PhD, Indiana University
MA, Indiana University
BA, Southern Methodist University
Dr. O'Brien serves as the chair of the Department of Communications. Previously, she served as the Coordinator of the department's graduate program; and an Assistant Professor and Coordinator for the Electronic Media Program in the School of Media and Public Affairs at The George Washington University (GWU). She taught at GWU for nine years.
Dr. O'Brien has a background in TV and radio production as well as a theoretical background that she obtained through her master's and doctoral program at Indiana University. She combines a number of methodologies in her research, but is primarily a critical-cultural scholar and historian. Her research has concentrated on the field of television and film animation. Her master's thesis explored the historical, cultural, production, and management reasons for why animation is an anomaly on prime-time TV. Her doctorate explored the reasons why the Walt Disney Studios altered the classic fairy tales that they have used in their feature films, and how this impacted audience decoding and reception.