SPHeRE Network Winter Seminar 2021 – 6th December

Early Career Researchers:
Making a Difference During the Pandemic?




Registration is now closed for the seminar.

Please contact sphere@ucc.ie if you have any questions.





Prof Molly Byrne is Professor of Health Psychology in the School of Psychology at NUI Galway. She is Director of the Health Behaviour Change Research Group. Within this group, she and her team apply behavioural science to the development and evaluation of complex interventions to promote healthy behaviour change within health services and to promote public health.

Molly’s key research interests are in: Chronic disease prevention and self-management; Cardiovascular disease; Diabetes; Promotion of healthy infant feeding; Promotion of physical activity; Interventions targeting health professional behaviour change; Research methods related to evaluation of behavioural interventions.

Molly obtained an honours degree in Psychology from Trinity College Dublin (1994) and both a Masters degree in Health Psychology (1998) and a PhD (2003) from NUI, Galway. Molly joined the School of Psychology in NUI, Galway in July 2004 as Health Psychology Lecturer, where she has contributed to and directed the MSc in Health Psychology and Structured PhD in Psychology and Health, and established the new Structured PhD in Health Psychology Practice. She is Director of the Health Research Board funded Collaborative Doctoral Programme in Chronic Disease Prevention (CDP-CDP).




Dr Darren Dahly has degrees in Biology (BA, Hendrix College), International Health (MHS, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health), and Nutritional Epidemiology (PhD, University of North Carolina). He has previously worked as a Lecturer in Epidemiology in the Division of Biostatistics, University of Leeds, where he was funded by a MRC fellowship to study infant growth patterns; and as a Senior Postdoctoral Research Fellow at University College Cork, where he was funded by an HRB Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement award to investigate the impact of maternal factors on perinatal health. Dr Dahly is experienced with a variety of statistical models and study designs, and particularly interested in the application of latent variable and longitudinal models in health research.









Dr Linda O’Keeffe is  a Senior Research Fellow in Epidemiology and currently holds a Health Research Board (HRB) Emerging Investigator Award (EIA) 2019-2023 [EIA-FA-2019-007 SCaRLeT] at University College Cork. Prior to this, Linda was recipient of a prestigious UK Medical Research Council (MRC) Fellowship [MR/M014509/1] where she trained in life course and causal inference epidemiology at the University of Bristol from 2014-2019. Linda completed her PhD research in perinatal and life course epidemiology as a HRB Structured Population and Health-services Research Education (SPHeRE) Scholar from 2010-2014.



Dr Kate O’Neill is a Postdoctoral Researcher in epidemiology at the School of Public Health on the HRB-funded project SCaRLeT which aims to improve understanding of the sex-specific aetiology of cardiovascular disease across the life course thus informing more effective cardiovascular disease prevention during different life course transitions. Prior to this, Kate was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow on a HRB Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement Award. Kate worked as part of a multidisciplinary team to evaluate a pilot complex intervention for childhood obesity and with national stakeholders to estimate the public health burden of chronic disease in Ireland utilising a wide range of national and regional data sources.

Kate completed her PhD in 2018 which estimated the economic burden of diabetes in Ireland and explored the potential for current policy approaches, including a sugar-sweetened beverage levy, to impact on the public health burden of diabetes. Kate has a BSc in Public Health from UCC and MPhil in Epidemiology from the University of Cambridge. With a background in epidemiology and public health, she is interested in the generation of robust epidemiological evidence to inform public health policy. In her role as Chair of the Early Career Researcher Subcommittee of the Society for Social Medicine and Population Health, Kate advocates for early career researchers and facilitates engagement among members.








Dr Elaine Toomey is a Lecturer in the School of Allied Health in the University of Limerick. She is also a Health Research Board ‘Applying Research into Policy and Practice’ Research Fellow. She is a Cochrane Ireland Research Associate and a member of both the Health Research Institute (University of Limerick) and the Health Behaviour Change Research Group (National University of Ireland Galway). Elaine is a Chartered Physiotherapist and obtained her PhD from University College Dublin (2016) and her MSc and BSc from the University of Limerick (2012, 2010). Until April 2020, Elaine was Associate Director of Cochrane Ireland within Evidence Synthesis Ireland and led the implementation of the Evidence Synthesis Ireland Fellowship Scheme. Previously, Elaine was a Health Research Board (HRB) Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement Post-doctoral Research Fellow (2016-2019), where she co-led the development of a complex behaviour change childhood obesity prevention intervention, with a specific focus on process and implementation outcomes. Elaine was a Visiting Researcher at Hunter New England Population Health Service/Newcastle University (Newcastle, Australia) in 2018, the Centre for Studies in Family Medicine in Western University (Ontario, Canada) in 2018, and the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (Ontario, Canada) in 2017 and 2018.