Postdoctoral Researcher
Epidemiology & Public Health
University College Cork
Cork
Ireland

T: +353-21-490-3000
E: karen.msikar@ucc.ie


                         
Karen is a health psychologist currently employed as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow on a HRB Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement Award. This research involves designing a complex intervention for childhood obesity, and is being conducted in collaboration with researchers in NUI Galway and Trinity College Dublin.

Karen's PhD research in Applied Psychology was strongly informed by Health Psychology and investigated the effects of prenatal wellness interventions on well-being, cortisol levels, and birth outcomes. Karen also has a MA and a BA in Applied Psychology, and a Higher Diploma in Arts (English).                          

Research interests:
Pregnancy
Obesity
Biomarkers of Well-being
Intervention development and evaluation 
Measurement


Research Interests


My research interests include health psychology, particularly focusing on childhood obesity, the perinatal period, as well as psychophysiological indicators of well-being. I also have interests in intervention development, biological psychology, dementia research and positive psychology. My interests in a broad range of methodological approaches reflect my research activities to date. These include quantitative approaches such as controlled trials and systematic reviews and meta-analysis, and qualitative approaches including qualitative research synthesis, discourse analysis, and thematic analysis.

Research Grants

 ProjectFunding
Body
Start DateEnd DateAward
Developing a Core Outcome Set of Infant Feeding Outcomes for Obesity Prevention Interventions.Irish Research Council19-DEC-1621-JUL-17€4,850.00
Measuring Core Infant Feeding Outcomes in Childhood Obesity TrialsHealth Research Board01-JUN-1728-JUL-17€2,000.00
What’s on your child’s plate? Food portion sizes and the proportion of different food groups eaten by children on the island of Ireland. Funded by SafefoodOther: Not Listed€97,274.00
Determining the most feasible and acceptable methods of cortisol sampling in pregnancyRoyal Irish Academy02-JAN-1701-DEC-17€1,723.00

Peer Reviewed Journals

YearPublication
(2017)'What are the physical and psychological health effects of suicide bereavement on family members? Protocol for an observational and interview mixed-methods study in Ireland'
Spillane, A., Larkin, C., Corcoran, P., Matvienko-Sikar, K., Arensman, E. (2017) 'What are the physical and psychological health effects of suicide bereavement on family members? Protocol for an observational and interview mixed-methods study in Ireland'. Bmj Open, 7 (3) Globe icon [DOI] [Details]
(2017)'The Association between Childcare Arrangements and Risk of Overweight and Obesity in Childhood: A Systematic Review'
Black, L., Matvienko-Sikar, K., Kearney, P. (2017) 'The Association between Childcare Arrangements and Risk of Overweight and Obesity in Childhood: A Systematic Review'. Obesity Reviews, [Details]
(2017)'The role of prenatal, obstetric, and post-partum factors in the parenting stress of mothers and fathers of 9-month old infants'
Matvienko-Sikar, K., Murphy, G., & Murphy, G. (2017) 'The role of prenatal, obstetric, and post-partum factors in the parenting stress of mothers and fathers of 9-month old infants'. Journal Of Psychosomatic Obstetrics And Gynaecology, Globe icon [DOI] [Details]
(2016)'Positive prenatal well-being: conceptualising and measuring mindfulness and gratitude in pregnancy'
O' Leary K;Dockray S;Hammond S; (2016) 'Positive prenatal well-being: conceptualising and measuring mindfulness and gratitude in pregnancy'. Archives Of Women'S Mental Health, 19 (4) [DOI] [Details]
(2016)'Effects of a novel positive psychological intervention on prenatal stress and well-being: A pilot randomised controlled trial'
Matvienko-Sikar, K. & Dockray, S. (2016) 'Effects of a novel positive psychological intervention on prenatal stress and well-being: A pilot randomised controlled trial'. Women and Birth, Globe icon [DOI] [Details]
(2016)'Identity Construction in Dementia Caregiving: “Them” and “Us”'
Matvienko-Sikar, K. & McCarthy, J. (2016) 'Identity Construction in Dementia Caregiving: “Them” and “Us”'. Age and Ageing, 45 (S2) [DOI] [Details]
(2016)'The effects of mindfulness interventions on prenatal well-being: A systematic review'
Matvienko-Sikar, K., Lee, L., Murphy, G. & Murphy, L. (2016) 'The effects of mindfulness interventions on prenatal well-being: A systematic review'. Psychology and Health, [DOI] [Details]
(2015)'A Systematic Review of the Effects of Mindfulness Interventions on Cortisol'
O'Leary, K., O'Neill, S. & Dockray, S. (2015) 'A Systematic Review of the Effects of Mindfulness Interventions on Cortisol'. Journal of Health Psychology, [DOI] [Details]
(2015)'The Effects of Two Novel Gratitude and Mindfulness Interventions on Well-being'
O' Leary, K. & Dockray, S. (2015) 'The Effects of Two Novel Gratitude and Mindfulness Interventions on Well-being'. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, [DOI] [Details]
(2014)'Bundle of Joy: Improving Prenatal Wellbeing with Gratitude and Mindfulness'
O' Leary, K, (2014) 'Bundle of Joy: Improving Prenatal Wellbeing with Gratitude and Mindfulness'. The Boolean, [Details]

