Brian Francis O'Neill

Section 1



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Contact Information

Office Hours

  • Mondays at 4pm or anytime a student would like to talk


Originally from Columbus, Ohio, I attended Washington & Jefferson College as an undergraduate where I was interested initially in the natural sciences.

Slowly though, I became more involved with social scientists.  During my senior year, I helped to design and work on a project surveying the county surrounding Washington & Jefferson about their views related to hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking."  

My turn to sociology came as a graduate research assistant at the University of Arizona, where I worked with a research lab composed of sociologists from the CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research) as well as several PhD students in the University of Arizona Sociology Department.

During the course of our project on the water issues on the Colorado River Basin, I was able to see how fascinating the world could be when using some of the tools that sociology offers.  My interest still lies in the area of environmental sociology and public policies surrounding water.  I am continuing this work with the hope of being able to go back to the western United States for future fieldwork.

Specializations / Research Interest(s)

  • environmental sociology
  • natural resource issues
  • expertise and institutions
  • public policies
  • sociology of science

Research Description

  • Generally speaking, I continue to be interested in the practices of natural resource management, especially in the conditions that allow for certain groups to transform management and its structure.  Water policies, but also the water managers themselves, continue to be a focus of my research as I investigate their characteristics and paths into the field, but also the overall structure of the field itself and the ways in which they struggle to determine the future in the face of water scarcity.


  • B.A. Washington & Jefferson College in Environmental Studies
  • M.S. University of Arizona in Water, Society, and Policy

External URLs



  • SOC-480 Advanced Field Methods

LLS Titles & Affiliations

  • American Sociological Association
  • Midwest Political Science Association
  • International Sociological Association
  • Midwest Sociological Society
  • Global Association for Humanities and Social Science Research


Book Contributions

  • Coeurdray, Murielle, Franck Poupeau, Brian O'Neill, and Joan Cortinas. "Delivering More than Water. The Salt River Project: the Invention of an Adaptive Partnership for Water Management." Water Regimes: Beyond the Public and Private Sector Debate. . Ed. Dominique Lorrain and Franck Poupeau. London: Routledge, 2016.

  • Poupeau, Franck , Murielle Coeurdray, Joan Cortinas, and Brian O'Neill. "The making of water policy in The American southwest: Environmental sociology and its tools." Water Bankruptcy in the land of plenty. . Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2016. 99-115.

  • O'Neill, Brian, Murielle Coeurdray, Franck Poupeau, and Joan Cortinas. "Laws of the river: conflict and cooperation on the Colorado River." Water Bankruptcy in the land of plenty. . Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2016. 43-62.

  • Cortinas, Joan, Murielle Coeurdray, Franck Poupeau, and Brian O'Neill. "Water for a new America." Water Bankruptcy in the land of plenty. . Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2016. 63-76.

  • "Sharing the Colorado River." Water Bankruptcy in the land of plenty. . Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2016. 77-98.

Journal Articles

  • Rebecca, Brice, Brian O'Neill, Christopher Fullerton, Megan Mills-Novoa, Kelsey Hawkes, and Vincente Pawlowski. "Potential Impacts of Climate Change in Natural Areas of the U.S.." Natural Areas Journal 15.30 (2017): tbd.

Special Issues of a Journal

  • "The crossed border disputes over sharing Colorado River between the American Southwestern States – a sociological perspective on environmental policies." Transboundary Waters. Spec. iss. of Waterlat Working Papers Series 2.3 (2015): 158-163.