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PhD Candidate Profiles

About this section

Listed below are profiles of several of our current PhD candidates. These profile sections will be updated annually. This is an opportunity to get to know some of our current PhD candidates and learn a little about their research interests. Scroll down the page or click on a name above to go directly to that profile.

Michael Rose

Pic of Mikey Rose

Mikey is a PhD researcher in the disciplines of Sociology and Politics at University College Cork, specialising in a study of displacement and Rohingya collective agency through a Historical Materialist lens. This work focuses on displacement, statelessness, and resistance, through Deleuzeguattarian concepts such as relative deterritorialisation and through a method of ethological situational analysis.  

With a background in International Politics from the University of Aberystwyth, Mikey is working to examine the systemic factors conditioning the displacement of Rohingya people and their potential in collectively organising on a local and transnational basis. This research contributes to both academic discourse and policy considerations, aiming to address the underlying causes of displacement and advocate for the struggle of marginalised populations.

Developed through engagement with both scholarly and activist communities, this research is intended to be shared with the aim of fostering informed discussions and to support the advocacy efforts of displaced communities.

Brenda Mondragón Toledo

Profile pic of Brenda Mondragón Toledo


Brenda Mondragón-Toledo is a Mexican PhD student at the Sociology Department and the Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies Department at University College Cork. She holds an MA in Sociology of Development and Globalisation from UCC and she did her BA in Social Anthropology at the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla. Her research interest lies in the sociological and anthropological study of fashion, textiles and embroidery across different spectrums with a feminist perspective. Specifically, her research lies in analysing the social impact of textiles in everyday life, consumption, fashion, political resistance, collective memory and as a methodological tool to speak about gender violence. This impact has been studied through the making process, the transmission of knowledge, support networks, and the legal protection of indigenous textiles.

Her current research is a comparative study of gender-based violence between Ireland and Mexico through textiles. In order to enable a dialogue between both nations, Brenda is using embroidery and knitting through Participatory Arts-based Research (PARs). Due to the pandemic, her research had to be redesigned slowly and carefully into online research, enabling a more synchronic dialogue between women in Mexico and Ireland. This research has been inspired by women across Latin America who are deeply engaged with textile activism to speak about different forms of violence and oppressions faced in our everyday lives. The current research is being carried out in collaboration with three feminist collectives; Refleja from Puebla, Mexico, Agujas Combativas from Mexico City and The Bábóg Project from West Cork.


Toledo and O'Keefe, 2021. Cultural appropriation in fashion: Critiquing the dispossession of Mayan culture in Guatemala in the International Journal of Fashion Studies, Volume 8, Number 1, p. 131-138, 

Mondragon Toledo, B., 2021. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Selvedge Magazine, (102), pp.70-73. 

Organised events:

Boundaries, Borders, Care: Feminist Ethics in Practice. Online Conference. May 2021

Twitter account: @BMondragonT

Doris Murphy

Profile pic of Doris Murphy, PhD candidate


Doris Murphy is a PhD candidate in Sociology and Women’s Studies in University College Cork. She is exploring sex work and care through Participatory Action Research. She is interested in the gendered nature of care, and how sex workers experience care in relationships at personal and societal levels. She is an ardent supporter of the decriminalisation of sex work, and of full labour and human rights for sex workers.  

Doris completed her MA in Women’s Studies in University College Cork in 2019. Her thesis focused on the experiences of reproductive rights campaigners during the campaign to legalise abortion in Ireland, and underlying care structures supporting feminist activism. She is the co-founder of Pro-Choice Wexford, a regional group which campaigned for abortion rights. She is a board member of the Irish Sex Work Research Network, and of the Sibéal Network. Doris is a qualified Speech and Language Therapist. 


I am researching the lived experiences of sex workers in the Republic of Ireland. My research will investigate the interplay between care and sex work to consider caring relationships which sex workers experience. I will develop an ethic of care which will impact upon theory and practice regarding sex worker activism and advocacy. My research will contribute to ongoing international scholarly discussions on sex work. 

Given the dearth of research on sex workers in Ireland, I aim to address this gap by conducting Participatory Action Research (PAR) with sex workers, using walking interviews as a biographical research method. PAR is a feminist epistemology which addresses power imbalances in research and is based upon principles of inclusion, participation, valuing all voices, and action-oriented interventions. PAR promotes ‘care-full’ research, which underpins my focus on care within sex work. I will conduct this research in partnership with the Sex Workers Alliance Ireland, the Red Umbrella Front, and the Sexual Health Centre in Cork. Sex workers have already consulted on the design of the project and the development of the research questions, which are as follows:

  1. How do sex workers in the Republic of Ireland experience care in their daily lives, within their close relationships, the wider community, and within society?
  2. What enablers or barriers to caring relationships do they experience?

I will interview stakeholders, service providers, and sex workers, to uncover knowledge about sex workers' experiences of care. Together, we will co-construct a radical caring imaginary, and consider steps towards this imaginary. The research findings will be disseminated in creative and accessible formats to ensure a wide audience, beyond academia. This will ensure that the research is useful to the sex work community.

Jody Ponce

Photo of Jody Ponce


Jody Moore-Ponce is a PhD researcher in the Sociology Department in University College Cork. Her research focuses on polarization and the authority of lived experience in social justice activism and wider society. Her work has been published in the European Journal of Social Theory and in Transforming Society published by Bristol University press. She holds a part-time lecturer and tutor of Sociology position in University College Cork.

Click here to link to the article 'Confessional critiques: Parrhesia and avowal in contemporary anti-racist discourse' from the European Journal of Social Theory. 

Click here to link to the article 'When antiracist politics becomes confessional critique' from Transforming Society. 


Pooja Priya

Pooja Priya


Pooja Priya is currently a doctoral researcher in the Department of Sociology at University College Cork, Ireland. She is the recipient of the  Global Challenges PhD Scholarship, within the Department of Sociology at UCC, Ireland. Her research interest lies in studying South-South migration and looking into the place-making and integration journeys of migrants. Her PhD dissertation is focused on studying the place-making experiences of Nigerian and Congolese students in New Delhi, India. Adopting an ethnographic approach, her dissertation looks into revealing the journeys of these African migrants and exploring how their subjective experiences are different based on the intersections in their identities.

She was born in India where she pursued her Bachelor’s and Master’s in Sociology from Lady Shri Ram College and Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi. She has also worked closely in the role of research assistant at the Centre for Africa, Latin America and the UN at the MP-IDSA, a think-tank affiliated with the Ministry of External Affairs in India. Here, she was assisting research associates in writing policy papers focused on India- Ethiopia and India-Senegal lines of credit that had been exchanged between the two countries. This provided her with a policy-based knowledge of India-Africa diplomatic relations and led to the development of her current research interest. She is also involved with civil society organizations such as Recruit Refugees Ireland and the Congolese Association of Ireland, wherein she regularly participates in events related to migration.


Darwesh Obeid

Darwesh Obeid


Darwesh Obeid is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology and Criminology at University College Cork. His research interests include Genocide Studies, Ethnic Conflict, Nationalism, and International Law. His research project is titled ‘’The Aftermath of Anfal Campaign, Survivors, Memories and Trauma’’. 

The research project aims to explore the aftermath and residual impacts on the survivors of the Kurdish genocide, known as the Anfal campaign, which was waged against the Iraqi Kurds in the late 1980s. This paper focuses on exploring the impacts on survivors in the context of cultural and collective memory. The study is located within sociological and anthropological studies on genocide and cultural and collective memory and trauma.

The study is based on an overall qualitative methodology drawing on in-depth semi-structured interviews with a diverse range of survivors. The research paper locates the critical understanding of the Anfal campaign in which an estimated 182.000 persons were killed, and another 1.5 million people displaced within an understanding of the geopolitical power struggles post World War 1 in particular and more recently in the context of geopolitical power struggles in 1979-1980 in Iraq in particular.

 Supervisors: Dr Amin Sharifi Isaloo and Dr Tracey Skillington

Swara Shariff Karim

Photo of Swara Shariff Karim

Swara Shariff Karim is a current PhD candidate at the Department of Sociology and Criminology. Swara has a Bachelor's degree in Sociology from the University of Mosul/Iraq (1991). Following this he earned a Diploma in Sport Injury Therapy from CSN College (2012). Then a BA Sociology at UCC (2018) and an MA in Sociology of Development and Globalisation (2019). 

Swara's PhD title is The Lived Experience of Kurdish people in Cork, and Dublin /Ireland from a Biographical Sociological perspective.

The study uses the qualitative methodology drawing on in-depth semi-structured interviews; this empirical research analyses new dynamics which emerge post-naturalisation in terms of statelessness and recognition, there is a conspicuous absence of understanding or knowledge on how this group are post-naturalisation. What is life like for them and their families once they are safe and settled in Ireland? There is an assumption that naturalisation is the endpoint of suffering for refugees, and the beginning of happiness or contentment in the development of their lives, given the safety and protections afforded to them by being citizens of Ireland. This empirical research suggests that actually ‘it is not that simple’ and naturalisation is, in fact, the starting point at which other deeply embedded issues of statelessness and recognition emerge and blossom.

Supervisors: Professor Maggie O'Neil and Dr Amin Sharifi Isaloo 


Zita O'Sullivan

 Zita O'Sullivan


"I was born in Prague and thanks to plenty of family travel during my childhood I developed a real passion for different cultures, people and societies. This led me to pursue my first degree at the University of Aberdeen, where I graduated with first class honours in International Relations-Sociology in 2014. I subsequently enrolled in an international joint masters programme in Cultural Sociology, during which I studied at University of Zadar, University of Graz, University of Trento and lastly, at University College Cork. Since 2016 I have been working full time at UCC, supporting the internationalisation ambitions of the university through various roles. I commenced my part-time PhD studies at UCC at the start of 2024. My academic interests lie in sociology of religion, and especially in the role religion plays in mitigating and / or fueling hostility and xenophobic sentiments. My research is particularly focused on the religious and socio-political developments of recent years in Slovakia and Ireland."  


Ute Krenzer

Ute Krenzer profile pic Spring 2024



I started my first-ever university education as a mature student after nearly 30 years in the Publishing and IT sectors. In 2023, I completed my Bachelor of Arts in Criminology with a First-Class Honours degree. As an undergraduate, I was awarded the ‘Quercus College Scholarship’, College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences and the ‘Classical Social Theory Essay Prize 2022’ by the Department of Sociology & Criminology. My BA research dissertation was a comparative study looking at housing provision after prison in Hamburg and Cork entitled – ‘Rehabilitative Imaginary or a Right to Re-integration?’ My dissertation was awarded a first-class honours and I have started to publish in international peer-reviewed journals on this and related themes. Since then, I have additionally been awarded the PhD Excellence Scholarship from the Graduate School in the College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences at University College Cork.





I propose an ethnographic case study research model that engages clients of voluntary sector organisations in two jurisdictions (Cork, Ireland and Schleswig-Holstein, Germany) to document/analyse challenges in navigating social reintegration post-release.

In consultation with service users of the two voluntary sector organisations respectively, the research will make available to potential participants a variety of research tools in an attempt to move away from researching about people to researching with people ensuring that persons can engage in the research using methods that they feel comfortable using.


Department of Sociology & Criminology

Socheolaíocht & Coireolaíocht

Askive, Donovan's Road, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland, T12 DT02