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Michelle Downes

Lecturer/Assistant Professor

School Of Psychology
Newman Building
Belfield
Dublin 4

Tel: +353 (0)1 716854
Email: michelle.downes@ucd.ie

Biography

Dr Michelle Downes is a lecturer in the School of Psychology at UCD. Prior to joining UCD in 2016 she worked as a research associate at UCL Institute of Child Health where she also obtained a PhD in developmental cognitive neuroscience. Her PhD investigated the development and assessment of executive functions in typically developing children as well as preschool children with sickle cell disease using electroencephalography, eye-tracking, and behavioural methods. She completed an Msc in Paediatric Neuropsychology at UCL (with distinction) and holds a 1.1 BA (Hons) degree in Psychology from the National University of Ireland, Galway. 

 She completed a neuropsychology research internship at the Brain Tumour Clinic at Children¿s Hospital Boston in 2010. Her research focuses on the impact of disease-related and environmental factors, such as sleep problems and family function, on healthy brain development in children. She is particularly interested in the development of executive functions and how these can be assessed in young children in an ecologically valid way. She investigates brain and cognitive development in typically developing children and paediatric patient populations (including epilepsy, pre-term, obstructive sleep apnoea, sickle cell disease).

 

Professional

Honours and Awards

Year: 2017.
Title: Seed Funding - Dissemination and Outputs
Year: 2017.
Title: Seed Funding - Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Research
Year: 2017.
Title: Child Development Fund Award
Year: 2017.
Title: Stroke Prevention Bursary Award
Year: 2016.
Title: Arts Council England Award: The Beyond Series
Year: 2016.
Title: Provost¿s Award for Public Engagement
Year: 2015.
Title: Grand Challenges Award- Providing early opportunity: The Preschool Executive Task Assessment
Year: 2015.
Title: NIHR GOSH BRC award: Beyond The Brain
Year: 2015.
Title: Bursary Award
Year: 2014.
Title: Guarantors of Brain Travel Award
Year: 2016.
Title: UCL Travel Award
Year: 2014.
Title: UCL Travel Award
Year: 2014.
Title: Pediatric Neuropsychology Symposium Poster Prize
Year: 2014.
Title: Train & Engage Award
Year: 2013.
Title: SLMS Training Award
Year: 2013.
Title: Science engagement bursary
Year: 2012.
Title: CHRAT studentship
Year: 2010.
Title: University Scholar Award
Year: 2009.
Title: University Scholar Award
Year: 2013.
Title: Train & Engage Award

Associations

Association: European Academy of Childhood Disability, Function/Role: Member
Association: International Child Neurology Association, Function/Role: Associate member
Association: British Association of Cognitive Neuroscience, Function/Role: Member
Association: International Neuropsychological Society, Function/Role: Member
     

Conference Contributions

Michelle Downes (2016) ASSESSING EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONS IN PRESCHOOL CHILDREN: PATHWAYS TO PROMOTING RESILIENCE. [Oral Presentation], Childrens Research Network, Dublin , 06-DEC-16 - 06-DEC-16.
Michelle Downes (2017) The value of using ecological measures of executive assessment in the early years. [Oral Presentation], Early Childhood Ireland, Dublin , 31-MAR-17 - 31-MAR-17.
Downes, M., Kirkham F., Telfer P., Dundas, I., Kaya, B., & de Haan, M. (2014) Processing speed and executive functioning in preschool children with sickle cell anaemia. [Poster Presentation], Society for Neuroscience, Washington , 15-NOV-16 - 19-NOV-16.
Kirkham F., Downes, M., Kawadler, J. (2015) Neurocognition in sickle cell disease. [Oral Presentation], 9th Annual Sickle Cell and Thalessemia Advanced Conference, London , 07-NOV-16 - 09-NOV-16.
Downes, M., Kirkham F., Telfer P., & de Haan, M. (2015) Associations between family environment and executive functioning in preschool children with and without sickle cell anaemia. [Poster Presentation], Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting, Philadelphia , 19-MAR-16 - 21-MAR-16.
Downes, M., Kirkham F., Telfer P., & de Haan, M. (2015) Development of neural correlates of auditory attention modulation in preschool children with and without sickle cell disease. [Poster Presentation], British Association for Cognitive Neuroscience Annual Meeting, Essex , 12-SEP-16 - 14-SEP-16.
Downes, M., Kirkham F., Telfer P., & de Haan, M. (2016) [Poster Presentation], 28th European Acadamy of Childhood Disability Annual Meeting, Stockholm , 01-JUN-16 - 04-JUN-16.
Downes, M.,Kirkham,FJ, Telfer, P, & de Haan, M. (2016) Ecological assessment of executive functions in preschool children with sickle cell disease. [Oral Presentation], International Neuropsychological Society, London , 07-JUL-16 - 08-JUL-16.
Downes, M., de Haan, Telfer, P, & Kirkham FJ, (2016) [Poster Presentation], 14th International Child Neurology Congress, Amsterdam , 01-MAY-16 - 05-MAY-16.
   

