Educational Disadvantage Centre

People - Research Associates

Research Associates



Dr Padraic Gibson is a consultant clinical psychotherapist. He is currently the Clinical Director of the The Bateson Clinic, Dublin. He has been a Principal Psychotherapist as well as a Clinical Director with HSE funded services for over a decade. He is currently on the clinical register of psychotherapists with the Irish Council for Psychotherapy, the Family Therapy Association of Ireland, the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy and the European Association for Psychotherapy.  Padraic is an associate clinical researcher, collaborator, clinical trainer and lecturer at the Centro Terapia Strategica in Arezzo Italy with his colleague Professor Giorgio Nardone where he also trained as a Brief Strategic Psychotherapist. Currently a professional Doctoral researcher at the world renowned, Tavistock Clinic, London he has also trained as a clinical psychotherapy supervisor and Teacher training in The Mater Hospital, Dublin, as well as other post graduate training at the University of Sunderland, University of Leeds and University of East London. Padraic has also lectured at Masters level in Education and Guidance, Trinity College Dublin.  Padraic has trained and presented in Ireland, Italy and the United Kingdom on the topics of Systemic Theory and Brief Strategic treatments for psychological disorders and on the topic of clinical research in psychotherapy.

Dr Andrew McCoshan is an independent researcher with a special interest in poverty and social inclusion in education across Europe.  He works extensively for the European Commission and its agencies in education and training. Recent work includes being Senior Researcher on studies on: obstacles to the recognition of skills and qualifications (Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion); second chance education  (Directorate-General for Education and Culture); and key competences in work-based learning (for Cedefop).  He also directed the first inventory on the validation of non-formal and informal learning for the EC in 2003-04 and was lead author for the study of VET pathways and VET’s role in tackling social disadvantage which was published by the EC as Beyond the Maastricht Communiqué (2008). He has also previously provided senior expert inputs to two Lifelong Learning Programme projects including EVALVET which focused on vocational education and training provision and its impact on disadvantaged groups. Andrew was until recently the external expert for the ESF Transnational Learning Network on mobility for disadvantaged youth and young adults, and was also a High Level Expert for DG Employment's apprenticeship advice service in 2013-14.  Andrew is currently the Thematic Coordinator on Quality for the Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe (EPALE). Andrew has also been a Visiting Research Fellow with the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. Until March 2011 he was a Director with the consultancy Ecorys. Andrew was educated at the University of Cambridge and the London School of Economics (LSE). 


Dr Gareth Burns works as a primary teacher in St. Paul’s National School, Ratoath, Co. Meath and is a part-time lecturer in Sociology on the MEd programme in St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra. He also works part-time as a research supervisor for the Human Development Department. Gareth’s specific research interest in the study of the professional lived experiences of newly qualified teachers and early career teachers working in DEIS schools has stemmed from his previous work as a primary teacher working in the DEIS setting, a mentor of newly qualified teachers and a facilitator of professional development seminars for the National Induction Programme for Teachers. He graduated from NUI Galway with a MEd degree in 2006, specialising in teacher mentoring. Gareth’s MEd dissertation evaluated the role of the mentor in the first year of the National Pilot Project on Teacher Induction. He graduated with a PhD in November 2014 from St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra. Focusing specifically on Irish primary teachers in DEIS schools, Gareth’s doctoral dissertation explored early career teachers’ understandings of ‘making a difference’ and what shape this takes in day-to-day practice. Drawing on his doctoral research, his background paper for the recent joint conference of the INTO and the Educational Disadvantage Centre, Review of DEIS: Poverty and Social Inclusion in Education (December 5th, 2015), focused on the challenges for early career teachers working in DEIS schools.

Elizabeth Costello is a graduate of St. Patrick's College where she gained an Honours B.Ed degree in 2012 with a special focus on social inclusion in education.  Subsequent to this, she undertook a two-year part-time Masters in Education with a special option on Educational Disadvantage which she completed in 2014. As part of her M.Ed thesis she examined the effects of mindfulness on stress in DEIS school-children in order to identify possible intervention strategies. Her research presents a comprehensive theoretical framework providing evidence for a possible link between mindfulness intervention and stress reduction.  The study outlines the causes and experiences of stress in DEIS school-children, and employs an exploratory, interpretive, qualitative approach, which aims to highlight the significance of the issues of stress in low SES school-children.

