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Research Students

There are currently 25 PhD students in the School. Profiles of some of the students are given below.

Eavan Brady 

  1. Supervisor: Prof Robbie Gilligan
  2. Nationality: Irish
  3. Working title of PhD: 'Educational trajectories of children and youth in care: An exploratory study'.
  4. Description of the research: Considerable research points to the low educational attainment of children and youth who have spent time in care. In recent decades this issue has become of great concern internationally. Using qualitative, biographical methods, this research will explore the nature of educational trajectories of young adults who spent time in the care of the Irish state as children and youth. This research seeks to examine: 1) the progression of events in the lives of participants; and 2) connections and links between events and outcomes, in order to gain an understanding of participants' educational pathways. Research objectives relate to identifying key experiences over the life course that have affected participants' educational trajectories and exploring the existence of common or shared experiences among participants. It is expected that the findings of this research will inform policy and service provision with the intention of promoting the educational outcomes of children and youth in the care of the state.

Lynne Cahill 

  1. Supervisor: Dr. Stephanie Holt
  2. Nationality: Irish
  3. Working title of PhD: 'Same sex intimate partner violence: The factors associated with domestic violence and abuse among lesbian women in Ireland'.
  4. Description of the research: The central aim of this mixed methods study is to document the scope and experience of domestic violence and abuse within female intimate partner same sex relationships. The following specific issues are regarded as central to the core research objective: to explore the incidence of domestic violence and abuse in same sex relationships via a nationwide community survey, to increase knowledge and understanding of the particular experiences of those in abusive same sex relationships, and to identify the help seeking behaviours and service provision needs of those in abusive relationships.
  5. Funder of the research: School of Social Work and Social Policy Studentship, Trinity College Dublin.
  6. Details of related presentations/papers:

Cahill, Lynne (2014) LGBT Intimate Partner Violence (IPV): Domestic and International Research Findings. Presentation at the first conference in Ireland on LGBT IPV hosted by Dundalk Outcomers, Dundalk, May 30th 2014.

Cahill, Lynne (2014). LGBT Intimate Partner Violence (IPV): What does the research tell us? Presentation for the Gay Switch Board Volunteer Training, Dublin, 7th October 2014.

Conway, B., L. Cahill & M. Corcoran (2009).The ‘miracle’ of Fatima: Media framing and the regeneration of a Dublin housing estate’ Journalism July 2012 13: 551-571, first published on December 16, 2011. [PEER REVIEWED] 

Pending - L. Cahill (2013) Community Needs Analysis: Dublin’s South West Inner City (SWIC). [NON-PEER REVIEWED]

Jeffers, G., A., Mulkeen, C., Higgins & L., Cahill (2011) Centre for Global Development through Education, External Evaluation Report, Education Department, NUIM. [NON- PEER REVIEWED].

Sorcha Farrell

  1. Supervisor: Dr. Trish Walsh and Prof Virpi Timonen
  2. Nationality: Irish
  3. Working title of my PhD: 'The lived experience of a brain tumour diagnosis'.
  4. Description of the research: The literature supports the fact that the diagnosis of a primary malignant brain tumour can shatter ones understanding of, and meaning that they ascribe to life and the reality that they inhabit, as well as invoke with feelings of grief and loss. This can result in a multitude of challenges with adaptation, adjustment and coping. The objectives of this study will involve exploring the subjective lived experience of individuals with a primary malignant brain tumour diagnosis and the experiences of their primary caregivers, along with examining the processes related to adaptation and meaning-making that individuals undertake in order to cope throughout the illness journey. The study aims to discover if it is possible to generate a theory that describes the lived experience of a brain tumour diagnosis.

Eva Garcia Albarran

  1. Supervisor: Dr. Edurne Garcia Iriarte and Dr. Michael Feely
  2. Nationality: Spanish
  3. Working title of my PhD: 'Learning and experiences of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), in junior primary mainstream school in Ireland: A multiple case study'.
  4. Description of the research: In the last forty years, the prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has dramatically increased worldwide from 1 in 158 to 1 in 68. Although recent reports have confirmed a steady improvement on the educational provision for children with ASD in the last 16 years, the review of the literature has shown a dearth of research in the educational outcomes of children with ASD in junior primary mainstream school. Understanding how and what these children learn in the early years of mainstream education could impact their future achievement and progress in mainstream school and society. Therefore, this multiple, embedded, child-centred case study research, aims to gain knowledge on a) how are children with ASD being accommodated in junior primary mainstream schools, b) how are teaching and learning strategies being put in place to promote and facilitate their learning and c) how are their educational outcomes emerging and measured. 

