Student Presenters


Niamh Aspell is an Irish Research Council Scholar and final year PhD candidate in the University of Dublin, Trinity College (TCD) supervised by Associate Professor Maria O’Sullivan and Professor Brian Lawlor. Her thesis explores vitamin D status and ageing and its potential impact on cognitive and physical health. She graduated with a degree in Human Nutrition from the University of Ulster in 2013, and completed a postgraduate course in Applied Statistics from TCD in 2016. She has been involved in numerous research projects investigating micronutrient status and cognitive health. Her PhD research centres on a randomised controlled trial of vitamin D supplementation in older adult. 

Joanne Brennan is a first year PhD student in Maynooth University. Under the supervision of Dr Deirdre Desmond, and Mr Aaron Glynn, surgical consultant, her research focuses on the social and psychological factors that affect outcomes following knee replacement surgery in an ageing population. Joanne will be presenting the protocol for her research, along with some preliminary findings. She has a degree in psychology from Maynooth University and has worked as a psychology assistant for Meath Primary Care.

Mairead Cahill is a part time PhD student in the Department of Clinical Therapies at the University of Limerick. She graduated as an Occupational Therapist in 1997 from Trinity College, Dublin and completed her MSc in 2006. She gained clinical experience in acute and rehabilitation settings (physical disability) in Ireland and the UK. She is currently employed as a Practice Education Co-ordinator (Discipline of Occupational Therapy) at the University of Limerick. Her research explores the transition to retirement experiences of women in academia. She is supervised by Dr. Judith Pettigrew and Dr.Rose Galvin.

Robert Fox is a PhD student in the Department of Psychology at Maynooth University working under the supervision of Professor Andrew Coogan, Dr Philip Hyland and Dr Joanna Power. Robert’s doctoral research examines whether loneliness and social isolation mediate the relationship between traumatic exposure and PTSD and psychotic symptomatology in an aging population. This work will also compare the organisation of PTSD and psychotic symptoms between younger and older adults. Robert has a BA (hons) in psychology and has worked as a research assistant under the supervision of Dr Philip Hyland. 

John Hastings is a part time PhD student in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy (OSOT) at University College Cork (UCC). He qualified as an occupational therapist in 2002 and completed his MSc Advanced Healthcare Practice in 2008. His professional background is in the area of adult mental health and in undergraduate curriculum development overseas. He is currently employed as a Practice Tutor within the UCC OSOT Department. John’s research interests include narrative, occupation across the lifespan, the ‘oldest old’ generation, and rural living.  For his PhD study, John is exploring daily occupations as narrated and enacted by men (aged 85 years +) who are living alone in rural Ireland.

Elaine Higgis is a full-time dysphagia. MSc. student in the department of clinical speech and language studies in the University of Dublin, Trinity College (TCD). Her research explores the impact of carbonation on swallow safety and efficiency in adults with neurogenic dysphagia. Elaine graduated from the National University, Galway with a first class BSc. Honours degree in Speech and Language Therapy in 2016. While an undergraduate student, Elaine was involved in designing and delivering the Communication Awareness Programme which aims to promote participation for people with communication impairments. She is currently employed as a Speech and Language Therapist, delivering dysphagia services across Leinster. 

Tara Kearns is a PhD student at the Centre for Gerontology and Rehabilitation in the School of Medicine, University College Cork. Under the supervision of Professor William Molloy and Dr. Nicola Cornally, Tara’s doctoral research is focused on measuring patients’ perceptions of quality of end-of-life care in long-term care settings. Tara has a degree in Clinical Speech and Language Studies from Trinity College Dublin, and a Masters in Healthcare Ethics and Law from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

Amanda Lavan is a third year PhD student in the Department of Medicine at University College Cork (UCC). She graduated with a degree in Biomedical Science from NUI Galway in 2004 and went on to complete her medical degree at the Royal College of Surgeons, Dublin in 2009. She has been working in Geriatric Medicine since 2012. Under the supervision of Prof Denis O’Mahony and Dr Paul Gallagher. Amanda's doctoral research focuses on prescribing in frail older adults with a limited life expectancy.

Katie Moore completed her BSc in Dietetics at Ulster University in 2013 and subsequently worked as a dietitian within the NHS. In 2014, she commenced her PhD studies under the lead supervision of Prof Helene McNulty at Ulster’s Northern Ireland Centre for Food, Nutrition and Health (NICHE) and with guidance from consultant geriatricians North and South.  She is currently in the final year of her PhD programme where she is investigating the role of folate and the metabolically related B-vitamins in the ageing brain as part the Trinity, Ulster, Department of Agriculture Ageing (TUDA) study, a cohort study of over 5000 older adults recruited from across Ireland. 

Juliette O’Connell is a second year PhD candidate in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Trinity College Dublin. Juliette completed her BSc (Pharm) in Trinity College and MPharm in RCSI and qualified as a pharmacist in 2014. She worked full-time in community pharmacy prior to commencing her doctoral research in 2016. Her research interest is medication burden on older adults with intellectual disability. This research focuses on the Intellectual Disability Supplement to the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (IDS-TILDA). Juliette is carrying out this research under the supervision of Dr Martin Henman and Dr Máire O’Dwyer.

Rebecca Power is a second-year PhD candidate at the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland, Waterford Institute of Technology. Under the supervision of Professor John Nolan, Professor Riona Mulcahy and Professor Stephen Beatty she is investigating the impact of nutritional supplementation on cognitive function among individuals with a mild cognitive impairment. Rebecca holds an honours degree in Health Promotion, and has also completed an MSc (by Research) in sedentary behaviour, which involved examining the habitual physical activity and sedentary patterns of individuals with peripheral arterial disease.

Suzanne Smith earned a B.Soc.Sc. from UCD and worked in health and education in the U.S. for fifteen years before returning to Ireland and setting up her own business with a focus on intercultural and anti-racism training and research. After completing a Higher Diploma in Business at DkIT in 2012, she joined NetwellCASALA as part of a European research team exploring Social Innovation in Ageing initiatives. Suzanne has recently completed her MSc research that explored access to and utilisation of general practice (GP) out-of-hours (GPOOH) services by older people. She was supervised  by Dr. Lucia Carragher (NetwellCASALA) and Dr. David Getty (Dept. of Humanities, DkIT). Currently Suzanne is a Research assistant on the ProACT project. ProACT is a 3 year collaborative project, with 12 European partners, developing a technology ecosystem, using web-based applications, to support older adults with multimorbidity to self-manage their conditions.