Keynote speakers

Plenary speakers

Prof. dr. Edward Deci
Prof. dr. Edward Deci
Prof. dr. Richard Ryan
Prof. dr. Richard Ryan

Keynote speakers

Dr. Nathalie Aelterman
Dr. Nathalie AeltermanUniversity of Ghent, Belgium
New insights into teachers’ motivating and demotivating styles: How do they affect students’ and teachers’ functioning?

Short biography
Nathalie Aelterman is a postdoctoral research fellow funded by the Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO) and affiliated at the Department of Developmental-, Personality-, and Social Psychology of Ghent University, Belgium.
She is mainly interested in applying Self-Determination Theory (SDT) in educational settings and sports. In her research, she particularly investigates the stimulating and undermining effects of the social environment in diverse contexts (i.e., education, sports, workplace) and the question whether social agents, including teachers, coaches, and managers, can successfully be trained in adopting a (more) motivating style. In this respect, she recently developed a new vignette-based questionnaire to obtain a more integrative and fine-grained insight into teachers’ motivating and demotivating teaching styles. Her most recent work focuses on the specific conditions under which teachers’ management of classroom rules is effective or backfires, thereby bridging the gap between motivation psychology and classroom management.
Prof. Dr. Catherine Amiot
Prof. Dr. Catherine AmiotDepartment of Psychology Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada
Bridging Self-Determination Theory and Intergroup Approaches to Understand Intergroup Harmdoing
Short biography
Catherine Amiot is a Professor in Psychology. Her research interests are social psychology, self and identity, intergroup relations, human-animal relations, motivation and self-determination and psychological well-being.
Prof. Dr. Avi Assor
Prof. Dr. Avi AssorBen-Gurion University of Negev, Israel
What do we mean when we talk about the need for autonomy?

Short biography

Avi Assor is a Full Professor of Educational and School Psychology in Ben Gurion University (BGU), Israel, where he also holds the Shane Family chair in Education. His research focuses on socializing processes affecting children's autonomous internalization of values and motivation for learning. Within this general domain, he focuses on the harms of conditional parental regard, and the benefits of teachers' and parents' fostering of inner valuing and the examination of values and goals as important components of autonomy support. Recently he focuses on the experience of having an inner compass and the schemas supporting it, as essential determinants of autonomy need satisfaction and autonomous functioning, as well as a resilience factor against deviant peer affiliation and risk behavior.

Dr. Kirk Brown
Dr. Kirk BrownDepartment of Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, USA
Fostering human goodness: How mindfulness attenuates ego-involvement and enhances positive social behavior

Short biography
Kirk Warren Brown is an Associate Professor of Social Psychology and Health Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University, and Director of the Contemplative Science and Education Core in the College Behavioral and Emotional Health Institute. His research centers on the importance of awareness of internal states and behavior to healthy human functioning, with a particular interest in the nature of mindfulness and the value of mindfulness training to enhance emotion regulation, behavior regulation, and well-being. He is senior editor (with Richard M. Ryan, and J. David Creswell) of the Handbook of Mindfulness: Theory, Research, and Practice (2015) and senior editor (with Mark R. Leary) of the Oxford Handbook of Hypo-egoic Phenomena (2016). Learn more at

Dr. Leen Haerens
Dr. Leen HaerensDepartment of Movement and Sport Sciences, Ghent University, Belgium
From theory to practice: New avenues for future SDT-based intervention research
Short biography

Leen Haerens is associate professor at the Department of Movement and Sport Sciences of the Ghent University where she leads the research group in sport pedagogy. She has become one of the leading scholars in Europe to examine the relevance of Self-Determination Theory (SDT) in the context of (physical) education, exercise, and sports. Her program of research is built around one central question that is “how can we successfully motivate youngsters towards lifelong engagement in organized sport or health-based physical activity”. Her research interests center on the relevance of SDT for (physical education) teaching and sport coaching. She has particularly acquired expertise the development of self-report and observation scales tapping into teachers’ and coaches’ motivating style and the development of SDT-based interventions.

