Doctoral Students

jennifer burris Jennifer Burris graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a BA in History and attained her MA in Rehabilitation Counseling from Maryville University. Prior to moving to Kentucky, Jennifer worked for several years as a social sciences teacher in both private and public educational settings for students 6th-12th grade in the St. Louis Metropolitan area. Her other professional experiences include telephonic crisis intervention and suicide prevention counseling, and providing counseling support to youth attending a therapeutic high school. Jennifer’s current research interests include racial socialization, the influences of racism on identity development, and the development of academic self-efficacy on the academic achievement and outcomes of African-American youth. She also has interests in applying factor analysis, structural equation modeling, and IRT analysis techniques to improve the use of educational and psychological measures with multicultural populations. Outside of her academic pursuits, Jennifer thoroughly enjoys spending time with her family and friends. Email:
Utku Caybas graduated from Istanbul University with a BA in Psychological Counseling and Guidance with a double major in Teaching Gifted Children in 2018. Afterward, he completed his master’s studies in Curriculum & Instruction at Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey, in 2021. In the last year of his master’s, he worked as an instructional designer at a private middle school in Turkey. He is interested in how peer relationships influence students’ motivation. He is a member of the P20 Motivation and Learning Lab. Email:
Anastacia Cole graduated from the University of Kentucky with a B.A. in Secondary English Education in 2019 and an M.A. through U.K.’s Master’s with Initial Certification program in 2020. Following her graduate program, she was a high school English teacher within Oldham County Schools. She continues her passion for teaching through a teaching assistantship position in the Educational Psychology program as she begins her doctoral studies. Anastacia’s interests include teacher and student self-efficacy, resilience, and self-esteem. She is a member of the P20 Motivation and Learning Lab. Outside of academia, you can find her playing tennis and supporting locally owned restaurants. Email:
Candice Davis graduated from California State University, San Bernardino with a BA in Psychology in 2009, and obtained her M.A. in General Experimental Psychology from the same university in 2012. Candice’s current research focuses on whiteness and anti-Black racism in higher education and the effect it has on African American students’ sense of belonging and academic outcomes. Candice is currently working as a research methods teaching assistant for the Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation department. She is a member of the B.E.R.G. Lab and the Applied Psychometric Strategies (APS) Lab. Outside of academia, Candice enjoys cooking, baking, gardening, watching movies, and playing the guitar. Email:
Marcus T. Epps graduated from the University at Buffalo (SUNY) with a B.A. in Political Science as well as an Ed.M. in the Sociology of Education. Marcus is currently employed at Berea College, a private liberal arts institution in Central Kentucky. He has worked in several areas of student success in higher education, which include academic advising, academic coaching, and mentor/tutor training. Marcus’ primary research interests involve Black male college-aged students’ identities as they relate to academic achievement. Marcus is a member of the Applied Psychometric Strategies (APS) Lab. LinkedIn: Marcus T. Epps. Blog: The College Study Struggle. Email:
EP_KarenGuettler Karen M. Guettler graduated from the University of Washington with a B.A. in International Studies. At the University of Kentucky, she completed the Teaching program in Special Education, earned a B.A. in Spanish and a M.S. in Instructional Systems. Karen works for the Human Development Institute at the University of Kentucky in the field of alternate assessment. Karen’s research interests include resiliency and the role it plays in academic success in high school and post-secondary environments, particularly for African American males, and whiteness. Karen lives in Lexington with her husband and four children. Email:
Jaeyun Han graduated from Ewha Womans University in South Korea with a B.A. in Education in 2016 and an M.A. in Education in 2018. Her master’s thesis investigated the relationship between mindset, social comparison motives, and self-efficacy in the mathematics of middle school students in South Korea. Her research interests focus on the longitudinal measurement of academic motivation and achievement. She is also interested in doing cross-cultural research on the sources of self-efficacy. She is a member of the P20 Motivation and Learning Lab and past member of the Applied Psychometric Strategies (APS) Lab. Email:
Ed_MikahPritchard Mikah Hughes received her B.S. in Psychology from Oakland City University and her M.S. Ed. in Instructional Systems Technology from Indiana University. She has held positions as an Instructional Designer, Educational Specialist, and Caseworker. Mikah currently works as an Instructional Designer for EKU Online at Eastern Kentucky University. She has recently completed her Distance Education Graduate Certificate at the University of Kentucky. Her research interests revolve around student and faculty motivations in distance education courses and professional development opportunities. Email: | Website:
Kameron White McDaniel graduated from the University of Kentucky with a BS in Family and Consumer Science Education. Following her time as an undergraduate, Kameron worked for four years as a Family and Consumer Science teacher in secondary schools within Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville, KY. During this time, Kameron earned her M.Ed. in Counseling and Personnel Services from the University of Louisville, with a concentration in school counseling. In 2018, Kameron returned to Lexington, KY to work as a school counselor at an alternative high school within Fayette County Public Schools. Kameron’s current research interests involve issues of race and academic achievement, including: the impact of White teacher stereotypes on Black student academic achievement, the Whiteness of teaching, and the influence specialty schools such as charter schools have on the self-efficacy of students of color as it concerns their motivation and academic achievement. Outside of her current academic commitments, Kameron is enjoying her time as a newlywed, and enjoys event planning, Pinterest roaming, shopping, and bullet journaling. Email:
La’Quida (Qui) R. Smith a native of Detroit, Michigan, is a two-time graduate of Kentucky State University.  She received a bachelor’s in Psychology and a master’s in interdisciplinary Behavioral Sciences.  Her current research interest includes unpacking the identity of African American male students.  She has a background in teaching psychology, data analyzing and conducting educational evaluations on accelerated learning models. Outside of academia, she enjoys cooking, gardening, DIY projects, being a wonderful wife to her husband of 9.5 years (and counting), and a mother to her three amazing little boys. E-mail:
Jaylene Patterson is a former Robinson Scholar and current member of the Kentucky Education Association. She graduated from the University of Kentucky with a Bachelors and Masters in Secondary Education Social Studies. After her studies, Jaylene taught Social Studies for two years in Northern Kentucky within the Boone County Public School System. While teaching Social Studies, her primary focus was Psychology. Her current research interests are the impact of black educators on black students (achievement, motivation, self-efficacy), critical race theory, and racial socialization. Within the Educational Psychology program, she is a member of the P20 Motivation & Learning Lab as well as a teaching assistant. Jaylene enjoys painting and watching the tv show The Office in her free time. Email:

