Graduate Testimonials


David Lee, BSc Neuroscience graduate 2017

Career Biography

David graduated in the top 5% of the BSc Neuroscience class in 2017. He was awarded a scholarship from the college of Science Engineering and Food Science in in 2016 to conduct a summer project in the Department of Physiology investigating the impact of ghrelin on myenteric neurons in animal models of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).  During his time in the degree he developed a keen interest in developmental neurobiology and Parkinson’s Disease (PD), which stemmed from his third-year library project and final year research project under the supervision of Professor Aideen Sullivan and Dr Shane Hegarty.

From the data he collected for his third-year library project David co – authored a peer reviewed paper titled “The effects of intracerebral neurotrophic factor application in motor symptoms in Parkinson’s disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis”. David acted as the Class Representative for the Neuroscience BSc Class for 2016 - 2017, he was involved in discussions of several issues that arose in the Neuroscience department, which included making recommendations on how to improve the course content.

David was chosen as the sole student representative on a University-level Programme Approval Panel for a new multi-departmental degree programme in Medical and Health Sciences which will commence in 2018, showing the confidence of the University’s academic staff in his commitment to the interests of students and to provide input to the design of this new flagship programme in UCC.

David is very passionate about science communication and outreach and has been involved in programmes such as Cork Science Week and Science Week Ireland, engaging in scientific activities and demonstrations with the public. David was the Neuroscience student representative for 2016 & 2017 to speak at the annual biological sciences first and second year degree outlet talks where he spoke to students in detail about the Neuroscience course structure, modules undertaken, career opportunities and areas of research they could pursue.

David was awarded a competitive PhD scholarship at the Department of Anatomy, Trinity College Dublin (TCD), under the supervision of Dr Denis Barry, a previous graduate from the Neuroscience degree in UCC. He’s investigating the effect of the ketogenic diet on nervous system development and its therapeutic use in spinal cord regeneration following spinal cord trauma.

Comments on the Neuroscience Degree

“From 5th year of secondary school I knew I wanted to study Neuroscience, moving from Dublin to Cork to study it was a defining moment in my life and one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The willingness of the staff of the department to help the students achieve their goals and the enthusiasm, encouragement and engagement they showed is unparalleled, with special thanks to Aideen, Shane and Yvonne. The degree allows the student to explore all aspects of neuroscience research, providing modules from developmental neurobiology to neurodegenerative diseases and behavioural and cognitive neuroscience to neuropharmacology. Other modules allow the student to critically analyse neuroscience research articles and gives the students an in – depth knowledge of the latest and most cutting-edge neuroscience techniques available. Furthermore, a library and laboratory research project will not only allow students to hone in on their writing abilities but will further allow them to develop and better their laboratories techniques which will prepare them for working in industry or research. Overall, in tandem with a supportive department and excellent course content, I would highly recommend the Neuroscience degree to anyone who has a desire to understand how the central and peripheral nervous system works in detail. For me, it has lived up to my expectations and more and from the people who I met throughout the degree in conjunction with what I have learned have shaped and moulded me into who I am today.”


‌Sarah Roche, BSc Neuroscience graduate 2010.

‌‌‌Career biography

Following graduation from the BSc in Neuroscience, Sarah went to the University of Edinburgh to undertake her PhD in Neuroscience. Her PhD research was aimed at understanding how neuromuscular junctions (NMJ’s) are initially formed and how they develop. Sarah’s work focused on uncovering the molecular drivers of NMJ development, more specifically synapse elimination, which is a very dynamic and well-controlled process that takes place in all skeletal muscles. She was particularly interested in the role of glial cell types in regulating the course of synapse elimination, as it has recently become clear that this process is not solely intrinsic to axons. Sarah has discovered novel and key roles for glial cells in regulating synapse elimination.

Sarah’s PhD was funded by the University of Edinburgh’s 'Principals Career Development Scholarship'. One of the conditions of this scholarship was that she had to commit time to developing her abilities at teaching, public engagement or entrepreneurship. Sarah chose the teaching option, as she had always considered teaching as a career goal. During her PhD she demonstrated to medical and science students on human anatomy, across a wide range and depth of anatomical subjects. Sarah is currently working as a post-doctoral researcher in Prof. Tom Cotter’s lab in UCC. She is studying how glial cells contribute to retinal degeneration and their potential as therapeutic targets for retinal diseases.

