Skip to main content
Judith Olson

Four distinguished individuals, including Informatics Professor Emeritus Judith Olson, will receive honorary degrees from Northwestern University. Olson is being recognized for being a pioneer in human-computer interaction.

Olson will receive a Doctor of Science. She is the Donald Bren Professor of Information and Computer Sciences Emerita in the department of informatics at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). For over 30 years, Olson conducted research in the field of human-computer interaction. Her work focused on teams whose members do not work together in person, summaries of which are found in her most-cited paper, “Distance Matters” (Olson & Olson, 2000), and her latest book, “Working Together Apart” (Olson & Olson, 2014).

Olson received her undergraduate degree in experimental psychology from Northwestern in 1965, followed by a master’s degree and then a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from the University of Michigan in 1969. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University, she was a professor at the University of Michigan, first in the psychology department and then in the business school. After that she became one of the 10 founding faculty of the new School of Information. She was at Michigan for 38 years before moving to UCI in 2008.

Olson is a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). With her husband and colleague, Gary Olson, she holds the Lifetime Achievement Award from the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction.

In 2018, she was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. In 2015, Larry Page, co-founder of Google, was quoted in the book “Innovations” saying the course that influenced him the most when he was an undergraduate was a course Olson taught on human-computer interaction. In 2011, she was awarded the ACM-W Athena Lecture, the equivalent of “Woman of the Year in Computer Science.”

Read the full story at Northwestern Now.