Frances Hannon studied medicine in NUI, Galway and practised it in Ireland, England and Kenya. She has a Masters degree in Education (University of Dundee) and is a member of the Royal College of Physicians. She has also worked as a senior researcher in the Department of Health Promotion in NUI, Galway and currently works in the National Disability Authority in Dublin. She has taught undergraduate and postgraduate students has diverse research interests. Her research includes a national educational needs assessment of graduate doctors, a national healthcare study of the prison population and a longitudinal family study. She has undertaken research on the prevention of bullying in schools, attitudes, identity, ethics and a wide range of other research. In her doctoral work she will explore what facilitates inclusion and school systems that care for all.

Ciara Hargadon graduated from St. Patricks College, Drumcondra with an Honours B.Ed. degree in 2009. She completed a 2 year part-time Masters in Education from the college in 2014, specialising in Educational Disadvantage. Her M.Ed. thesis  explored the importance of sleep health in tackling ESL in both an Irish and international context. The study comprised of an action research element in which small-scale research was carried out with a non-probability sample of twenty-four DEIS-2 sixth class pupils. The aim was to ascertain whether a five-week school and home based intervention can improve; sleep behaviours among the participants; self-reported daytime sleepiness of participants; and self-reported motivation to improve sleep health. The results indicated a notable improvement in child-reported daytime sleepiness, particularly among high-risk children reporting that they 'sometimes', 'often' or 'always' go to school feeling that they need more sleep. There was also a reduction in children reporting a bedtime post-midnight after the intervention. These results, coupled with positive feedback from children, parents and class teacher of the participants, suggest positive potential for curricular multi-disciplinary model interventions in addressing sleep health needs among school-aged children. The pervasive policy gaps across national and European levels for addressing issues of sleep health as part of an early school leaving prevention strategy requires serious and urgent consideration, and this study aims to contribute in a meaningful way to the research available in doing so.

Dr Jo-Hanna Ivers is a Research Associate with the Educational Disadvantage Centre (EDC). She completed her MA with the centre in 2008.  Her thesis A Phenomenological reinterpretation of Horner's 'Fear of Success' in terms of social class (abstract here) examined the relevance of the psychological concept of fear of success within a socio-economically disadvantaged context. She is currently a researcher in the Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Trinity Centre for Health Sciences, Trinity College, Dublin. Her research interests include Addiction, Adolescent Addiction & Mental Health, Educational Disadvantage and Inequality. She has worked as a Rehabilitation Integration Worker in the Addiction Services, Rehabilitation Team, Health Service Executive and in a community based rehabilitation programme for eight years. In addition to her current position as a researcher Jo-Hanna is also a voluntary Cognitive Behavioural Therapist in the Adolescent Addiction Services, Health Service Executive.

Dr Sylwia Kazmierczak-Murray is a postdoctoral Research Associate with the Educational Disadvantage Centre (PhD, DCU). She is a CORU registered Speech and Language Therapist (MIASLT) and an Implementation Specialist (PG Cert in Implementation Science, TCD). Sylwia has worked towards improving outcomes for children and families in Ireland for over 10 years, at research, practice, management and implementation levels, including as a speech and language therapist in the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service and a full-time researcher in the Educational Disadvantage Centre. She currently leads strategy and implementation in Cabra School Completion Programme, school based prevention and early intervention service aimed at reducing early school leaving (Educational Welfare Services, Tusla). She is a member of the Prevention, Partnership and Family Support Steering Committee for Dublin North West (a subgroup of Children and Young People's Services Committee). Sylwia is a visiting lecturer in the Educational Disadvantage Centre (Poverty and Social Inclusion module) and has supervised a number of M.Ed. theses since 2009, mainly focused on the effectiveness of school based interventions, developing parental engagement and language and literacy competencies in the context of educational exclusion. She has published articles for teachers, speech and language therapists and youth programme managers with policy recommendations for the development of collaborative practice. She is a member of the Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists (mental health and multilingualism subgroups) and a member of the European Implementation Scientists' Collective. Sylwia is particularly interested in multi- and trans-disciplinary work across human services and translation of theory into practice in dynamic systems (key domain of newly emerging discipline of implementation science).

