Research Team

David Gaul
PhD Student
David graduated from Dublin City University with a 1.1 in B.Sc in Physical Education and Biology in 2012. He went on to carry out a MSc (Research) in 2012 entitled Fine Motor Skill Performance in Irish Children in Dublin City University under the supervision of Dr Johann Issartel which was funding by DCU Faculty of Science and Healths Distinguished Scholar Programme. In 2014 David received a Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship Award to carry out a PhD. Davids research interests included physical activity, motor skill proficiency, Fundamental Movement Skills and Obesity. David also has a keen interest in Soccer, acting as the Chairman of DCU Soccer Club in addition to being an executive committee member of the Irish Universities Football Union (IUFU) and Liaison officer for the Colleges and Universities International Team. Awards: DCU Faculty of Science and Healths Distinguished Scholar Programme. (€30,000) Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship Award (€72,000)
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Anna Donnla O'Hagan
PhD Student
Having completed my undergraduate degree in Sports Science and Health from Dublin City University, I then went on to complete an MSc in Applied Sport & Exercise Psychology from Bangor University, Wales. Following this, I began working as a postgraduate research assistant in the Applied Sports Performance Research Group based in the School of Health and Human Performance at Dublin City University investigating chronobiology, fatigue determinants and measures applicable within an aviation environment. Simultaneously, I worked with a variety of individual and team-based athletes across a range of sporting disciplines from Club to International level as a trainee sport psychologist. I am passionate about my research and highly motivated and driven in both my academic pursuits and extra-curricular activities. I actively compete in rugby, Gaelic, triathlon and adventure races. I am a fully qualified beach lifeguard and am trained in first aid and CPR as well as Level 3 Sports Massage. I also enjoy travelling and have inter-railed across Europe and toured parts of America, Russia, Mongolia and China. My current PhD research project is funded by the Irish Research Council through the Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship Scheme.
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Stephen Behan
PhD Student
Recently graduated with an MSc in Coaching and Exercise Science from UCD, and has worked as a Games Promotions Officer with Dublin GAA for nearly a decade. This role has seen him working with children of all ages and given him a unique insight into what motivates youths to participate in physical activity. His main research interests are in children’s physical activity level’s, particularly Fundamental Movement Skills. Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS) are the basic observable patterns of behaviour present from childhood to adulthood. How children perceive their own competency in these skills is also a large area of interest, as research suggests that low self perception among children could lead to a negative spiral of physical activity participation as they get older. Stephen’s research is supported by the GAA through the Research and Games Development centre, alongside Dublin GAA, and is also supported through the INSIGHT Centre within DCU. His current project is entitled "Moving Well Being Well'
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Jennifer Kavanagh
PhD Student
Jennifer graduated from DCU with a BSc in Sport Science and Health. In 2016 she was awarded a PhD Scholarship from the Irish Research Council under the Enterprise Partnership Scheme. She began her PhD in February 2017 in association with Yvolve Sports Ltd. She is interested in researching and working with children, particularly with fundamental motor skills and perceptions of ability. Throughout the PhD Jennifer strives to gain a better understanding of the benefits of children learning new skills and to add to the futile amount of literature on learning to ride a bike. Pre-school children are the main focus of Jennifer’s research and exploring how they learn and what motivates them is a key focus as having this knowledge can provide information to produce and promote the most efficient products and services to encourage physical activity that will not only stand to increase activity but subsequently create a healthier lifestyle, both physically and mentally. The research focuses on fundamental motor skills of children, their perceptions of ability and learning to ride a bike. In particular, looking at the effect of balance bikes and bikes with stabilisers as precursors to riding a bike and whether they provide benefits to the children’s motor development. A key miles-stone in a child’s development is the independent riding a bike, which in itself can help to develop a child’s ability in fundamental motor skills, improve fitness and help develop self-confidence. Independent cycling is a challenging task, and so it is important to understand the best way to support its development. Other research areas include; adapted physical activity, child psychology, and app usability.
Pádraig Bolger
PhD Student
Graduated with a B.Sc in Athletic Therapy and Training in 2016 fromDublin City University; skilled in a variety of methods and modalities for the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of pain. My initial interest in research was formed through my undergraduate final year project, titled “An Analysis of Compulsive Exercise in Males; Focusing on Athletic Identity and Injury.” This interest in research, coupled with my love of technology and lifelong participation in sport, led me to this project. My project aims to validate and test several off the shelf and research grade physical activity monitors in an adolescent cohort. The project will explore the perceived usability and acceptability of the smartphone applications associated with the various wrist worn monitors, and will identify an optimised solution based on the needs of the adolescent user groups. The study will involve both analysis of the monitors in everyday life data acquisition, and lab-based experiments which will capture and model typical movement patterns associated with physical activity. The area of fitness technology is growing exponentially every year. With such capacity for growth, it is important to determine whether or not these devices actually add value to the lives of their users. The need for physical activity, particularly in adolescents, will always exist; and therefore it is paramount that we are able to accurately quantify the degree to which they engage in that activity. Padraig.bolger9@mail.dcu.ie
Una Britton
PhD Student
Having graduated with a BSc in Sport and Exercise Science from University of Limerick, I took up an athletics scholarship at Eastern Kentucky University, USA and completed an MSc in Physical Education with Sport & Exercise Science. My research examined the relationship between athlete attributional style and coaching behaviours, comparing the US and Irish collegiate sporting environments. My main research interests are in childhood physical activity and health, with particular interest in health-related fitness, self-perceptions, and motor competence. My current research aims to evaluate a conceptual model designed by Stodden and colleagues (2008) examining the relationships between motor competence, health-related physical fitness, perceived competence, physical activity, and weight status, with a view to tracking changes in these variables across the transition from primary to second level school. Rising levels of obesity worldwide along with decreasing physical activity are causing major health problems among children and adolescents. As children transition from childhood to adolescence, a decrease in physical activity is often seen. This research will give an insight into how the relationships between key variables change and develop over this transition, and which variables are most pertinent for maintaining positive trajectories in physical activity and health. una.britton2@mail.dcu.ie
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Ciara Wilson
PhD Student
I graduated from Dublin City University in 2013 with an undergraduate degree in B.Sc in Physical Education with Biology. I worked as a PE teacher for 2 years between 2013 and 2015. In that time I also volunteered for a mental health organisation, which is where my interest grew in the area of neurocognition and how it reacts to exercise and physical activity levels. I have always had an interest in keeping children active as possible, subsequently I have worked with a multi-sports summer camp over the past 6 years, promoting physical activity and educating youth. The adolescent years is a period where immense and considerable changes in cognition, behavior, physical activity and overall health occur. Adolescents begin to think and process information in different ways. They become more self-reflective then their younger selves. They being to think in a more strategic manner and develop the capacity to hold multidimensional concepts. Adolescents should begin to acquire and develop the ability to regulate their attention, thoughts, actions and emotions, and on occasion, suppressing a dominant response to produce and more appropriate alternative. Physical activity and physical fitness levels have become recognized in recent years as important determinants of mental and cognitive health and development through childhood, adolescence and into adult years. Little research has been done on the durations and intensities of physical activity and fitness levels on cognitive functioning in children. There is massive drop off rate in physical activity levels between the ages of 11 and 14 as children transition to secondary school. The research will be conducted over 3 years, with measurements taking place at 3 time points, examining how variables such as their cognitive functioning will change and develop in response to exercise and physical activity levels.
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