Erika A. Patall, PhD

 Originally from Rochester, New York, Erika received her doctorate in Social Psychology from Duke University and became an Associate Professor in Education at University of Southern California in January 2017. Broadly, she is interested in the interface between social psychological theory and education. The topics Erika has studied include the role of choice and autonomy in motivation, the role of motivation-based factors in achievement outcomes, how the activities of children outside of school influence their academic achievement, and the development and use of meta-analytic methods in social science research. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with her husband and daughter and going to concerts and art exhibits.

Curriculum Vitae | Email Dr. Erika A. Patall

Graduate Students

Nicole Yates

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Nicole Yates is a PhD candidate in Urban Education at the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education. Her current research focuses on the relationships between Black students’ motivation, identity, and achievement. She earned both her Bachelor’s and Master’s of Psychology from Stanford University and her Master’s thesis focused on the reasons students leave STEM majors for non-STEM majors. Prior to attending USC, Nicole worked as the senior research analyst for the National Society of Black Engineers.

Curriculum Vitae | Email Nicole Yates

Alana Kennedy

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Alana is a PhD Candidate in the Urban Education Policy program with a concentration in educational psychology at the University of Southern California. Her prior experience as an Executive Director for a financial literacy nonprofit coupled with her experience as a researcher at the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST) affirmed her interest in research that addresses real problems of practice in the education field. Alana is interested in the effect of student attitudes and emotions on persistence and learning in formal and informal learning environments, particularly for urban students from low-socioeconomic status backgrounds. In her spare time, Alana enjoys traveling with her husband, hiking, and reading.

Curriculum Vitae | Email Alana Kennedy

Jeanette Zambrano

Jeanette is a PhD student in the Urban Education Policy program with a concentration in Educational Psychology at the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education. Jeanette is interested in motivational processes and how aspects of the self, the context, and other people shape these processes. She uses quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods approaches to understand the nature of motivation and to inform education practices that support it. Current research projects include topics related to agentic engagement, science identity, culturally-relevant education, and the development of interest through science talk.

Curriculum Vitae | Email Jeanette Zambrano

Diane Lee

Diane is a PhD student in the Education Psychology concentration of the Urban Education Policy program. Before coming to USC, Diane worked as the Director of Education at the Turner Foundation — a nonprofit, after-school program in Santa Barbara, CA. She earned her Master’s in Developmental Psychology from UC Santa Barbara, where she conducted research on the social-emotional development of infants and young children. Before Santa Barbara, Diane conducted research on college student experiences with Dr. Joanne Zinger at the University of California, Irvine. Diane’s current interests include teacher-student relationships and the classroom environment and how these factors support students’ motivation, academic identity development, and well-being.

Curriculum Vitae | Email Diane Lee

Amanda Vite

Amanda Vite is a PhD student in the Urban Education Policy program with a concentration in educational psychology at the University of Southern California. Amanda received her Master of Education degree in educational psychology from the University of Virginia and her Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park, with a minor in human development and quantitative methodology. Amanda is interested in researching teaching practices that support students’ motivation and academic identity development.

Curriculum Vitae | Email Amanda Vite


MERG Alumni & Associated Individuals
Sarah Daniel, PhD | Assistant Professor, Shenandoah University
Breana Sylvester-Dacy, PhD | Research Associate, The University of Texas at Austin
Sara J. Jones, PhD | Assistant Professor, University of Houston
Cheon-woo Han, PhD | Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Illinois a Chicago
Christina Cestone, PhD | Assistant Professor, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Robin Zuniga, PhD | Program evaluation, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Bridget Lee, PhD | Postdoctoral Researcher, The Ohio State University
Carlton Fong, PhD | Assistant Professor, Texas State University
Elric Elias| Graduate student, University of Denver
Lisa Pine, MA
Scott Trimble, MA
Lauren Wilson, MA
Julie Heier
Jennifer Kay Leach, PhD | Coordinator of Major and Career Decision Making, Oregon State University
Ariana C. Vasquez, PhD | Survey Manager, Gerson Lehrman Group
Rebecca Steingut, PhD | Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Teachers College, Columbia University
Eunjin Seo, PhD | Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Texas State University
Nayantara Kurpad, MA
David Osman, PhD | Director of Research and Evaluation at Round Rock ISD
Sophia Yang Hooper| Associate Data Scientist at Anaconda Inc.

Neil Jacobson
Derek Hansen
Shengjie Lin
Eboneigh Harris
Jeong-hyun (Jonna) Lee
Danika Maddocks
Jen Freeman 

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Present Crystal Aguilera, Carrie Watson, Camrynn Dobos-Bubno, Victor Perez

Past Victoria Nava, Sean McNamara, James Thomas, Scott Trimble, Jude Cheung, Suzy Han, Nick Zhang, Andrew Corrigan, Kebron Daniel, Emily Chan, Maddie Wright, Caroline Little, Priya Thomas, Nancy Wheless, Priyanka Thomas, Stephanie Marrett, Susie Park, Josh Gu, Veronica Yvette Martinez, Wei-Lin Tsai, Zohra Goka, Ira Gupta, Nikhita Khanderia, Kevin Deluca, Astrid Villalpando, Victoria Haring, Peyton Perez, Stephanie Shin, Brettny John, Alexander Powell, Leila Nasr, John Ledesma, Jeff Stroup, Min Hyung Lee, Amanda Hildebrand, David Rubio, Jacqueline Vorlop, Misty Walmsley, Courtney McKeever, Gabby McDaniel, Alma Rosado, Mahroosa Haideri, Molly Marek, Thoa Pham, Woojeong Kim, Denisse Carrasco, Anjali Kumar, Rose Aristakessian, Sherry Wei, Jennifer Sung, So Dam Park, Danielle Kunzman, Eva Wang, Noor Alwadi, Sarah Taketa, Jiwon Shin, Meri Isayan, Xu Lui, Tam Hoang, Ya Gao, Nicholas Birago, Tara Baudry, Aiko Jones