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

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Sophia Yang Hooper

Sophia is a third-year doctoral student in HDCLS in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. She is interested in adolescents’ social cognitive development, motivation, and achievement. Currently, Sophia is working on a meta-analysis of the effect of teacher autonomy support on academic and psychosocial outcomes.

Curriculum Vitae | Email Sophia Yang Hooper


Nicole Yates


A Kennedy_HeadshotAlana Kennedy

Alana is a first-year doctoral student 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


Derek Hanson

Derek is a second-year doctoral student in Educational Psychology (HDCLS) at UT Austin. Working with students in the education field, both as a teacher and through the non-profit sector, ignited his interest in research. He is currently interested in interventions focused on closing educational gaps, motivation in students and teachers, and the application of theories from social psychology and behavioral economics to education. When not contemplating the education world he can be found enjoying time outside, creating photographs, and exploring new frontiers.

Curriculum Vitae | Email Derek Hanson


Neil Jacobson


Associated Individuals
Shengjie Lin
Eboneigh Harris
Jeong-hyun (Jonna) Lee
Danika Maddocks
Jen Freeman


MERG Alumni
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


Undergraduate Research Assistants

Present Anjali Kumar, Rose Aristakessian, Denisse Carrasco, Sherry We, Danielle Kunzman

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

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