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Associate Professor Liz Peterson

I joined the School of Psychology at the University of Auckland as a lecturer in 2006. Before returning to New Zealand, I was an ESRC postdoctoral fellow at the University of Edinburgh and a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Auckland.

I mostly teach in the developmental programme, where I try to bring a critical and social justice lens to the topics I teach. I get a real buzz out of seeing students’ eyes shine when they connect with the content and start to see the world in different ways.

My research has taken me in multiple different directions, but if I had to pick a theme at its heart, it would be enrichment. Currently, I am particularly interested in the topic of failure (perceived and actual) and how to manage and grow from it. I am also interested in imposter syndrome, which is the belief that someone is going to find out that we lack the skills or competence or don’t belong, and someone is going to find out.

I am also very fortunate to work on Growing Up In New Zealand, a multidisciplinary longitudinal study following approximately 6800 New Zealand children from birth. I have been involved in the study since its inception. Most of my research in this study is focused on trying to understand the factors associated with educational outcomes, socio-emotional and behavioural development, and wellbeing of NZ tamariki.

Outside of academia, Kevin and I have two wonderful boys. I love going for walks in our beautiful forests or along the beach, having yummy kai, or just hanging out with friends and family.

Dr Maggie Brown

I am a Canadian born New Zealander — a citizen of both countries. During my time living in New Zealand, I’ve spent years in many places, from the very South of the South Island, to the tip of the North. I’ve also explored the mountains and prairies of Canada, and I love New York City. I’ve been studying psychology for decades, first in Canada, and more recently, in New Zealand. I’m also a registered Psychotherapist, and work with creative and out-of-the-box adults around the world. My research and teaching interests reflect my broad curiosity about life and the world, as well as my passion for a more socially just world.

Dr Sahrish Ahmad

A PhD scholar, Fulbright Alumna and Clinical Psychologist. Have previously served as a Clinical Psychologist (trainee) at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Services Hospital and Centre for Clinical Psychology, Lahore.

I was a doctoral student at The University of Auckland, graduating in 2021. I am a NZ registered clinical psychologist working in child and adolescent mental health sector. As part of my doctorate, I investigated patterns of socio-emotional competence across early childhood in a community sample. In addition, I examined predictors and outcomes associated with socio-emotional competence.

Dr Maria Corkin

Maria was a doctoral student whose research focused on the role of media exposure in early childhood development and parental influence on children’s screen exposure. She has used data from the Growing Up in New Zealand study to identify factors associated with higher use of screen time for preschool children, and has investigated whether screen use during the preschool years might be related to attention and executive functions. She also conducted a study in the Early Learning Lab (ELLA), looking at whether parents’ use of screen technology might impact how they interact with their children and whether this might affect children’s language development. A highlight of her research is knowing that her findings could potentially help parents make decisions about their preschool children’s screen time, something that she knows can be very difficult now that we are all surrounded by screen media.

Dr Jasmine Taylor

Jasmine is an alumnus of the 5E lab. She submitted her PhD for examination in 2021 and was supervised by Elizabeth Peterson. Jasmine’s doctoral research focused on the cognitive and emotional indicators of engagement among tertiary-level learners and the personal and contextual conditions that facilitated this engagement. She used a mixed methods approach, including qualitative (thematic) analysis of interviews conducted with students about their experiences as undergraduates at the University of Auckland and quantitative (factor, cluster) analysis of undergraduate survey data collected across several faculties.

Jasmine’s academic and research interests in Psychology are wide-ranging. Her postgraduate journey at the University of Auckland has included training in social, organisational, educational, and clinical psychologies as well as a range of quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Across this time, she has developed a personal interest in the neurophysiological impacts of psychological trauma and an appreciation of the importance of person-centred approaches to neurodiversity. Jasmine enjoys exploring connections between subdisciplines and has a particular fondness for wellbeing-focused and qualitative research work.

Jasmine loves tea, social partner dancing, and long-form conversation. She is also rather fond of other people’s animals (pets).

Sophie Stephenson

I grew up in Australia and have lived in Aotearoa New Zealand since 2008. Previously I worked as a research assistant and data analyst with the Woolf Fisher Research Centre, and have now returned to the University of Auckland nearly a decade later to begin my PhD. My doctoral research will combine Education and Psychology and use the Growing Up in New Zealand data. My research interests mostly centre around developmental psychology, particularly in primary school-aged children.

Outside of study, I spend most of my time looking after my two daughters. On the rare occasion that I have free time, I enjoy reading, bush walks and kayaking in our beautiful city.

Rodolfo Villanueva

My specific research interests continue to evolve yet ultimately fall in line with discovering novel ways of understanding and improving young people’s mental health outcomes. In my research project, with support from the Growing Up in New Zealand cohort, I worked alongside Dr. Elizabeth Peterson and my talented research assistants, Selena Lee and Morgan Solecki, to enrich our understanding of positive youth self-concepts. This year, I am collaborating with Dr. Elizabeth Peterson and Dr. Shiloh Grooth on developing an equity, belonging, and inclusion module funded by the University of Auckland.

Outside research, I find tremendous value in supporting young people in their times of mental strife. I am privileged enough to work in a variety of front-facing roles. In psychoeducation, helping schoolchildren who have recently undergone significant change and loss in their lives at Seasons for Growth. In crisis counseling, with the phenomenal team at Lifeline Aotearoa. In peer support and neurodiversity advocacy, through the ADHD Hangout Group at the University of Auckland Inclusive Learning. When I get super bored, I backflip off wharves, read Irvin Yalom, and listen to Frank Ocean (not necessarily in that order).