Researcher
Applied Psychology
Cork Enterprise Centre
North Mall, Cork City
Cork, Ireland

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

I graduated with a B.Sc. in Cognitive Psychology and Psychobiology at the University of Padova, Italy, in 2007, where I studied biopsychosocial approaches to health. My undergraduate research work focused on neurodegenerative disorders. I then completed a M.Sc. in Clinical Psychology in 2009 in the same institution, conducting a research study on attachment to places in community-dwelling older people. Thanks to this research, I developed an interest in ecological models of human development, exploring environmental and individual determinants of health and quality of life across the lifespan.

After completing my Postgraduate Degree, I worked at the Department of Social Protection in Padua, where I was involved in projects to promote community engagement in young people as well as ageing in place initiatives. In this position, I coordinated a study investigating the socio-physical environmental influences on health and quality of life for over 3,000 healthy community-dwelling older people. The research informed local policy-makers and healthcare providers on potential areas of interventions to promote healthy ageing.
During this work, I also completed a 12-month internship at the Istituto di Riposo per Anziani Nursing Home, Padua (Italy), where I further investigated place attachment and environmental influences on health and well-being as applied to a residential care setting.

I moved to Cork (Ireland) in 2011 to take part in a volunteering project with Cheshire Homes aimed at promoting mental stimulation and social engagement for adult service users with sensory and physical disabilities.

In October 2013 I started a Ph.D. by Research at the School of Applied Psychology, University College Cork, conducting a project on environmental influences on cognitive ageing, under the supervision of Dr. Annalisa Setti and in collaboration with The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA, Trinity College Dublin). I completed my Ph.D. in March 2017.

As a member of the ACME lab (https://www.acmelab.science/) at the School of Applied Psycology, UCC, I am currently working as a research assistant in an multidisciplinary project exploring how the built environment can support cognitive health as we grow old (see https://www.researchgate.net/project/Outdoor-lived-environment-as-brain-training).




Research Interests

My general research interests are in environmental and lifestyle determinants of health and well-being across the lifespan. While my academic research has focused mainly on healthy ageing, I am interested in how the lived environment (including physical and social factors) can support healthy and happy development across the lifespan.

My undergraduate research focused on neuropsychology and on how clinical settings can promote quality of life for people with neurodegenerative disorders. During my postgraduate research I instead used an ecological approach to investigate the factors which support or hinder attachment to the place of residence in healthy community-dwelling older adults.

My PhD research looked at whether urban or rural living have a differential impact on cognitive health in ageing. This is a topic of primarily importance given increasing ageing and urbanisation worldwide, with dementia and cognitive impairment becoming a primary cause for morbidity and reduced quality of life in older age.

During my PhD, I began to work on a multidisciplinary project exploring subjective and objective dimensions of the built environment which can support healthy cognitive ageing. This research, which is ongoing, adopts a mixed-methods approach using experimental testing, neurophysiological assessment, qualitative methods (walking interviews, focus groups), and environmental audits. The project is conducted by the School of Applied Psychology, UCC, in collaboration with the School of Applied Social Sciences, UCC, and the Centre for Research in Ageing and Cognitive Health (REACH), University of Exeter (UK). For more details check "Outdoor Lived Environment as “Brain Training”, https://www.researchgate.net/project/Outdoor-lived-environment-as-brain-training.

I am also involved in a collaboration between the School of Applied Psychology UCC and the School of Natural and Social Science, University of Gloucestershire (UK) to investigate the impact on health of using green spaces.

I am currently conducting a Post Doctoral project exploring individual and environmental factors of accident risk in young drivers. The project is led by Liberty Insurance Ltd. and the School of Applied Psychology, UCC.

In my work, I have used theories and approaches derived from Environmental and Cognitive Psychology, as well as Epidemiology and Social Sciences. I have adopted both qualitative, quantitative and mixed-methods approaches.







Peer Reviewed Journals

YearPublication
(2016)'Complexity As Key to Designing Cognitive-Friendly Environments for Older People'
Marica Cassarino, Annalisa Setti (2016) 'Complexity As Key to Designing Cognitive-Friendly Environments for Older People'. Frontiers in psychology, 7 Globe icon [DOI] [Details]
(2016)'Environment and Cognitive Aging: A Cross-Sectional Study of Place of Residence and Cognitive Performance in the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing'
Cassarino M;O'Sullivan V;Kenny RA;Setti A; (2016) 'Environment and Cognitive Aging: A Cross-Sectional Study of Place of Residence and Cognitive Performance in the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing'. Neuropsychology, 30 (5):543-557 Globe icon [DOI] [Details]
(2015)'Environment as 'Brain Training': A review of Geographical and Physical Environmental Influences on Cognitive Ageing'
Marica Cassarino & Annalisa Setti (2015) 'Environment as 'Brain Training': A review of Geographical and Physical Environmental Influences on Cognitive Ageing'. Ageing Research Reviews, 23 :167-182 [DOI] [Details]