photo of Cara Worick Cara Worick is interested in exploring how psychological processes at the cultural level and within the individual reciprocally influence motivation, self-regulation, and academic achievement. Specifically, she is examining the relationship between regionally held stereotypes and students’ personal experiences of belonging on self-regulation and achievement for students underrepresented in STEM disciplines. The two primary goals of her research agenda are to 1) reduce inequalities in academic achievement and 2) empower students to reach both their personal and professional goals. Before entering the doctoral program, Cara worked as an educational developer creating professional development opportunities for university instructors. She holds master’s degrees in both educational psychology and instructional systems design. In her free time, she finds joy in frequenting live music events, participating in women’s empowerment circles, and learning guitar. Email:


Master’s Students

Sara Kuhl is a 2009 graduate of the Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science at Western Kentucky University and remained at WKU for her undergraduate studies, earning her BA in News/Editorial Journalism in 2011 with a focus on multimedia and a minor in Creative Writing. As part of her Capstone project, she was a member of a team that was sent to Hong Kong to cover the 2011 News World Summit conference held by the Global Editors Network. Sara then worked for multiple newspapers in Indiana and Kentucky in multiple roles including reporter, copy editor, graphic designer, and photographer, winning Kentucky state awards for her photography. During COVID, she transferred her professional experience to the world of research hoping to have a bigger impact in Kentucky communities regarding marginalized populations and is working toward her master’s degree in Educational Psychology at UK. She is also a member of the P20 Motivation and Learning Lab. Email: