CDR Tatana Olson, PhD, USN

Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory
Chief of Staff (Acting) DHA R&D Directorate & Prospective XO
2023 Human Systems Conference : PANEL: Getting Past Technology- First Solutions in Acquisition

CDR Olson is currently dual-hatted as the Acting Deputy Director for the Research and Engineering Directorate, as well as the Science & Technology Portfolio Management Branch Chief at the Defense Health Agency (DHA) in Falls Church, Virginia where she leads 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 serves 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

CDR Olson received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Virginia Tech in 1998 and her doctorate in industrial and organizational psychology from Purdue University in 2004. Dr. Olson earned her commission in the U.S. Navy in 2004 as an Aerospace Experimental Psychologist (AEP).

Prior to her arrival at DHA, she served as the Deputy Director of the Naval Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory (NAMRL) at the Naval Medical Research Unit in Dayton, Ohio from, where she managed a broad research portfolio addressing challenges to aviator health, safety, and performance and as the Operational Psychology Department Head at the Navy Aerospace Medicine Institute, Pensacola, Florida where she oversaw the Aviation Selection Test Battery (ASTB), the primary tool used to select aviation candidates for the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.  Her areas of expertise include personnel assessment and selection, individual differences, work motivation, and test development and validation.

Previous assignments included Science Advisor and Navy Liaison at the Defense Forensics and Biometrics Agency (DFBA) in Arlington, Virginia and serving on the special staff of the Chief of Naval Personnel (CNP), where she led strategic planning across the Navy manpower, personnel, training, and education enterprise, served as the CNP’s speechwriter, and drafted congressional testimony. During this time, CDR Olson also served 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 within the United States Navy.

CDR Olson is a member of the American Psychological Association, the Society for Military Psychology (where she currently serves as 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 military decorations include the 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), Army Achievement Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and National Defense Service Medal.