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Miglena Ivanova

Miglena Ivanova

Graduate Spotlight
Headshot of Miglena Ivanova

I want to research the development of psychopathology through different pathways, with the long-term goal of translating this knowledge into individualized preventive strategies for co-occurring psychological disorders and substance use.

Miglena (Megi) Ivanova is a fourth-year graduate student and T32 research fellow in the Developmental Psychology doctoral program at Penn State. Megi attended Montana State University as an undergraduate student, where she worked with several faculty members and graduated as an honors scholar under Dr. David Craig’s mentorship. She graduated with degrees in Psychology and Psychiatric Rehabilitation and was awarded the Golden Merit Award as the top scholar of the graduating class. Following graduation, Megi became a post-baccalaureate scholar in two labs at the University of Denver, where she gained invaluable experience in research methods. She also worked at a local psychiatric hospital, which afforded the opportunity to work directly with diverse patient populations. This research and clinical experience inspired Megi to investigate the development of psychopathology through different pathways, with the long-term goal of translating this knowledge into individualized preventive strategies for co-occurring psychological disorders and substance use.

Megi was drawn to Penn State due to the research focuses of Dr. Rina D. Eiden, her primary advisor, and Dr. Jenae Neiderheiser, her secondary advisor. She is primarily interested in the co-development of internalizing behavior problems, like depression or anxiety, and externalizing behavior problems, like aggression or hyperactivity. For her master’s project, Megi investigated the co-development of risks for behavior problems and found that in the context of high family risks, such as caregiver instability and exposure to violence, prenatal substance exposure was associated with the highest risk for maladaptive behaviors. She is currently working on a systematic review of existing literature about internalizing and externalizing problems to understand the consensus surrounding trajectories across development. Megi was awarded a 2022 Prevention and Methodology Training Program (PAMT) pre-doctoral fellowship from the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, allowing her to expand her research. In her dissertation project, Megi will be investigating how internalizing and externalizing might manifest differently across developmental periods..

Megi plans to continue her research after graduating from Penn State, as well as teaching, mentoring, and advocating for underrepresented populations. She is particularly invested in advocating for neurodivergent individuals in academia and is passionate about working to promote inclusivity in academic spaces.