Education

Year 2011 Institution: NUI Galway, IRL
Qualification: BA Subject:
Year 2012 Institution: University College London
Qualification: MSc Subject:
Year 2016 Institution: University College London
Qualification: PhD Subject:
   

Outreach Activities

Co-founder of London Brain Project

  • www.londonbrainproject.com

  • London Brain Project engages the public with neuroscience and neuropsychology research, particularly focusing on research around the areas of brain-related disorders. Patient groups and scientists we have worked with include those in the area of epilepsy, Tourette's syndrome, childhood brain injury, dementia, and anxiety.
   

Publications

     

Peer Reviewed Journals

H Stotesbury, FJ Kirkham, P Balfour, M Koelbel, B Inusa, S Chakraborty, DC Rees, M Downes, J Kawadler (2017) 'Attention deficits in paediatric sickle cell disease; links with nocturnal oxygen desaturation in adolescents, but not children'. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 102 (Suppl 1). [Details]
Strasser, L; Downes, M; Kung, J; Cross, H, J; de Haan M (2017) 'Prevalence and risk factors for autism spectrum disorder in epilepsy: a systematic review and meta-analysis'. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, . [DOI] [Details]
Downes, M; Kirkham, FJ; Telfer, PT; de Haan, M (2017) 'Altered neurophysiological processing of auditory attention in preschool children with sickle cell disease'. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, . Available Online [DOI] [Details]
Downes, M., Berg, C., Kirkham, FJ., Kischkel, L., McMurray, I., de Haan, M. (2017) 'Task utility and norms for the Preschool Executive Task Assessment (PETA)'. Child Neuropsychology, . Available Online [DOI] [Details]
Downes, M Bathelt J, de Haan M (2017) 'Event-related potential measures of executive functioning from preschool to adolescence'. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, . [DOI] [Details]
Downes, M., Platten, L., Kelly DJ., Marlow, M., & de Haan, M. (2014) 'Development of visual selective attention and inhibition in very pre-term infants'. Developmental medicine and child neurology. Supplement, . [DOI] [Details]
Downes, M., de Haan, M., Kirkham FJ., & Berg, C. (2014) 'The preschool kitchen task assessment: an ecologically valid task of executive functions for preschool children'. Developmental medicine and child neurology. Supplement, . [DOI] [Details]
Downes, M., de Haan, M, Kirkham FJ., Kaya, B., & Telfer, P (2014) 'Disease-Related Factors and Family Functioning As Predictors of Executive Functioning in Preschool Children with Sickle Cell Anaemia: A Preliminary Analysis'. Blood, 124 (21):4941-4941. Available Online [Details]
Downes, M; Greenaway R; Clark M; Cross H; Jolleff N; Harkness W; Kaliakatsos M; Neville BG (2015) 'Outcome following multiple subpial transection in Landau-Kleffner syndrome and related regression'. Epilepsia, 56 (11):1760-1766. Available Online [DOI] [Details]
Downes, M; Greenaway R; Clark M; Cross H; Jolleff N; Harkness W; Kaliakatsos M; Neville BG (2016) 'In response: Comment on outcome following multiple subpial transection in Landau-Kleffner syndrome and related regression'. Epilepsia, 57 (4):674-675. Available Online [DOI] [Details]
Downes, M; de Haan, M; Kirkham, F; Telfer, P (2016) 'Parent reported sleep problems in preschool children with sickle cell anemia and controls in East London'. Pediatric Blood and Cancer, . Available Online [DOI] [Details]
                                                                                                                                           