Conference Publications

YearPublication
(2017)24th European Congress on Obesity
Matvienko-Sikar K., Toomey, E., Delaney, L., Harrington, J., Byrne, M., Kearney P. (2017) Effects of early infant feeding interventions on parental feeding practices: A systematic review 24th European Congress on Obesity Porto, [Details]
(2016)64th Annual Irish Gerontological Society Conference
Matvienko-Sikar, K. & McCarthy, J (2016) Identity Construction in Dementia Caregiving: “Them” And “Us” 64th Annual Irish Gerontological Society Conference [Details]

Book Reviews

YearPublication
(2013)Gratitude works! A twenty-one-day program for creating emotional prosperity.
Karen O Leary (2013) Gratitude works! A twenty-one-day program for creating emotional prosperity. Book Reviews [Details]

Honours and Awards

 YearTitleAwarding Body
2012School of Applied Psychology Studentship UCC
2017Charlemont Award Royal Irish Academy
2013School of Applied Psychology Studentship UCC
2013Graduate Scholar Award; Health, Wellness and Society Conference Health, Wellness and Society Conference
2013UCC O'Connor Scholarship Award University College Cork

Professional Associations

 AssociationFunctionFrom / To
British Psychological Society, Division of Health Psychology Graduate Member01-JUN-13 / 01-JUN-14
Psychological Society of Ireland Division of Health Psychology Member01-MAY-17 /
International Positive Psychology Association Member01-JAN-17 /
European Health Psychology Society Member01-APR-16 /