Sarah Murphy specialises in issues affecting children, young people, families and communities experiencing disadvantage and social exclusion.  She graduated in 2006 from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) with an MSc degree in Comparative Politics. Her MSc dissertation included primary research on civil society and poverty alleviation strategies in the urban communities of Caracas, Venezuela. Sarah has also completed a two-year Diploma in Legal Studies at the Honourable Society of King's Inns. Sarah has worked as a researcher, policy analyst and Programme Manager in a variety of social policy, public health and human rights settings, including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva, with the Mandate of the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General for Human Rights Defenders. She has extensive experience carrying out qualitative and quantitative research and conducting needs analyses and evaluations in a wide range of areas, including community development and organisational development, public health, social policy, health policy, public engagement, and human rights law.  Sarah was also a co-author of the NGO Alliance Against Racism’s Shadow Report to the Irish Government’s Third and Fourth Reports to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racism and Discrimination (UNCERD).  In 2017, Sarah completed evaluations of two area based childhood programmes: ABC SPECS (Supporting Parents and Early Childhood Services) in Bray and ABC Grangegorman in North West inner city Dublin. She has also recently conducted local consultations with marginalised and hard-to-reach groups who have been engaged with the Social Inclusion and Community Activation (SICAP) programme in the Greater Bray area, as well as an evaluation of the Tallaght Health Fair, a public health initiative aimed at addressing deficits of health information and services in West Dublin.

Fiona Murphy completed a two-year part-time Masters in Education from DCU in 2017 with specialism in Poverty and Social Inclusion. She works as a primary school teacher in Drogheda, Co. Louth. Her M.Ed. thesis, employing a qualitative exploratory approach, explored the empowering potential of growth mindset in a DEIS school. This involved a classroom intervention in second class where the concept of growth mindset was taught with the aim of investigating any positive impacts on children’s expectations, motivation and learning. This was delivered with the aim of moving beyond deficit models inherent within a deterministic model of intelligence. The research presented findings that the intervention had a perceived positive impact on both the children and the teacher. It highlighted the possibilities of transforming expectations, enabling empowerment and meta-learning opportunities. Emotions and learning appear as inextricably linked. Recommendations arising out of the study include the relevance of teachers’ beliefs surrounding intelligence and how perceived failure can potentially influence early apathy from school.   Fiona is currently completing a Masters in Reading Recovery and Literacy Leadership from University College London. She will be seconded from her school from September 2020 to work with the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) as a Reading Recovery Teacher Leader.  

Claire O’Connell works as a teacher and guidance counsellor with the City of Dublin ETB Education Service to Prisons. She completed her BA in NUI Maynooth in 2000, and also studied for a Postgraduate Diploma in Adult and Community Education there in 2008. In 2013 she graduated with a Masters in Education from Trinity College Dublin, specialising in Educational Guidance and Counselling. The primary focus of her M.Ed research dissertation was the field of prison education, exploring the role of guidance counselling in facilitating the successful transition of prisoners back into the community upon release. As a first year PhD student with the Educational Disadvantage Centre in the DCU Institute of Education, she is currently carrying out research into literacy levels and participation in education programmes in prisons across Ireland. The literacy and language competencies of prisoners are being assessed as part of a study focussing on the educational needs of those held in custody commissioned by the Irish Prison Service.

Colette O'Connor holds an Honours BSc and a PG diploma in Occupational Therapy from Trinity College Dublin. She completed postgraduate education in Sensory Integration in Los Angeles, validated by the University of Southern California. She received an MSc in Education (Speciality: Advising and Training) from Université Paul Valéry Montpellier.  Her thesis examined teachers’ awareness of the sensorimotor dimension to children's ability to concentrate. It used the French research method of autoconfrontation to seek a greater insight into teachers’ perspectives.  Over twenty years as an occupational therapist have led her to work with clients of all ages, including pre-school children and young people seeking vocational training. She has worked in Malawi and India.  Her placement in France provided an opportunity to work in a school with children from ethnic minorities. Colette is employed as a Senior Occupational Therapist by the Lucena Clinic child and adolescent mental health service. She specialises in addressing children’s sensory processing needs, with a particular interest in how sensory processing affects all children’s learning. Her book “Success in School” (2012) is aimed at teachers and parents.  It outlines how an understanding of sensorimotor functioning can be incorporated into classroom practices to promote children’s concentration. She has presented to teachers in Ireland and France on the link between sensory processing and attention.


