Congratulations, MSPS Graduates!



In May 2020, the Master of Science in Psychological Science (MSPS) program will graduate its second class! MSPS students develop their research interests in collaboration with our renowned faculty; deepen their knowledge of specialized topics in psychology; enhance their analytical skills through advanced quantitative coursework; and prepare for future research endeavors through professional development training. Upon graduation some students decide to pursue doctoral education and others seek employment in industries that value training in psychological science. All MSPS graduates leave the program equipped with experience working in teams, data analysis training, graduate-level writing, public speaking, project management, and critical thinking.

The class of 2019—our inaugural class—included eight pioneering students. We reached out to our graduates and asked them how the foundation laid in the MSPS program prepared them for their new endeavors. Stephanie (Kern) Kane, who collaborated with Dr. Heidemarie Laurent and is now a doctoral student at the University of Arkansas, said, “The MSPS program prepared me for my current PhD program in ways that I am still discovering. As an undergraduate student, I did not have the necessary experience with research, statistics, methods, or manuscript writing to navigate a research-oriented PhD program successfully. The MSPS program provided me with the additional skills that I needed. I graduated from the University of Illinois with a first-author publication, a firm understanding of statistics and methods, and professional development skills that I continue to use to this day! The MSPS program encouraged me to recognize the value of my time and the importance of creating a work-life balance in the context of higher education.” Abisola Smith, who worked with Dr. Helen Neville, gained employment at the University of Illinois’ Office for Student Conflict Resolution. Abisola valued the opportunities she had to work with diverse community groups through her involvement with participatory action research. “The MSPS program helped me to become the researcher I aim to be and created opportunities to engage diverse community groups, such as The Boys and Girls Club, Crisis Nursery, and Cunningham Children’s Home. The training and experience I received inform my work with our diverse student body.” Another graduate of our program, Jing (Zoe) Xu, has continued her work with Professors Simona Buetti and Alejandro Lleras as a doctoral student at Illinois. Zoe said, “I developed the two projects I am working on as a doctoral student during my time as an MSPS student. I had time to conceptualize the concept for my projects, to acquire the necessary statistical skills to work with the data, and to run pilot studies that strengthened my current work. I started my doctoral program more equipped to succeed.”

Similar to our inaugural class, the graduates of the Class of 2020 have prepared to take their next steps through graduate education and contributions to the development and dissemination of innovative research in the Department of Psychology. See below to learn where each student is headed. We expect great things from our graduates and eagerly anticipate the updates they will have for us next year as psychology alumni!


Class of 2020
Pictured, left to right: Ling Lee Chong, Wing Yan Sze, Grace Goodwin, and Gabrielle Drong



Congratulations, Class of 2020! Best wishes in your new endeavors!


Ling Lee Chong, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Attention and Perception

Christopher Crawford, University of California, Berkeley, Social-Personality Psychology

Yadong Dai, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Behavioral Neuroscience

Gabrielle Drong, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Counseling PhD program

Siqi Feng, Nanyang Technological University (Singapore), Interdisciplinary Graduate Programme

Grace Goodwin, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Clinical Psychology (Neuropsychology track)

Lydia Jiang, University of Toronto, Cognitive Neuroscience

Rhyann Robinson, University of Massachusetts, Boston, Clinical Psychology 

Wing Yan Sze, Danny Vushaj, and John Yi are pursuing work in industry.


We wish to express our thanks to the faculty who have mentored graduates of the class of 2019 and 2020! They are Aron Barbey, Diane Beck, Howard Berenbaum, Simona Buetti, Joe Cohen, Monica Fabiani, Kara Federmeier, Chris Fraley, Gabrielle Gratton, Ben Hankin, Wendy Heller, James Hinman, Carla Hunter, Heidemarie Laurent, Sean Laurent, Alejandro Lleras, Hellen Neville, Dan Newman, Jim Rounds, Brent Roberts, Karen Rudolph, Lili Sahakyan, and Chadly Stern.