Natalie Glynn

  1. Supervisor: Dr. Paula Mayock
  2. Nationality: American
  3. Working title of my PhD: A Qualitative Longitudinal Study of Leaving State Care in Ireland: Young People's Perspectives
  4. Description of the research: This research will investigate the intersection of the child welfare system and young people’s transitions to independence. In December 2015 legislation was passed that made the provision of aftercare plans an obligation for young people leaving care and eligible adults formerly in care. As an exploratory longitudinal qualitative research project, it seeks to empower young people who have lived in State care in Ireland to define their circumstances and experiences of leaving care in order to expand the knowledge base on how young people leaving care in Ireland navigate the transition to adulthood. This study’s findings are expected to advance understanding of the lives and experiences of young people post-care and have implications for how this transition is theorized and responded to in policy and practice.
  5. Funder for the research: Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship
  6. Details of related presentations/papers:

    Presentations
    Glynn, NR. 2017. Leaving Care in Ireland: A grounded theory investigation. The Future of Child and Family Welfare Policy, The EUSARF Academy, Groningen, Netherlands.
    Glynn, NR. 2017. Policy in Context: Irish Aftercare from an International Perspective. International Postgraduate Research Conference, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.
    Posters
    Glynn, NR. 2017. Where to go? A qualitative longitudinal study of the transition out of State care in Ireland. Young People’s Transitions: Dimensions, Difficulties and Diversity, The University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Paula Harrison

  1. Supervisor: Dr. Stephanie Holt
  2. Nationality: Irish
  3. Working title of my PhD: 'Autism and the family: Parent-child relationships of typically developing children in this context'.
  4. Description of the research: When a child is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder it impacts every member of the family. For typically developing children, growing up with a disabled sibling will be stressful on a variety of practical, social and emotional levels as their needs may be overshadowed by the more pressing needs of their autistic sibling. While the experience of such siblings has been somewhat examined in international literature, their voices are noticeably sparse in dialogs around autism among researchers, parents, clinicians and educators. The central aim of this qualitative study is to explore the lived experience of siblings in this context and how this experience informs parent-child relationships.

Derina Johnson

  1. Supervisor: Prof Robbie Gilligan
  2. Nationality: Irish
  3. Working title of my PhD: 'In search of a better life: A qualitative case study exploring the strategies and pathways of separated and displaced young people from Burma living in north-west Thailand'.
  4. Description of the research: Decades of civil conflict and human rights abuses have displaced considerable numbers of young people from minority ethnic groups in eastern Burma across the border into Thailand. Unable to access citizenship documentation in their own country, they must subsequently negotiate lives as ‘illegal migrants’ on the margins of Thai society, facing social and economic isolation, poverty, and complex life choices. The aim of this qualitative case study is to explore the lived realities of a sample of separated young people from Burma living in informal residential care and other arrangements in north-west Thailand. The research seeks insight into their challenges and constraints, resources and strategies, in relation to their present and imagined pathways. The study hopes to further understanding of youth decision-making and adaptation in the face of displacement and social and economic marginalisation in the majority world. Members of the study community helped instigate and continue to advise on this research which builds upon the researcher’s three-year experience working within the community.

Melanie Labor 

  1. Supervisor: Prof Robbie Gilligan and Geraldine Foley (School of Medicine)
  2. Nationality: German
  3. Working title of my PhD: 'Filling the void: Young people's narratives as a gateway to a new  understanding of youth suicides - a case study in a disadvantaged community in Ireland'.
  4. Brief description of the research: Young people aged 15-29 represent the most populous age group worldwide and are universally most likely to take their own lives, especially those growing up in disadvantaged circumstances. Extensive literature, especially in psychology and psychiatry, focuses on suicide risk and prevention neglecting the understanding and meaning making of young people in relation to suicide. Young people are likely to experience the suicide of a peer most intensely as it involves dimensions of intention and planning. Coinciding with a sometimes uncertain and stressful transition from childhood to adulthood, such a critical moment is likely to be highly consequential for youth' conceptions of themselves, their relationships with each other and with their community, and for their life course shaped economic, cultural and social resources and personal qualities. This study aims to close a gap providing a new perspective on young people's understanding and experience of peer suicide in Ireland derived from youth narratives. Those personal stories have the potential to provide unique insights into a) how young people make sense of youth suicide and b) how youth suicide impacts on their lives within their community. This is done through in-depth interviews with 40 young people between the ages of 15-19 from a disadvantaged community in Dublin who have been directly or indirectly affected by a peer. Variations within the sample will include dimensions of gender, socio-economic circumstances and educational / professional background.
  5. Funder of the research: Irish Research Council.

