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Captain Tatana Olson

Captain Tatana M. Olson, MSC, USN
Executive Officer

Captain Tatana Olson graduated Summa Cum Laude from Virginia Tech in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She earned her doctorate in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Purdue University and was commissioned as a Naval Aerospace Experimental Psychologist (AEP) in 2004. Her areas of expertise include personnel assessment and selection, individual differences, work motivation, and test development and validation. Following commissioning, then Capt. Olson reported to aeromedical officer training in Pensacola, Florida. She earned her wings of gold in May 2005 and was assigned to the Naval Aerospace Medical Institute (NAMI) in Pensacola as the Biostatistics Division Officer in the Operational Psychology Department. 
 
In 2008, Capt. Olson was assigned as special staff to the Chief of Naval Personnel (CNP) in Arlington, Virginia, where she led strategic planning across the Navy manpower, personnel, training, and education enterprise, served as the CNP’s speechwriter, and lead for congressional testimony. In 2010, Capt. Olson was asked to serve as the Medical and Social Science Advisor to the Secretary of Defense’s Comprehensive Review Working Group (CRWG) tasked with assessing the potential impacts to the military of a repeal of the law known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and later, as the Special Advisor to the Chief of Naval Operations to lead repeal implementation across the United States Navy.
 
In 2011, Capt. Olson completed a post-doctoral program in cognitive neuroscience at George Mason University and reported to the Defense Forensics and Biometrics Agency (DFBA) in Arlington, Virginia as the Scientific Advisor and Navy and Marine Corps Liaison.
 
In 2014, Capt. Olson returned to NAMI in Pensacola as the Operational Psychology Department Head where she oversaw management and administration of the Aviation Selection Test Battery (ASTB), the primary tool used to select aviation candidates for the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, and the development of the first of its kind selection battery for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) operators. 
 
Capt. Olson reported to the Naval Medical Research Unit-Dayton (NAMRU-D) in July 2017 as Deputy Director, Naval Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory (NAMRL) where she managed a broad research portfolio addressing challenges to aviator health, safety, and performance.
 
In November 2020, Capt. Olson reported to the Research and Engineering Directorate at the Defense Health Agency (DHA) in Falls Church, Virginia, serving first as the Acting Chief of Staff and then dual-hatted as the Acting Deputy Director and Branch Chief for Science & Technology Portfolio Management, where she led a diverse team, advancing an innovative medical research and development portfolio across the Military Health System to enhance the safety, health, and readiness of service members on and off the battlefield. She also served as the Program Director for the DHA’s Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Program, which fosters technological innovation in collaboration with small businesses.
 
In June 2023, Capt. Olson reported to the Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory (NSMRL) as the Executive Officer. NSMRL’s mission focuses on sustaining the readiness and superiority of undersea warriors through innovative health and performance research.
 
Capt. Olson is a member of the American Psychological Association (APA), the Society for Military Psychology (where she just completed her tenure as President and is currently serving as Past-President), the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, and the U.S. Naval Aerospace Experimental Psychology Society. Her professional awards include the 2021 Department of Defense Small Business Innovation Award for outstanding leadership of the DHA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program; the 2019 Society for Military Psychology Julius E. Uhlaner Award and Presidential Citation for outstanding contributions to research on military selection and recruitment; the 2018 U.S. Naval Aerospace Experimental Psychology Society CAPT Michael G. Lilienthal Leadership Award; the 2017 Hero of Military Medicine Award for the Navy; and the 2012 Society for Military Psychology Charles S. Gersoni Award for outstanding contributions to military psychology for her work on the repeal of DADT. 
 
Her personal military awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (3 awards), Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (3 awards), Army Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (2 awards), and Army Achievement Medal.

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