Research

Research Interests

Paediatric neuropsychology, executive functioning, task development, childhood disorders, sleep, early brain and behaviour development, sickle cell disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, epilepsy

Research Projects

Sponsor : Brain & Behavior Research Foundation
Title : The neurophysiological development of auditory attention in infants at genetic risk for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
Start Date / End Date : 15-JAN-18 / 14-JAN-20
Sponsor : University College Dublin (UCD)
Title : Ecological executive function assessment and targeted support in young children with executive dysfunction
Start Date / End Date : 01-APR-17 / 30-SEP-18
Sponsor : University College Dublin (UCD)
Title : 2017 INS Mid-Year Meeting: Family function and executive functions in preschool children with sickle cell anemia
Start Date / End Date : 01-APR-17 / 30-SEP-18
Sponsor : Irish Heart Foundation
Title : Cerebrovascular Disease in an Irish Paediatric Sickle Cell Disease Population: A Screening, identification and intervention project
Start Date / End Date : 01-JAN-17 / 06-JUN-17
Sponsor : Waterloo Foundation (TWF)
Title : Sleep problems and family functioning in infants at high-risk for ADHD and their association with attention development
Start Date / End Date : 01-SEP-17 / 30-JUN-19

Recent Postgraduates

Emma Cullen, Msc student

Current Postgraduate Students

Rebecca Gaffney, Psychological Sci (DPsychSc)   -   Thesis Co-Supervisor
Jennifer Keating, Master of Literature (MLitt)   -   Thesis Supervisor

Teaching

Teaching Philosophy

Modules Coordinated

201700   PSY30050     Psychology: Behavioural Neuroscience
201700   PSY10060     Psychology: Brain and Behaviour
201700   PSY40020     Psychology: Neuropsychology

Enhancement of Teaching

Review and Enhancement of Curriculum

Developing as a Teacher

I am enrolled in the Professional Certificate in University Teaching and Learning for the 2017/2018 year. In semester 1 I am completing a module called Problem-based Learning while in semester 2 I will complete a module called Active Learning with Technology.

Innovation & Leadership

Collaborators

Internal Collaborators

-Dr Jessica Bramham, Prof Alan Carr, Prof Fiona McNicholas, UCD School of Psychology: Early indicators of ADHD in high-risk infants

External Collaborators

-Dr Corrina McMahon, Dr Yvonne Duane, Dr Gillian Fortune, Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin: Reducing cognitive morbidity and stroke in sickle cell disease

-Dr Cathy Madigan, Temple Street Children's University Hospital: Neuropsychological outcomes of Irish children treated for brain injury, including epilepsy

-Prof Huw Williams, University of Exeter; Dr Mairead Smyth, TUSLA Child and Family Agency: Executive function and traumatic brain injury in adolescents in juvenile detention

-Prof Fenella Kirkham, UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health: Executive function and sickle cell disease



-Dr Michelle de Haan, UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health:  Executive function development in paediatric populations

-Dr Deirdre Birtles, University of East London: Assessing executive functions in preschool



-Dr Christine Berg, Washington University in St. Louis: Developing ecological executive tasks for preschool children

-Dr David Kelly, University of Kent: Eye-tracking measures of executive function in infants

-Dr Joe Bathelt, MRC Cambridge: Executive function and Event-related Potentials



-Dr Louise Weiss, Georgia Pitts, Julia Vogl: Public engagement with the brain