Kelly, Dr Michelle

Assistant Professor Psychology



  • Dr Michelle Kelly graduated from Maynooth University with a BA Hons degree in Psychology in 2006 and a doctorate in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) and Therapy in 2011. She is also a Board-Certified Behaviour Analyst - Doctoral level (BCBA-D) and an Internationally Accredited Trainer in Cognitive Stimulation Therapy with University College London. Michelle completed a post-doc in the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience (TCIN) from 2011 to 2014 where she collaborated with the Alzheimer Society of Ireland on dementia research. She held a lectureship in Maynooth University from 2014 to 2017 and lectured on Psychology undergraduate and doctoral programmes. Michelle joined the NCI Psychology Team in September 2017. Her research focuses on lifestyle interventions to improve cognitive outcomes for older adults, early interventions for people with dementia, and ABA interventions for children with autism. She currently collaborates on research with the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI), the ABA programme in Trinity College Dublin, and with the Alzheimer Society and Sonas APC. She is incoming secretary of the Psychological Society of Ireland's (PSI) Division of Behaviour Analysis and coordinates the Alzheimer Cafe in Glasnevin. 

Key Responsibilities at NCI

  • Module Coordinator and Assistant Professor: 
    • Advanced Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience (3rd Years)
    • Cognitive Psychology (2nd Years)
    • Final Year Project Seminars (3rd Years)
  • Dissertation Supervisor for Undergraduate and Masters students

Education / Qualifications

  • Board Certified Behaviour Analyst© Doctoral level (BCBA-D) - Behaviour Analyst Certification Board, Littleton, Colorado. 
  • Doctorate in Psychological Science (Behaviour Analysis and Therapy) - Maynooth University. 
  • B.A. Honours Degree (1:1) in Psychology - Maynooth University. 
  • FETAC Level 5 Award in Sport and Recreation - Moate Business College. 

Academic Experience

  • Lecturer in Psychology, National College of Ireland (2017 - present)
  • Lecturer in Psychology, Maynooth University (2015-2017)
  • Assistant Lecturer in Psychology, Maynooth University (2014-2015)
  • Early Intervention Research Coordinator, Trinity College Dublin and Alzheimer Society of Ireland (2011-2014)
  • Classroom Supervisor and Applied Behaviour (ABA) Instructor, ABACAS School for Children with Autism (2007-2011)


  • Editorial Board Member Behaviour Analysis in Practice (2017 - present)
  • Recipient of the University of Cambridge's Insights for Impact Award for High impact contribution to the field of cognition and neuroscience for the paper The Impact of Exercise on the Cognitive Functioning of Healthy Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis published in Aging Research Reviews. 
  • Recipient of the Health Research Board (HRB) Award for Best Poster Presentation at the Annual Cochrane in Ireland Conference, Dublin City University. 
  • Recipient of the W.J. Smyth Prize awarded for the Highest Academic Standing in Final Year Psychology (B.A. Hons.), Maynooth University. 
  • Recipient of a 'Highly Commended' Award at the Annual Psychology Student Congress, Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI): received for Excellent Thesis Presentation, and Outstanding Research and Communication. 
  • Recipient of the Prize for Best Overall Academic Performance in 2nd Year Psychology (B.A. Hons.), Maynooth University. 

Committee Membership

  • Steering Committee Member - Psychological Society of Ireland's Division of Behaviour Analysis
  • Co-founder and coordinator of the Alzheimer's Café Glasnevin
  • Scientific Advisory Panel member - Alzheimer Society of Ireland
  • Member of the Board of Directors - ABA Ireland

Professional Body Membership

  • Graduate Member - Psychological Society of Ireland
  • Member - The Association of Behavior Analysis International (ABAI; Special Interest Groups of Autism, Behavioral Gerontology, Neuroscience, Rehabilitation and Independent Living, and Verbal Behaviour). 
  • Member - The Association of Contextual Behavior Analysis (ACBS) and the Irish Contextual Behavior Society (ICBS). 

Research Grants

In Progress:

  • Health Research Board (HRB) call for Applying Research into Policy & Practice Postdoctoral Fellowships (ARPP) 2018. Role: Principal Investigator. 

Under Review:

  • Irish Research Council (IRC) Laureate Scheme Award (€400,000). Project Title: Examining the Relationship between Relational Flexibility and Cognitive and Everyday Functioning in Older Adults. Role: Principal Investigator. 


