Robert is a doctoral candidate at the Behavioural Science Centre of the University of Stirling and a Senior Economic Research Officer at the Department of Health, Ireland. He graduated with a BA in Economics from Trinity College Dublin (1997). He then completed, as an Economic and Social Research Council Scholar, a M.Sc. in Economics from the University of Bristol (1998) and received a distinction for his research dissertation. Robert has worked for 15 years in applied research including nine years as a leading economic consultant where he was the principal author on more than 50 commissioned research reports and evaluations. He has undertaken research in the areas of education and skills, labour market, equality issues, inter-agency co-operation and knowledge brokering.
Robert designed and manages a service to support the more effective and efficient use of research evidence by staff across the Department of Health; the Department develops and evaluates health services in Ireland. In this advisory and knowledge broker role Robert works closely with the Health Research Board, and the Economic and Social Research Institute. Following on from his work in the CAAB he was also a member of the design team for the North South Child Protection Hub (launched in 2010 and reported to be the first such website, www.nscph.com). Robert also undertakes research projects in areas of strategic healthcare reform. In addition he is a part-time lecture in the Institute of Public Administration, having recently redesigned an undergraduate module on Comparative Healthcare.
Prior to joining the Department of Health Robert was Head of Research and Information in the Children Acts Advisory Board, an enhanced independent advisory board to support evidence informed policy and practice for children at risk. Robert developed and led the implementation of a Research and Communications Programme to underpin the Board’s Strategy, which cut across education, youth justice, and welfare (www.caab.ie). He created a typology of barriers to research use for practitioners and reviewed products and services to overcome these provided by international knowledge broker websites. During his time with the CAAB (2008-2009) he led the most comprehensive programme of research on inter-agency co-operation in children’s services undertaken in Ireland, perhaps internationally, and wrote national guidelines on effective inter-agency co-operation.
Prior to this Robert was a Senior Economist/Senior Manager with Fitzpatrick Associates, one of Ireland’s top three economic consultancy firms, and with FGS, Ireland’s largest indigenous accountancy and advisory firm. Both are major providers of public policy research and evaluation services in Ireland. He wrote winning research proposals (deigning research methods and teams – including national and international collaborations) and managed research projects (managing teams of between two to ten people). Robert was the lead evaluator of Structural Funds employment and human resource development investment programmes in Ireland and a leading provider of education, skills and labour market research (2000 to 2007). He provided research and advice to a range of government departments and state agencies including: the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs; the Higher Education Authority and the Equality Authority.
Robert lives with his wife and three children in Ireland.
His current areas of research interest include how the provision of information on health dimensions impacts on the public’s valuation of health states, how this interacts with personality traits and the implications for QALYs (quality-adjusted life years – a key way of measuring the outcomes of health interventions).
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