Prof. Dr. Richard Koestner
Prof. Dr. Richard KoestnerMcGill University, Canada
The Personal and Interpersonal Sides of Goal Pursuit: A Self-Determination Theory Perspective on Goal Pursuit
Short biography

Richard Koestner is a professor of Psychology at McGill University where he has conducted research on human motivation for over 30 years. His recent work focuses on how to effectively select, pursue, and (sometimes) disengage from personal goals. He will also be presenting the work of Anne Holding, his PhD student, whose research has focused on action crises and goal disengagement.

Dr. Rashmi Kusurkar
Dr. Rashmi KusurkarDepartment of Research in Education, Amsterdam UMC, VUmc School of Medical Sciences, The Netherlands
SDT research in health professions education
Short biography

Rashmi Kusurkar is a medical doctor, a teacher and a pioneer in the research using SDT in health professions education. Her research interests include exploring different topics in health professions education like medical school admissions, workplace learning, professional behaviour, diversity, continuing education, interprofessional education, burnout and engagement, etc., through the lens of motivation. Her vision for her research is to understand how to develop “students for life”.

Dr. Nicole Legate
Dr. Nicole LegateDepartment of Psychology Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, USA
Autonomy-supportive strategies of regulating problematic social behaviors
Short biography

Nicole Legate is an assistant professor in the Psychology department at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago IL.

Dr. Frank Martela
Dr. Frank MartelaAalto University, Finland
The curious case of beneficence as a candidate need – Examining the nature and criteria for what makes something a basic psychological need

Short biography

Frank Martela is a post-doctoral researcher. Besides prosocial behavior, SDT, and well-being, his research has focused on meaning in life, meaningful work, compassion, pragmatist philosophy, and self-managing organizations. After receiving his Ph.D. from Aalto University in 2012, he spent 1.5 years as a visiting scholar at University of Rochester. His interdisciplinary work covers personality and social psychology, organizational research and philosophy.

Prof. Dr. Kimberly Noels
Prof. Dr. Kimberly NoelsDepartment of Psychology, University of Alberta, Canada
Understanding the motivation to learn new languages:  Interdisciplinary exchange between SDT and second language acquisition research
Short biography

Kimberly A. Noels (PhD, University of Ottawa) is a Full Professor of Psychology at the University of Alberta. Her interdisciplinary research focuses on the motivation to learn new languages (including foreign, second, heritage, and classical languages); the societal and interpersonal contexts within which language learning takes place; and the implications of motivation not only for academic achievement, but also social identities, intergroup communication, and acculturation.

Prof. Dr. Nikos Ntoumanis
Prof. Dr. Nikos NtoumanisCurtin University, Australia
Conceptualizing and Testing a New Tripartite Model of Interpersonal Communication Styles
Short biography

Nikos Ntoumanis joined the School of Psychology at Curtin University in 2014, where he established the Physical Activity and Well-Being (PAW) Lab and has been awarded the title of John Curtin Distinguished Professor of Psychology. He is interested in personal and contextual factors that optimise motivation and promote performance, morality, psychological well-being and health-conducive behaviours.

Dr. Erika Patall
Dr. Erika PatallRossier School of Education, University of Southern California, USA

Short biography

Erika Patall is an Associate Professor of Education and Psychology. She studies the determinants and development of motivation, the relationship between motivation and academic achievement and how autonomy support may impact motivation and support academic achievement. She has received several early career awards from the American Educational Research Association and the American Psychological Association.

Dr. Heather Patrick
Dr. Heather PatrickVP of Behavioral Science at Carrot Inc., USA
Takin’ it to the Streets: Leveraging SDT for Commercial Health Solutions
Short biography

Dr. Heather Patrick is currently the VP of Behavioral Science at Carrot Inc., responsible for defining, creating, evaluating, optimizing and managing the Carrot product line in evidence-based digital health and health coaching programs.Her work focuses on supporting long-term motivation and sustained change for behaviors including stress management, tobacco cessation, weight management, diet, and physical activity through healthcare, wellness, and digital programs.Her work focuses on supporting long-term motivation and sustained change for behaviors including stress management, tobacco cessation, weight management, diet, and physical activity through healthcare, wellness, and digital programs. Her work focuses on supporting long-term motivation and sustained change for behaviors including stress management, tobacco cessation, weight management, diet, and physical activity through healthcare, wellness, and digital programs

Dr. Frederick Philippe
Dr. Frederick PhilippeDepartment of Psychology, Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada
Short biography

Frederick L. Philippe is Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Quebec at Montreal. His research interests revolve around memories integration, emotion regulation, and sexual behaviors.

