Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

Miglena (Megi) Ivanova

Headshot of Miglena Ivanova

Miglena (Megi) Ivanova is in her fourth year of the Developmental Psychology doctoral program at Penn State. Her research focuses on the codevelopment of internalizing and externalizing behavior problems from early childhood into adolescence. Her primary mentor is Dr. Rina D. Eiden.

Megi attended Montana State University as an undergraduate where she attained degrees in Psychology and Psychiatric Rehabilitation. She also received the Golden Merit Award as top scholar of the graduating class. Megi began her graduate studies with a desire to understand the etiological pathways leading to psychopathology and substance use disorders with the goal of individualizing substance use prevention. To examine early precursors, she concentrated on internalizing and externalizing behavior problems. Her research revealed that maternal distress during pregnancy was directly associated with child internalizing behavior, which led to her master’s thesis, “Codeveloping trajectories of externalizing and internalizing behavior problems from toddlerhood to early school age: Role of prenatal substance exposure and caregiver sensitivity.” Finding inconsistencies in the literature on internalizing and externalizing trajectories, Megi embarked on a comprehensive, systematic literature synthesis, which will serve to not only inform her dissertation hypothesis but will contribute significantly to the field of research. To enhance her analytical skills, she applied for and received a NIH-funded T-32 Prevention and Methodology Training Fellowship. Her dissertation will focus on how internalizing and externalizing behaviors might manifest differently across developmental periods. Long-term, she plans to investigate different patterns of co-development with distinct substance use outcomes. Megi has presented at local, national, and international conferences and contributes to several peer reviewed publications, mentors undergraduate students, and collaborates with students across the world. She is enthusiastic about and actively involved in diverse advocacy roles related to diversity, equity, and inclusion of neurodivergent and other underrepresented individuals in academia.

The Strumpf Scholar Award will play a vital role in advancing Megi’s academic goals. With this award, she plans to acquire training experience in the longitudinal extensions of mixture modeling and assist in expediting the completion of the data extraction stage of her systematic literature review. The Strumpf Scholar Award will provide Megi with the time and support needed to complete her empirical papers, systematic review project, and dissertation preparation and will allow her the opportunity to discern between the academic paths of prevention or policy research.