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New Interim Department Head of Biology



July 23, 2019

The College of Arts and Sciences is pleased to announce that Sean O’Donnell, PhD, has been appointed Interim Head of Drexel University’s Department of Biology.

Sean O’Donnell Interim Head of Drexel University’s Department of Biology
Sean O’Donnell, PhD

O'Donnell is a professor in the Department of Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science with a joint appointment in the Department of Biology. He earned his PhD in Entomology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and completed postdoctoral work at the University of California-Davis. Prior to joining the Drexel faculty in 2011, he spent 15 years on the psychology (animal behavior) faculty at the University of Washington in Seattle, and was a rotating program officer at the National Science Foundation from 2007 to 2008.

O’Donnell’s research in biology focuses on using social insects (ants, termites and wasps) to address questions on diverse topics including population and behavioral genetics; thermal physiology and climate change; brain evolution and plasticity; and colony behavior. He has authored over 125 peer-reviewed publications in journals such as American Naturalist and Proceedings of the Royal Society B, and is currently PI or Co-PI on two funded projects. Among those is his work to develop human-safe, alternative insecticides — innovative work that has received a U.S. patent and press coverage from outlets like New York magazine and Science.

O’Donnell brings vast international research experience to his new role; much of his field work takes place in tropical Central and South America, where he also regularly teaches field courses for Drexel and other organizations. He has also worked on- and off-camera as a subject-matter expert with seven natural history documentary film crews, including Nat Geo Wild and BBC America, in tropical forests.

The College would like to thank Professor John Bethea, PhD, for his six years of service and leadership as Department Head. Please join us in congratulating and wishing Professor O’Donnell well in his new role.