Mayo lecturer awarded prestigious award to study biological stress reactions of military veterans

Dr Siobhan Howard, lecturer in psychology in Mary Immaculate College (MIC), was recently awarded a 2016 Royal Irish Academy Charlemont Grant to fund a research project studying the biological stress reactions of military veterans. Pictured here with president of the Royal Irish Academy, Professor Mary E Daly.

Dr Siobhan Howard, lecturer in psychology in Mary Immaculate College (MIC), was recently awarded a 2016 Royal Irish Academy Charlemont Grant to fund a research project studying the biological stress reactions of military veterans. Pictured here with president of the Royal Irish Academy, Professor Mary E Daly.

Dr Siobhán Howard, from Breaffy, Castlebar, and lecturer in psychology in Mary Immaculate College (MIC ) was recently awarded a 2016 Royal Irish Academy Charlemont Grant to fund a research project studying the biological stress reactions of military veterans.

Named in honour of the academy’s first president, James Caulfield, the Charlemont Award schemes offer funding for short international research trips, to support primary research in any area. The Charlemont Grants facilitate access for early-career researchers to important international scientific and cultural resources.

Prof Mary E Daly, president of the Royal Irish Academy, said: “The Charlemont Grants are designed to act as a career springboard to assist scholars in strengthening their international mobility and developing international collaborative networks. In short, to fund excellent people with excellent ideas.”

As part of the 2016 Royal Irish Academy Charlemont Grant, Dr Howard will spend four weeks at the research laboratories of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, USA. During this time, she will be working on a research project studying the biological stress reactions of military veterans. This exciting research will be completed in collaboration with Prof Krys Kaniasty of Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Dr Howard completed her PhD in 2009 at NUI Galway, and after working for three years as a post-doctoral researcher at NUI Galway, took up appointment as lecturer in psychology at the Department of Psychology, MIC, in 2011. Since then, Dr Howard has worked extensively on research projects examining the influence of personality and individual differences on how our bodies react to stressful situations, with a particular focus on blood pressure and heart rate. This research has seen her receive a 2015 Mary Immaculate College Research Sabbatical Award, allowing her to engage in multiple research visits with leading institutions in personality and stress research.

On receiving the award the 2016 Royal Irish Academy Charlemont Grant Dr Howard said: “I'm honoured and delighted to be a Royal Irish Academy Charlemont Scholar for 2016. This award allows me to travel to a centre of excellence in the USA to study in more detail how our bodies respond to acute stressful situations in a very unique population who have already experienced high levels of chronic stress; military veterans. I am looking forward to engaging in this important piece of research and thank the Royal Irish Academy for allowing me this exciting and worthwhile opportunity.”

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