Our Members

ASC Directors

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Dr John O'Brien

Founder
Co-Director
Lecturer in Sociology

Dr John O’Brien is a lecturer in sociology in Waterford Institute of Technology. He is President of the Sociological Association of Ireland, Co-Leader of the Analysing Social Change Research Group, and is a member of the Crime and Justice Research Group. His main research interest is social theory, historical sociology, prison and the sociological analysis of alcohol use. His monograph, States of Intoxication: The Place of Alcohol in Civilization was published in 2018. He has published chapters and articles on topics such as political leadership, contemporary social theory, public health policy and alcohol, the night-time economy, public order offences, commemoration, and urban regeneration.

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Dr Jennifer O'Mahoney

Co-Director
Lecturer in Psychology

Dr Jennifer O’Mahoney is a Lecturer in Psychology at the Waterford Institute of Technology and a Chartered Member of the Psychological Society of Ireland. She is also Co-Director of the Crime & Society Research Group, and a Senior Researcher at INSYTE (The Centre for INformation SYstems and TEchno-culture), both based at WIT.  Her research focuses on how victimology and trauma are remembered and narrated; the relationship between memory and cultural heritage in digital humanities; and activism and social change. She is the primary investigator of the Waterford Memories Project (www.waterfordmemories.com), which examines historical institutional abuse in Ireland, and the Irish Principal Investigator on SASCA (Support to Adult Survivors of Child Abuse in institutional settings), a 24 month European project, co-financed by the Justice Programme of the EU.  She is a member of the Management Committee of EU Cost Action “Cultures Of Victimology: Understanding processes of victimization across Europe”, which aims to to develop an innovative, functional and overarching theoretical framework for cultural victimology.  Jennifer has recently received funding from the Irish Research Council, Creative Ireland, Royal Irish Academy, and Heritage Council for her ongoing work with The Waterford Memories Project.

ASC Officers

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Dr Katie Cagney

Seminar Officer
Lecturer in Psychology

Katie Cagney lectures in Psychology and Creative Studies within the School of Humanities in WIT. Her research interests include child development, family dynamics including approaches to parenting and motherhood, breastfeeding, and children's use of space. She is passionate about the oral history of testimonies of survivors of both Industrial Schools and Magdalene Laundries.  Currently, she is co-supervising a PhD thesis investigating Enda’s Kenny’s Apology to the Magdalene Women. Katie’s doctoral thesis focused on the sociology of family and developmental psychology and explored how family narratives can lead to a sense of identity and belonging. As a past executive board member of La Leche League of Ireland, she established and delivered training programmes for breastfeeding counsellors nationally. Katie is a regular commentator on child and family research on local and national radio and a chartered member of the British Psychological Society.

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Keira Flanagan

Minutes Secretary
Lecturer in Psychology

Keira is lecturer in Psychology at Waterford Institute of Technology and a final year PhD student at Queen’s University Belfast. Her PhD project is titled ‘Learning to desist? Examining the transformation of a young offender centre into a secure college’. It aims to explore the organisational change at Hydebank College and whether or not the educational model was developed with a theoretical understanding of rehabilitation and desistance. Her main research interests include organisational change, prison officer culture, prison education, desistance and employment. She previously completed a B.A. in English in 2008 at University College Cork, and a M.Sc. in Psychology in 2009 and a P.G.D.E in 2010 at the University of Glasgow.

Niamh Maguire

Dr Niamh Maguire

Funding Officer
Senior Lecturer in Law

Niamh is a Senior Lecturer in Law at WIT. Niamh completed her undergraduate studies in law at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and later returned to TCD to complete Doctorate. She is professionally qualified as a barrister and holds an M.Sc. in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Edinburgh University. Niamh has diverse interests in law, criminology, as well as social science, sociology, philosophy and health sciences. Her research interests include understanding how different parties contribute to and experience the process of punishment as well as understanding the processes and philosophies underpinning specific punishment practices in comparative contexts. Niamh has researched and published on a range of related topics including penal decision-making, prison use, pre-sentence reports, community sanctions, offender supervision and comparative breach processes, drug courts and problem solving justice. Niamh is a Co-Director of the Crime and Justice Research Group at WIT and supervises both MA and PhD postgraduate students across a range of topics. She has presented her research and engaged collaboratively with a variety of national and international research networks including the Irish Criminology Research Network, the European Society of Criminology’s Working Groups on Community Sanctions, and on Sentencing and Penal Decision Making.