Conference Publications

YearPublication
(2017)Communicating Psychology: Getting the Message out There
Marica Cassarino, Eleanor Bantry-White, Jason S. Chan, & Annalisa Setti (2017) Places to Recharge the Brain: Investigating the outdoor environment as a contributor to cognitive health in ageing Communicating Psychology: Getting the Message out There Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, , 02-SEP-17 - 02-SEP-17 [DOI] [Details]
(2017)Urban Space and the Body
Marica Cassarino, Eleanor Bantry-White, Yu-Tzu Wu, Jason Chan, & Annalisa Setti (2017) Urban Space as “Brain Training” – A Mixed-Methods Investigation of How the Built Environment can Support Healthy Cognitive Ageing Urban Space and the Body University College Cork, Ireland, , 09-JUN-17 - 10-JUN-17 [Details]
(2016)64th Annual and Scientific Meeting of the Irish Gerontological Society Developing Cultures of Excellence in Ageing and Exploring the Needs of Marginalised Groups
Marica Cassarino, Annalisa Setti (2016) Physical Activity Modulates Geographical Variations in Cognitive Ageing: Results from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing . In: Age & Ageing eds. 64th Annual and Scientific Meeting of the Irish Gerontological Society Developing Cultures of Excellence in Ageing and Exploring the Needs of Marginalised Groups The Malton Hotel, Killarney, , 30-SEP-16 - 01-OCT-16 [DOI] [Details]
(2016)The Gerontological Society of America’s 69th Annual Scientific Meeting
Eleanor Bantry-White, Annalisa Setti, Marica Cassarino, & Yu-Tzu Wu (2016) Quantifying Environmental Load on Cognition: A Pilot Study The Gerontological Society of America’s 69th Annual Scientific Meeting New Orleans, LA, [Details]
(2015)Connected Sustainability Workshop, 7th International ACM Conference on Communities and Technologies
Annalisa Setti & Marica Cassarino (2015) Sustainable Cognitive Ageing: What Role for the Physical and Social Environments Connected Sustainability Workshop, 7th International ACM Conference on Communities and Technologies Limerick, [Details]
(2015)“Unlocking the Demographic Dividend”, The International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics European Region Congress
Marica Cassarino, Rose Anne Kenny, Annalisa Setti (2015) Urban Environments Benefit Cognitive Ageing: A Cross-Sectional Study of The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing Cohort “Unlocking the Demographic Dividend”, The International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics European Region Congress Dublin, Ireland, , 23-APR-15 - 26-APR-15 [Details]
(2014)Science for Healthy and Active Ageing Irish Gerontological Society 62nd Annual and Scientific Meeting
Marica Cassarino, Vincent O'Sullivan, Rose Anne Kenny, Annalisa Setti (2014) Environmental Risk Factors for Cognitive Ageing: Geographical Location, Social Engagement and Lifestyle Science for Healthy and Active Ageing Irish Gerontological Society 62nd Annual and Scientific Meeting Galway, Ireland, , 09-OCT-14 - 11-OCT-14 [Details]

Honours and Awards

 YearTitleAwarding Body
2013School of Applied Psychology PhD Scholarship School of Applied Psychology, University College Cork
2014Strategic Research Fund Postgraduate Scholarship University College Cork
2016Irish Gerontological Society Presidential Medal Irish Gerontological Society

Professional Associations

 AssociationFunctionFrom / To
Irish Gerontological Society Member/

Employment

 EmployerPositionFrom / To
School of Applied Psychology UCC Lecturer (Occasional)08-SEP-14 / 10-SEP-16
Liberty Insurance Ltd. & School of Applied Psychology, University College Cork Post-Doctoral Researcher12-JUN-17 / 12-DEC-17
School of Applied Psychology UCC Module Tutor/Demonstrator09-SEP-13 / 19-DEC-14
School of Applied Psychology UCC Researcher (contracted by Project)01-OCT-13 / 31-MAR-17
School of Applied Psychology UCC Research assistant01-APR-17 / 30-APR-17

Education

 YearInstitutionQualificationSubject
2009University of Padova MASTER OF SCIENCEClinical Psychology
2007University of Padova BACHELOR OF SCIENCECognitive and Psychobiological Sciences

Languages

 LanguageReadingWritingSpeaking
English FluentFluentFluent
Italian FluentFluentFluent

Other Activities

 Description

Science Communication
In June 2015 I received the second prize in the "Three Minutes Thesis" section at the UCC Doctoral Showcase for describing my PhD project in three minutes. Presentation title: "It Takes Two to Tango; Person-Environoment Interactions Influence Cognitive Ageing" (see presentation at

https://tinyurl.com/nx8f3o6)
In January 2017 I won the second prize at the FameLab Munster regional heat and qualified for the national final, for describing the concept of "affordances" and their application to design user-friendly environments in three minutes by using a moka pot as a prop (see talk at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u00tf-yoIwQ)



Blog Contributions

Why Where you Live Matters to Your Health and Happiness. Psychreg - Let's Talk abour Behaviour blog (July 2017)
http://www.psychreg.org/where-you-live-health-happiness/


Finding the Best Places for Growing Old.
University College Cork Postgraduate blog (June 2017)
http://postgradblog.ucc.ie/finding-best-places-grow-old/


Public engagement
I have helped to organise and run the Irish Culture Night at the School of Applied Psychology, UCC, since 2014, engaging the public in my research work and in "Brain Games" activities to learn about perception and cognitive processes.

Teaching Interests

I have taught part of the undergraduate modules AP2013 - Cognitive Psychology, and AP1110 - Psychology as Science, as well as the Cognitive Psychology section of Higher Diploma in Psychology introductory course. I have worked as a demonstrator for the modules AP1105 – Experimental Design and Statistical Application, and AP1108 – Research Methods in Psychology. I have also mentored and provided statistical support to both undergraduate and postgraduate students.