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Dr. Geraldine Leader



Geraldine is a graduate of University College Cork where she obtained her B.A. (Hons) and Ph.D. in Psychology.  Geraldine is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology and in this role established Ireland’s first M.Sc. in Applied Behaviour Analysis in 2006. Over 180 students have graduated from this programme and are employed in a range of autism services. The M.Sc. is ranked 3rd in the World in respect to the pass rate of the Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BACB) exam, which graduates sit to become certified practitioners. 


Geraldine’s research interests lie in area of autism disorders (ASD), rare and related neurodevelopmental conditions and intellectual disability (ID).  She is especially interested in the study of comorbid conditions and how they affect the diagnosis of ASD.  She also conducts interdisciplinary research primarily concerned with improving the quality of life of individuals with a diagnosis of ASD and with ID. Geraldine is the founding Director of the Irish Centre for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Research (ICAN) which she established in 2012. Geraldine was appointed Director of Research of DOCTRID (Daughters of Charity Technology and Research into Disability), an international research institute established by the Daughters of Charity to conduct service based research into ASD and Intellectual Disability  in 2017.  Through Geraldine’s leadership, Doctrid has embarked on an ambitious research agenda which has included supporting and empowering people with ID to access education, employment, community participation, and independent living.  She is a PI in the Assistive Technologies in Autism and Intellectual Disability (ASSISTID), an EU FP7 €8.8m award (2014-2019). She is a PI in GEMMA (Genome, Environment, Microbiome, and Metabolome in Autism) which was recently awarded €14.2 million from Horizon 2020 (2019-2024). 

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Dr. Arlene Mannion

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Dr. Arlene Mannion is a post-doctoral researcher in ICAN.  Arlene is a behavioural psychologist and Board-Certified Behaviour Analyst-Doctoral (BCBA-D).  Arlene holds a PhD in Applied Behaviour Analysis, a MSc in Applied Behaviour Analysis, a BA in Psychology, a Diploma in Irish, and a Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.  Arlene’s PhD research was funded by a NUI Galway Hardiman Scholarship and focused on gastrointestinal symptoms and sleep problems in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).  Her research interests include gastrointestinal symptoms and comorbidity in individuals with ASD and other rare and related neurodevelopmental conditions.  She has published over 20 journal articles and book chapters.  She has a h-index of 10 and an i10-index of 11.

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Dr. Páraic Ó Súilleabháin


Dr. Ó Súilleabháin is a post-doctoral researcher at ICAN. Páraic holds a PhD in Psychology from NUI Galway. Much of Páraics research is focused on the associations between personality, loneliness, and disease, including resulting mortality. Páraic's research also examines longitudinal trajectories on the effects of biobehavioural process on disease diagnosis and progression, including both risk and protective mortality effects. He had been awarded a prestigious Royal Irish Academy Charlemont Grant for his research in this area. He is also interested in the underlying psychophysiological mechanisms and biological markers underpinning disease, most notably cardiovascular disease. Páraic also conducts research in the interaction between humans and animals, particularly domestic dogs (canis familiaris). Here he is interested in factors leading to human fatalities from dog bite incidence, and resulting public policy. He has published his research in leading international journals, including  first-authored publications in journals such as Psychosomatic Medicine, Psychophysiology, Journal of Psychosomatic Research, and The Veterinary Journal. Páraic's research has attracted both national and international awards.

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Dr. Stephen Cunningham

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Dr Stephen Cunningham is a senior research fellow within the Advanced Glycoscience Research Centre (AGRC) and ICAN at NUI Galway with greater than 15 years’ experience in the generation of diagnostic reagents and bio-signatures, including pharmacogenomics profiling of patient response and treatment regime assignment for neurological disorders. Currently, active in areas of human stress management and stress biosignaturing at omic and physiological levels, constructing biological networks for the improvement and management of individual stress. In parallel, the biosignaturing and glycomic profiling of medical interventions and devices used in localised surgical and medical procedures for the improvement of biological interaction and patient health. Diagnostic applications of human gut microbiome communication and whole being health are central to research interests.

Professor Lokesh Joshi

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Professor Lokesh Joshi, is Stokes Professor of Glycosciences at NUI Galway. His research group is developing technologies for high-throughput (HTP) biomimic discovery and microarray based glycomics studies towards understanding chronic and infectious diseases. In 2009, Lokesh Joshi led SFI funded Strategic Research Cluster, Advanced Glycoscience Research Cluster with the objective of understanding the role of glycosylation in host-microbial interactions in the gut including the analysis of gene expression data during infection process. In 2010, he coordinated a EU-FP7 consortium (GlycoHIT), composed of partners from 10 countries (including USA, China, Japan and Israel), to develop the next generation of glycobiology tools for the diagnosis of cancer glycobiomarkers using various Omics technologies. Lokesh is currently co-PI on SFI funded Research Centre on medical devices ‘CURAM’, a PI in the H2020 JPI-HDHL ‘SALIVAGES awarded in 2017 €1.6 million, and a PI in the H2020 ‘GEMMA’ -Genome, Environment, Microbiome, and Metabolome in Autism, which was recently awarded €14.2 million from Horizon 2020 (2019-2024). Prof Joshi has published more than 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals, over 80 research articles and 7 book chapters to date. His H-Index is 32 and i-10 Index is 70.

