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Our core staff, associate researchers and mental health partners come from a range of professional backgrounds and disciplines including psychology, social work, nursing, epidemiology, psychiatry, health economics and medical sociology.

Centre Staff

Visiting Academics

Professor Seeromanie Harding

Professor Seeromanie Harding's main research interest is on investigating the influence of social, biological and environmental exposures in early life and childhood on health over the life course, with a particular focus on ethnicity. She has been involved in international comparative studies with colleagues from Australia, Europe and the Caribbean examining the influence of socioeconomic circumstances and migration on health inequalities. Professor Harding has led the Ethnicity and Health Research Programme at SPHSU since 2005. In 2010, she was appointed Honorary Professor in the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences at Glasgow University. In 2011, she was appointed Visiting Professor at Kings College London. In 2012, she was awarded a Raine Visiting Professorship at the University of Western Australia, where she is involved in a national study of occupational hazards facing migrant workers. She is the Managing Editor of Ethnicity and Health Journal. Prior to joining SPHSU, she worked at London School of Hygiene as an epidemiologist at the Centre for Public Health Monitoring and at the Office for National Statistics (ONS) as research lead on the ONS Longitudinal Study.

Dr Ciaran Mulholland

Ciaran Mulholland has been a consultant psychiatrist with the Northern Health and Social Care Trust since 1998, was appointed as an Honorary Professor by the Bamford Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing at Ulster University in 2009 and was elected Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 2012. Since April 2000, he has also held the post of Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Medical Education (Lead for Psychiatry) at Queen’s University Belfast and continues to work as a Consultant Psychiatrist with the Northern Trust. Currently, he is co-lead for an innovative service for young people with “at risk mental states”; that is, those thought to be at risk of developing a psychotic illness. He is the Chair of the Northern Ireland Mental Health, Ageing and Learning Disability Translational Research Group and the Co-Clinical Lead of the Northern Ireland Clinical Research Network, Mental Health Special Interest Group. He has acted as an advisor to the Victims and Survivors Service on clinical interventions for those who have been impacted by the trauma of the “Troubles”. Ciaran’s research interests include: First Episode Psychosis and At Risk Mental States; exploring the Impact of the “Troubles” on mental health; Mental Health and Documentary Film; Medical Education Research; Rural Mental Health; Social and Clinical History of Psychiatry. He has published more than 40 research papers and several books and book chapters.

Professor Roger O'Sullivan

Professor Roger O’Sullivan is Interim CEO of the Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH) and Director of the Ageing Research and Development Division within IPH. Between 2007-2015 he was Director of The Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland (CARDI) and prior to that he worked for Rural Community Network and Queen’s University Belfast. He was previously joint convener of the UK Funders Forum on Ageing, guest editor of the journal Quality in Ageing and Older Adults and rapporteur for the Ditchley Foundation’s international conference on the Impact of Ageing on Developed Economies. Professor O’Sullivan has undertaken a wide range of research on issues relating to older people including research for the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. He is currently working with the Bamford Centre and colleagues from Ulster University to set up a programme of research on loneliness, ageing and health. The partnership will include academics and voluntary sector agencies from the UK and Ireland.

Visiting Research Associates

Dr Annette Burns

Annette Burns has recently joined the Bamford Centre and the Institute of Public Health as Public Health Interventions Officer for Loneliness. Experienced in the use of both quantitative and qualitative methodologies, she has previously conducted research in areas including mental health, smoking, psychometric measurement, behaviour change and implementation. Annette completed her PhD at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland through the SPHeRE Programme (Structured Education in Population Health and Health Services Research), choosing to explore smoking and smoking cessation in those with mental health difficulties, a disproportionately impacted yet highly neglected group. She holds first class honours degrees in Psychology (BA) and Applied Social Research (MSc) awarded by NUI Galway and Trinity College Dublin. Her research interests include health inequalities, mental health, inteventions and mixed methods research.

Dr Dagmar Corry

Dagmar Corry obtained her BSc (Hons) in Psychology in 2007 and her PhD in Psychology in 2011, both at Ulster University. Dagmar has taught at undergraduate and Masters levels at Ulster University in the areas of Counselling-, Clinical-, Health-, and Developmental Psychology, as well as in Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods. She has designed and taught a blended module “Wellbeing in Childhood”, and taught the online Masters of Psychology of Religion course at Wrexham Glyndwr University in Wales. Her research interests include positive mental health across the lifespan; resilience and strengths-based coping; spirituality and creativity in coping; psychology of spirituality and religion; cultural and individual differences; lifespan development; qualitative research; and mixed methods research designs.

