Mary Lou O’Donnell

Mary Lou O’Donnell

Fellowship Placement: U.S. Department of Energy - Office of Science
Hometown: Long Beach, NY

Mary Lou O’Donnell was born in Queens NY in 1965 to Italian immigrant parents (Luigi and Maria) who value education and hard work. She attended Presentation BVM grammar school and was accepted to the highly selective high school, The Mary Louis Academy. She then attended St. John’s University, majoring in Bio-Chemistry and Science Education (1986). She completed a Master's Degree in Computer Technology in Education in 1988 at Long Island University – CW Post campus.

Mary Lou began her teaching career in 1986 at Jamaica HS in Queens NY teaching Computer Science, Biology, Chemistry and Research to bright and motivated inner-city students. Over 10 years, she became acutely aware of meeting the needs of her students and providing them with high level educational experiences. She taught in the selective Gateway to Education Program and began a basic STEM research program.

Since 1996 she has taught in the Plainview-Old Bethpage School District in Long Island, NY. Here she has taught Biology (Gr.9), Chemistry (Gr.10-11), Research (Gr.9-12), AP Seminar (Gr.10) and AP Research (Gr.12). Since 2006, Mary Lou has served as the HS Research Coordinator. In this role, she wrote and coordinated the curriculum for many teachers who work with 100’s of students yearly. She directly oversees all senior STEM projects and many projects for younger students. A key aspect of this role is assisting students and their families in finding summer research opportunities, either attending hands-on STEM research programs or working directly with University researchers. This has provided the unique opportunity to liaison between students and scientists in local and national Universities.  This has provided her with the perspective of the real- world researcher.  She has visited them in their labs, worked together to assure student success, and assisted in writing grant proposals and applications for work visas.  She appreciates the importance and value that these internship experiences provide for young HS students.  

She is most proud of the success she has had mentoring research projects and submitting them to the Siemens Math Science and Technology Competition. In 2006 a Plainview team placed 2nd in the nation, followed by 2007 where her team placed 4th and culminating in 2008 with the 1st place team! Ultimately, she is most gratified by her POB alumni, many if not most, are excelling in STEM careers.

Mary Lou is married to John for 32 years, is a mother of three college graduates (Matthew, Michael and Megan) and enjoys her home on the ocean in Long Beach NY. She will provide her unique and varied perspective on real research in STEM education during her year long tenure as an Albert Einstein Fellow at the Department of Energy, Office of Science.