Dr. O'Brien has been a Gender Specialist for USAID-funded projects in Kenya, Senegal, Ethiopia, Ghana, Bangladesh, Guatemala, and Paraguay. She is currently Lead Gender Specialist for the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Processing and Post-Harvest Handling led by Purdue University, from where she earned her Ph.D. (Political Science) with coursework in public policy, international relations, statistics, and agricultural economics. Employing qualitative and quantitative methods with extensive fieldwork in Mexico and Nigeria, she won Best Dissertation in Women and Politics from the American Political Science Association, her discipline's premier organization in the U.S. She holds a Master of Education from Harvard University and a Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies (focus on Public Policy and Women in an International Context). At San Diego State University, her interdisciplinary research and teaching center on: global public policy; gender, nutrition & food security; women's empowerment; intersectionality; peacebuilding; and gender-based violence, primarily VAWG. She has 20+ years experience working with vulnerable populations (e.g. migrant farmers; child laborers; trafficked youth) and on human security issues in the U.S., Africa, and Latin America (e.g. Brazil; Honduras; Costa Rica; etc.). UNHCR Staff cited her work on gender, health, environment, and resource conflict as a key factor that led to an NGO’s implementing partner status, allowing for scaled-up efforts to address concerns in multiple refugee camps. Coming from a small farm family, Dr. O'Brien has provided Gender Trainings to diverse groups; guest lectured in Spanish on gender and agricultural extension at Universidad Nacional de Asunción; and promoted women’s small business development (e.g. in Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Ethiopia, etc.).