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Dr John McNamara

Public Policy Officer
Lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy

Dr John McNamara is a Lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy at the School of Humanities at WIT. He was awarded a PhD in Sociology from University College Cork in 2009. His thesis was an examination of nationalism and institutional manifestations of nationalism in the U.S. He has previously lectured with the Departments of Sociology and Education at UCC, the School of Health and Social Sciences at IT Tralee, as well as the Department of Sociology at the University of Limerick. His current research focus is on Social Policy in Ireland, nationalism and memorialisation. He has published with a number of international journals including the Journal of International Political Anthropology, the European Journal of American Studies and the Irish Journal of Sociology

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Dr Hazel O'Brien

Postgrad Colloquium convenor 
Lecturer in Sociology

My research interests are influenced by sociological and anthropological perspectives on identity, and I am particularly interested in the sociology of religion and the sociology of gender and I am interested in visual and digital ethnographies. Previous projects include an ethnographic study of Mormon congregations in Ireland, which identified how tradition operates in both maintaining and disrupting understandings of religious and national identities. I have produced a number of publications broadly connected to this theme. This relates to my wider research interests in the field of religion; on the nature of religions in contemporary Europe and Ireland and the relationship between majority and minority religious cultures. I am currently working on a monograph incorporating these themes, focused on my research on contemporary Mormonism. I am currently the sociology subject leader for BA Arts, and I supervise a number of postgraduate students in areas of gender, migration, and conservative online communities.

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Dr Jill O'Mahony

Communications Officer

Lecturer in Sociology

Dr. Jill O'Mahony is a lecturer in the Department of Arts. Jill is a graduate of NUI Maynooth and the University of Manchester. In 2014 she graduated with a doctorate in Sociology. Her areas of interest include maritime sociology, cultural sociology, gender and biopolitics. She is currently engaged in research which focuses on social structure, culture and economy in Irish coastal communities.

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Dr Méabh Savage

Tenders/Partnership Officer

Lecturer in Social Care

Dr Méabh Savage is a social care pracademic who has worked in the area of women’s homelessness and domestic abuse. Méabh is passionate about social justice and recognises the importance of care and justice in responses to marginalised and disadvantaged groups. Her research interests include the intersectional nature of affective injustices (including domestic abuse) and class injustices on motherhood, disability (mental illness) and homelessness, and why a relational framework for social caring matters. Méabh has a keen interest in ethical, emancipatory and critical feminist research methodologies, and in emancipatory education and education for social change.  She is a member of Waterford’s Local Area Network Opposing Violence Against Women and a Board member of a local family resource centre.  She has been involved in campaigning on local and national issues, as a community member and as member of SWAN (Social Work Action Network), and through her research interests in the areas of homelessness, domestic abuse and social injustices.

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Mr Michael Tobin

Lecturer in Social Policy and Social Care

Michael Tobin is a Lecturer in Social Policy and Social Care in the School of Humanities at Waterford Institute of Technology. He is Programme Leader for the BA (H) Social Science. Michael is a board member of Social Justice Ireland since 2017. He has a keen interest in technology enhanced learning and has worked collaboratively on a research project to enhance digital literacy skills for both Social Policy educators and others involved in social professions. His research interest include Irish and European social policy, street level bureaucracy, and the role of the media. Currently focused on the lived experience of young adults in the Irish welfare state. 

