Orla obtained a BSc in Applied Psychology (2005), a PhD (2008), and a PgCHEP (2010) at Ulster. She is a Chartered Psychologist (CPsychol) of the British Psychological Society (BPS). Prior to taking up her current post in 2012, Orla worked as a researchers on various mental health research projects in collaboration with expert researchers at international institutions including, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Michigan State University, and the University of New South Wales (UNSW).
In 2009, Orla secured a prestigious postdoctoral Endeavour Research Fellowship from the Australian Government’s Department of Education, Employment, and Workplace Relations to conduct alcohol dependence research at the UNSW. Since 2012, Orla has contributed to securing research funding (~£800K) from the NIHR and the ESRC. Orla has an established interdisciplinary network of collaborators across the US, China, Europe and Australia. Orla has authored over 45 research papers, which have been published in high quality, reputable journals (h-index=17, March 2018). She is an editor for Addiction and Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. Orla is an expert reviewer for the NIHR and for many leading mental health journals.
Students have nominated Orla for her Excellence in Learning and Teaching and Research Supervision at the UUSU Learning and Teaching Awards. Orla obtained Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA) in 2017 in recognition of her leadership in the fields of digital literacy, and in creative and innovative curriculum design and delivery. She coordinates and teaches on the School’s Annual Research Methods and Statistics Summer School. Orla is course director for the PgCert in Quantitative Methods for the Behavioural and Social Sciences. Orla is an external examiner for Professional Clinical Psychology Doctorate at NUIG.
Orla is a member of the School‘s postgraduate Ethics Filter Committee and the Self-Assessment Team for the School’s Athena Swan Bronze Award.