Conference Contributions

YearPublication
(2017)14th Annual Psychology, Health and Medicine Conference,
Matvienko-Sikar, K. & Dockray (2017) Effects of an experimental gratitude intervention on self-report and psychophysiological measures of stress. [Oral Presentation], 14th Annual Psychology, Health and Medicine Conference, RCSI, Dublin . [Details]
(2017)Association for the Study of Obesity on the island of Ireland (ASOI) annual conference 2017,
Matvienko-Sikar, K., Toomey, E., Queally, M., Hayes, C., Doherty, E., Heary, C., Harrington, J., McHugh, S., McSharry, J., Byrne, M., Kearney, P.M. (2017) Developing an evidence-based pilot infant feeding behaviours intervention for childhood obesity in primary care: The CHErIsH Study. [Poster Presentation], Association for the Study of Obesity on the island of Ireland (ASOI) annual conference 2017, UCD Dublin . [Details]
(2017)Annual Psychology, Health and Medicine Conference,
Matvienko-Sikar, K., Toomey, E., Delaney, L., McSharry, J. McHugh, S., Byrne, M., Kearney, P.M. (2017) Active ingredients in infant feeding interventions to prevent childhood obesity. [Poster Presentation], Annual Psychology, Health and Medicine Conference, RCSI, Dublin . [Details]
(2017)3rd Annual SPHeRE Conference,
Matvienko-Sikar, K., Toomey, E., Queally, M., Hayes, C., Doherty, E., Heary, C., Harrington, J., McHugh, S., McSharry, J., Byrne, M., Kearney, P.M. (2017) Development of an evidence-based pilot intervention to promote healthy infant feeding behaviours in Irish primary care: The HRB Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement (ICE) Childhood Obesity project. [Poster Presentation], 3rd Annual SPHeRE Conference, RCSI, Dublin . [Details]
(2016)13th Annual Psychology, Health and Medicine Conference,
Matvienko-Sikar, K., Murphy, G. & Murphy, M. (2016) The role of perinatal and obstetric factors in post-partum parenting stress for mothers and father. [Oral Presentation], 13th Annual Psychology, Health and Medicine Conference, UCC Cork . [Details]
(2016). 13th Annual Psychology, Health and Medicine Conference,
Murphy G., Matvienko-Sikar, K. & Dockray, S. (2016) Trier on Wheels? Cardiovascular Reactivity in a Simulated Stressful Driving Scenario. [Oral Presentation], . 13th Annual Psychology, Health and Medicine Conference, UCC, Cork . [Details]
(2016)13th Annual Psychology, Health and Medicine Conference,
O’ Leary, K. & Dockray, S. (2016) Putting the Positive in Pregnancy: The Role of Positive Psychological Factors in Promoting Prenatal Mental Health. [Poster Presentation], 13th Annual Psychology, Health and Medicine Conference, UCC Cork . [Details]
(2015)The 15th Annual Nursing & Midwifery Research Conference,
O’ Leary, K., Lee, L., Murphy, G., & Murphy, L. (2015) A review of mindfulness intervention effects on prenatal stress, depression and anxiety. [Poster Presentation], The 15th Annual Nursing & Midwifery Research Conference, UCC Cork . [Details]
(2015)Psychological Society of Ireland Conference 2015,
McGrath, N., O'Leary, K., & Dockray, S. (2015) Stability and predictors of wellbeing over time. [Oral Presentation], Psychological Society of Ireland Conference 2015, Psychological Society of Ireland Conference 2015 . [Details]
(2015)Inaugural INFANT Research day,
O' Leary, K. (2015) Cortisol measurement in pregnancy: Challenges and future directions. [Poster Presentation], Inaugural INFANT Research day, University College COrk . [Details]
(2012)Psychological Society of Ireland Conference 2015,
Cadogan E., O Leary, K., Dockray, S. (2012) The effects of a gratitude intervention on physiological and self-report wellbeing. [Oral Presentation], Psychological Society of Ireland Conference 2015, Psychological Society of Ireland Conference 2015 . [Details]
(2012)Overcoming Barriers to Well-being in Ireland Conference,
O' Leary, K; DiBlasi, Z; O' Sullivan, D (2012) The Effect of Keeping a Gratitude Diary on Well-being during Pregnancy: A Randomised Control Trial. [Poster Presentation], Overcoming Barriers to Well-being in Ireland Conference, National University of Ireland, Galway , 08-JUN-12 - 08-JUN-12. [Details]
(2012)Annual Psychological Society of Ireland Conference,
O' Leary, K; Dockray, S; DiBlasi, Z (2012) The Heart and Science of Well-being Workshop. [Other], Annual Psychological Society of Ireland Conference, Cork , 08-NOV-12 - 11-NOV-12. [Details]
(2013)The 13th Annual Nursing & Midwifery Research Conference,
O Leary, K.; Dockray, S. (2013) Differences in the factor structure of gratitude based on parity. [Poster Presentation], The 13th Annual Nursing & Midwifery Research Conference, The Catherine McAuley School of Nursing & Midwifery, University College Cork , 08-NOV-13 - 08-NOV-13. [Details]
(2012)Psychological Society of Ireland Annual Conference,
O Leary, K; Dockray, S (2012) The Effect of Gratitude and Mindfulness Interventions on levels of Gratitude and Mindfulness. [Oral Presentation], Psychological Society of Ireland Annual Conference, Cork , 08-NOV-12 - 11-NOV-12. [Details]
(2014)Psychological Society of Ireland Cofnerence,
Murphy, L; O Leary, K; Dockray, S. (2014) Thinking Ahead: The Appearance Consequences of Smoking (PROJECT TACOS). [Oral Presentation], Psychological Society of Ireland Cofnerence, Kilkenny . [Details]
(2013)10th Annual Psychology, Health & Medicine Conference,
O Leary, K; Dockray, S (2013) Gratitude and Mindfulness Interventions: Conceptual Crossovers and Practical Applications. [Poster Presentation], 10th Annual Psychology, Health & Medicine Conference, Dublin , 01-MAY-13 - 01-JUL-13. [Details]
(2013)BPS Division of Health Psychology Conference,
O Leary, K; Dockray, S; Hammond, S (2013) Measuring the Positive in Pregnancy: Development of the Gratitude during Pregnancy Scale and Evaluation of the MAAS in Pregnancy. [Oral Presentation], BPS Division of Health Psychology Conference, Brighton , 11-SEP-13 - 13-SEP-13. [Details]
(2012)Psychological Society of Ireland Annual Conference,
O Leary, K; DiBlasi, Z; O Sullvan, D; O Riordan, M (2012) Expressions of Gratitude during Pregnancy in a Diary-based Randomised Clinical Trial. [Poster Presentation], Psychological Society of Ireland Annual Conference, Cork , 08-NOV-12 - 11-NOV-12. [Details]
(2014)11th Annual Psychology Health and Medicine Conference,
O Leary,K., O' Neill, S., Dockray, S. (2014) Cortisol Measures in Mindfulness Interventions: Challenges and Future Directions. [Poster Presentation], 11th Annual Psychology Health and Medicine Conference, University of Limerick , 27-MAY-14 - 28-MAY-14. [Details]
(2013)10th Annual Psychology, Health & Medicine Conference,
O Leary, K; Dockray, S (2013) Methodological Implications in Positive Psychological Trials to Improve Well-being. [Poster Presentation], 10th Annual Psychology, Health & Medicine Conference, Dublin , 01-MAY-13 - 01-MAY-13. [Details]
(2015)PSI ECG Conference,
O'Leary, K. & Dockray, S. (2015) Prenatal Mindfulness Intervention Effects. [Oral Presentation], PSI ECG Conference, National University of Ireland, Galway . [Details]
(2015)School of Applied Psychology Lightning Talks,
O' Leary, K. (2015) Psychophysiological Measures in Studies of Stress Responding. [Invited Seminars/Guest Lectures], School of Applied Psychology Lightning Talks, School of Applied Psychology, UCC . [Details]

