I am an Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia, where I have been working since 2011. I am also a registered clinical psychologist in British Columbia (Canada).
I grew up in Los Angeles County in California (United States). I stayed in California for the rest of my education and training: Stanford University (1994-1998; B.A and M.A., psychology), University of California at Berkeley (1998-2004; PhD, clinical psychology), and University of California at San Francisco (2003-2005; child clinical internship and postdoctoral fellowship).
My first academic job was at the University of Virginia from 2005-2011, before I came here to University of British Columbia. Look at the subtabs on this page to learn more about my teaching and grants.
Growing up I moved a lot between birth and age 18 (although always around Los Angeles county) and I saw firsthand the dramatic variability in school and neighborhood social norms. Some behaviors that would lead to peer group acceptance in one location would fail in another location. Certain peer groups were more cliquish than others. Furthermore, teachers had quite diverse approaches to welcoming a new child into their classrooms. These experiences motivated my research interests about children’s peer relationships and peer problems.
Current conceptual models of why children have peer problems tend to neglect contextual influences on peer relationships such as peer group norms and the inclusiveness of the peer group, instead predominantly focusing on behaviors on the part of the disliked child that account for their rejection. I seek to expand existing models to include social contextual factors that affect whether a peer group chooses to like (or dislike) a child. I’m also interested in reasons why in some peer groups, once a child gets a negative reputation it is very difficult to shake whereas in other peer groups, reputations are more flexible.
Finally, I research strategies that parents and teachers can enact to help peer groups be more welcoming to children, particularly to children who are different from them or who have clinical disorders. Our lab is developing and evaluating various intervention programs for children as a result of this research.
In another line of research, I am interested in the ways that adolescents and emerging adults interact with their peers on social media. For example, how are online interactions similar versus different from those that occur face to face, and what are the consequences for adjustment? For the first time, our lab is testing out an online intervention with the hope of improving users’ mood, wellbeing, and social connectedness on social media.
My personal life is a wondrous mix of curiosity about research pursuits, adventures in innovative eating and drinking, and playful joy with my husband and my cat, Fatty.
I feel so blessed and lucky to live in beautiful Vancouver.