Office of Economic Impact and Diversity

Women @ Energy: Vivian O’Dell

September 22, 2015

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Vivian O’Dell is a scientist at Fermilab, working on the CMS experiment at CERN. Currently she is responsible for the U.S. part of the High Luminosity upgrades to the CMS detector that will be installed and commissioned at CERN in 2023-2025 to prepare for the upgraded Large Hadron Collider. She attended the University of Georgia, earning a bachelor of science degree in physics and math, and Brown University, earning a master's degree and Ph.D.

1) What inspired you to work in STEM?

I first decided to major in physics during my second year of college. I was originally an English major, and after taking an introductory physics class, I decided to switch my major to physics.


2) What excites you about your work at the Department of Energy?

There are many great things about my job. I enjoy being part of an international collaboration and being able to work with scientists from many different countries and cultures. At Fermilab, I enjoy working with the talented postdocs, scientists, and engineers that are working on a wide range of research in technology and collider physics analysis. My day is typically divided between discussing the latest analysis results from our experiment and how to best “rehab” our detector to get the most gain in our physics reach in future running.


3) How can our country engage more women, girls, and other underrepresented groups in STEM?

More all-girl science events, like in Brownies or Girl Scouts. Having stronger mentorship programs for girls and women interested in sciences, and using the pool of successful women in STEM fields to help mentor younger women.


4) Do you have tips you'd recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?

It’s a tough climb, but the summit is worth it!


5) When you have free time, what are your hobbies?

Restoring my early 20th century house, going to demolition sales, and playing violin and mandolin.