The BioS.P.H.E.R.Es Lab

Biomarkers for social, psychological health, & education retention explorers!

Our research lab examines emotion regulation, social, and motivational factors that predict student well-being, including their quality of life, acculturative stress, and physiological stress (via survey questionnaires and salivary biomarkers). Currently, we are interested in developing interventional programs to sustain pipelines toward higher ed completion, particularly for students from diverse backgrounds. In previous iterations of the lab, we have collected pilot data, and we have launched our first study housed at UA in Spring 2022!

Katherine C Cheng, PhD, Assistant Research Professor, Department of Educational Psychology

Dr. Katherine C. Cheng (also known as Kat) graduated with her PhD in Family and Human Development from Arizona State University, with a specialization in Measurement and Statistical Analysis, and also holds a Master’s degree in Psychology from New York University with Developmental and Social Psychology concentrations. Kat completed her two-year postdoc fellowship at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, in the Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools. Before joining the UA, Kat spent one year as Assistant Professor in Human Development at California State University San Marcos. Her research and teaching interests involve children, youth, and young adult well-being, particularly relating their emotional and motivational development, and stress regulation (manifested in self-reported surveys and biomarkers such as salivary cortisol) in high-risk family and school contexts. Kat often uses advanced quantitative methods (e.g., structural equation modeling) in her research investigations. She is also a yogi and dog lover and enjoys hiking/swimming in her leisure time.

Laura Bates

Laura is currently an M.A. student in Educational Psychology at the University of Arizona. She is interested in exploring the impact of anxiety on learning, especially its relationship to confidence and its effect on educational outcomes. In becoming part of the BioSPHEREs lab, she is extremely excited for the opportunity to utilize biological markers in the process of gaining insight into the field of educational psychology. Laura received a B.S. in Neuroscience from Temple University with a focus in systems, behavior, and plasticity. Her hobbies include punk music, documentaries, and learning about animals.

Katrina Fengler, MA (second-year doctoral student)

In my experience teaching as an art educator, I have worked with thousands of students. Much of my role consists of researching, developing, and delivering curriculum; but the rest has been working with a variety of attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs. In working with all ages, developmental stages, and abilities; I have begun to understand the range of students' experience of emotions and feelings.

Everyone processes emotions, trauma, and stress in different ways. In the classroom, this aspect of human psychology is always present. I believe there is a tremendous need to equip students with appropriate coping strategies, as well as the ability to reflect on their own mental health and wellness. I am interested in researching and developing social and emotional wellness curriculum to serve students at the elementary level. In our work at the BioSPHEREs lab, we evaluate students' levels of stress through biological data collection. I intend to infer ways that this measure of stress evaluation can support research on social and emotional wellness education. 

In my own time, I pursue photography and art as my personal passion. I also enjoy hiking, biking, and meditating. I'm so grateful to participate in research endeavors at the University of Arizona, go Wildcats!

Megan Hokama, MA (second-year doctoral student)

Megan Hokama is currently a Ph.D. student in Educational Psychology at the University of Arizona, and is a TA for ACBS160. Her research interests stem in expanding future research sample populations in the improvement of representation in an increasingly diverse society and to determine cognitive and motivational patterns in adolescent populations relating to intercultural and collaboration influences. She is excited to be a part of BioSPHEREs lab and explore an interdisciplinary approach to educational psychology research. Megan also received a B.A. in Psychology and minor in Art History at Loyola Marymount University and her M.A. in Psychology at Pepperdine University. Originally from Torrance, California, Megan enjoys ceramic wheel throwing during her downtime.

Adriana Kendrick-Perez

Adriana is currently a postbaccalaureate student in Psychology at the University of Arizona. Their research interests include: emotional regulation, motivation, identity development, discrimination, personality & health and neurodiversity. They are excited to be a member of the BioSPHEREs lab and have the opportunity to explore a new area of psychology. In their free time, they enjoy gaming and writing poetry.

Margaret Medina, Ph.D.
Bryanna Smith, BA

Cheng, K. C., & Smith, B. D. (2021, April). Future-oriented motivation and emotion regulation jointly predicting end-of-semester acculturative stress in students with cumulative disadvantage. Poster presented at the American Education Research Association 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting (Division C).

Fengler, K., Cheng, K. C., Scherr, J. (2022, August). The associations between cognitive reappraisal and perceived quality of life. Accepted for Division 15 presentation at the 2022 Annual American Psychological Association Meeting, Minneapolis, MN.

See our poster presented at APA 2022 meeting below: