I completed my degree and doctorate in psychology at NUI Galway, supported by a college fellowship and IRCHSS. During my undergraduate studies I also completed a diploma in Gaeilge (Irish language), and during my PhD studies I collaborated on an NIH-funded study of at-risk parents and children, based in Pennsylvania State University. My research examines how our social relationships influence health, for better and for worse, particularly in terms of coping with stress. This programme of research spans several sub-disciplines of psychology and relates to other disciplines including health and sociology. ResearchI joined the Department of Psychology at the University of Limerick as a Lecturer in September 2013, following my training at NUI Galway, and a year applying my research skills to several policy-relevant projects at the Educational Research Centre in Drumcondra. At UL, I am a member of the Centre for Social Issues Research cluster, the Health Research Institute, and the SASHLab research group (sashlab.com), involved in several strands of research in social connectedness and health.
My research interests are in social connectedness and health. Current projects are focused on (1) the impact of loneliness for health in young adults (2) the role of social support in managing illness including diabetes and gestational diabetes and (3) the impact of social support on physiological stress responses. I am also interested in replication and meta-research in this area.
At UL, my primary teaching has been for research methods (UG & PG; mainly quantitative), and for PS4031 Psychology and Everyday Life. These modules include students from programmes in psychology, arts (omnibus), law, international business, sports science, physiotherapy, Erasmus, and study abroad, from first year to sPhD. I also lead the psychology research project modules for UG and masters. My teaching has been recognised through three award schemes to date. In 2016, I was one of three UL staff shortlisted for the Shannon Consortium Regional Teaching Excellence Award. In 2015-2016, as part of the First Seven Weeks initiative, I was one of the top four most frequently cited staff in UL identified by first year students as having the most positive effect on their early learning experiences. In 2017 I was awarded the UL Team Teaching Award (with.Dr. Stephen Gallagher).