About us

Project leader

Eranda JayawickremeEranda Jayawickreme is an assistant professor of psychology at Wake Forest University and a visiting scholar at the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his Ph.D. in positive and political psychology in October 2010 from the University of Pennsylvania where he was an advisee of Martin E.P. Seligman, who has played a formative role in the development of the emerging field of positive psychology. He subsequently served as the postdoctoral fellow for the Character Project—a multi-year interdisciplinary research initiative funded by the John Templeton Foundation, where he worked with William Fleeson and R. Michael Furr. Eranda is broadly interested in questions related to personality psychology, moral psychology, political psychology and the study of ethnopolitical warfare. His research interests includes mental health and post-traumatic growth among war-affected populations in Rwanda and Sri Lanka, the philosophical and theoretical underpinnings of positive psychology, and the effect of monetary incentives on judgments of moral offenses. Trained in both psychology and moral philosophy, he graduated with summa cum laude honors from Franklin & Marshall College in 2005, and was awarded the Henry S. Williamson Medal, the college’s highest student award presented annually to the outstanding senior of the graduating class. His awards include grants from the Asia Foundation/USAID, the Penn Program on Democracy, Citizenship, and Constitutionalism, and the Positive Psychology Center, a Mellon Refugee Initiative Fund Fellowship, and numerous academic awards from Franklin & Marshall College.

Project co-leaders

William FleesonWilliam Fleeson is Professor of Psychology at Wake Forest University. He serves as consulting editor for several leading journals, and has been PI on two separate NIH R01s. His work focuses on examining actual behavior, behavior patterns, and behavior contingencies in order to obtain new insights about personality constructs and to explain the mechanisms and operation of personality constructs, Borderline Personality Disorder, and Character. His work on this line of research has resulted in several publications in leading journals such as the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Journal of Personality, and Journal of Research in Personality, and in the 2002 Society for Personality and Social Psychology Theoretical Innovation Prize.

Martin SeligmanMartin E. P. Seligman is the Zellerbach Family professor of psychology and director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, where he focuses on positive psychology, learned helplessness, depression, ethno-political conflict, and optimism. He is a best-selling author of several books including, most recently, Flourish. He received the American Psychological Society’s William James Fellow Award for basic science and Cattell Award for the application of science, and two Distinguished Scientific Contribution awards from the American Psychological Association. In 1996, Seligman was elected president of the American Psychological Association by the largest vote in modern history. His current mission is the attempt to transform social science to work on the best things in life—virtue, positive emotion, good relationships, and positive institutions—and not just on healing pathology.

Research team

Marie ForgeardMarie Forgeard, Ph. D., is a postdoctoral fellow at McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School, in Belmont MA. Marie completed her doctoral studies at the University of Pennsylvania, working with Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman. Her research focuses on the determinants and consequences of creative thinking styles and creative behavior. Marie’s research program seeks to understand whether, when, and how creativity may lead to enhanced well-being. Her studies have examined this question in a variety of samples, including professional/aspiring artists and scientists, individuals having experienced highly stressful life events, as well as individuals suffering from psychopathology. Marie is especially interested in understanding whether particular motivational styles (i.e., reasons underlying involvement in creative activities) influence the creative process and its resulting benefits for well-being. Marie’s work is informed by her previous training in Media and Culture Studies at the Institute of Political Studies in Paris (France), where she grew up.

Ann Marie RoepkeAnn Marie Roepke, M.A., is completing a Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania under the mentorship of Dr. Martin E.P. Seligman. She studies both clinical psychology (which often focuses on what goes wrong with people and their lives) and positive psychology (which often focuses on what goes right with people and their lives). Her research interests lie at the intersection of these topics: how do some people manage to survive, and even thrive, despite challenging circumstances? How can people mobilize their own strengths to help them overcome problems? How might people change for the better after the lowest lows and highest highs of their lives? Ann Marie’s work is also informed by her previous training in Sociology as well as her professional work with incarcerated and homeless individuals recovering from substance abuse, trauma, and mental illness.  She is currently completing a pre-doctoral internship at the Veterans Administration Puget Sound Health Care System, working with veterans who have experienced trauma, illness, and injury.

Laura BlackieLaura Blackie received her Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Essex in 2012. She was the postdoctoral fellow on the Growth Initiative Project from 2012 to 2015. She is currently a research fellow at the University of Nottingham working on the Rwandan Stories of Change Project. Her research interests are at the intersection of social and lifespan psychology, and investigate how individuals adjust and find meaning from adverse experiences. She has examined this question in relation to how individuals respond to reminders of their mortality, the impact of adversity on personality development, and the extent to which challenging experiences cultivate the skills and virtues characteristic of wisdom.