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ADHD Researcher Sarah O’Neill joins the Colin Powell School’s Department of Psychology

Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership

ADHD Researcher Sarah O’Neill joins the Colin Powell School’s Department of Psychology

Sarah O'Neill-led research shows keys to accurate ADHD diagnosis in young children.

The Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership announces Sarah O'Neill as an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology. O'Neill received her Ph.D. in psychology and postgraduate diploma in clinical psychology from the University of Otago in New Zealand.  She is the first of three new faculty members hired by the department in the past year. Joining her are Adriana Espinoza, of the University of California, Berkeley, and Teresa Lopez-Castro, of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. The Department of Psychology is the school's largest with 36 faculty and 1,102 students. O'Neill's research focuses on the neuropsychology of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In particular, she considers questions such as:

●  What are the reasons children with ADHD are at risk for reading problems?

●  What mechanisms drive long-term outcomes in children with ADHD?

●  Does physical exercise improve cognitive function for inattentive/impulsive young adults?

O'Neill comes to the Colin Powell School from Queens College, where she pursued a post-doctoral fellowship under the mentorship of Distinguished Professor Jeffrey Halperin, known for his longitudinal research on ADHD. There she worked on cutting-edge federally-funded studies, one of which assessed the effectiveness of a novel, non-pharmacological treatment for young children with ADHD; the other (still ongoing) examines the relation between the clinical course of ADHD and neurocognitive development during early and middle childhood.  

O'Neill is a co-author of "Healthy Body, Healthy Mind? The Effectiveness of Physical Activity to Treat ADHD in Children," with Jeffrey Halperin and Olga Berwid. This paper, published in August in Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, suggests why exercise may be an effective treatment for children with ADHD. Last year, an O'Neill-led study, "Reliable Ratings or Reading Tea Leaves: Can Parent, Teacher, and Clinician Behavioral Ratings of Preschoolers Predict ADHD at Age Six?" published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, found that children considered highly symptomatic by parents as well as the teacher and/or clinician were significantly more likely to have an ADHD diagnosis at age 6 than children considered highly symptomatic by one or none of the informants. Other publications in which O'Neill has participated include:

●    "Executive Function in Children with ADHD," Neuropsychology & Science Volume II;

●    "Neuropsychological Functioning and Severity of ADHD in Early Childhood: A Four-Year Cross-Lagged Study," Journal of Abnormal Psychology;

●    "Association between Variation in Neuropsychological Development and Trajectory of ADHD Severity in Early Childhood," American Journal of Psychiatry. Courses taught by O'Neill include Introduction to Human Development: Infancy and Childhood, and Neuropsychology.

About the Colin Powell School

Inaugurated in 2013, the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership comprises the five departments of Anthropology, Economics, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology and dynamic interdisciplinary programs including International Relations, International Studies, Latin American and Latino Studies, Mental Health Counseling, Pre-Law, Public Service Management, Women's Studies, and the Skadden, Arps Honors Program for Legal Studies. The School offers a wide variety of traditional and interdisciplinary undergraduate and graduate degrees and houses the Ph.D. program in Clinical Psychology offered by the CUNY Graduate Center. The Colin Powell School's hallmark values of service and leadership permeate every aspect of its work and animate City College's unflagging and historic commitment to access and excellence.

About The City College of New York

Since 1847, The City College of New York has provided low-cost, high-quality education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. More than 16,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in: the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture; the School of Education; the Grove School of Engineering; the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, and the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership. U.S. News, Princeton Review and Forbes all rank City College among the best colleges and universities in the United States.