We have welcomed many outstanding interns to BEATS to work on various projects. Some of their experiences are detailed below. If you are interested in undertaking an internship with BEATS please contact Samantha (s.dockray@ucc.ie).

lisa head shot

Lisa Murphy

(BERRIES) Biopsychological Experiences, Reactivity & Recovery In Stressful Situations Study‌

Having just completed my final year of the undergraduate degree in Applied Psychology, I had planned a summer of ‘rest and relaxation’, i.e. doing nothing at all! Indeed, this was an appealing option as final year requires one to work harder (and smarter) than ever before, and even though many of us reap the benefits of this hard work and extra effort, the year is nevertheless quite exhausting. Yet, as soon as I saw an advertisement for the position of summer research assistant in the School of Applied Psychology on Facebook, I immediately recognised that this was not an opportunity to be passed up! As I have always had great enthusiasm for applied psychological research and frequently pursue new and exciting learning opportunities, I knew that this position would enable me to gain valuable educational experience, as well as first hand familiarity with the procedures and practices that are employed in real world collaborative research. Moreover, the potential for conference presentation of the research findings was particularly exciting!

Following an interview in the School, I was delighted to be offered a position. I worked on the BERRiS Study (BMI, Experiences, Reactivity and Recovery from Stress) alongside a second intern, Karen Riordan. During the summer, Karen and I also worked closely with Eimer Cadogan and Niamh McGrath, who were interning together on an alternative study running concurrently in the School. The protocol for the BERRiS study required participants to complete two short stress based lab tasks and some short questionnaires, in addition to providing measures of blood pressure, height, weight and salivary cortisol. Over the summer, we engaged in a number of enjoyable and informative research activities such as BioAssay training, EEG training, designing recruitment posters and flyers, visiting potential recruitment sites, creating a BERRiS Facebook page, preparing datasets and setting up lab equipment for the study procedure itself. Our weekly lab meetings the Dr. Samantha Dockray and Karen O’ Leary ensured that all aspects of both studies were running smoothly and addressed any potential issues with participant recruitment and/or study protocol (we also had quite a few laughs!)

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of the internship was participant recruitment; however this task, above all, was perhaps the most significant learning curve for me. Our original recruitment strategy did not go as smoothly as planned, which taught us that not every aspect of real world research is plain sailing. And so, we were compelled us to think outside of the box! Almost paradoxically, the most enjoyable aspect of the internship for me was interacting with those participants who were recruited, all of whom had unique backgrounds and stories to tell, as well as entertaining reactions to stressful tasks!

Along the way, I learned the benefits of scientific collaboration and teamwork, and the importance of perseverance when the going gets tough. I gained essential experience and knowledge that has enhanced my love for applied research and which will undoubtedly stand to me in my future research initiatives. I would encourage any individual who has an interest in research to seek work as a research intern as it is a fantastic way to learn the ins and outs of psychological research from the ground up! We received tremendous support from Samantha and Karen throughout the entire summer, and this made the whole experience all the more rewarding and enjoyable, and I am truly grateful for the opportunity!




Niamh McGrath

The GREAT Study: Gratitude Responding in an Experimental Activity Trial


UCC’s Bachelor of Applied Psychology programme emphasises research. I believe this is because research skills are transferrable and fundamental to professional work as a psychologist. In final year, students undertake their own piece of research on a topic of special interest to them – an exciting yet daunting endeavour!

When presented with the opportunity to work as a research intern with SoAP I was motivated by both the subject being researched and the insight I might gain into the running of a real research project. Admittedly the latter was selfish ahead of final year. Although I had hoped to save money and have fun that summer I applied and was called for interview. Shortly after I received word of my successful application and learned I would be working on the GREAT Study with my classmate Eimer. I can still feel the pride and excitement I felt when I heard the news.

The project was a gratitude intervention to stress using psychobiological measures. We were required to commit 15hrs three days a week for six weeks. Eimer and I worked as a team compiling online questionnaires and spread sheets, compiling a project handbook, recruiting participants, carrying out the protocol and entering data. We also learned how to syntax, received BioAssay training (analysing salivary cortisol) and EEG training (measuring brain activity).

I thoroughly enjoyed the project. I loved working as part of a team on a meaningful project, interacting with colleagues and participants and problem solving. I say problem solving because of course there were challenges! On account of the criterion, time of year and running the intervention in the afternoon only, it was difficult to gather sufficient numbers. We got creative in our recruitment methods and on occasion we stayed late and came in on days off. For me this was because I took pride in what we were trying to achieve and because I enjoyed it.

The satisfaction in the end was worth it. Eimer and I recruited more than expected, gained invaluable knowledge and insight and struck up a strong friendship. The skills and insight I gained will benefit me in final year and beyond. I would like to thank Karen O’Leary and Dr. Samantha Dockray for the opportunity and for their guidance and kindness throughout. I am so grateful for this experience. I would highly recommend and encourage working as a research intern should the opportunity come your way.



Eimear Cadogan

The GREAT Study: Gratitude Responding in an Experimental Activity Trial


When faced with a long summer ahead, it can be hard as a student to figure out the best way to spend that time, or more accurately, a way to productively spend that time! So when I read an email from SOAP advertising a research intern position for the summer I realised what a unique opportunity had been offered. As a third year student of Applied Psychology, one is instilled with a respect for the importance of research in psychology; it is what informs us and what aids in the creation of applied solutions. This was a chance for me to contribute to that body of literature, and one I could not turn down.

I applied for the position and was, thankfully, hired as an intern alongside my classmate, Niamh. The study itself, modestly named the GREAT Study, was a gratitude intervention including both survey and biological measures. Niamh and I spent our time compiling questionnaires, setting up equipment and SPSS files. This meant training was provided in BioAssay and other skills including EEG (which is a far messier task than one would imagine!). Then came time to recruit participants and run the protocol. To be honest, this was the most eye-opening part of my experience. Never had I considered the sheer amount of cajoling, and pleading, and begging it takes to get participants for a study – and that counts double for family members!

My experience as an intern on the GREAT study was one which has coloured my view of research in psychology for the better! I learned both the importance and the joy of working in a team towards a common goal. Celebrating the successes and struggling together to find solutions to the problems faced was a thoroughly enriching experience, and will no doubt stand to me in future pursuits.

I would certainly encourage others to work as a research intern should the opportunity come their way. I have a clearer view of the world of research, a deeper appreciation for the science and have gained a great friend in Niamh.

None of this would have been possible without the opportunity provided by Dr. Dockray and Karen O’ Leary, to whom I am deeply GREATful. Their guidance and support was invaluable, and I know I will look back fondly on my summer as a research intern.