He is a producer and correspondent for the PBS NewsHour, a writer, producer and director for the PBS science documentary series NOVA, a correspondent for the PBS documentary series FRONTLINE and the National Science Foundation's Science Nation.

    For nearly 17 of his 32 years in the news business, he was a staff correspondent and anchor with CNN based in Atlanta and New York. He served as the science, environment, and aerospace correspondent, as well as the anchor of various programs, including American Morning.

    While at CNN, O'Brien secured a deal with NASA to become the first journalist to fly on the space shuttle. The project ended with the loss of Columbia and her crew in 2003 -- a story he told to the world in a critically-acclaimed 16-hour marathon of live coverage of the tragic events. He is currently an at-large member of the NASA Advisory Council, offering strategic advice to the NASA Administrator.

    Prior to joining CNN, he worked as a reporter at television stations in Boston, Tampa, Albany, NY and St. Joseph, MO. He began his television career as a desk assistant at WRC-TV in Washington, DC.

    O'Brien is an accomplished pilot and is frequently called upon to explain the world of aviation to a mass audience. He has won numerous broadcast awards over the years, including a half-dozen Emmys®, a Peabody, and DuPont.

    In February of 2014, a heavy equipment case fell on his forearm while he was on assignment in Asia. He developed Acute Compartment Syndrome, which necessitated the emergency amputation of his left arm above the elbow. Despite the loss of his arm, O'Brein remains an avid cyclist, runner, and has begun the training required to regain his medical qualification to be a private pilot.