Double Honour for NUI Galway School of Psychology Researchers

Dr Elaine Toomey and Dr David Mothersill, School of Psychology, NUI Galway. Photo Aengus McMahon
Jan 29 2018 Posted: 12:30 GMT

Dr Elaine Toomey and Dr David Mothersill from the School of Psychology at NUI Galway, have both received prestigious awards for their specific areas of research from the Irish Canadian University Foundation and the Royal Irish Academy.

Dr Elaine Toomey from the Health Behaviour Change Research Group, led by Professor Molly Byrne at the School of Psychology, received the ‘Irish Canadian University Foundation James M Flaherty Early Career Researcher Award’. Dr Toomey received the award to conduct further research on the adaptation of ‘Football Fans in Training’ (FFIT), an effective health behaviour change intervention that used Scottish professional football clubs to engage with overweight and obese men. The ‘Hockey Fit’ intervention was recently developed by Dr Rob Petrella and Dr Dawn Gill in Western University, Ontario to adapt the FFIT project to ice-hockey, within a Canadian context.

Dr Toomey’s award will enable her to visit Western University and explore the Canadian ‘Hockey Fit’ intervention with a specific focus on how FFIT components were adapted to suit a different sporting and cultural context, and inform how this might be used in an Irish context. Dr Toomey will also spend time in the Centre for Implementation Research in the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute to maximise how knowledge from her visit to Western University can be used to inform adaptation and translation into an Irish setting, using a structured and theory-based approach.

Speaking about her award, Dr Elaine Toomey at NUI Galway, said: “I am delighted and incredibly honoured to receive this award. As well as facilitating my own learning and development, this award will enable me to establish new collaborations between the Health Behaviour Change Research Group at NUI Galway and researchers from Western University, as well as strengthening existing relationships between our group and Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. It will also enable Canadian expertise in obesity research and knowledge translation to be disseminated to an Irish audience.”

Dr David Mothersill received the ‘Royal Irish Academy Charlemont Grant’ for his research in Cognitive Neuroscience, as part of the Centre for Neuroimaging and Cognitive Genomics (NICOG) led by Professor Gary Donohoe at the School of Psychology at NUI Galway.
Dr Mothersill received the award for research where he is currently developing a novel computerised test to examine social cognition in individuals with schizophrenia that will be useful in predicting real world social skills. Social cognition refers to the ability to understand the perspectives and emotions of other people. Deficits in social cognition are a core feature of people with schizophrenia. However, current tests designed to examine social cognition are limited by unrealistic stimuli and dependence upon an examiner.

Dr Mothersill’s award will allow him to take the computerised test he is developing and bring it to Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, where he will receive expert feedback from Professor Christopher Bowie, a leading expert in assessment and treatment of cognitive deficits in schizophrenia. Dr Mothersill will collaborate with Professor Bowie and his team on further research and development of this computerised test, with the aim of testing the final program in the clinic in late 2018.

On receiving his award, Dr David Mothersill at NUI Galway, said: “I am delighted to receive this Charlemont Award. It provides me with an excellent opportunity to travel to Queen's University, Ontario, and collaborate with one of the leading experts in assessment and treatment of cognitive deficits in schizophrenia, Professor Chris Bowie. This project will also strengthen existing collaborative ties between the Centre for Neuroimaging and Cognitive Genomics at NUI Galway and the Cognition in Psychological Disorders Lab in Canada.”


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