Motivation Lab Spotlight: Erika

Periodically, there will be spotlight interviews for each of the members, and up first is our fearless leader, our lab supervisor, and wonderful adviser: Erika!


Name: Erika

Hometown: Rochester, NY

Favorite Food: I could never pick…

Favorite Movie/TV Show: Again, I could never pick… maybe this is why I study choice-making. I suppose I will admit to an embarrassing addiction to The Real Housewives of New York or New Jersey lately. There’s something about rich women acting crazy that I can’t help but be fascinated by.


Q. What do you like best about the educational psychology program?

A. The awesome students and faculty!

Q. How did you decide on your current research interests?

A. Even as a middle school and high school student, I can remember being interested in the role of student motivation in achievement and the things that could explain the different outcomes of my peers. I suppose I’ve stuck with this original interest through a number of different research lines I pursued in graduate school and continue to investigate.

Q. What’s your favorite childhood memory?

A. I have many great childhood memories. But, meeting my now husband on the first day of fourth grade at Francis Parker Elementary was pretty great.

Q. What do you love about the city of Austin?

A. There’s so much to love! I love the great restaurants, the great weather (most of the time), the great music, the great people, the great festivals. I love that I can walk from my house in Hyde Park to get a cappuccino or a taco, that a grocery store in my neighborhood (Central Market) has a playground and a patio to drink wine and listen to live music on, and that my hair dries in like 30 minutes here in Texas. I could go on and on!

Q. Name one thing you have always wanted to do but have not yet had the chance.

A. I think there was a time I took vacations, but it has been a while. I’d love to take a real vacation (like one where I don’t work or spend all my time running after my daughter) in some place relaxing and exotic.

Q. Do you have any interesting or unusual hobbies?

A. I sing jazz. I went to an art school for high school and grew up with a jazz pianist (slash psychology professor) for a father (how’s that for taking after your parents!). I was singing in clubs with his band by the time I was 13. Now that I have a full-time faculty job and a 1 year old daughter, I mostly sing in the shower. But, I’ll do an occasional gig.

Q. What’s something a lot of your colleagues don’t know about you?

A. Everyone is always commenting on how neat and organized I am. Not true! I like organization, but I’m not that good at it. It’s hard for me to stay organized.

Q. What was your proudest moment or greatest accomplishment?

A. I don’t know. I suppose finishing my PhD in social psychology was a pretty great accomplishment. But, I think I’m most proud of the family I have and the strong relationships I’ve helped to cultivate and/or maintain. I’m looking forward to being proud of all the accomplishments of my students and my daughter.