#LoveIrishResearch Researcher spotlight: Rebekah Brennan

Rebekah Brennan

Rebekah Brennan

Irish Research Council-funded researcher Rebekah Brennan investigates the use of image and performance enhancing drugs by analysing online discussions

Rebekah Brennan, PhD Researcher at School of Health Science, Waterford Institute of Technology

Hometown New Ross, Co. Wexford

Funding Irish Research Council

I am working on a netnographical study on the injecting use of image and performance enhancing drugs (IPED) in the general population

In layman’s terms that is…. A project investigating peoples use of drugs such as anabolic steroids, tanning injections and Botox through analysis of public posts in online discussion forums

Career path I attained my honours degree with Glyndwr University in Addiction Counselling. As an undergraduate I took part in research at WIT which focused on use of legal highs in Ireland pre and post legislative controls. As a result of this research I co-authored publications on the legal high phenomenon, particularly mephedrone, and also had my dissertation on this topic published. I then applied for the Irish Research Council postgraduate scholarship programme and was awarded this scholarship in 2013. Since then I have been working on my PhD at WIT.

My research day My research has an online setting, so my daily work consists of being online, downloading threads from discussion fora, and analysing them according to the research questions of my Phd and prior theoretical concepts I have worked on in relation to my project. Before commencing data collection my day was also conducted primarily in front of a computer screen, reading published research and writing my chapters. I try to break up screen time by spending some time reading text books, however during data collection work is mainly focused on the internet for me.

Why WIT WIT feels like home to me, as an undergraduate I studied here and I have formed good working relationships here. Although I’m from New Ross I live in Waterford and WIT would always be my first choice as an academic institution to study at.

I #LoveIrishResearch because I love my job because I love the idea of contributing new knowledge to my field. The power of research in furthering us as a species toward greater understanding of the world around us, be it the natural or the social world, is something I am very proud of. It’s a really exciting way to be socially impactful, to ask questions about the way things are, and to find out the answers! Working in research is also a great way to hear other people’s ideas and the latest developments in your field of interest.

Now and then When I was a child I loved reading and aspired to be a writer or an author of some kind, in that way I haven’t strayed too far from my original idea. Growing up I was always fascinated with human behaviours and the why and how of social life, it is only now that I really have the opportunity to explore the many aspects of that, and I love it.

A world of research I have presented at the Third International Conference on Novel Psychoactive Substances in Rome, Italy and am due to present again at the Fourth International Conference in Budapest in May. I have presented in the UK at an ERSC seminar in Liverpool and a PhD symposium also in Liverpool. Last October I presented at the 24th International Harm Reduction Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Making a difference The aim of my research is to add to the current knowledge base of policy makers, health and social care professionals. In this way my research aims to inform better and more effective harm reduction interventions in healthcare for people who inject IPED and to enhance the clinical response to people who present with symptoms related to injecting IPED use.

Connect with me




In light of the Nation’s centenary this year, the Irish Research Council is running the #LoveIrishResearch campaign to celebrate insights into our past and new ideas and innovations for the future. Researchers in Ireland are acknowledged worldwide for their contemporary and historic accomplishments – Robert Boyle, George Boole and Kathleen Lonsdale among them. WIT is fully embracing the campaign with a range of events and highlights to help promote it. Each month, WIT News will be spotlighting one of the Institute’s researchers to demonstrate the breadth and diversity of research at WIT. These snapshots serve as a reminder to all that careers in research are not limited to the select few, but can be accessed by anybody with an interest in discovery.

Related Courses

Bachelor of Science (Honours) in  Psychiatric Nursing
Master of Science in  Applied Sport and Exercise Psychology
Bachelor of Science in  Applied Health Care
Bachelor of Science (Honours) in  Public Health & Health Promotion
Bachelor of Science (Honours) in  Health Sciences (Common Entry)

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