Past Graduate and Post-Doctoral Students 


Marina Milyavskaya

Assistant Professor  Psychology Department, Carleton University
Past: Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of Toronto


Why are we successful in our pursuit of certain goals, but not others? Dr. Marina Milyavskaya's research examines this question, looking at the contextual and individual factors that promote successful goal pursuit and attainment as well as the self-regulatory mechanisms implicated in this process.

In one line of research, Dr. Milyavskaya looks at the role of the domains in which the goal is set, and has found that people set more autonomous goals which they are then more likely to achieve in domains where they experience satisfaction of basic psychological needs (for autonomy, competence, and relatedness). This was the central question of her PhD work, which she completed in 2013 at McGill University under the supervision of Richard Koestner.

Another line of  Dr. Milyavskaya's research looks at the mechanisms through which autonomous goals are more likely to be attained by distinguishing between automatic and controlled processes and their effects on self-regulation. For example, when people successfully maintain a healthy diet, is it because they are good at controlling their cravings for junk food, or is it because the cravings aren’t as strong and so less control is actually needed?  Dr. Milyavskaya is currently investigating these questions in her postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Toronto, where she is working with Michael Inzlicht on the neural underpinnings of temptation and control.


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Marina's Academic CV








Natasha Lekes

Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology

University of Maine at Farmington


Natasha's research has focused on the relationship between well-being and intrinsic and extrinsic values. She earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology under Dr. Koestner's supervision in the summer of 2012. Currently she conducts research on young peoples' attitudes and values in relation to sexuality. Natasha joined the faculty of the University of Maine at Farmington in the fall of 2013 where she enjoys teaching classes on personal development, crisis intervention, couples therapy, and death and dying.


Natasha's Academic CV


3-minute talk on "What makes us happy?"



Sook Ning

Lecturer HELP University, Malaysia 


Dr Chua Sook Ning is a practising clinical psychologist. She received her training at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, Quebec. Her research interests are self-regulation, motivation and interpersonal relationships. She is currently collaborating with Dr Richard Koestner (McGill) and Dr Frédérick Phillipe (UQAM) researching cross-cultural
differences in autonomy support, and the consequences of autonomy support on political engagement, respectively


Sook's Academic CV





Geneviève Taylor

Assistant Professor, Department of Education and Pedagogy

Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)


 Geneviève Taylor’s current research interests focus on the relation between mindfulness, motivation and self-regulation in various life domains (e.g., school, work, family). She is particularly interested in the different ways that mindfulness can influence the satisfaction of basic psychological needs (autonomy, competence, and relatedness), autonomous motivation and well-being, notably during controlling interpersonal situations. Another interest concerns the the mecanisms by through which mindfulness may influence the way people pursue goals by examining goal self-concordance, motive congruence, but also goal disengagement.

Nora Hope

Postdoctoral Fellow

Simon Fraaser University, British Columbia, Canada.


Nora earned her PhD studies in clinical psychology at McGill University, under the supervion of Dr. Richard Koestner. Nora moved from British Columbia to Montreal in order to pursue a Bachelor of Arts at McGill. During her BA, she became enthralled by research and philosophy on adaptive functioning, particularly the humanistic movement of psychology in the 1960s and 1970s, from Abraham Maslow to Carl Rogers. She found that many of the ideas of the humanistic movement can be extended and further investigated under the empirical framework of Self-determination Theory (e.g., Deci & Ryan, 2000), and was happy to have the opportunity to continue graduate studies under this framework in the McGill Human Motivation Lab, while gaining clinical training.


While pursing her PhD, Nora is pursued two avenues of research. The first focused on the influence of life values, as well as change in life values over time, on well-being, psychosocial development, life decisions, and the types of personal goals that an individual sets. The second focuses on the role of self-compassion in reacting to goal success and failure, and emotion regulation. Nora has now gone on to pursue a post-doctoral fellowship at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. 



André St-Jacques


André completed his Master's Degree in McGill’s Experimental Psychology program, under the supervision of Dr. Richard Koestner. 


André’s research focused on the sacrifices that goal pursuit sometimes entails, looking how different forms of sacrifice impacted well-being. André  now teaches English in Japan.

Dr. Brenda Harvey, Ph.D. 


Brenda completed her Doctoral Degree in Experimental Psychology at McGill, under the supervision of Dr. Richard Koestner.


Brenda’s research focuses on investigating the two types of perfectionism. Currently, she is pursuing two avenues of research. The first is examining the development of perfectionism in children, with the intention of eventually developing an intervention program for self-critical perfectionism. In particular, she is interested in examining how important adults help to socialize the two types of perfectionism in children. The second focuses on how perfectionism influences students’ well-being, motivation and goal progress. Specifically, she is examining the differential impact of the two types of perfectionism on changes over time in well-being and motivation, and is presently exploring the use of experimental paradigms to investigate this relation further. 


Dr. Jérémie Verner-Filion, PhD.


        Jérémie completed a postdoctoral fellowship in collaboration with Dr. Richard Koestner.  During this time, Jérémie pursued three lines of research. The first is centered on how the interplay between motivational and self-regulatory processes helps or hinders goal attainment and psychological well-being. The second line of research focuses on the effects of perfectionism on the optimal functioning of athletes and students. Finally, the third line of research looks at the effects of passion and need satisfaction on the performance and psychological well-being of individuals over time.


Jérémie is now a professors in the Département des sciences de l'éducation at the Université du Québec en Outaouais. He previously received an Honours B.A with Specialization in Psychology from the University of Ottawa (2009) and a  Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the Université du Québec à Montréal (2016). Throughout his studies, Jérémie has been interested in understanding how individuals reach and maintain their optimal functioning. More specifically, his research has mainly focused on the motivational (e.g., motivation, perfectionism, passion, goals) and self-regulatory (e.g., coping, self-control) factors allowing individuals to simultaneously reach high levels of performance and psychological well-being. Jérémie’s research has been mainly applied to the fields of social, sport, educational and health psychology.