Prof. Dr. Johnmarshall Reeve
Prof. Dr. Johnmarshall ReeveDepartment of Education, Korea University, Seoul
Creating the Conditions under which People Can Motivate Themselves

Short biography

Johnmarshall Reeve is a Professor in the Department of Education at Korea University (Seoul, South Korea). His research focuses primarily on teachers’ autonomy-supportive motivating style, students’ agentic engagement, and the neuroscience of intrinsic motivation. For more information, see:

Dr. Bart Soenens
Dr. Bart SoenensUniversity of Ghent, Belgium
How Radical is SDT’s Universality Claim?
Taking a Closer Look at the Role of Individual Differences in the Basic Psychological Needs
Short biography

Bart Soenens is an associate professor at Ghent University (Department of Developmental, Personality, and Social Psychology). He has co-authored the book ‘Vitamins for psychological growth’ with Prof. Dr. Maarten Vansteenkiste. His main research interests are parenting and parent-child relationships. Bart has investigated the role of parenting in a variety of developmental outcomes and processes, including motivation, personality, identity formation, and emotion regulation, thereby adopting a transactional and dynamic approach to socialization dynamics. Most of this research was conducted in adolescence and emerging adulthood, but recent work also focuses on early and middle childhood.

Prof. Dr. Kennon Sheldon
Prof. Dr. Kennon SheldonUniversity of Missouri, USA
The implicit self in SDT

Short biography

Kennon Sheldon is a Curator’s professor of psychology at the University of Missouri, who has made many research contributions to Self-determination theory as well as to Positive Psychology and the Psychology of Happiness and Well-being. His research interests primarily concern peoples’ self-stated personal goals, and the question of whether such goals accurately represent the person’s developmental and happiness potentials. However he has also investigated the question of whether peoples’ happiness and well-being can be sustainably increased (versus always being doomed to fall back to a “set point”), the question of how cooperative behavior could evolve, and the question of how to understand and promote creativity.

Prof. Dr. Robert Vallerand
Prof. Dr. Robert VallerandUniversité du Québec à Montréal, Canada
New Developments on the Psychology of Passion
Short biography

Robert Vallerand is Professor of Psychology at the Université du Québec à Montréal- He has received the William James Award from the APA for the book "The Psychology of Passion: A Dualistic Model". His research interests lie in the role of passion in optimal functioning in society.

Prof. Dr. Maarten Vansteenkiste
Prof. Dr. Maarten VansteenkisteUniversity of Ghent, Belgium
How Radical is SDT’s Universality Claim?
Taking a Closer Look at the Role of Individual Differences in the Basic Psychological Needs
Short biography

Maarten Vansteenkiste is a full professor. He has co-authored the Dutch handbook ‘Vitamins for growth’ (2015) with Dr. Bart Soenens. He has been awarded the Richard E. Snow Award for distinguished early career contributions to educational psychology (2009) by APA division 15. He is interested in refining and extending Self-determination Theory, thereby also studying the theory in relation to other well-established motivation theories. He has been using SDT as a source of inspiration to study people’s motivational dynamics, identity development, goals, and emotion regulation styles in a variety of life domains, including education, parenting, (un)employment, and sport and exercise.

Dr. Netta Weinstein
Dr. Netta WeinsteinCardiff University, UK
Silencing the self: Autonomy and the dynamics of self-expression and inhibition 

Short biography

Netta Weinstein is a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in the School of Psychology at Cardiff University. She received her PhD from the University of Rochester in 2010 and was based at the University of Essex until 2015. She studies how human motivation shapes the qualities of emotional and interpersonal experiences, includes the integration process and the capacity for adaptive self-regulation. But perhaps it is most accurate to say she is interested (excited even) about the ways in which psychological needs and motivations, particularly having to do with autonomy, relate to both wellness and kindness to others.