Generally, my research interests are centered on understanding how perceptions of the self change over time and relate to various outcomes in adolescent youth. More specifically, I investigate how ethnic/racial and gender identities develop and change as youth age through adolescence and how developmental change in identity is related to and predicts academic motivation and achievement, psychosocial well-being, and mental health.
I graduated summa cum laude from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut in 2012, with a bachelor of arts in psychology. While earning my bachelor's degree, I worked as a research assistant in the Social Cognitive Development Lab and the Comparative Cognition Lab of Drs. Kristina Olson and Laurie Santos, respectively, at Yale University. In these labs, I worked with the PIs and graduate students to learn about children's and capuchin monkeys' social-cognitive development.
Upon graduation from Quinnipiac, I enrolled in the Developmental Psychology program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) and was advised by Dr. Beth Kurtz-Costes. In the Identity and Motivation Lab, my colleagues and I investigated the development of ethnic-racial and gender identities in adolescents and the impact of parents on the development of social identities.
While in graduate school I was awarded a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support my research. In 2015, I was awarded a Graduate Research Opportunity Worldwide award (also funded by the NSF) and moved to Marseille, France for four months to study ethnic and gender identity development in French and North African French adolescents with Dr. Isabelle Régner at Aix-Marseille Université. For my dissertation, I developed a brief social-psychological intervention to promote STEM motivation and ethnic and gender identity among American Indian adolescents. I received grant funding from APA's Division 9 - The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) and the UNC Department of Psychology and Neuroscience to conduct my dissertation research.
After obtaining my Ph.D., I completed a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Psychology and the School of Education at the University of Michigan with Dr. Deborah Rivas-Drake and the CASA Lab. In my training, I employed social network analysis to investigate how peers and friends influence adolescents' ethnic-racial identity development.
Once my postdoctoral fellowship was complete, I transitioned to be postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Psychology at North Carolina State University working with Drs. Kelly Lynn Mulvey and Adam Hartstone-Rose and the Socal Development Lab. In this position, I investigated the efficacy of informal learning settings (e.g., museums, zoos, and aquariums) in promoting STEM interest and motivation in youth.
Currently, I am an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Western Carolina University.