Committees

 CommitteeFunctionFrom / To
ASOI Annual Conference 2017 Scientific and organising2017 / 2017
HRB Early Career Researcher Event Organiser2016 / 2017
13th Psychology Health and Medicine Conference Scientific Committee/

Employment

 EmployerPositionFrom / To
Department of Epidemiology & Public Health Post-Doctoral Researcher01-MAR-16 /
School of Applied Psychology BioAssay Research Assistant03-DEC-12 / 07-SEP-13
School of Applied Psychology Research Assistant01-SEP-14 / 29-FEB-16

Education

 YearInstitutionQualificationSubject
2015University College Cork PHDApplied Psychology
2011University College Cork MAApplied Psychology
2010University College Cork HDipEnglish
2008University College Cork BA HONSApplied Psychology
2014University College Cork CertificateTeaching and Learning for Graduate Studies
2014edX Berkeley CertificateThe Science of Happiness

Journal Activities

 JournalRoleTo / From
Psychoneuroendocrinology Referee-
Journal Of Midwifery & Women'S Health Referee-
Psychiatry Research Referee-
British Journal Of Health Psychology Referee-
Journal Of Hypertension Referee-
Journal Of Psychosomatic Obstetrics And Gynaecology Referee-
Plos One Referee-

Languages

 LanguageReadingWritingSpeaking
Portuguese BasicBasicFunctional
English FluentFluentFluent

Teaching Interests

Module Co-ordinator
March 2016- Present
Public Health and Behavioural Change EH6039

Lecturer
March 2014-Present

Introduction to Research and Statistical Analysis AP1608

Health Psychology: Models and Applications AP3115
Applied Biological Psychology AP3102

Head Tutor
September 2013- September 2014
 

My role as head tutor involves supporting the administration of AP1108 (Research Methods in Psychology), AP1105 (Experimental design and statistical Application) and AP2208 (Advanced Research Methods in Psychology II). This includes the collation of marks, recording of absences and lateness documentation,  ensuring double-marking of practical reports as needed, training and support for other tutors.  

 
Tutor
September 2011 – Present 

Tutor and Teaching Assistant for 2nd year undergraduate modules in the BA in Applied Psychology degree program:
AP2208 Research Methods in Applied Psychology
AP2105 Experimental Design & Statistical Applications

In my capacity as a tutor and teaching assistant I prepare class content for weekly classes of approximately 20 students. These classes also involve engaging in group discussions, research data collection and evaluation, and the use of statistical packages such as SPSS. I am also responsible for correcting practical assignments and providing feedback to students.




Assistant Lecturer

September 2012 – Present 

I deliver day-long lecture seminars to postgraduate students commencing the Higher Diploma in Applied Psychology course in University College Cork. The content covered includes diverse research methods in Applied Psychology as well as practical applications and demonstrations. The lecture content has been developed using well-validate empirical research examples, and examples from my own undergraduate and postgraduate research.
 

Recent Postgraduates

 Graduation YearStudent NameInstitutionDegree TypeThesis Title
2017Lindsay Black University College CorkMPHThe Association between Childcare Arrangements and Risk of Overweight and Obesity in Childhood: A Systematic Review

Internal Collaborators

 NameInstituteCountry
Dr Mairead O Riordan University College Cork
Dr Samantha Dockray University College Cork
Dr Sarah Meaney National Perinatal Epidemiology Centre, University College Cork

External Collaborators

 NameOrganisation / InstituteCountry
Dr Catherine Houghton National University of Ireland Galway
Prof. Angela Clow Psychophysiology and Stress Research Group, University of Westminster
Dr Molly Byrne National University of Ireland Galway