Loyola University Chicago

College of Arts & Sciences

Spotlight On: Tim O'Brien

Timothy O’Brien, Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics in the College of Arts and Sciences at Loyola University Chicago, is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship to teach and conduct research at the Technical University of Budapest, Hungary during the 2021-2022 academic year


Timothy O’Brien, PhD, Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics in the College of Arts and Sciences with a joint appointment in the School of Environmental Sustainability at Loyola University Chicago, was recently awarded a prestigious Fulbright Award. Specifically, O’Brien has received the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award in Data Science and STEM Research from the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board to serve as a visiting scholar at the Technical University of Budapest, Hungary during the 2021-2022 academic year.

While in residence at the Technical University of Budapest, O’Brien will give approximately ten research seminars at various universities and institutes throughout Europe, most notably in Austria, Finland, and Hungary. His research during this period will focus on unifying quantitative methods across disciplinary fields, extending environmental models and public health policy programs and targets to understand climate change, and working with a former Loyola student, Jack Silcox, on providing the end-user with practical rules for data modeling.

The international dimension of O’Brien’s research began with his Peace Corps service in Benin, West Africa in 1980, and was followed by a Jefferson Science Fellowship in Washington, DC, and as an Embassy Science Expert in Rabat, Morocco. He also served in the Professor-in-Residence Program at the Infectious Disease Institute in Kampala, Uganda, participated as Senior Advisor with the international non-governmental organization Pilar Research, and taught short courses and advised graduate students at the African Institutes for Mathematical Sciences in Cameroon, Ghana, Senegal, and South Africa.

O’Brien has started working with a new Loyola Applied Statistics MS student Timothy DeRolf on environmental modeling of extreme events–such as hurricanes, wildfires, and drought–and connections with public health programs, including application of better modeling to address the next zoonotic disease/virus. O’Brien plans to work with his student and make a deeper dive into these fields. Their goal? To help provide environmental and public health policy makers with better data and information to inform key, sustainable research and decision-making.

“The kind of statistical analysis and modeling that Tim O’Brien is helping to develop are essential to understanding and addressing issues in climate change, sustainability, public health, and related areas,” says Peter J. Schraeder, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Loyola University Chicago. “His Fulbright award clearly demonstrates the international relevance of his research agenda, which involves collaboration with colleagues in Europe to share leading-edge methodology with researchers and policymakers who will leverage it to work toward solutions.”

O’Brien is the most recent of dozens of College of Arts and Sciences faculty who have received Fulbright Awards over the years. The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government, and is designed to forge lasting connections between the people of the United States and the peoples of other countries, counter misunderstanding, and help people and nations work together toward common goals. Since its establishment in 1946, the Fulbright Program has enabled more than 390,000 dedicated and accomplished students, scholars, artists, teachers, and professionals of all backgrounds to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and find solutions to shared international concerns.


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About the College of Arts and Sciences
The College of Arts and Sciences is the oldest of Loyola University Chicago’s 15 schools, colleges, and institutes. More than 150 years since its founding, the College is home to 20 academic departments and 33 interdisciplinary programs and centers, more than 450 full-time faculty, and nearly 8,000 students. The 2,000+ classes that we offer each semester span an array of intellectual pursuits, ranging from the natural sciences and computational sciences to the humanities, the social sciences, and the fine and performing arts. Our students and faculty are engaged internationally at our campuses in Rome, Italy, and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, as well as at dozens of University-sponsored study abroad and research sites around the world. Home to the departments that anchor the University’s Core Curriculum, the College seeks to prepare all of Loyola’s students to think critically, to engage the world of the 21st century at ever deepening levels, and to become caring and compassionate individuals. Our faculty, staff, and students view service to others not just as one option among many, but as a constitutive dimension of their very being. In the truest sense of the Jesuit ideal, our graduates strive to be “individuals for others.” For further information about the College of Arts and Sciences, please visit our website.