Suzanne Oconnell uses marine sediment cores to study past oceans and climate and am widely published in paleoceanography. She has sailed on ten scientific ocean drilling expeditions. The most recent was Expedition 395, in summer 2023 to the North Atlantic.

Diversity issues in geoscience is her passion. Suzanne co-edited a book on gender equality and helped to start "On To the Future" at the Geological Society of America (GSA). She served for 5 years as Wesleyan's Director of Service-learning and after that for 5-years as Wesleyan's McNair Program Director.