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).

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 sixth 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. 


Shelby Levine

PhD Candidate

Shelby is currently in her fifth 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. 

Nmesoma Nweze

PhD Student

Nmesoma Nweze is currently a PhD student in McGill’s Clinical Psychology program. She holds an honours bachelor degree in neuroscience and psychology from the University of Toronto. Her undergraduate thesis investigated the impact of different forms of activist media on people’s justification of unjust social systems and willingness to participate in collective action. 

In the Human Motivation lab Nmesoma’s focus is on applications of self-determination theory in addressing trauma and addictions, particularly by non-Indigenous mental health practitioners working in Indigenous communities.

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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 currently pursuing community-based research examining the way our social environments can enhance or undermine the autonomous regulation and integration of emotional experiences. Specifically, she is interested in how autonomy-supportive relationships and contexts may aid people in engaging with their emotions (regardless of the valence), and how this process relates to individuals' motivation, personal goal pursuits, and psychological health.

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.


undergraduate & research students.

Hora Ansarian

James Avery

Rachita Batra

Adina Cuchirita

Lauren Janusauskas

Sophie Koestner

Bianca Lafrenière

Xingti Liu

Ezelbahar Metin

Mzia Lee Pottie

Lily Sefranek

Benjamyn Thomas

Katalina Toth

Syed Zoranuddin