Siobhan O'Brien Green

  1. Supervisor: Professor Trevor Spratt
  2. Nationality: Irish
  3. Working title of my PhD: Factors associated with the disclosure of domestic violence and subsequent positive service utilisation during and after pregnancy.
  4. Description of the research: This qualitative study is interview women in Ireland who have experienced domestic violence during pregnancy (or pregnancies) and who have sought help and safety in order to determine key supports and enablers both individuals and professionals; structures; responses; and referrals which enhance and allow safety and help seeking. The study will allow a greater understanding of the process of help seeking and a more research based targeted screening and responding to disclosures, information provision and effective supports to be available in maternity, health and relevant services in Ireland.
  5. Funder of the research: School of Social Work and Social Policy
  6. Details of related presentations/papers:

    "An exploration of the processes involved when women chose to disclose they are experiencing domestic violence during pregnancy", presentation at the II European Conference on Domestic Violence, FPCEUP, University of Porto, Portugal. 8 September 2017.
    “Sexual Violence in the context of migration”, presentation atSonas training for HSE staff on migrant women and gender based violence , Dublin, 23 June 2017
    “Organising Focus Groups: process and logistics” presentation at the 2nd Academic Seminar MAP-FGM, Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting at the intersection of qualitative, quantitative and mixed method research – Experiences from Africa and Europe. Brussels, Belgium, 9 June 2017.
    “Gender based violence pre and post-migration for women and girls now living in Ireland”, panel presentation to the Oversight Group to the 2nd National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (UNSCR 1325), Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Dublin, 15 September 2016.
    “Domestic violence and pregnancy”, training presentation at the National Return to Midwifery Practice Course, Centre for Midwifery Education, Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital, Dublin, 8 July 2016.

Catherine O'Dare

  1. Supervisor: Prof Virpi Timonen and Dr. Catherine Conlon
  2. Nationality: Irish
  3. Working title of my PhD: ‘The experience, meaning and significance of intergenerational friendships to older people in Ireland'
  4. Description of the research: The importance and benefits of friendship in individuals' lives are lauded in research and policy. Friendship provides individuals with a place to be themselves, to do the things they enjoy with like-minded people whose company they enjoy, and who have their trust and confidence. That these chosen good friends are of a different generation may provide valuable insights into ageing, age stereotyping and ageist assumptions. This study will seek to explore and understand intergenerational friendships from the perspective of the ‘older’ friend. Taking a qualitative approach using Constructivist Grounded Theory, rich data will be gathered through in-depth semi-structured interviews incorporating photo elicitation. The research is therefore intended to contribute valuable and substantive knowledge to ageing, friendship and generation literature.
  5. Funder of the research: Postgraduate Studentship from the School of Social Work and Social Policy.

Daneille O'Sullivan

  1. Supervisor: Dr Paula Mayock
  2. Nationality: Irish
  3. Working title of my PhD: LGBT Prisoners in Ireland: Lives, Experiences and Policy
  4. Description of the research: In recent years, Ireland has seen a significant social movement towards granting full participative rights to LGBT citizens. However, there is a paucity of research on the experiences of incarcerated LGBT people. This proposed research, which is qualitative and exploratory in nature, aims to examine the experiences of LGBT prisoners and policy responses to LGBT prisoners in Ireland. Thirty interviews will be conducted with the following participants: currently incarcerated LGBT prisoners (n=10); formerly incarcerated LGBT prisoners (n=10); key stakeholders (n=10). This research aims to bridge a clear gap in knowledge and understanding of the situations and experiences of LGBT prisoners, with a particular focus on their physical and mental healthcare needs, placement procedures, and how the prison system responds to their needs. It is anticipated that the findings of this research will help to inform the development of policy and procedure that will in turn lead to better practice in responding to the needs of LGBT prisoners.
  5. Funder of the research: School of Social Work and Social Policy

