Chair: Avantika Bhardwaj

Avantika is a PhD candidate focusing on the implementation of online delivery of the GLA:D programme, an exercise and education programme for people with hip and knee osteoarthritis. She has a background in Exercise Science and Medicine, completing her B.Sc. in Purdue University and M.Sc. at the University of Glasgow. Having lived in India, USA, Jamaica, South Africa, Nigeria, Bangladesh and Scotland, Avantika is passionate about exploring cultures and seeking opportunities that make for an excellent match with her aspirations of continuing to learn, grow and bring about catalytic change in sports science and healthcare.

Contact: Follow on Twitter @_AvantikaB, Email: avantika.bhardwaj@ul.ie.   

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Deputy Chair: Abigail Browne

Abigail Browne is a Structured PhD student in the School of Allied Health, Faculty of Education and Health Sciences at the University of Limerick under the supervision of Dr Roisin Cahalan and Dr Kieran O’Sullivan.  Her PhD involves exploring the role of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia in the treatment of patients with comorbid persistent musculoskeletal pain and disordered sleep.  Abigail is a physiotherapist who loves working with persistent pain patients, this is where her drive to join the research movement to improve the care for this large patient group.  Abigail has completed a Master of Manual Therapy from the University of Western Australia in 2007 and a BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy from the University of Manchester in 2003.  Prior to becoming a physiotherapist, Abigail was a professional Irish dancer working for a number of years with Riverdance-The Show.

Contact:  Abigail.Browne@ul.ie

Meghan Gilfoyle

Meghan Gilfoyle is a doctoral student based in the School of Medicine in the University of Limerick under the supervision of Dr Jon Salsberg and co-supervisor Prof Anne MacFarlane. Her PhD involves using a trust lens to inform a social network theory of participatory health research, by defining, influencing and measuring the social-relational dimensions of research partnerships. Her previous academic and work experience has had a public health and health systems focus, with specific areas of expertise in cancer prevention and screening, epidemiology, statistical analysis of population health data, evidence-informed public health practice, and knowledge translation. Meghan has a keen interest in engaging public and patient groups in health research in a meaningful and respectful manner. For instance, she has previously worked with entrepreneurs to identify how to best engage people with dementia in the design, testing, and commercialization of an information communication technology. As a Canadian researcher in Ireland, Meghan looks forward to innovative research collaborations as well as networking opportunities within an international context.

Contact: Follow on Twitter @mgilfoyle01, Email meghan.gilfoyle@ul.ie

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Aidan Buffey

Aidan Buffey is a Structured PhD student in the Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, University of Limerick. He is funded by the Health Research Institute and supervised by Prof. Alan Donnelly and Dr Brian Carson. Aidan is in the third year of his PhD project titled ‘Design and evaluation of an intervention to reduce sedentary behaviour and improve health in older adults’. This project aims to implement an office-based intervention designed to interrupt sedentary behaviour with light-intensity physical activity with an emphasis on improving cardiometabolic health markers. Aidan has an MSc in Sport and Exercise Science – Physiology (Manchester Metropolitan University, 2018-2019) and a BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science (Manchester Metropolitan University, 2015-2018). 

Contact: Follow on Twitter @AidanBuffey, Email: Aidan.Buffey@ul.ie

Katherine Dowling

Katherine (Katie) is a Succeed and Lead Post-doctoral Research Fellow in the School Child and Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing Lab (SCY-Lab) nested within the Department of Psychology at the University of Limerick. Her main research interests include mental health promotion, social and emotional learning, evaluation research, implementation science and bridging the knowledge-to-practice gap. Katherine is currently working on the CoSPACE Ireland study which assesses the mental health and wellbeing of children and parents/carers throughout all stages of the pandemic. She is leading on a qualitative research piece which assesses the wellbeing needs of post-primary students following on from the pandemic. These needs will help to inform the development of school-based strategies for student wellbeing which will be co-developed with relevant key stakeholders in the health and education sectors. Katherine graduated with a PhD in Health Promotion in 2021 from the National University of Ireland Galway. Katherine was funded by the Irish Research Council (IRC) postgraduate scholarship to complete PhD research conducting an RCT with 32 post-primary schools to evaluate the effectiveness and implementation of a national social and emotional wellbeing programme. Prior to her PhD, Katherine worked as a researcher at the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Health Promotion (NUIG) on several projects which related to promoting the mental health and wellbeing of young people. Katherine led on the development of the MindOut programme, a national mental wellbeing programme for post-primary schools and youth settings which was launched by the Minister of Education and Minister for Health Promotion in 2018. Katherine has collaborated with a number of local and national organisations including the Health Service Executive, the National Youth Council of Ireland, Jigsaw and Mental Health Ireland. Katherine has also worked closely with school stakeholders including students, teachers, and principals. In addition to her PhD, Katherine also has a MA in Health Promotion from NUI Galway and a Bachelor of Health Science from Western University, Ontario, Canada.

Contact: Follow on Twitter @k_dowling1, Email: Katherine.dowling@ul.ie

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Katherine Dowling