Teri W. Odom’s Personal Story of Discovery

Professor Teri W. Odom, Ph.D., is the Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Chemistry at Northwestern University. She is also the Executive Editor of ACS Photonics and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of ACS Nano.

Odom said she didn’t picture herself pursuing a career in science from a young age. She took chemistry and biology classes as an undergraduate at Stanford University, but the courses proved challenging to her. “They were way too hard,” she said.

“It wasn’t until I met my husband, actually my boyfriend at the time, and he introduced me to quantum mechanics. He was so excited. He came back to his dorm one day and said, ‘look what happens when you have one particle and it acts like it’s going through two slits at the same time!’”

This experiment, called Young’s double-slit experiment, gives insight on the world of the nanoscopic and atomic length scales, where the laws of physics are governed by quantum science. “I am still fascinated by quantum mechanics and how matter behaves differently at smaller scales,” said Odom.

Her boyfriend also suggested she try undergraduate research during the summer in college. “I had no idea what that was or what it involved. But, I decided to try it out.”

As a part of her research training, Odom read journals and also C&EN, where she learned about work by Charles M. Lieber on scanning probe microscopies. “I applied to graduate school, and he was the one I ended up working with.”

While pursuing a Ph.D. at Harvard University with Professor Lieber as her advisor, Odom joined a lab that was working on carbon nanotubes and semiconducting nanowires. She describes Lieber as a very deep thinker.

“Charlie is a very interesting person,” she said. “He always seemed to be ahead of the game. He’s one of those people who has incredible foresight on where science may be going.” Working with Lieber, she learned how to make sure her work is robust, careful, and tightly controlled. “We learned how to work on important problems, but also how to work on them in depth.”

“That’s when I really started to love science,” she said.

Read Selections of Professor Teri W. Odom’s Research in ACS Publications Journals:

Structural Engineering in Plasmon Nanolasers
Chem. Rev., Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemrev.7b00424

Evolutionary Design and Prototyping of Single Crystalline Titanium Nitride Lattice Optics
ACS Photonics, 2017, 4 (3), pp 606–612
DOI: 10.1021/acsphotonics.6b00955

Controlled Three-Dimensional Hierarchical Structuring by Memory-Based, Sequential Wrinkling
Nano Lett., 2015, 15 (8), pp 5624–5629
DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.5b02394

Enhanced Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2 Degradation in Breast Cancer Cells by Lysosome-Targeting Gold Nanoconstructs
ACS Nano, 2015, 9 (10), pp 9859–9867
DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.5b05138

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