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Dr. Ian Stewart

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Dr. Ian Stewart holds a PhD in Psychology from NUI Maynooth (NUIM) in 2001, and was appointed as lecturer at NUI Galway in 2002. His current work focuses on the analysis of language and cognition from a behaviour analytic and more specifically Relational Frame Theory (RFT) perspective. He is interested in the analysis of language and cognition in children with ASD. He has published extensively in the area of ASD. He was made a fellow of the Association for Contextual Behavioural Science (ACBS) in June 2014. He is also currently a member of the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI), the European Association for Behaviour Analysis and the Experimental Analysis of Behaviour Group (EABG).

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Dr. Orla Flanagan

Dr. Flanagan is a Clinical Lecturer in the Department of Paediatrics in NUI Galway and a Consultant Paediatrician with the Brothers of Charity and University College Hospital Galway (UCHG) since January 2006. Prior to taking up this post she worked as a lecturer in the Paediatric department from September 2003-June 2005. A graduate of NUI Galway, she completed her training in Community Paediatrics/Neurodevelopmental Paediatrics at Alder Hey in Liverpool. She is a member of the Royal College of Physicians. Research interests are Early Identification of Children with Learning Disabilities and Children with Autism. She is part of a clinical team that provide services to children with ASD throughout the west of Ireland.

Dr. Jennifer Holloway

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Jennifer Holloway is Director of the PhD and MSc in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA).  Dr. Holloway is a certified behaviour analyst and psychologist who has worked in the treatment of autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disorders for over twenty years. Her clinical experience extends to include; early intensive behavioural intervention (EIBI), mainstream inclusion programmes and the provision of positive behaviour supports for individuals who present with problem behaviour  She is a member of the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI),  Division of Behaviour Analysis in Ireland, and is the Vice President of the Standard Celeration Society (International). Her research interests include early intensive behavioural intervention and autism, family supports (parent and sibling), challenging behaviour, mainstream inclusion supports, screening for children ‘at risk’ for autism diagnosis, behavioural fluency instruction for positive academic outcomes and verbal behaviour.

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Dr. Lindsay Athamanah

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Dr. Lindsay Athamanah is a Hegarty Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at ICAN.  She received her PhD in Special Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), her M.S. in Communicative Disorders at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and her B.A. in Speech and Hearing Sciences at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.  She has 10 years of experience as a speech-language pathologist working in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) primarily with students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders and intellectual disabilities (ASD/ID).  Her research agenda is grounded in her career as a speech-language pathologist.  Her research focuses on evaluating the impact of peer-mediated interventions on the vocational and social skills of students with ASD/ID and their peers in inclusive work-based learning settings before they graduate from high school.  Her research focuses on analyzing the perceptions of employers, peers, and students with ASD/ID about employment expectations, the experience of working together, and how peer relationships develop in an inclusive work environment.

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ICAN Alumni

Dr. Meghan Brahm

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Dr. Meghan Brahm, BCBA, is an Assistant Professor at Southern Connecticut State University in the Department of Special Education, teaching in the ASD and ABA concentrations, and is a Research Scientist in Center of Excellence on ASD.  Dr. Brahm completed her Ph.D. at ICAN  in 2018.  Her doctoral work focused on epidemiological studies of ASD, including the evaluation of weight related maternal risk factors for the development of ASD in offspring and the application of ABA to manage disordered eating, pre-pregnancy. Dr. Brahm received her Master’s degree in 2012 from The University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, Connecticut in special education, ASD and ABA after completing her Bachelors in 2009 at Eastern Connecticut State University in Psychology, focusing on psychology of childhood and adolescence and ABA. Dr. Brahm is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst who has worked both domestically and internationally as a practitioner and consultant across a multitude of settings, supervising evidence-based interventions to support individuals with ASD and developmental disabilities of varying ages. At current, Dr. Brahm’s work focuses on researching and delivering effective training services to school-based personnel, families and community service providers to increase the integrity with which evidence-based practices are used to support individuals with ASD.

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Dr. June Chen

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Dr. June L. Chen is an Associate Professor and Deputy Director of the department in the Department of Special Education in East China Normal University.  Prior to this, June was a Hegarty Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at ICAN.  During her time as a Hegarty Fellow, June worked on understanding barriers to social inclusion for adults with autism spectrum disorder and on developing a training programme and online tool to increase job readiness for adults with ASD/ID.

