the team.

who we are

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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).

Dr. Anne Holding

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Anne Holding is a clinical psychologist and postdoctoral fellow at McGill University, under the supervision of Dr. Koestner. She received her B.A. in Psychology (Honours) from McGill University in 2013. Currently, Anne is pursuing two lines of research. The first focuses on discovering how we successfully  disengage from unfruitful or unattainable goals. In particular, Anne is interested to examine whether autonomous motivation for goal disengagement facilitates the disengagement process. Currently, Anne is collaborating with Sport Canada to discover how elite athletes successfully disengage from their athletic careers in retirement. In a second line of research, Anne is studying the motivational antecedents to experiencing an action crisis in personal goal pursuit. Anne has found that experiencing autonomous motivation for goals is associated with less severe action crises.

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Dr. Pascale Dubois

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Pascale Dubois is a speech-language pathologist and postdoctoral fellow at McGill University, under the supervision of Dr. Koestner. She received her Ph.D. with honors in measure and evaluation from Laval University (Education Science Faculty) in 2020. Pascale has conducted research mainly focused on the school-to-work transition of young adults with disabilities, self-determination, and the experience of youth with learning difficulties. As part of the McGill Human Motivation Lab, she is currently pursuing research on the goal pursuit of university students with disabilities. Along with her experience as a speech-language pathologist in school and private settings, for many years, Pascale has contributed to committees and governing boards of community organizations dedicated to social participation and promoting the rights of people with disabilities.

Amanda Moore

PhD Candidate

Amanda is currently in her fifth year of graduate studies in the Clinical Psychology program at McGill. She graduated from McGill with a B.Sc. Honours Psychology degree in Winter 2016. As an undergraduate student, she completed two honours thesis project. First, she worked under the supervision of Dr. Blaine Ditto investigating the association between anxiety symptoms and arterial stiffness in young adults. Second, she worked under the supervision of Dr. Richard Koestner investigating the developmental correlates of the two types of perfectionism in children. 

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Shelby Levine

PhD Candidate

Shelby is currently in her fourth year of graduate studies in the Clinical Psychology program at McGill University. She completed her M.A. in experimental psychology at Carleton University in April 2018 with Dr. Milyavskaya. Shelby studied the influence of perfectionism on mental health in the transition to university. Shelby also completed her undergraduate studies at Carleton University, and for her research project worked with Dr. Zelenski on how awe and nature can influence prosocial behaviour. Shelby's research program explores the collaborative nature of autonomy. How autonomy flourishes through collaboration in goal striving and how more collaborative individuals are able to gain support during goal pursuit and during crises. 

Élodie Audet

PhD Student

Élodie is in her second 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 second 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 first 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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Bianca Lafrenière

Communications Assistant

Bianca studies at Université de Montréal in the master’s Psychology program and is supervised by Dr. Isabelle Ouellet-Morin. Her current research interests revolve around the effects of stress and resilience factors on well-being. She obtained her BA in honour’s psychology at McGill (2022), and in the past, she has worked with Dr. Koestner on an honour’s thesis project and as a Research Assistant. She currently works in the Lab on knowledge translation efforts, particularly involving the Black community of Quebec and Canada, by assisting with written and verbal communications.

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.

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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.

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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. 

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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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