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Olivia Castellini

About Olivia Castellini

Dr. Olivia Castellini knows how to make science fun. A physicist by training, she creates award winning exhibits and experiences at the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) in Chicago, making science and cutting –edge research accessible and engaging for all. Olivia excels at translating complex topics into relatable experiences on everything from nanotechnology and math to music and sports. She was part of the core creative team behind Science Storms, MSI's 26,000sq.ft. exhibition about the amazing science which underlies natural phenomena. She holds a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a B.A. in music and physics from DePauw University. In addition to her science career, Olivia is an accomplished musician, model, athlete and actor.

What lessons have you learned in your STEM journey?

You have to have grit. Science is hard, but it is rewarding. You have to have the courage to try, the humility to fail, the openness to learning from your experiences and the audacity to try again.

What has been a critical factor in your success?

Having strong female mentors through every step of my education, from high school through my postdoc. I didn’t appreciate how rare that was until I was past my formal education and working in informal science education. In my career, I have the opportunity to interface with many students of all ages and those conversations always highlight for me how rare my experience was. I was lucky to female role models to not only support my education, but to mentor me and help me navigate being a woman in a field that typically lacks diversity. I hope through the work I do and the example I am setting that the next generation of STEM pioneers doesn’t have rely on luck.

What advice do you have for students and young professionals in STEM?

Pursue everything that interests you. You never know what opportunities you might have because of it. By exploring your own interests – whatever they are or how disparate they may seem – you will learn what you’re passionate about and build a diverse skill set that will position you well when the right opportunity comes your way.

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