Researcher in Focus: Dr Warren Donnellan

Posted on: 23 February 2021 by Nick Jones in 2018 Posts

Warren Donnellan
Dr Warren Donnellan

This month’s Researcher in Focus is Dr Warren Donnellan, Lecturer in the Department of Psychology and Institutional Lead for Heritage and Wellbeing research.

Warren first arrived at the University in 2009 as an undergraduate Psychology student, moving on to a PhD and Demonstratorship in 2012, University Teacher post in 2016 and his current position of Lecturer in 2017.

Warren’s teaching and research focuses on resilience, dementia and caregiving across the life course. This stemmed from a yearning to understand individual differences in response to stressful life events; given exposure to an equivalent stressor, why does Bill fall and Ben thrive? He first began exploring this during his PhD research, where he used mixed-methods to examine whether informal dementia carers could achieve resilience, and identified the resources and mechanisms used to facilitate their capacity for resilience over time.

Warren’s research interests have naturally evolved over time. He is currently co-supervising a range of projects, including: resilience in couples following a diagnosis of young-onset dementia; impact of single-session therapy for university students; and understanding the therapeutic role of music for people living with dementia and their carers.

Specialising in qualitative research has presented Warren with a unique opportunity to collaborate on an eclectic array of projects, including: young LGBT+ peoples’ experiences of navigating same-gender/multiple-gender attraction; work-related stress and absenteeism in healthcare professionals; and help-seeking in brain injured veterans who are drinking hazardously.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been both a challenge and an opportunity for researchers. Last year, Warren co-led a funded project aiming to identify the challenges and resources available to informal carers during the first UK national lockdown (report published here). An expert on resilience, Warren is currently developing a new resilience measurement scale for spousal dementia carers which can be used by clinicians and practitioners to identify and deliver targeted support towards potentially vulnerable carers. He is also currently collaborating on a range of other COVID-19 resilience projects focused on different populations, including: informal dementia carers; domiciliary care workers; bereaved relatives, and new mothers.

Heritage and Wellbeing sub-theme lead

In 2019, Warren was appointed as Institutional Lead for Heritage and Wellbeing research; a cross-Faculty sub-theme within the wider University priority area of Heritage.

As part of this role, he led a cross-Faculty scoping review and found that there was a significant appetite for heritage and wellbeing research in general, and dementia, heritage and wellbeing research in particular.

Following this, Warren led a bid for the £1.35 million Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarship demand management call with a project entitled: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Dementia, Heritage and Wellbeing. Although the bid was ultimately unsuccessful, Warren received positive feedback and plans to strengthen the application and resubmit elsewhere. Since then, Warren has been named as co-investigator on two other heritage-related funding bids with cross-Faculty colleagues, including how film- and music-based reminiscence using museum archives improve the wellbeing and resilience of older people, and exploring next generation urban logistics.

Public engagement is a crucial part of Warren’s research. He has disseminated his research in the form of blogs, podcasts, Instagram Live, radio, and in the national and international press.

Warren’s goal moving forward is to carry on challenging himself with new teaching and research opportunities. He plans to continue to work with cross-disciplinary colleagues and non-academic partner organisations to broaden the scope and impact of his research.

If you’d like to discuss any aspect of Warren’s teaching or research, then you can e-mail him on

You can also follow his work on Twitter @DrWizWaz and his staff page

Keywords: Researcher in Focus.