Meet our research trainees from YOULEAD

Emma Frawley, NUI, Galway

Emma FrawleyEmma graduated with an MSc in Occupational Therapy from Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh in 2010. Since that time she has worked in clinical practice both in Ireland and the US. Emma’s last post in the US was in the area of brain injury at PennState Hershey Rehabilitation Hospital, Pennsylvania where she worked with an inpatient multi-disciplinary team. Emma also taught Pathology as an adjunct lecturer on the MSc Occupational Therapy course at Elizabethtown College, Pennsylvania. Since returning to Ireland in 2017 Emma has enjoyed working with students in her role as Senior Occupational Therapist for the National Learning Network based at NUI Galway’s Disability Support Service. She is passionate about improving function and the lived experience of young people living with a mental health condition.

Emma’s YOULEAD project is focused on evaluating novel online interventions for improving social cognition and social function in young people (aged 16 to 25) living with psychosis and is supervised by Prof. Gary Donohoe. Online interventions being investigated include cognitive remediation therapy for social cognition and moderated online support. The delivery mode of these interventions and the impact on social and occupational functioning related to real-world functional goals are also key considerations in Emma’s research work.


Evaluating Online Interventions for Improving Social Cognition & function in Psy

Emer Conneely, NUI, Galway

Emer ConneelyEmer graduated with First Class Honours in Psychology (BSc) from the University of Glasgow and obtained a professional qualification in social work (M.A) from NUIG. Emer worked for a number of years as a social work practitioner in Jigsaw Galway, an early intervention, youth mental health service. Emer was fortunate to be part of a team that provided a much-needed and comprehensive drop-in service for young people and access to free of charge, co-located, youth-focused GP appointments.

As part of YOULEAD, Emer’s PhD research will be focused on ‘improving youth participation in mental health service development and delivery’. Emer  is supervised by Dr. Pádraig MacNeela &  Dr. Caroline Heary. Emer has a strong interest in youth mental health, youth mental health service delivery, youth participation, social justice and human rights, health inequalities and the translation of theory to practice. Emer has published in the Journal of Progressive Human Services.


Improving youth participation in mental health service development & delivery

Niall Mac-Dhonnagain UCD

Niall MacDhonnagainNeil completed his BA in Psychology in University College Dublin in 2016.  He is a former Youth Advisory Panel member in Jigsaw Dublin City from 2017-18.

Neil’s project looks at investigating the Jigsaw brief intervention model, supervised by Prof. Barbara Dooley and Dr. Aileen O’Reilly. In Study 1, the team are investigating the presenting issues of young people engaging with Jigsaw, and examining which groupings of presenting issues predict higher levels of distress. Study 2 will focus on understanding the meaning of therapeutic change in the Jigsaw brief intervention, and Study 3 will examine the follow-up outcomes of the young people after completing the intervention.

So far during the project, Neil has presented emerging findings of his first study at the Psychological Society of Ireland conference in Kilkenny, and at the International Association of Youth Mental Health in Brisbane, Australia. Neil has also contributed to panel discussions on youth participation in youth mental health at the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland Spring conference in April 2019, and at the International Youth Mental Health Research Network meeting in October 2019. He published an article on the topic of universal interventions in youth mental health in the Irish Psychologist in October 2018, and argued for school-based interventions to be evidence-based in a blog on the same topic here. Neil can be found on Twitter @neilmacdh



Daraine Murphy, UCD

Daraine MurphyDaráine completed a BA in Psychology and a MSc in Psychological Science both awarded from University College Dublin. After completing her Masters Daráine worked as a research assistant in our Lady’s Hospice and Care Services Harold’s Cross and in the Economic and Social Research Institute on the Growing Up in Ireland study. As a PhD student at University College Dublin, Daráine is focusing on ‘parental help-seeking for adolescent mental health concerns’. 

Daraine is supervised by  Professor Eilis Hennessy  and Dr Caroline Heary. Daráine’s research interested include: youth mental health, help-seeking for mental health and parental attitudes/behaviours. Email:


Parental help seeking outline

Dr. Emmet Power  RCSI

Emmet Power smlEmmet graduated from Medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in 2015 and obtained Membership of the Royal College of Psychiatry in 2018. He began specialist training in the College of Psychiatry of Ireland in 2016 following his internship. 

Emmet is supervised by  Professor Mary Cannon and Professor David Cotter, his PhD project will involve examining established longitudinal cohort studies of young peoples mental health."  


David Mongan RCSI, ICAT

David MonganDavid graduated in Medicine from Queen's University Belfast in 2012 and has been working in Psychiatry since 2014. His clinical and research interests lie in the aetiology and prevention of mental disorders such as psychosis, and how insights in these fields might aid early intervention. 

  His  project will explore biological markers of mental ill-health in at risk populations. This will include the use of proteomics for prediction of transition and functional outcome in people at risk of psychosis, and biomarkers of mental disorders and psychotic experiences in the general population.”

David is an ICAT Fellow (2017). The Wellcome – Health Research Board Irish Clinical Academic Training (ICAT) Programme is a unique all Ireland cross-institutional, comprehensive national programme for Clinician Scientists based at six major Irish universities and their affiliated hospital groups. David is Supervised by Professor Mary Cannon  and Professor David Cotter.

PhD research area: An inflammatory biomarker study of psychosis: a longitudinal study in an at risk population


Adversity and psychological symptoms in young people

Research Assistant 
Megan Cowman

YOULEAD Megan Cowman

Megan is a research assistant on the YOULEAD project. She completed her BA, Higher Diploma in Psychology and MSc in Clinical Neuroscience at NUI Galway. Megan’s MSc research project focused on clinical and cognitive variables affecting decision-making capacity in people with schizophrenia. Her research interests include non-social and social cognitive deficits in psychosis, and development of cognitive and psychosocial therapies for young people with mental health disorders.