  • Maynooth University Conference & Workshop Fund (2015). Awarded €500 to fund an academic workshop with a US speaker. Role: Primary Applicant. 
  • The Ireland Funds (2015). Awarded €5000 to develop and disseminate a Cognitive Rehabilitation Manual for Healthcare Professionals. Role: Co-applicant and Research Coordinator. 
  • Pobal Scheme to Support National Organisations in the Community and Voluntary Sector (2014). Awarded to deliver Cognitive Stimulation Therapy to people with dementia. Role: Co-applicant and Research Coordinator. 
  • The Coca Cola 'Thank You Fund' (2012). Awarded €10,000 (as Principal Investigator) to deliver evidence-based interventions to people with early stage dementia. Role: Co-applicant and Research Coordinator. 
  • Grundtvig Europe and Leargas LLP (2012). Awarded €1,560 to fund travel, accommodation, and expenses to attend a 7-day training course on designing cognitive interventions. Individual application. 
  • HRB 2-day Cochrane Training Fellowship (2012). Awarded a 2-day Cochrane Systematic Review Course. Co-ordinated and wrote grant. Individual application. 
  • Genio Grant, Dementia Programme (2011). €1million awarded to develop a dementia awareness campaign. Role: Coordinated grant application with 13 consortium members, co-applicant. 

Doctoral Research Supervision

Postdoctoral Research (ongoing): 

  • Dr Diana Bast: Applied Behaviour Analysis and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Collaboration with Dr Ian Steward (National University of Ireland, Galway). Ongoing. 

PhD Research (ongoing):

  • Ciara Buggle: Examining the impact of lifestyle factors on the cognitive health of older adults. Collaboration with Dr Joanna McHugh (National College of Ireland). Ongoing. 

Doctoral Research (Completed June 2017):

  • Barnard, Marthinius: PEAK Relational Training System: Exploring the Practical Implementation of the Generalization Training and Direct Training Modules. 
  • Callaghan, Ruth: 'Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure Examination of Attitudes towards Alcohol'.
  • Cleary, Louise Maria: Investigating the Impact of Brief Cognitive Defusion Intervention on State Anxiety and Psychological Inflexibility/Avoidance.
  • Curtis, Aisling Bridget: Using the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP) to explore implicit versus self-report attitudes toward bullying with student at post-primary and university level. 
  • Dennehy, June: Behavioural Methodologies to Teach Relational Responding to Preschool Children with Diagnosed Autism. 
  • Fawcett, Emma: Combining PEAK (Promoting the Emergence of Advances Knowledge) with Other Teaching Methodologies with children with and without Learning Delays. 
  • Gallagher, Roisin: Developing the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP) as a Measure of Bias toward Pupils with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Hines, Roberta: The Impact of Teaching the PEAK Relational Training System within a Pre-School Setting. 
  • Murphy, Rachel: Using the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure to Examine Implicit Beauty-Bias in the Context of Employability Evaluations. 
  • Nolan, Conor: Using the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure to Investigate Teachers' Attitudes towards Students with ADHD and Anxiety. 
  • O'Halloran, Orla: An Investigation into Implicit and Explicit Attitudes toward Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) versus Typically Developing Children. 

Research Publications

Published International Journal Articles

Manuscripts in Preparation

Published Reports

Conference Presentations

Invited Presentations

Conference Organising

  • Member of the organising committee of the DNNI (Dementia and Neurodegeneration Network Ireland) Conference on "Building Platforms for Sustainable Research in Dementia and Neurodegeneration" held in King's Inns, Dublin on Thursday 30th November 2017. (This meeting included 8 national and international speakers and approximately 80 delegates). 
  • The Division of Behaviour Analysis (DBA) Conference 2017: Lead organiser, 40th Anniversary Conference of the DBA. 11th-13th May 2017, Trinity College Dublin. 
  • The DBA Conference 2016: Lead organiser, Tenth Annual Conference of the DBA, 10th-11th June 2016. Maynooth University. 
  • Workshop, Yvonne O'Connor (Institute of Child Education and Psychology Europe): Lead organiser, one-day workshop for Psychologists and clinicians, 24th June 2017, PSI HQ Dublin. 
  • Workshop, Dr Jacob Daar (University of Illinois, California): Lead organiser, one-day workshop on interventions for children with autism, 3rd November 2016, Glenroyal Hotel, Maynooth. 

Research Interests

  • Lifestyle interventions to promote healthy cognitive ageing; early interventions for Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and dementia; behavioural gerontology, Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) and behaviour therapy; Relational Frame Theory (RFT) and derived relational responding. 

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