Hometown: Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin
Major: Marine Biology
Megan O’Brien has had her share of academic success at URI. As a sophomore she won a Goldwater Scholarship, the nation’s most prestigious award for students studying science and engineering, and a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Hollings Scholarship, a competitive scholarship for undergraduates in the marine sciences.
Now as a graduate student, she’s done it again. This spring, Megan was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to spend a year studying in Iceland, making her the 11th URI student to win a Fulbright grant in the last 14 years.
“I thought it was a long shot to get the Fulbright,” she said. “But I thought it would be really cool to study in Iceland, and it would be my first chance to go abroad. I’m looking to broaden my world view.”
Megan got a head start on her world travels earlier this month as she joined her URI women’s rowing teammates to compete in England’s prestigious Henley Regatta. “In 2009, friends dared me to try out for the team, saying I wouldn’t last two weeks, and now I’ve lasted four years. The Henley was a once-in-a-lifetime event for our group of women to go and row at one of the most famous races in the world.”
Now as Megan wraps up her research and prepares to complete her master’s degree in marine biology in August, she is looking forward to shifting gears for the next stage of her academic career. In Iceland, she plans to “get out of the lab” and explore the social science side of the marine environment. She’ll study at the University Centre of the Westfjords and earn a master’s degree in coastal and marine management.