sarah parker Sarah Parker

  1. Supervisor: Dr Paula Mayock
  2. Nationality: Irish
  3. Working title of my PhD: Understanding Family Homelessness in the Dublin Region: A Mixed Methods Longitudinal Approach’
  4. Description of the research: Mirroring trends in other European countries, families now represent an increasing proportion of the homeless population in Ireland, particularly in the capital where the housing crisis is most acute. The proposed research seeks to longitudinally examine families’ trajectories through and out of homelessness over time using a combination of administrative (statistical) data and primary (qualitative) data to ‘track’ families experiencing homelessness in the Dublin region. Analyses of administrative data will yield comprehensive information on the characteristics and socio-economic ‘profiles’ associated with distinct patterns of homelessness service use among families, including chronic (long-term), episodic (recurrent) and transitional (short-term). The subsequent qualitative phase will shed light on the observed statistical findings, and, importantly, will also provide the critical dimensions of ‘depth’, ‘time’ and ‘lived reality’ to permit a nuanced understanding of the ways in which families navigate, and possibly exit, the homelessness service system over time. A primary goal is to generate in-depth knowledge of the structural, individual and contextual factor that shape families’ homelessness and housing transitions and produce robust research evidence that hopes to yield a better-informed analysis of the ways to address family homelessness from a policy perspective.
  5. Funder of the research: Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship
  6. Publications/Papers:

    Publications

    Mayock, P. and Parker, S. (2017) Living in Limbo: Homeless Young People’s Paths to Housing. Dublin: Focus Ireland.
    Mayock, P., Sheridan, S. and Parker, S. (2015) It's just like we're going around in circles and going back to the same thing …’ The Dynamics of Women's Unresolved Homelessness. Housing Studies, Vol. 30(6): 877-900.
    Mayock, P., Parker, S. and Sheridan, S. (2015) Women, Homelessness and Service Provision: Simon Communities in Ireland.
    Mayock, P., Parker, S. and Sheridan, S. (2015) The Dynamics of Long-term Homelessness among Women in Ireland. Dublin:  Dublin Region Homeless Executive.
    Mayock, P., Parker, S. and Murphy, A. (2014) Young People, Homelessness and Housing Exclusion. Dublin:Focus Ireland, Dublin.
    Mayock, P., Parker, S. and Sheridan, S. (2013) Mapping Services for Homeless Women in Dublin. Dublin: Dublin Region Homeless Executive.
    Mayock, P., Sheridan, S. and Parker, S. (2012) Migrant Women and Homelessness: The Role of Gender-based Violence, European journal of Homelessness, Vol. 6(1): 59-82.

    Conference Papers
    Mayock, P. and Parker, S. (2017) Living in Limbo: Homeless Young People’s Paths to Housing. Presented at Focus Ireland’s ‘Ending Youth Homelessness’ conference, Limerick, 15th September.
    Parker, S. and Mayock, P. (2017) Blocked Paths to Housing Stability: Implications for Housing Models and Options for Homeless Youth. Presented at FEANTSA’s 12th European Research Conference, Barcelona, 22nd September.
    Mayock, P. and Parker, S. (2015) Families and Homelessness: Casting the net to enhance understanding of patterns of inter- and intra-generational homelessness’. Presented at FEANTSA’s 10th European Research Conference on Homelessness, Dublin, 25th September.
    Mayock, P. and Parker, S. (2014) Young People, Homelessness and Housing Exclusion: Exploring the Impact of the Economic Crisis in Ireland. Presented at FEANTSA’s 9th European Research Conference, Warsaw, 19th September.
    Mayock, P. and Parker, S. (2014) Women and Homelessness in Ireland: Service Use Patterns and Service Needs: Preliminary findings of the Simon Communities in Ireland Research on Women and Homelessness. Presented at ‘Home Truths: Women, Homelessness and Service Provision’, Dublin, 30th September.

Carla Petautschnig

  1. Supervisor: Prof Virpi Timonen
  2. Nationality: Chilean
  3. Working title of my PhD: 'In search of the reflexive agency in the era of conditional welfare and activation policies: Life-projects of participants of Pathways to Work'
  4. Description of the research: The extent to which people and their choices are free, constrained, enabled, or conditioned is a matter of central debate in social theory. This research adopts the stance for the reflexive agency, for the notion of human beings who continuously re-design fallible life trajectories that are not, irredeemably, externally defined. In thinking and deliberating about one's trajectory, work is central; however, the experience of intermittent unemployment along with flexible and precarious jobs have become the new normal. Welfare systems for the unemployed have drastically shifted towards activation, conditionality and the imperative of "making work pay better than welfare”. The consolidation of welfare-to-work programmes creates a new range of constraints and enablements for the unemployed on welfare and seeking job, or working while remaining a welfare subject. While the political and economic aspects of activation policies have been extensively researched, less has been researched regarding the subjective experience of those required by these programmes. Based on qualitative interviews, this research seeks to understand the exercise of personal reflexivity among participants of Pathways to Work when planning life projects, particularly those assessed at medium and high risk of long-term unemployment.
  5. Funder of the research: School of Social Work and Social Policy
  6. Details of related presentations/papers:

    Petautschnig, C. (2017) Activation rationale unchallenged. Is there a place for the reflexive agency in the era of conditional welfare? Reflections from the Irish context. Presented at NordWel 9th International Summer School, Rome, 15th July.

