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the team.

who we are


Dr. Richard Koestner

Lab Director

Richard Koestner is a professor of Psychology at McGill University where he has conducted research on human motivation for 25 years. Richard received his PhD from the University of Rochester where he worked with Ed Deci and Richard Ryan on research related to self-determination theory. He also worked with Miron Zuckerman on research related to personality. He subsequently completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard University and Boston University where he worked with David McClelland on research related to implicit motives. Richard has published over 125 scientific articles and his recent work focuses on the importance of autonomy in the effective pursuit of personal goals. Twenty of Richard's PhD students have successfully graduated with PhD's. Richard received the 2007 Canadian Psychological Association award for excellence in teaching and training. He subsequently won Principal's Prize for excellence in teaching from McGill University (2008).

Élodie Audet

PhD Student

Élodie is in her third year of graduate studies in the Clinical Psychology program. Under the supervision of Dr. Richard Koestner, she is pursuing research examining how environments and social interactions impact the motivational processes behind individuals’ regulation and integration of emotional experiences and how this relates to psychological health and personal goal pursuits. She hopes to expand psychological services and evidence-based care to marginalized groups, especially those that have lived through traumatic events, and contribute to the psychological well-being of our communities. She is also the Lead Program Manager of the Ukrainian Aid Initiative, launched by the Professor Virginian I. Douglas Centre for Clinical Psychology in collaboration with the Ukrainian Canadian Congress-Montreal and the Montreal Branch of the Ukrainian National Federation, a project providing professional free-of-charge mental health support (e.g., individual and family therapy) and specifically modified mindfulness and trauma-informed activities groups for Ukrainian newcomers.

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Helen Thai

PhD Student

Helen is in her third year of graduate studies in the Clinical Psychology program at McGill University, under the co-supervision of Drs. Gillian O’Driscoll, Richard Koestner, and Martin Lepage. She obtained a BA in Honours Psychology (2020) and a BComm in Marketing from the Sprott School of Business (2017) at Carleton University. Helen is interested in conducting patient-oriented research among people living with severe mental illness. Her research focuses on the role of motivation in treatment engagement and functional recovery outcomes in schizophrenia-spectrum and psychotic disorders. Helen’s current research involvements consist of patient-partnered initiatives and knowledge translation within the area of mental health systems.

Xiaoyan Fang

PhD Student

Xiaoyan is in her second year of graduate studies in the Clinical Psychology program at McGill University. She completed her Bachelor of Arts Honours Psychology degree in 2018 at McGill. Her research interest on understanding how one’s psychological well-being is affected by their socio-cultural identity and the intergroup context they live in has grown further as she worked in an intergroup laboratory experiment at McGill (under supervision of Dr. Taylor, Dr. Kachanoff and Dr. Kteily) and as a community researcher at the Black Community Resource Centre (BCRC) in Montreal after graduating from McGill. Under the supervision of Dr. Richard Koestner, she hopes to foster deep connections with community through conducting community-driven and community-based research examining the individual and systemic dynamics which impact the psychological well-being and mental health outcomes of marginalized and minority communities. 

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undergraduate & research students.

James Avery

James obtained his B.A. (Honours) in Psychology from McGill University, where he completed two honours theses for Dr. Richard Koestner. The first investigated the relationship between students’ goals and depressive symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic. His second project focused on the academic and well-being benefits of collaborative autonomy for students with disabilities. He is currently researching motivational predictors and outcomes of pro-environmental action for the lab.


Stephanie Barcan

Stephanie Barcan is in her second year of undergraduate studies at McGill University, in the Honours Psychology program. Having been born in Romania and having immigrated to Canada on the verge of entering puberty, she has been faced with the need to integrate herself into a new culture while not recurring to complete cultural assimilation. Hence, since her arrival in Canada, the topic of culture has taken center stage on numerous occasions, influencing her decision-making and goals. Under the supervision of Dr. Richard Koestner, Stephanie is interested to study how culturally diverse people mold their goals and values around their respective cultures, and how this affects goal progress and mental and physical health outcomes.

Lisa-Marie Bernier

Lisa-Marie is in her last year of undergraduate studies in the B.A. psychology program and is currently completing an undergraduate thesis under the supervision of Dr. Koestner. She is interested in the influence of individual characteristics and social environments on one's decision to engage in and maintain identity congruent goals.


Bianca Ferraro

Bianca is in the last year of her Honours Psychology Undergraduate degree at McGill University. Throughout her undergraduate degree, she completed a Junior Honours thesis under the supervision of Mathieu Roy, in which she studied the impact of lack of control on decision-making and affect. She is currently working at Clinique PsySante / Kidz Mpowered and completing her Senior Honours thesis under the supervision of Dr. Richard Koestner, where she aims to learn more about personality traits and their link to successful goal disengagement. She hopes to pursue a clinical psychology degree in the coming year.

Anouk Gaidoschik

Anouk Gaidoschik is currently in the last year of her undergraduate studies at McGill, where she is pursuing a B.A. in Psychology. Being born in Hong Kong to a Japanese mother and Austrian father – and spending a large portion of her adolescence in Jakarta, Indonesia – Anouk’s life has been shaped by culture. Her multicultural background has fueled her passion and interest in understanding the link between culture and goal pursuit, specifically in terms of one’s motivation to achieve cultural internalization. Under the supervision of Dr Richard Koestner, she is pursuing research on whether the extent to which one has internalized their heritage culture influences multiple aspects of their goal progress.

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Olivia Husser

Olivia is a second-year undergraduate student at McGill University. She is currently working towards completing her B.A. in psychology, in the honors program. If all goes well, she will also be graduating with minors in sociology and behavioral sciences. 

Caroline Musulin

Caroline is a fourth year undergraduate student at McGill University. She is currently completing her B.A. in Psychology and minor in Sociology. She is interested in topics related to cultural internalization and integration and how these may manifest themselves differently in multi- cultural individuals. 


Tara Quinlan

Tara is a U2 university student working in the Human Motivation Lab. As a psychology major and a bartender, she sees and interacts with people from all types and walks of life. 

Elizabeth Rye

Elizabeth is a U2 undergraduate student pursuing an Honours Psychology degree with a minor in Gender, Sexuality, Feminist, and Social Justice Studies. She is very excited to be doing her junior honours thesis with the Human Motivation lab! Her research interests include topics related to intergroup relations, including the consequences of collective autonomy restriction on marginalized communities.

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