Research Postgraduate Success

Thursday, June 30, 2022 - 12:00

The Department of Psychology is delighted to acknowledge the success of our most recent successful research postgraduate students who have passed their PhD and MSc examinations. This represents the culmination of years of commitment and personal sacrifice, and adherence to the highest standards of international research practice and integrity. As a highly research-active department our research students are essential to our research identity and our impact as a department. We wish them all the very best in their future careers and hope they will always be ambassadors for Maynooth Psychology.

  • Aleksandra Szproch.  Exploring Factors Associated with Regret Following Cancer Treatment. Alex's thesis explored the factors associated with decisional regret in cancer survivors, finding that this was associated with a number of health-related, psychological and social factors. 
  • Jamie Howell. Msc.  Expectations and Experiences of Gender Affirming Healthcare in Transgender Individuals.  Jamie's thesis examined the expectations and experiences of those receiving gender affirming healthcare. He found that, while undergoing treatment was a positive experience for transgender participants, there were a number of barriers to care. 
  • Michael Cleary-Gaffney, PhD: Michael studied the effects of light pollution on sleep, mood and cognition in collaboration with Professor Brain Espey of the School of Physics at Trinity College Dublin. Key findings from  Michael’s work include the role that low mood plays in the perception of environmental light-at-night, and a first-time exploration of the impacts of sleep attentional biases on perceptions of light pollution.
  • Rachael Kelly, PhD: Rachael’s research examined the role that sleep and the circadian clock plays in disease outcomes in type 2 diabetes. In particular, Rachael’s work examined the roles of “Social Jetlag” and day-to-day variability in sleep timing on cardiometabolic outcomes in type 2 diabetes, as well as examining the factors that influence sleep timing in older adults with diabetes. Rachael’s work was conducted in collaboration with Professors John McDermott and Seamus Sreenan of the Department of Clinical Endocrinology at James Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown.
  • Sudha Raman, PhD: Sudha’s work examined societal and individual-level psychological factors that influence sleep timing. In particular, Sudha examined how sleep timing and quality changed during the Covid-19 lockdowns, and how this revealed the societal pressures under which sleep normally operates in working-age adults. Sudha also examined public attitudes to the biannual clock changes, seeking to understand the gaps between the preferences of the general public and the scientific consensus expressed by professional bodies.
  • Mathew Wall.  MSc: Thesis title: Examining the utility of the Function Acquisition Speed Test in the context of measuring attitudes to gender and race”.   Matthew’s Research involved the systematic analysis of the reliability and validity of a new implicit test for attitudes known as the function acquisition speed test. This has been developed across several years at Maynooth university under laboratory conditions using laboratory created stimuli, but has very seldom been tested as a real-world measure of attitudes.  Matthew applied the use of this test in the context of measuring both sexist and racist attitudes and conducted a convergent / divergent validity analysis using standardized questionnaires for the same purpose.  
  • Michelle Caffrey.  PhD: The spacing effect: Investigating the factors relating to and electrophysiological correlates of distributed practice when learning face-name associations  In this work Michelle examined how distributed learning (i.e. spreading out learning across days rather than cramming in a single sitting) can lead to better recall of information, especially at long-term intervals. The enhanced recall of information at longer intervals (e.g. one-month later) was observed in both younger and older adults, suggesting that this is a universal phenomenon. This distributed effect was also evident in online learning, though to a lesser extent than in-person learning.  Finally, there was evidence of separate neural networks for spaced- versus massed-trained participants during memory recall, adding to our knowledge of the current theories of learning and memory.  
  • Abby Clarke MSc: Examining the Use of Cognitive Assessments in Clinical and Healthy Populations: A Focus on Spatial Cognition. In this work Abby examined the usefulness of two popularly used clinical tests in their ability to predict the conversion of patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) to Alzheimer's disease (AD). Both the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) and Montreal Cognitive Assessment tests (MoCA) showed good predictability, and especially the subcomponents of the tests that examined orientation and visual spatial functioning. With this in mind, spatial cognition was then examined in more detail in a heathy Irish population. The results highlighted a decline in spatial cognition with age, suggesting that spatial cognition tests could be used as potential screening tools for early onset MCI and AD.