Gillian Smith

  1. Supervisor: Prof Eoin O'Sullivan
  2. Nationality: Irish
  3. Working title of my PhD: 'Accelerated Ageing in Prison? Comparing health and wellbeing outcomes in older people in prison with older people in the community'.
  4. Description of the research: The over fifty age group are the fastest growing cohort within committals to prison in Ireland. Little is known about the health of older prisoners in Ireland, and how their needs differ to younger prisoners or older people in the community. Existing international research suggest prisoners experience ‘accelerated ageing’, though evidence is mixed. This research will attempt to determine if there is evidence of ‘accelerated ageing’ in older prisoners in Ireland, by comparing self-reported health and well-being of older prisoners to older people living in the community. Findings from The Irish Longitudinal Study of Ageing (TILDA), a large scale study of over 8000 people aged over fifty, will be used as the control group.
  5. Funder of the research: School of Social Work and Social Policy Studentship, Trinity College Dublin.
  6. Publications

    Smith, G. (2014) ‘Older Prisoners in Ireland:  Policy Implications of a Growing Cohort’. Paper presented at the Irish Gerontological Society’s 62nd Annual and Scientific Meeting in Galway, 2014.  Irish Journal of Medical Science 183(Supplement 7): S302. Abstract available here.

Sadhbh Whelan

  1. Supervisor: Professor Trevor Spratt and Dr. Helen Buckley
  2. Nationality: Irish
  3. Working title of my PhD: 'The changing context of child protection services in Ireland, an opportunity to improve outcomes for children and families'.
  4. Description of the research: The overall aim of my research is to explore the evolution of child protection practice in Ireland in the context of recent legislative and policy developments and to examine how these changes are affecting the delivery of services to vulnerable children and families. The initial focus of the study will be on referrals to the social work intake service of the Child and Family Agency, with a later focus on referrals or cases that survive initial screening, become allocated cases and go through the various standard business processes which are now used in the Agency.
  5. Funder of the research: School of Social Work and Social Policy.

Qi Wang

  1. Supervisor: Prof Virpi Timonen
  2. Nationality: Chinese
  3. Working title of PhD: The Pension Reform and the Transitions from Employment to Retirement in Postmodern China
  4. Description of the research: Hailing from an imitation of the Soviet pension system, the pension scheme has experienced great changes over the decades after the foundation of PRC. Despite the achievements in the coverage and integration of pensions, the pension system in China is still in the transition process. The future direction of the pension reform is still to be identified. The existing research mainly focused on the pension systems and pension reforms in China from a macro and financial perspective. However, the opinions of the individuals on pensions are largely ignored. There have been some studies on the ideas, feelings, and oppositions on pension reforms in the Western context. These studies can provide some experiences to this research programme combined with the discussion in the context of China. Through conducting research on the opinions on the pension reform and expectations on the transitions from employment to retirement, this programme will identify the gap between the demands of the individuals and the current pension systems which are a product of the policy makers.
  5. Funder of the research: School of Social Work and Social Policy

Louise Yorke

  1. Supervisor: Prof Robbie Gilligan
  2. Nationality: Irish
  3. Working title of PhD: 'The Migration of Rural Girls to Urban Areas for Secondary Education in Southern Ethiopia (SNNPR)'.
  4. Description of the research: In many developing countries including Ethiopia, recent evidence suggests that poor rural children are migrating to urban areas for secondary education with the hope of fulfilling their educational aspirations and those of their families, and achieving better social outcomes, increased economic prospects and enhanced well-being.  The aim of this study is to provide an understanding of rural girls’ distinct migration experiences for secondary education. Specifically information concerning the process underlying the decision to migrate, girls’ experiences in urban settings, their different trajectories through education and the impact of migration both for girls’ future lives and in their sending communities will be sought. The results will contribute to the understanding and debate of critical issues related to girls’ education in the research, policy and NGO community.
  5. Funder of the research: Supported by the Irish Research Council with initial seed funding from the Oak Foundation and the Trinity Trust Foundation. 
  6. Conferences/Papers:

Yorke, L. (2014).  ‘The Migration of Rural Girls to Urban Areas for Secondary Education in Southern Ethiopia (SNNPR): Briefing and Consultation Session with Key Stakeholders’.  Presented at the Embassy of Ireland, Addis Ababa, 13 November 2014.