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Dr. Shawn P. Gilroy

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Dr. Gilroy is an Assistant Professor in Louisiana State University.  Prior to this, Shawn was a Marie Curie ASSISTID post-doctoral research fellow at ICAN.  He received his Ph.D. in School Psychology from Temple University.  Certified as both an educational psychology and behaviour analyst, Shawn completed his pre-doctoral training in Behavioural Pediatrics at the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Munroe-Meyer Institute and his postdoctoral training at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Kennedy Krieger Institute.  His research interests include (1) the socialization and communication impairments demonstrated by individuals with disabilities (e.g., autism, intellectual disabilities), (2) the evaluation of Behavior Analytic intervention packages using randomized-controlled designs, and (3) exploring how models of decision-making and operant demand relate to caregiver decision-making (i.e., which treatments to implement and to what degree).  Aside from clinical research and service delivery, he developed and maintains numerous apps (i.e., speech-generating devices) used in clinical interventions and statistical packages (i.e., operant demand, delay discounting) used in clinical research.  His current projects include developing free and open source tools for use in communication interventions and in modeling caregiver decision-making. Per communication interventions, this project is dedicated to developing affordable and sustainable applications that can be used effectively by families and educators across environments. His projects related to caregiver decision-making are primarily statistical in nature, focusing on modeling how caregivers select interventions for their children and allocate their time and effort.

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Dr. Bernie Kirkpatrick


Dr. Kirkpatrick was a Marie Curie ASSISTID post-doctoral research fellow at ICAN.  Prior to the ASSISTID fellowship, Bernie conducted extensive research into the identification of effective behavioural strategies to promote evidence based interventions. Bernie received her PhD in Behaviour Analytic Techniques and her MSc in Applied Behaviour Analysis from Ulster University.  Her PhD research comprised of a series of experimental and applied studies that compared the efficaciousness of a number of behavioural interventions aimed at delivering behaviour change to encourage emotional wellbeing.  Her MSc in Applied Behaviour Analysis and her professional practice focused on supporting those with ASD/ID to bring about lasting and meaningful behaviour change.  Bernie’s 16 years of applied practice with the Education Authority targeted the identification and implementation of effective components of applied behaviour analytical interventions to promote social inclusion and inclusive education for individuals with ASC/ID. Her research and applied practice had a clear focus on the development of independent behavioural repertoires that enhanced daily functioning and the quality of a client’s life, and that of their family.

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Dr. Julia Louw


Dr Julia Louw works with the Trinity Centre for Practice and Healthcare Innovation (TCPHI) since October 2018 as a Healthcare Practice Research Fellow. She holds a PhD in Rehabilitation Counselor Education from Michigan State University (United States) and an MA in Research Psychology from the University of the Western Cape (South Africa). Prior to her current role, Julia held a Marie Curie post-doctoral research fellowship at ICAN.  Her previous research work includes HIV surveillance studies, Implementation Research, Monitoring and Evaluation, and Project Management. Her special research interests are in sexuality education, social inclusion, and disability studies. Julia is responsible for the development of collaborative research partnerships between TCD academic staff and nursing staff from three partners namely; Stewarts Care, Peamount Healthcare and Muiriosa Foundation. The long-term objective of this position is to promote high-quality nurse-led research that will advance practice and the care of service users.

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Dr. Nicole Neil

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Dr. Nicole Neil is Assistant Professor joined the Faculty of Education in the area of Applied Psychology at The University of Western Ontario. Prior to this Nicole was a Hegarty post-doctoral research fellow at ICAN. Her program of research focuses on maximizing outcomes in behavioral interventions for learners with developmental disabilities. Her primary research interest is in identifying ways of enhancing the effectiveness of interventions for individuals with developmental disabilities by tailoring the intensity at which intervention is provided. She received her PhD in psychology from the Graduate Center (CUNY), M.A. in Applied Disability studies from Brock University, and has over ten years of professional experience working with individuals with developmental disabilities.

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Dr. Emily Porter


Dr. Emily Porter completed her Ph.D. at McGill University in 2015, where she studied Applied Electromagnetics (Electrical Engineering). Dr. Porter received her B.Eng. and M.Eng., both in Electrical and Computer Engineering, in 2008 and 2010, respectively. Since 2015, Dr. Porter has been a postdoctoral researcher at the Translational Medical Device Laboratory at the National University of Ireland Galway and a Marie Curie post-doctoral research fellow at ICAN.  Her research is focused on novel medical applications of electromagnetics for diagnostic and therapeutic applications. Dr. Porter further works on assistive and supportive tools for the intellectually or physically disabled. In her role as an ASSISTID Fellow, she investigated electrical impedance tomography as a wearable technology to support toilet training in children with ASD and intellectual disabilities. Dr. Porter is the recipient of several prestigious national and international awards, including the IEEE Antennas and Propagation Society Doctoral Research Award, the URSI Young Scientist Award, the Irish Research Council (IRC) “New Foundations” Grant, the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) Charlemont Grant, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Postdoctoral Fellowship, Le Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies (FRQNT) Fellowship (Research Fund of Quebec: Nature and Technologies), and the D.W. Ambridge Prize, awarded by McGill University for the most outstanding graduating doctoral student in Natural Sciences or Engineering.


