Prior to joining Virginia Tech, O’Donnell worked as a post-doctorate researcher at the University of California Berkeley on the Cryogenic Underground Observatory for Rare Events (CUORE) searching for neutrinoless double beta decay.
The hypothetical decay is sought by particle physicists to deepen understanding of neutrino masses. Related processes are vital in theories that attempt to explain the abundance of matter over anti-matter in the universe. CUORE uses an array of nearly 1,000 tellurium dioxide bolometers, tools designed to measure the power of incident electromagnetic radiation, that operate at 10 megakelvins — one-hundredth of a degree above absolute zero. It is the largest operating ultra-low-temperature bolometer array ever.
He earned his doctoral and master’s degrees from University of California Berkeley and his bachelor’s degree from National University of Ireland, Cork. Moving forward, O’Donnell will continue to focus his research on experimental neutrino physics.
O’Donnell is one of 18 tenured and tenure-track faculty members to join the College of Science and its affiliated programs this year.