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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
  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: 'The rapid rise in the prevalence of Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the last decade, has left schools parents and governments unprepared to accommodate for children with ASD in mainstream schools'.
  4. Description of the research: Although recent studies have shown the benefits of mainstream placements for children with ASD. To date, the educational outcomes of children with ASD in the early years of primary mainstream schools remain largely unknown.
    This research aims to gain knowledge on children with ASD's educational outcomes in junior primary mainstream schools in Ireland. The study will focus on three aspects; a) children’s academic and social outcomes, b)  the pedagogical approaches associated with these outcomes, and c) the inclusion experience in a mainstream setting for children with ASD, parents and school' staff..

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.

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
  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.

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.

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: 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.

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.