The Healthy Living and Learning (H2L) lab at UMD examines the intersection of psychology with health and learning. A primary emphasis within the lab is placed upon how self-regulation affects mental and physical health. In particular, we examine how various motives for the health behaviors of eating and physical activity are associated with weight management, well-being, and quality of life. A corollary of this work has been to study attentional focus during exercise and sports. Our research employs a variety of populations and approaches, including delivery of interventions to encourage healthy living. More recently, we have begun to also investigate how pedagogical strategies, self-regulation and metacognition, and misconceptions (e.g., psychological myths) influence student learning.

A goal of the H2L lab is to train students interested in becoming scholars and critical thinkers. Past members of the lab have gone on to doctorate programs in psychology as well as graduate training in public health. Opportunities exist for both undergraduate and graduate students who have interests in clinical, health, or sport psychology. If you are interested in joining the H2L lab, please contact Drs. Lara (llacaill@d.umn.edu) or Rick LaCaille (rlacaill@d.umn.edu) and complete the Google Form below.

Current or Recent Projects:

  • An experimental examination of misconception corrections across domains and potential backfire effect

  • Eating regulation within the context of Self-Determination Theory

  • A longitudinal investigation of weight change vs. maintenance among college students

  • An intuitive eating intervention for healthy living among university employees

  • Appetite awareness training of incoming female college students

  • Complementary health approaches among college students

  • Mental illness stigma in psychology classes

  • A systematic review and meta-analysis of Mental Health First Aid outcomes of controlled studies


Current H2L Lab Student Members:

  • Hannah Appleseth (Grad Student, 2nd yr)

  • Emily Jansen (Grad Student, 2nd yr)

  • Elaine Marshall (Grad Student, 2nd yr)

  • Dakota Leget (Grad Student, 1st yr)

  • Chad Lipka (Grad Student, 1st yr)

  • Hannah Lewis (Undergraduate Student)

  • Emily Peterson (Undergraduate Student)

  • Emily Rechtzigel (Undergraduate Student)

H2L Lab News & Highlights

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  • April 2021: Both Emily Peterson's and Emily Rechtzigel's proposals for the UM/UMD's Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) were awarded funding for 2021. The title of Emily P.'s study is Checking in on College Athletes: Motivation, Coping & Well-Being and Emily R.'s study is Internalized Weight Bias: Examining how Coping Styles may Mediate its Effects on Eating Behaviors and Mental Health. Congrats!

  • September 2020: Three new members joined the H2L Lab this fall; Dakota Leget, Chad Lipka, and Emily Peterson. Emily Rechtzigel joined the lab during the spring semester. Welcome!

  • May 2020: Urvashi Dixit successfully defended her Plan B/thesis: Eating Regulation Within the Context of Self-Determination Theory. She graduated with her M.A. and began working with MAPS Behavioral Health. Congrats, Urvashi!

  • May 2020: Erika Damsgard successfully defended her Plan B/thesis: An Experimental Examination of Misconception Corrections Across Health Domains and Potential Backfire Effect. She graduated with her M.A. and began working with MAPS Behavioral Health . Congrats, Erika!

  • May 2020: Katelyn Melcher graduated with her M.A. and accepted a position as a counselor at Youth Emergency Services and Shelter in Des Moines, Iowa. Congrats, Katelyn!

  • May 2020: Hailey Ellingson graduated with her B.A.S. and will be attending the Clinical PsyD program at West Chester University. Congrats, Hailey!

  • May 2020: Hannah Appleseth, Elaine Marshall, and Rick and Lara LaCaille presented work on psychological need satisfaction and thwarting in the context of physical activity at APS (Association for Psychological Science)

  • April 2020: Urvashi Dixit, Emily Jansen, Katelyn Melcher, Hailey Ellingson, Hannah Lewis, Jenna Murphy, Lara LaCaille, and Rick LaCaille presented work Role of Psychological Needs and Self-Regulation with Food Addiction Symptoms; Erika Damsgaard and Rick and Lara LaCaille presented An Experimental Examination of Misconception Corrections Across Health Domains at SBM (Society of Behavioral Medicine) .

  • May 2019: Urvashi Dixt, Katelyn Melcher, Claire Guidinger (former student), Lara LaCaille, and Rick LaCaille presented work examining need satisfaction/frustration and weight control at SDT (Self-Determination Theory) .

  • January 2019: Rick LaCaille and Stephanie Hooker (former student) published the chapter Physical Activity and Health in the Handbook of Health Psychology.

  • May 2018: Amy Maslowski successfully defended her Plan B/thesis: Examination of the Effectiveness of Mental Health First Aid Among the Public: A Meta-Analysis. She enrolled in the counseling psychology doctoral program at the University of North Dakota in the following fall.

  • May 2017: Claire Guidinger successfully defended her Plan B/thesis: Appetite Awareness Training as a Weight Gain Prevention Intervention for Young Adult Women: A Randomized Clinical Trial. She enrolled in the counseling psychology doctoral program at the University of Oregon in the following fall.

  • March 2017: Lara LaCaille, Claire Guidinger, Lauren Vieaux (former student), Brooke Collins, Courtney Clark, and Rick LaCaille presented work examining appetite awareness at SBM (Society of Behavioral Medicine) . Hannah Lamert (former student) presented research from her Plan B.

  • May 2016: Lauren Vieaux successfully defended her Plan B/thesis: A Brief Appetite Awareness Intervention for Eating and Weight Regulation Among College Freshmen: A Randomized Clinical Trial. She obtained her LPCC in Minnesota and is practicing as a mental health professional.

  • May 2016: Hannah Lammert successfully defended her Plan B/thesis: The Freshman Fifteen and Beyond: A Meta-Analysis. She enrolled in the clinical psychology (health psychology track) doctoral program at Pacific University the following fall.

Application for Research

Assistant Position

Complete the Google Form: