Kelly O’Donnell

Kelly O'Donnell

Kelly O’Donnell
Director of Science Forward

Macaulay Honors College

Kelly L. O’Donnell, PhD, is the Director of Science Forward at Macaulay Honors College. She oversees scientific programing and academics for Macaulay. Science Forward is the name of our required, skills-focused science curriculum at Macaulay that allows student to explore an interdisciplinary selection of scientific fields in the context of the common set of skills that all scientists use when they do their work. Dr. O’Donnell and a team of interdisciplinary faculty developed this science curriculum to allow our students to learn science by being actively engaged in the scientific process itself. Science Forward begins with a BioBlitz that Dr. O’Donnell co-directs with Dr. Lisa Brundage. At this event, students collect ecological data from the city and then use those data as the basis for their semester research projects that they present at our end of semester STEAM Festival. Science Forward is also the name of our open educational resource (OER) that features the core content for the Science Forward course. The OER (available at: contains activities, lesson ideas, and our custom library of 17 professionally-made videos featuring many CUNY scientists talking about the skills they use when they do their work. This resource is open for all to use and share and was developed by Dr. O’Donnell, Dr. Brundage, and Macaulay Chief Academic Officer Joseph Ugoretz. Dr. O’Donnell also regularly teaches one of the Science Forward seminars and occasionally teaches upper level courses such as Ecological Change & Human Disease and Detecting Bullshit in the Modern Age.

Before coming to Macaulay, Dr. O’Donnell completed a teaching post-doc at Columbia University. She holds a PhD in Ecology and Evolution from Stony Brook University and a BS in Biology from Cornell University. Her academic interests are in botany, urban ecology and invasive plant evolution. Her non-academic interests include embroidery, trapeze, and Star Trek.