Valerie Olson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology. Her research focus is the sociocultural processes that remake what counts as the “human environment.” Her projects are concerned with how social groups use the system concept to perceive, organize, and control spatial relations, particularly on large and complex scales. This focus allows her to examine how and why people create ways to relate to spaces, things, and processes they do not experience directly and which they categorize as “extreme” or “beyond” human.
Olson is involved in UCI’s inter-school environmental research, education, and community engaged programs as a key part of her research program. She serves on interdisciplinary teams and campus initiatives such as Water UCI, the Salton Sea Initiative, and the UCI OCEANS Initiative.