During her time with the Bamford Centre Dr Corry had an integral role on a number of projects, including the Northern Ireland Study of Adolescent Wellbeing (NISAW), Dementia Friendly Communities (DFC), Evaluation of a Healthcare Passport to Improve Quality of Care and Communication for People Living with Dementia (EQuIP), and Memories Cafés.

Deirdre Fullerton

Deirdre Fullerton is Director of Insights Health and Social Research, an independent research consultancy. She qualified as a psychologist, and has a particular interest in research with children and young people.  With over 20 years’ research experience, Deirdre specialises in the conduct of evidence reviews to inform policy and practice. Recent evidence reviews include the transition from child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) to adult services, and the management of aggressive behaviour in residential care settings.  She has also considerable experience in undertaking external evaluations of health and social interventions.  Before establishing Insights Health and Social Research, Deirdre held academic posts at Ulster University (Research Lecturer), University of York Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (Research Fellow) and University College London Institute of Education (Research Officer). Her research has been published in international journals including the British Medical Journal, the Journal of Adolescent Health, Quality in Health Care, Health Education Journal, and Adoption. She has also co-authored a text book on the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS).

Sheena McGrellis

PhD Students

Caroline Cunningham

Title of Thesis:

Parental mental health problems and child safeguarding; prevalence, patterns and needs of children


Natalie Divin

Title of Thesis:

An analysis of social and demographic contributors to adolescent wellbeing in Northern Ireland

Project Overview:

Despite growing concerns for youth mental health and its impact on education and later adult life, contributing factors to youth mental health remains under-researched in Northern Irish adolescents. The aim of this study is to conduct an analysis of contributing factors to youth mental health and academic achievement in Northern Irish adolescents. Based on previous research, this analysis will include the following factors: socioeconomic status, housing tenure, neighbourhood deprivation, overcrowded housing, joint/single parent households, number of siblings, parental education, parental health, sibling health, the health of the young person and family bereavement.


Laura Gallagher

Title of Thesis:

Childhood Unintentional Injury: Determinants and Psychological Outcomes

Project Overview:

Using linked routinely-collected healthcare data, this project will describe the epidemiology of unintentional injury in childhood in the Northern Ireland Population. It will identify at-risk populations and the risk factors which contribute to unintentional childhood injury. The project will also assess the long-term mental health of unintentionally injured children, and the factors associated with poor mental health outcomes.


Martin Gallen

Title of Thesis:

Understanding the impact and effectiveness of non-statutory and community interventions to address suicidal behaviour in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland

Project Overview:

  • To understand the mechanisms and mode of effect of community and non-statutory initiatives and services to address suicidal thoughts, behaviour and deaths by suicide.
  • To examine the impact and effectiveness of the initiatives and services


Katrin Lehmann

Title of Thesis:

Gender dysphoria and autism/autism features


Christopher Smyth

Title of Thesis:

ADRC-NI: The impact of area general interview in deprived areas of NI


Kristin Toso

Title of Thesis:

Advanced Age Parenthood and Developmental Disorders in the Offspring: an analysis of characteristics of advanced age nulliparous and multiparous mothers, combined with maternal stress, as predictors of ASD and ADHD.

Project Outline:

This project aims to investigate links between factors of influence in the pregnancy period and the development of autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the offspring. The study is focused on two factors; advanced age parenthood and maternal stress during pregnancy. There is evidence of an increase in maternal age in recent years and both have plausible and possibly similar biological pathways to explain their apparent relationship with developmental disorders in the offspring.


  • To determine common characteristics of women who give birth after the age of 35 in terms of demographic and socioeconomic factors, religion, health, disability, living environment, family make up, deprivation and factors that could indicate maternal stress. This will be in comparison to the 25 -35 year old mothers.
  • To determine common characteristics of nulliparous women who give birth after age 35 and perform a comparison with multiparous women of the same age.
  • To investigate the characteristics of the larger population of all mothers over 35 and compare to the characteristics of those within this population who give birth to offspring later diagnosed with ASD/ADHD.
  • To explore the impact of maternal stress on advanced age pregnancy outcomes of ASD and ADHD in the offspring by measuring environmental stressors (such as crime and disorder and living environment) and psychological stressors (indicated by use of anxiety medications).