Dr. Carol O'Donnell
Carol O’Donnell is the Director of the Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC), a unit of the Smithsonian Institution that is dedicated to transforming the learning and teaching of science throughout the nation and world. In this role, Carol is responsible for all operational activities and planning for the unit, including building awareness for K-12 science education reform among State and district leaders; conducting programs that support the professional growth of K-12 science teachers and school leaders; and, overseeing all research and curricular resource development, philanthropic development, and administration. In this capacity, Carol also serves as the US representative on the Global Council of the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) Science Education Programme (SEP), the global network of the science academies. Carol also serves on the Subcommittee on Federal Coordination in STEM Education (FC-STEM), which advises and assists the Committee on STEM Education (CoSTEM). In this role, Carol served as one of the co-authors of the 2018 National Science & Technology Council’s 5-year CoSTEM strategic plan.
Prior to joining the Smithsonian, Carol was a leader at the US Department of Education for nearly a decade, supporting States and districts as they built their capacity to implement and sustain education reforms and achieve continued improvement in student outcomes; she also oversaw the Cognition and Student Learning program of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). A former K-12 teacher and curriculum developer, Dr. O’Donnell is still in the classroom today, serving on the part-time faculty of the Physics Department at The George Washington University.
Carol has expertise in education policy, professional development, cognition and student learning, education research, and curriculum development. She has spoken extensively about Women in STEM, the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), diversifying the STEM teaching workforce, educating youth across the globe on the complex socio-scientific issues that underlie the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). Dr. O’Donnell earned her Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Pittsburgh, Master of Science in Geosciences from Mississippi State University (MSU), and her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on science education from The George Washington University (GWU).