Graduated as top ranked student of Neuroscience BSc with a 1st Class Hons from UCC in 2010, having been awarded the distinction of ‘College Scholar’ in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010, and the ‘Certificate of Excellence’ in 2010 for academic excellence. In 2010, I was awarded the prestigious ‘IRCSET EMBARK Postgraduate Scholarship’ by the Irish Research Council (IRC) to carry out my proposed 3-year PhD project in the Dept. Anatomy and Neuroscience, UCC, under the supervision of Professor Aideen Sullivan and Dr. Gerard O’Keeffe. Following completion of my PhD in Jan. 2014, I was employed as a Post-Doctoral Researcher by Dr. Barry Boland in the Dept. of Pharmacology and Therapeutics. To embark on an independent research career, I was awarded the highly competitive 'Government of Ireland Post-Doctoral Fellowship' by the IRC in 2014, and the 'NUI Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the Sciences' by the National University of Ireland in 2015, to facilitate my Post-Doctoral research in the Dept. of Anatomy and Neuroscience, UCC, which built on work from my PhD. As a researcher, I have been awarded a place on two European training courses (NSAS & ECNP), as well as two travel bursaries (NI & UCC). I have been invited to present at a number of national and international conferences, at which I have regularly been awarded ‘best presentation’ (NI, YNS, New Horizons & ECNP). I have published 23 peer-reviewed journal articles (17 first author; 2 senior author) to date, 4 of which were included in ‘Top 25 Most Downloaded Articles’. My ‘h-index’ is 13 on Google Scholar, and my publications have generated a total of 561 citations (at January 2020). My Research Gate score of 27.52 ranks within top 15% of researchers (from all fields) in the world. To engage with the public, I was awarded the IRC 'New Foundation Award’ to launch the ongoing ‘BRAINTALK’ outreach project. To gain international experience, I was awarded the prestigious 'Charlemont Grant' in 2016 from the Royal Irish Academy to extend my research by visiting the laboratories of Prof. Danny Huylebroeck in the Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, Netherlands and KU Leuven, Belgium. From September 2013, I held a part-time lecturing position in Dept. of Anatomy and Neuroscience, UCC, and in August 2016 I began employment as a full-time Lecturer in Dept. of Anatomy and Neuroscience, UCC. In September 2016, I was awarded the prestigious Neuroscience Ireland ‘Early Career Investigator Award’ which recognises an ‘outstanding research scientist in the Neuroscience community who has made exciting contributions to the field of Neuroscience’. In August 2017, I began my current employment as a Research Fellow in Neurobiology in the F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center laboratory of Professor Zhigang He, in Dept. of Neurology, Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School (HMS), Boston, USA. In September 2018, I took up a position as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Sciences, Wentworth Institute of Technology, USA. In January 2020, as a principal investigator I was granted the 'William Randolph Hearst Fund Award' for 2020 by William Randolph Hearst Foundation in recognition of, and to further progress, my current research work in Harvard and Boston Children’s Hospital.
My research focus can be divided into three integrated and progressive levels:
1.) Characterization of the molecular, cellular, developmental and metabolic mechanisms regulating survival and (re-)growth of clinically-relevant neuronal populations.
2.) Identification of biologically-relevant and functionally-significant molecular pathways that can promote neuro-protection/-regeneration in clinically-translatable models of central nervous system disease or injury.
3.) Development of effective neuroprotective and/or neuroregenerative manipulations in preclinical models, that have viable and scalable potential for translation into the industrial and clinical setting, in order to restore function in neurological disorders, such as CNS injury and neurodegenerative diseases.
In addition to my Neuroscience research, I have a passion for public engagement. Indeed, during my time as a Lecturer and Researcher in UCC, I was awarded the 'New Foundation Award' by the Irish Research Council to launch the ongoing 'BRAINTALK' (Brain Research And Individuals Networking for Teaching, Assisting, Learning and Knowledge) project. This project aims to create an active and interconnected Parkinson’s community in Ireland, which together strives to improve the management and research outcomes of PD. The project involved the organisation of the 'Parkinson's Community Meeting & Exhibition' and the 'Exploring Parkinson's through Art' Workshop, as well as the 'Shane Marathons for Parkinson's' fundraising event (raised over €2,000) in 2015. The details of this ongoing project can be found at: http://www.ucc.ie/en/braintalk/. Other public engagement projects and fundraising events included Brain Awareness Week 2016 FENS 'Healthy Brain Ageing' Initiative in local Cork schools, 'All About That Brain' team for 'UCC Relay For Life 2016' charity event, the Science Week 2016 event ‘Jelly Brain & Case of Protective Skull!’ for local Cork schools, and the 'FiftyTwoWords' public speaking event 'Struggle'. I also engage in science writing for the wider public (blog page: http://svh_neuro.svbtle.com/), from which I have contributed to the PLOSNeuro and Biochemical Society blogs.