Comments on the neuroscience degree:

My love of the study of human anatomy was born during my Neuroscience degree in UCC, during which I undertook several human anatomy modules, at both gross and histological levels. Due to the passion that lecturers had for understanding development and degeneration of the nervous system I also developed a keen interest in the role that glial cells play in health and disease states. The BSc Neuroscience is a fascinating course that prepares students for research careers in a variety of fields. The inclusion of anatomy modules as part of the degree is also a fantastic advantage that not many Neuroscience degrees offer. I am very grateful to the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience for their outstanding passion and standard of teaching.

‌‌‌‌‌‌Sinéad Cullen BSc Neuroscience graduate 2009.‌‌

‌‌‌Career biography

Following her degree, Sinéad completed an MSc degree in 2010 in Neuroscience in Trinity College Dublin. Sinéad is currently studying for her PhD at the Biomedical Diagnostics Institute (BDI), Dublin College University and CRANN, Trinity College Dublin. She is developing novel assays to detect changes in blood viscoelasticity, which reflect the body’s ability to regulate healing and clotting. This research involves working with micro-cantilevers and quartz crystal microbalances (QCMs) to test blood samples. These devices are extremely sensitive and can use very small sample volumes, which can be obtained using a pin-prick method, compared to taking vials of blood from a patient for a test. These devices produce results much faster than conventional methods and therefore reduce the stressful waiting time for patients. The aim is to incorporate these sensors into a point-of-care diagnostic device which will have user-friendly software, allowing patients to carry out these tests at home.

Sinéad is passionate about Science communication and has been an exhibitor at BT Young Scientist Exhibition in 2013 and 2014. Sinéad has also showcased science experiments for children from the age of 5 years, at the St. Patrick’s Day Festival, Big Day Out, and the Curiosity Festival, during Science Week. Sinéad has also been involved in the ‘Cool Jobs’ Exhibition and features in a video describing a day in the life of a PhD student  In 2013 Sinéad also took part in the competition “I’m a Scientist get me out of here” and won the Nanotechnology section. The prize was 500 euro for her own Education and Outreach project and she is currently working on putting a workshop together for secondary school students based on her research. Sinéad has a Science Blog entitled “We can all understand Science”

Comments on the Neuroscience Degree “I have very fond memories of my time studying for my BSc in Neuroscience. I thoroughly enjoyed all the modules we studied. The Professors and Lecturers teaching all the courses were very friendly and very approachable, which made it very easy to speak to them at all times. During my final year research project, I learned many techniques, which I was taught to carry out using excellent lab practice. The BSc (Hons) in Neurosciene is an excellent programme and I would highly recommend it.”


Sinéadinead Ryan, BSc Neuroscience graduate 2008. ‌‌‌

Career biography‌

Sinéad graduated top of the B.Sc. Neuroscience class in 2008.  During the degree programme, Sinéad developed an interest in neuroscience research and worked in the Department of Anatomy & Neuroscience laboratories funded by an SFI Undergraduate Research Excellence & Knowledge Award (UREKA) during summer 2007.  She also worked on an industry – funded project in collaboration with Marigot Ltd. to probe the potential anti – inflammatory benefits of their seaweed – derived nutritional supplement, Aquamin.  Her undergraduate research experience led to Sinéad to undertake a PhD project under the supervision of Dr Yvonne Nolan.  This project probed the effect of the pro – inflammatory cytokine interleukin – 1β in adult hippocampal neurogenesis and then expanded the study to examine potential beneficial effects of exercise on adult hippocampal neurogenesis.  Sinéad graduated with a PhD Neuroscience in 2013 and moved to Trinity College Dublin having been awarded a two year Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellowship.  During her time in TCD, she worked in Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience in the laboratory of Prof. Áine Kelly, Department of Physiology.  Here Sinéad’s project focused on examining the effects of exercise on cognitive function, hippocampal neurogenesis and neuroinflammation in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease.  In 2016, Sinéad was awarded the Barcroft Medal for early career researchers by the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland.  In early 2017, Sinéad took up her current role as Education & Public Engagement Officer in the SFI – funded Irish Photonic Integration Centre (IPIC) at Tyndall National Institute where she is responsible for coordinating the education and engagement strategy aimed to increase the general awareness of photonics in students and the public audience.


