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Full Name
Carol O'Donnell
School/Organization
Smithsonian Science Education Center/Smithsonian Institution
Job Title
Executive Director
Subject Area
Current Role
Bio

Dr. Carol O’Donnell is a Senior Executive at the Smithsonian Institution and Director of the Smithsonian Science Education Center. In this role, Carol serves as an advisor on several boards and committees, both national and global, including: the Subcommittee on Federal Coordination in STEM Education (FC-STEM) of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s Committee on STEM Education (CoSTEM); the Science Education Programme Global Council of the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP), the global network of science, engineering, and medical academies; the International Committee of the Foundation La main à la pâte in France; and the Program Committee of the International Dialogue on STEM Education in Berlin. In this role, Carol co-authored the 2019 position paper on STEM Education for Sustainable Development (http://bit.ly/3a3ObkS), encouraging educators around the globe to recognize STEM education not only for its power in developing  a strong workforce, but for its importance in ensuring a sustainable future.  Prior to the Smithsonian, Carol was a leader at the US Department of Education as both a research analyst at the Institute of Education Sciences, and a policy analyst in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. She has expertise in science education, education policy, teacher professional development, cognition and student learning, education research, and K-12 curriculum development. Carol has spoken extensively about Women in STEM; STEM education; NGSS: diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion in STEM; educating youth on the SDGs; using science for social good; and Social and Emotional Learning. Carol earned her Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Pittsburgh, Master of Science in Geosciences from MSU, and doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from GWU. Her TedX Talk, which has been shared with large audiences of teachers thousands of times, demonstrates her passion for “doing science” and “object-driven learning” (think about all the stuff at the Smithsonian!). She has been honored through numerous awards, winning the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Graduate Research Excellence Award in 2008 for researching fidelity of implementation in K-12 classrooms; was named the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Education Distinguished Alumna of the Year in 2018; and was honored to receive the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE) Unsung Hero Award 2020. Carol has authored 6 books at the Smithsonian for STEM Teachers, and her curriculum, “Catastrophic Events,” published by Carolina Biological, won the NOAA Mark Trail Award for raising students’ awareness of how to protect themselves from weather hazards. A former K-12 science teacher, Dr. O’Donnell is still in the classroom today, serving on the part-time faculty of the Physics Department at George Washington University (GWU). Her biggest accomplishment, however, is the love of her grandchildren and four adult children, who all found passion in helping professions, and her husband, a dedicated father who spent 30 years in the classroom as a special education teacher.