Tegan O’Neill


Tegan O’Neill is a University Honors Program student from Monson, Massachusetts, who will graduate from the University of New Hampshire in May 2014 with a degree in political science. After her hometown was struck by a tornado in 2011, Tegan was inspired to research local policy on nature disaster preparedness and was awarded a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) to do so in 2013. She chose to study the New Hampshire seacoast region because it is an area that has a significant risk factor but has not experienced a major natural disaster in recent years. Tegan learned that local disaster mitigation is influenced by town politics and individual attitudes, more than by scientifically measured risks and conditions. She found this project to be enjoyable in that it allowed her to engage with an excellent group of public officials, citizens, and regional personnel. Tegan chose to submit to Inquiry because her own brush with disaster made this topic very important to her, and she hopes that her findings can help the New Hampshire seacoast region. The project reinforced her belief that disaster mitigation is an underrated part of community life and helped her to develop analytical and research skills, which will serve her in future work in this field. After graduation, Tegan will enter a master’s program in political science, and hopes to work with international development organizations to help developing communities prepare for and rebuild after natural disasters.