Comments on the Neuroscience degree

 The B.Sc. Neuroscience degree provided an engaging and varied basis in Neuroscience giving students an appreciation of the science from a systems to cells perspective.  The course also allowed students to develop a broad skill set in practical lab techniques.  For me, the most enjoyable aspects of the degree were the library project (undertaken in third year) and the research project (undertaken in fourth year).  Having gone on to pursue a PhD, I found this element of research training extremely beneficial to me in my career. 


‌‌‌Suzanne Crotty, BSc Neuroscience graduate 2000. ‌‌‌

Career biography‌

Suzanne Crotty is a Senior Technical Officer in the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, UCC. She works primarily in the BioSciences Imaging Centre, located in the BioSciences Institute. Suzanne looks after the day to day running of the BioSciences Imaging Centre and supports researchers’ microscopy requirements.

Suzanne graduated with a B.Sc. (Hons) and M.Sc. in Neuroscience from University College Cork. She worked in the biotechnology sector before taking up this technical post in the university. Suzanne, as part of the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience’s BioSciences Imaging Centre, provides a microscopy service for staff and researchers throughout the university, and also investigators from other universities and from industry.  She has expertise in fluorescence microscopy including wide-field, confocal and two-photon microscopes. Suzanne has a strong research background in the preparation of biological specimens for microscopy, including scanning and transmission electron microscopy.

Gemma Rooney, BSc Neuroscience graduate 2003.

Career biography

‌‌During her studies on the BSc Neuroscience degree in UCC, Gemma became very interested in how stem cell technologies might be harnessed to develop new therapies for neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders. She was awarded a scholarship from the Irish Research Council to pursue a PhD in Dr. Frank Barry’s laboratory at the Regenerative Medicine Institute, in the National NUI, Galway.  During this time, she was awarded a NUI Travelling Scholarship to conduct research in Dr. Hans Keirstead’s laboratory at UC Irvine, California.  The overall goal of this research was to identify stem cell populations that could promote regeneration and functional recovery within the central nervous system.

Gemma then took up a postdoctoral fellowship in Dr. Anthony Windebank’s laboratory at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota, where she developed a novel delivery system to assess neural regeneration in the treatment of spinal cord injury. Using this delivery system, she demonstrated mesenchymal stem cell-mediated inhibition of neural regeneration in the injured spinal cord. This finding prompted her to reorient my research towards the use of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology to model human disease and develop potential therapies. Gemma is currently working in this research area, in Dr. Erik Ullian’s laboratory at the University of California, San Francisco. She has established a stem cell lab and generated iPSC lines from skin fibroblasts obtained from healthy control donors and patients with a mutation affecting the Ras signaling pathway, which is thought to be affected in patients with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). By gaining a better understanding of the cellular pathologies underlying ASD, Gemma’s research aims to drive the development of effective drug therapies for these disorders. 

Comments on the Neuroscience Degree “Thanks so much for getting us off to such a great start with your Neuroscience program. I think I can speak for our whole class when I say that we loved your courses and always felt that we could approach you whenever we had any questions. The fact that we were given the opportunity to learn a lot of bench techniques and produce an undergrad thesis really helped when applying for PhD programs.”

Denis Barry BSc Neuroscience graduate 2001.

‌‌Career biography

Denis was awarded a PhD in 2005 for research undertaken in the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience at UCC, that centred on central nervous system development. He subsequently conducted postdoctoral research into genetic brain disorders in the Department of Pathology and Cell Biology, Columbia University, New York, focusing on the rare disease Zellweger Syndrome.

From 2008 until 2011, Denis undertook postdoctoral research fellowship positions in the areas of HIV-1 pathogenesis and cardiovascular disease at the Centre for Research into Infectious Diseases and the Conway Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Research, University College Dublin. In 2011, he was appointed to the position of Lecturer at the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, University College Cork. In this role, Denis reprised his interest in neural development, and coordinated modules in anatomy and neurology.

In 2013, he was appointed to the position of Assistant Professor at the Department of Anatomy at Trinity College Dublin. Here, Denis teaches anatomy and neuroscience modules to undergraduate life science students. His research interests lie in nervous system development and repair, and in medical education.