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Dr Lorraine Bowman-Grieve

Seminar Officer
Lecturer in Psychology

Dr Lorraine Bowman Grieve is a lecturer in Psychology at Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland. With a background in applied, social and forensic psychology, Lorraine has previously worked at University College Cork (Ire), Leeds Trinity University College (UK), and University of Lincoln (UK), and has been involved in terrorism studies and researches extremism online. Lorraine has published research on the concept of cyberterrorism, anti-abortion extremism, Irish Republicanism online, and, Right-Wing Extremism. Lorraine maintains a particular interest in understanding the nature, content and function of extremist discourses online and is primarily interested in the application of social psychology to understanding behaviour and phenomena related to terrorism, counter-terrorism and the range of ethical issues related to such research.

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Dr Jacinta Byrne-Doran

Seminar Officer
Lecturer in Psychology

Dr Jacinta Byrne-Doran has been employed at Waterford Institute of Technology since 1999. Previous to this her employment history encompassed a focus on both professional practice and academia including lecturing in many other institutions, training and independent consultancy in career guidance and counselling.  As a lecturer in Psychology within the School of Humanities in WIT, Dr Byrne-Doran teaches psychology across a range of academic programmes. In addition she engage actively in post graduate research supervision. While the role of supervisor is central to her academic work in WIT, she has recently engaged in the role of external examiner for PhD confirmation/transfer examinations. Dr Byrne-Doran's current research interests lie broadly in areas of gender and work. More specifically her research interests lies in topics on motherhood and families/breastfeeding/women and work. Qualitative research methodologies frame her focus on research and in particular of late she is keen to pursue projects using pluralistic qualitative research methodologies. Reflexivity is key to her work practices in addition to her focus in research and supervision. Dr Byrne-Doran's doctoral research centred on experiences of working mothers and my professional and research interest in the qualitative nature of personal lives is complemented by her professional training as a counselling psychologist.  

ASC Members

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Dr Carol  Yelverton-Halpin 

Lecturer in Applied Arts in Adult, Early years Education and the Social Sciences

Dr Carol  Yelverton-Halpin's  research interest is the evolution of the self through social, psychological, and political structures. Her theoretical influences include Pierre Bourdieu's concepts of 'habitus', cultural capital and field theories as well as Bronfenbrenner's ecological systems, among others. Her background sits between education, early childhood, and social science. Dr  Yelverton-Halpin's doctoral research is in the field of critical education theory with a focus on the ‘self’ and insights into transformative possibilities. It explores the links between power, social disadvantage and education and its impact on the ‘self’. During her career, Dr  Yelverton-Halpin has held roles in community and further education in the South East; leading and developing programmes in early childhood education, personal development, supervisory management and training and integrated counselling.  Other key areas of experience and practice include: the development of programmes to support student learning and development, mentoring for the Reach project and for teaching practice in Early years and Adult Education. Outside of her academic career, Dr  Yelverton-Halpin has held management and supervisory roles in the provision of childcare, social care, and core skills programmes within FAS (now SOLAS) and the VEC sector. She also held the role of critical mass coordinator for the HSE and the VEC at the University Hospital Waterford teaching and mentoring on a Social care programme specifically designed to upskill the general staff in the Hospital with accredited qualifications. Her passion for facilitating social change in society stems from her own habitus as a working-class woman.  

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Dr Jennifer Kavanagh

Lecturer in Law

Dr Jennifer Kavanagh is a Law Lecturer in Waterford Institute of Technology. She holds a PhD in Law from Trinity College Dublin. Her thesis was on Constitutional Law and Government Policy Information.   

Dr Kavanagh has recently published "Constitutional Law in Ireland" with Clarus Press and has previously published “Electoral Law in Ireland” with Bloomsbury Professional. 

She is a regular commentator on politics and current affairs on national and international media as an expert in Constitutional Law and Electoral Law.  Dr Kavanagh is a member of the Executive Committee of the Political Studies Association of Ireland having being recently elected to the Committee.