on the board of directors for the Swedish Council of America.