Özden Bademci, MA, PhD is the founder Director for Research and Application Centre for Street Children (SOYAC) at Maltepe University in Istanbul. Bademci obtained BSc degree in Psychology from Ege University. MA in Psychoanalytic Observational Studies from  Tavistock Clinic and PhD from the University of Kent (UK). Following her PhD research on the phenomena of street children, Özden has played a leading role in the establishment of the first University Centre in Turkey that is dedicated to address the rehabilitation and protection needs of street children. She holds an Associate Professor post at the Universıty. In collaboration with social workers, policy makers, clinicians, academics, postgraduate and undergraduate students, Dr. Bademci carries out national and international research studies, consultancy work, teaching activities and practical projects which are intended to build on the resilience of vulnerable children and young people. She provides psychosocial training programmes to service providers that work with street children and vulnerable children. Service providers such as correctional officers working in youth detention centres. She has developed and coordinated several projects in states schools to provide psychosocial support in collaboration with various departments of the university, to the students who are at risk of school leaving including Roma children.  Dr. Bademci and her colleagues revised the classical attachment theory in order to respond to the specific safety and secure attachment needs of street children and young people who have experienced recurrent vulnerability at various stages of their life course. In 2017, Dr Bademci was granted with UK Alumni Social Impact Award for her contribution and commitment to creating positive social change and improving lives of vulnerable children. She resently hosted two internatıonal conferences, one on Creatıve Arts and Mental Health and the other on Early School Leaving which was the fırst of the its kind in Turkey in terms of policy and practice for early school leaving prevention.

Melike Beste Arslan is a psychologist currently working at Maltepe University Research and Application Centre for Children Working and Living in the Street (SOYAÇ). Throughout her childhood, she has lived and studied in various countries including the United Kingdom, Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. She has earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Leiden University. Afterwards, she has continued with her master’s degree in the same university, studying clinical child and adolescent psychology. During her master’s internship she has worked in the Leiden Brain and Development Lab and helped various research teams collect fMRI data investigating prosocial development in children and adolescents. Currently she is in the process of finishing her master’s thesis on interpersonal emotion regulation and empathy. In SOYAÇ, Melike is involved in a project aiming to increase disadvantaged children’s access to quality early childhood education.

Professor Jim Anderson is a professor in the Department of Language and Literacy at UBC, where he teaches and conducts research in the areas of early literacy and family literacy. His other interests include working with children and adults who struggle with literacy learning and issues of social and economic disadvantage. His research has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the UBC Hampton Foundation, the Canadian Council on Learning, and the UBC Humanities and Social Sciences research fund. He has been involved with the development of a number of family literacy initiatives including Parents As Literacy Supporters with Fiona Morrison and Literacy for Life with Victoria Purcell-Gates and colleagues. He continues to work with a number of MA and Ph.D. students doing innovative work in early literacy/family literacy.

Cristina Arenare, an Italian student enrolled in the Master of “Pedagogia” (Pedagogy) at the University of Bologna, is writing a thesis about innovative methodological approaches for early school leaving prevention, relating her internship in a school community project in a district of Bologna. In December 2009 she obtained a Master in ‘Relazioni di aiuto in contesti di vulnerabilità e povertà nazionali e internazionali’ (Helping relationships in National and International vulnerable and poverty-stricken environments), from Università Cattolica di Milano. In March 2009, she received a three years Degree in Studi Filosofici (Philosophical Studies) from the University of Parma, with a thesis entitled ‘The critical thinking in education system’ based on Marx Horkheimer’s essay ‘Traditional and critical theory’, the Philip Zimbardo psychological experiment  ‘The Lucifer Effect’ and the approach of Philosophy for Children founded by Matthew Lipman in 1974.

Diego González (M.Sc) is a PhD candidate and researcher at the Department of Psychology, Sociology and Philosophy at the University of León. He has a predoctoral contract from the Spanish Ministry of Education for Doctoral Candidates within the  University Teacher Training Program (FPU). He is member of the research group of the University of León on Evaluation, Guidance and Educational Policies (EVORI). His research is focused on early school leaving and academic performance during the transition from Primary to Secondary education. He currently participates in two Erasmus+ projects: Supporting Entrepreneurial Development in the Field of IT in Vietnamese HEIs (ICTentr), as a partner member, and in the project Developing Teacher Competencies for a comprehensive VET system in Albania, as member of the coordination team. Additionally, at Bachelor level he teaches subjects on Educational Research Methods and on Guidance and Tutoring for Teachers.

Cecelia Burke is a research intern with the Educational Disadvantage Centre (Summer 2018). She is pursuing an M.A in Forensic and Legal Psychology at Marymount University, in Arlington, Virginia, Washington DC area