Susan Crawford

Job title/role in FutureNeuro

Education and public Engagement Lead

Tell us a little about your background and what led you to a career in FutureNeuro?

I originally trained and worked as a nurse and midwife.  I also trained and worked as a Sports Massage Therapist.  I later returned to education to complete a degree in Sport & Exercise Science at the University of Limerick. During this time my only child was diagnosed with autism so I went on to complete my PhD in autism and motor impairment. For many years I worked as a researcher and lecturer in University College Cork driving the agenda of University School Community collaboration for marginalised groups.   I also set up my own Consultancy to work on Autism and Fundamental Movement Skill Development.  I joined FutureNeuro part-time in 2022 as Education and Public Engagement Lead and particularly to build capacity of awareness, understanding and acceptance of neurological diseases and the importance of quality brain health and wellness.

What does a typical day look like for you? 

I meditate first thing. I start work early, clear the decks of emails and then roll into actively creating meaningful and sustainable connections between neurological research and the community.  Where possible I get an early run in and work on through until evening. I frequently deliver autism and movement webinars in the evening time. I try and ensure all mobile devices are off by 6pm.  I meditate again before bedtime and read myself to sleep.

What do you find most challenging about your job?

Motivating others to actively engage with educating and communicating with the public.

What has been the highlight of your career to date?

I’ve pivoted across health, education, autism, public engagement but the absolute highlight has been positive affirmations from autistic communities and educators motivated to make positive change.

Tell me about someone who has influenced your decision to pursue your career?

Tomás my son primarily led me to develop a deep understanding of the world of autism.  I was also influenced by two incredible mentors who have sadly passed away. Firstly, Dr P.J. Smyth of the University of Limerick who literally did dawn calls and conversations to support my research journey. Alongside P.J. was another tremendous man Prof David Sugden of the University of Leeds who also spent days and nights exploring how we would best address motor impairment for autistic participants.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about pursuing a career in FutureNeuro and/or STEM?

Absolutely go for it! You never know where it will take you.

What impact do you hope your role in FutureNeuro will have over the next five years?

I hope to see FutureNeuro researchers take on the role of real Subject Matter Experts in their engagement with School-Community populations and drive the agenda of Brain Health and Neurological Disease awareness, understanding and acceptance across the lifespan.

What might someone be surprised to know about you?

I’m addicted to Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Marple!

What do you do in your spare time?

I read voraciously, run daily (if the knees allow) and love being with close family and friends.

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