Jessica Kilday, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow
Educational, School & Counseling Psychology
University of Missouri

Dr. Kilday’s research focuses on school and classroom social contexts to understand how teacher and peer relationships contribute to the development of students’ motivation, engagement, and achievement in early adolescence

Years in lab: 2017 – 2023 at the University of Michigan

Sharlyn Ferguson, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Scholar
Michigan State Motivation Lab
Educational Psychology and Educational Technology
Michigan State University

Dr. Ferguson’s research examines the role of psychosocial factors, particularly loneliness, social isolation and rejection, in explaining differences in adolescents’ educational outcomes.

Years in lab: 2016 – 2022 at the University of Michigan

Nicole Brass, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow
Educational, School & Counseling Psychology
University of Missouri

Dr. Brass’s research focuses on how peer relations such as popularity, friendship, and social adjustment contribute to academic and social adjustment at school during early adolescence.

Years in lab: 2015 – 2021 at the University of Michigan

Sarah McKellar, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Educational Psychology
University of Alabama

Dr. McKellar’s research focuses on understanding how social interactions and contextual conditions are related to students’ achievement motivation and engagement.

Years in lab: 2014 – 2020 at the University of Michigan

Michael Medina, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Applied Human Development
Boston University

Dr. Medina’s research focuses on racial and ethnic identity development: that is, young people’s beliefs about their cultural backgrounds, interpersonal and sociocultural influences on their beliefs, and the challenges that youth face when encountering a racialized school system. 

Years in lab: 2014 – 2020 at the University of Michigan

Libby Messman, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow
School of Public Health
University of Michigan

Dr. Messman’s research focuses on the role of peers, social status, and classroom context on early adolescents’ motivation and adjustment at school. She is interested in peer dynamics across the transition to middle school, as well as gender differences with regard to motivational beliefs and behaviors in math and science.

Years in lab: 2013 – 2019 at the University of Michigan

Jorge Varela, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Universidad del Desarrollo

Dr. Varela’s research focuses on understanding aggressive behavior across childhood and adolescence with a special focus on the school context recognizing different protective factors.

Years in lab: 2012 – 2016 at the University of Michigan

Huiyoung Shin, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Chonbuk National University

Dr. Shin’s research focuses on adolescents’ academic and social development, peer relationship, and teachers’ practices in the classrooms.

Years in lab: 2008 – 2014 at the Universities of Illinois and Michigan

Serena Shim, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Ball State University

Dr. Shim conducts research on adolescents’ social and academic motivation. She is currently working on project to develop a technology-assisted online motivational intervention.

Years in lab: 2001 – 2006 at the University of Illinois

Sarah Kiefer, Ph.D.

Associate professor and Educational Psychology Program Coordinator
University of South Florida

Dr. Kiefer’s current work focuses on supporting the adolescent learner by examining the interplay between social and academic factors in school, including motivation, peer relationships, and developmentally responsive learning environments.

Years in lab: 1999 – 2007 at the University of Illinois