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Dr Niamh O'Brien

Lecturer in Education


01 661 0168

Block B, Merrion Centre, Merrion Road, Dublin 4


  • BEd
  • MEd
  • PhD
  • PgD


School of Education


Dr Niamh O’Brien was awarded her PhD in Education from University College Cork in 2020, her MEd from Waterford Institute of Technology in 2015, and her BEd from Froebel College of Education in 2010. Niamh has eight years of extensive experience in primary school teaching. Her teaching expertise pertains to Autism Spectrum Conditions and social skills learning, literacy and numeracy in special education and positive behaviour management. In 2017 worked for Down Syndrome Ireland, and more recently held an academic post in the School of Education in UCC from 2018-2021. She has lectured in the areas of inclusion in education, physical education, wellbeing in education, research methods, sport medicine, health and health promotion across both undergraduate and postgraduate programme. She has also supervised postgraduate students at master’s and PhD levels and contributed to the development of Leaving Certificate Physical Education resources for the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA).

Niamh was a recipient of The Éadbhard O’Callaghan Award for Excellence in Youth Mental Health Research in 2020 from the National Suicide Research Foundation, a teaching Hero Award in 2021 from the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and has been nominated for the UCC President’s Award in Teaching Excellence in 2021.

Niamh’s teaching and research expertise are in the realm of wellbeing in schools and organisations. She is research active, with five peer-reviewed publications and multiple engagements with national and international conference proceedings. Currently, she is involved in European and global projects that investigate mental health in education among various population groups and communities including: a European student-teacher wellbeing study during COVID-19; Intinn, an Irish Youth Film & Mental Health Programme UCC; TEAM, The Transplant Education & Activity Movement with the IKA, UCC, Birmingham University and Coventry University.

Research Interests

Niamh’s current research is in the field of wellbeing, resilience, physical activity and mental health. Her work investigates the impact of education interventions and wellbeing initiatives for people of all ages across various organisations, particularly in schools.


O’Brien, N.; Lawlor, M.; Chambers, F.; O’Brien, W. (2020) State of Mind Ireland-Higher Education: A Mixed-Methods Longitudinal Evaluation of a Positive Mental Health. Intervention. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health, 17, 5530.

O’Brien, W., Adamakis, M., O’Brien, N., Onofre, M., Martins, J., Dania, A., Makopoulou, K., Herold, F., Ng, K., & Costa, J. (2020). Implications for European Physical Education Teacher Education during the COVID-19 pandemic: a cross-institutional SWOT analysis. European Journal of Teacher Education, 43(4), 503–522.

O’Brien, N., Lawlor, M. Chambers, F. & O’Brien, W (2020). Mental Fitness in Higher Education: Intervention Mapping Programme Design. Health Education, O’Brien, N., Lawlor, M., Chambers, F., Breslin, G. & O’Brien, W. (2019). Levels of Wellbeing, Resilience, and Physical Activity amongst Irish Pre-Service Teachers: A Baseline Study. Irish Educational Studies, 1–18.