With a doctorate in developmental psychology from the University of Illinois at Urban-Champaign and post-doctoral training in educational psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles, Dr. Valanne L. MacGyvers' area of expertise is the interface between social development and cognitive development, or social cognition, with a focus on academic achievement motivation. In particular, she has studied the issues of mindset in achieving excellence, examining the role of mindset in the prediction of academic excellence, and in the understanding of psychological problems in adolescents, including depression, anxiety and eating disorders. Her secondary area of interest is in adverse childhood experiences, particularly child sexual abuse. However, Dr. MacGyvers also enjoys collaborating with researchers in other disciplines, and so several of her publications are in the area of Human-Computer interfaces. Current research examines academic achievement in college and graduate school, measurement development, the role of music in preparing impoverished preschoolers for Kindergarten, understanding the development of empathy, and people's attitudes about breast feeding in public.
She has supervised more than 20 master's thesis and has contributed to many others, not only in psychology, but also in a variety of other disciplines, such as architecture and interior design.