Niamh MacSweeney

Thesis title: In search of bio-psycho-social markers for the recurrence of adolescent depression


I graduated from Trinity College Dublin in 2018 with a First Class, joint-honours degree in Psychology and English Literature. My final year thesis leveraged a novel behavioural assay of coping and investigated its relationship with depressive symptom severity in female adolescents.  I worked as a research assistant with Dr Clare Kelly at IMMALab, Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, from June 2017 to September 2018 on a Brain and Behaviour funded project investigating the neural correlates of coping and emotion regulation in adolescent depression. In May 2018, I was awarded a Mental Health Research UK PhD Scholarship, and began my PhD in January 2019 at the University of Edinburgh. My PhD will investigate the bio-psycho-social markers for the recurrence of adolescent depression, and is supervised by Dr Stella Chan and Dr Heather Whalley. 


Bachelor of Arts (B.A), Psychology with English Literature, First-Class Honours. 

Research summary

The overarching theme of my research interests is youth mental health. I am particularly interested in the biological, psychological, and social  risk and reslience mechanisms associated with adolescent depression. I was first drawn to this area during the later years of my undergraduate studies, where I undertook a research project investigating the neurcognitive bases of coping in female adolescents with depressive symptoms. This neuroimaging study leveraged a novel behavioural assay of coping and examined its relationship with depression symptom severity and resting state functional connectivity. My doctoral work continues to focus on adolescent depression. My PhD will investigate potential bio-psycho-social markers for the recurrence of depression during adolescence. This work is funded my Mental Health Research UK.

Current research interests

Adolescent depression; markers of vulnerability; risk and resilience mechanisms; bio-psycho-social model; coping styles; depression sub-types.

Past research interests

Adolescent depression; translational science; functional neuroimaging; coping; developmental neuropsychology.

Knowledge exchange

I am a keen communicator of science and regularly participate in public engagement events with the School of Health in Social Science and Edinburgh Neuroscience. I am also passionate about meaningful youth involvement in research: I am the founder and co-ordinator of IMMAlab Young Persons' Advisory Group at TCD, and a team partner on Project Soothe's Young Citizen Scientists Project at the University of Edinburgh.

Affiliated research centres