Karl Power BSc Neuroscience graduate 2006.

‌Career biography

A few months after finishing his Neuroscience degree at UCC, Karl started my career in an entry-level position at Quintiles, a pharmaceutical company in Dublin. After a year of doing basic tasks such as checking clinical data for errors and inconsistencies, he specialised as a clinical coder where he was responsible for standardising the medical conditions and medications reported on clinical drug trials. Within another year, he was promoted to a senior coder position, where he was responsible for validating the systems used to perform clinical coding, as well as the coding budget, timelines, quality control and training. Karl then moved to Amsterdam to work in a similar job for Novartis, with the added responsibilities of validating a new coding system and recoding of legacy data.

In 2013, he moved to Darmstadt in Germany to take up a position in Merck KGaA, where he is now the coding oversight representative for all trials run globally by Merck KGaA. Karl is responsible for defining the company’s coding strategy as well as providing cross-functional support and direction to his colleagues located around the world."

Comments on the Neuroscience Degree  “The neuroscience degree definitely helped to get me where I am right now. It definitely got my career off to a really good start".

Denis Gallagher, BSc Neuroscience graduate 2004.

Career biography

After graduating from UCC in 2004, Denis completed a PhD in Cardiff University in 2008, under the supervision of Professor Alun Davies. He worked on regulators of axon growth and neuronal survival during the development of the peripheral nervous system. Following his PhD, Denis moved to Canada where he trained as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Freda Miller at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto. His research focus switched from the peripheral nervous system to genetic and environmental factors which impact the developing cerebral cortex. He discovered a novel role for an autism-associated gene called Ankrd11 in cortical precursors and how exposure to cytokines in utero may have long-lasting effects on the developing fetal brain.

Comments on the Neuroscience Degree  “The theory and techniques I picked up during this time provided the ideal platform to launch a career in neuroscience”



Amy Cole, BSc Neuroscience graduate 2013.

Career biography

After graduating from with a BSc in Neuroscience, Amy moved to Dublin to do a PhD in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. During her degree, Amy had the opportunity to organise work experience in Dr Guy Rouleau’s lab in Montreal.  She worked for four months as a student researcher in a genetics lab studying autism and essential tremor. This experience confirmed her decision to continue research and inspired her interest in genetics, which has led to her following a PhD in research on population genetics. 

Comments on the Neuroscience Degree  “My favourite part of the degree was studying anatomy and having the opportunity to learn directly from donors to UCC. Their gift is invaluable to our knowledge when learning the fundamentals of Neuroscience and anatomy.  I was fortunate to make friends for life studying Neuroscience, the small class numbers makes it easy to get to know everyone and the two years I spent in the Anatomy and Neuroscience department were the most enjoyable of my years at UCC.”

Aoife Kiely, BSc Neuroscience graduate 2007.

‌Career biography

Following her degree, Aoife acquired a PhD studentship in the Neurobiology and Alzheimer's lab in the Biochemistry Department in UCC, under the supervision of Dr. Cora O'Neill. Her research focused on the familial Parkinson's disease-linked gene, PINK1, and whether it was affected in Alzheimer's disease. During this time, she was able to gain a wide spectrum of practical skills, highly valuable in the competitive world of research. She also learned more about the day-to-day running of a lab and through writing research papers and her PhD thesis, became a confident scientific writer. Aoife is currently working in University College London’s Institute of Neurology. Her research focuses on neuroinflammation in a relatively rare disease named multiple system atrophy, which is often misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease. There she has access to the fantastic resource of the Queen Square Brain Bank, and part of her work focuses on investigating interesting cases of neurodegeneration which come into the Brain Bank.

Comments on the Neuroscience Degree  “I hugely enjoyed studying Neuroscience as an undergraduate. Both the theoretical and practical aspects of the BSc programme prepared me to begin a career in neuroscience research. While applying for post-doctoral jobs after my PhD, the quality and value of my Neuroscience BSc was highlighted to me, as I found that employers were not only interested in my research during my PhD but were also impressed by the research I was able to undertake during my undergrad research project.”

Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience

Anatamaíocht agus Néareolaíocht

Room 2.33, 2nd Floor, Western Gateway Building, University College, Cork, Ireland