Dr. O’Neil is an NSF & NIH awardee studying American Inequality

Meghan M. O’Neil is the Empirical Legal Studies Research Scholar at the University of Michigan Law School and Research Investigator with the Population Studies Center at the Institute for Social Research. O’Neil spent three years living and training at the International House of NYC devoted to cross-cultural exchange, diversity, equity, and inclusion. International House “builds life-long qualities of leadership, respect, empathy, and moral courage among individuals of all nations and backgrounds.”

This training and lived experience-such as handling her mother’s eviction during her youth and her mother passing away while on a years-long waiting list for disabled housing-motivated O’Neil to develop empirical research aimed at reducing poverty among vulnerable families. Her focus is on finding evidence to improve access to justice and housing.

She has presented her research at University College Dublin, Ireland and the University of Haifa, Israel. She trained as an urban sociologist studying racial disparities in housing under Nancy Denton for her PhD. She was a Visiting Student in Sociology at University of Michigan under Reynolds Farley. She served as a Women’s International Leadership Fellow and worked as a Senior Data Scientist on Wall Street and the NYC Department of Social Services prior to matriculating for her PhD.

Dr. O’Neil is developing and evaluating “Removing Barriers to Recovery: Community Partnering for Innovative Solutions to the Opioid Crisis” for which her team won two INNOVATE Awards. O’Neil is leading this intervention partnering with two local not-for-profit drug and alcohol recovery centers, several courts throughout Michigan, and Matterhorn—a tech start-up that originated at the University of Michigan Law School. This intervention targets online dispute resolution to clients seeking recovery over the course of the next year in an effort to help sustain their recovery and stay out of jail. By removing legal barriers and partnering closely with public and private stakeholders, the intervention supports sobriety, family reunification, housing security, return to the local economy, and self-sufficiency.

Her work is supported by The National Science Foundation, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and Arnold Ventures. She is a recipient of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) LRP for Clinical Researchers from Disadvantaged Backgrounds. She is Co-Investigator and site leader for the State of Michigan on “Community Corrections Fines and Fees” for PI Ebony Ruhland of the University of Cincinnati and by Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan where she was Co-Investigator on “Targeting Poverty in the Courts” with Law Professor J.J. Prescott.

Dr. O’Neil is the first generation in her family to attend college.

PhD, State University of New York at Albany. MA, Columbia University, Quantitative Methods of the Social Sciences. BS, Southern Connecticut State University.


NYC marathon photo credit: pbs.org; headshot: Ivory Photo Ann Arbor