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Dr. Stacy Clifford Simplican

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Dr. Stacy Clifford Simplican is a Senior Lecturer in Women’s and Gender Studies in Vanderbuit University. In her role as a Hegarty post-doctoral research fellow at ICAN, Stacy increased our understanding of the meaning and impact of social inclusion. She published a paper in the journal ‘Research in Developmental Disabilities’ entitled ‘Defining social inclusion of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities: An ecological model of social networks and community participation’ which highlights the importance of both interpersonal relationships and community participation in achieving real social inclusion for people with ID.  She received her PhD in Political Science from Vanderbilt University in 2011. Her book, The Capacity Contract: Intellectual Disability and the Question of Citizenship (2015), analyzes the role of intellectual and developmental disabilities in social contract theory and the disability rights movement. Some of Stacy’s articles appear in Contemporary Political Theory, Hypatia, Disability & Society, and Politics, Groups, and Identities. In her spare time, she enjoys teaching feminist theory to her three young children.

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Dr. Phil Smyth


Dr Phil Smyth’s research and clinical work has utilised applied behaviour analytical programmes in the areas of education, habilitation and behaviour support of people with ASD, ID and Mental Health diagnoses. Since obtaining her PhD in 2004 she has practiced in early intervention education settings, adult day services, and residential & respite settings for children and adults with disabilities. The post she held prior to the ASSISTID fellowship involved developing and implementing behavioural interventions for people with ID, ASD and Mental Health who engage in Behaviours That Challenge. Dr Smyth has published in international journals and presented at national and international conferences.

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Dr. Ivan Traina

Dr. Ivan Traina was a Marie Curie Research Fellow in ICAN.  He worked on a project entitled Empowerment of youth with Intellectual Disabilities through Educational and training curricula for Acquiring employment Skills (E-IDEAS).  Ivan completed his PhD in Special Pedagogy at University of Bologna (2011-2014) with a specific focus on persons with disabilities and inclusive education. His PhD dissertation focused on social inclusion of vulnerable groups through participatory and emancipatory approaches, implementing active citizenship and socially innovative actions in the framework of civil & human rights model of disability.  He was involved in many international projects concerning educational and training processes, elaboration of learning and participatory methodologies and Information and Communications Technology-Assistive Technology (ICT-AT). He has a wide experience in EU projects as Research Advisor at the Department of Education Studies at the University of Bologna. Also, he was appointed as External Evaluator for the Erasmus Plus National Agency in Italy, for the EACEA in Brussels and for the EU funded projects TIDE (Towards Inclusive Development Education) and ENTELIS (The European Network for Technology Enhanced Learning in an Inclusive Society).  Prior to completing the PhD in 2014, he obtained a certification as Life Coach focusing his activity on interventions with persons with disabilities. He also carried out for many years a project focused on swimming activities for vulnerable groups, mainly persons with intellectual disability.  Ivan’s main research interests include empowerment of youths with intellectual disability, educational and employment strategies, ICT-AT, participatory and emancipatory approaches and Human Rights model of disability.

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Dr. Keeley White


Dr. Keeley White was a Marie Curie Research Fellow in ICAN.  She works on a project entitled Assistive Social Skills and Employment Training program for adults with autism spectrum disorder and/or intellectual disability. She completed her PhD in School/Applied Child Psychology at McGill University in 2016. She has been funded at both the provincial and national level in Canada for her master’s and doctoral research and has received 15 other research awards from organizations and universities alike.  Further, she was one of 14 people in Canada awarded an Autism Research Training Program Scholarship for 2014-2016. Her PhD dissertation highlighted the importance of self-determination for young adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) across Canada. Prior to her PhD, she completed her undergraduate degree in honours psychology at Concordia University and her master’s degree in applied disability studies (with a specialization in applied behaviour analysis) at Brock University. She has collaborated on a number of research projects emphasizing community involvement, mental health, outcomes of deinstitutionalization, physical health, rights-based education, behaviour challenges, employment, social inclusion and self-determination, and the effectiveness of various interventions in promoting the betterment of lives of people with ASD and/or intellectual disabilities (ID). Together with her research pursuits, she has worked as a clinical psychologist in school, hospital, and community settings with a specialized interest in serving the needs of individuals with ASD and/or ID across the lifespan.

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