Born and raised in Bulgaria, I moved to the United States in 2004 to attend Reed College, a liberal arts school in Portland, Oregon. Reed ignited my passion for understanding human psychology through scientific research. My mentor and advisor, Kathryn Oleson laid the foundations of my academic career, and Daniel Reisberg advised me during the writing my BA thesis on mindfulness and decision making. After graduating from Reed, I continued to pursue my interest in mindfulness and its benefits with Kirk Brown by exploring the effects of mindfulness on self-control and ego deletion. In 2009, my yen for understanding optimal human functioning lead me to begin PhD-track studies under the supervision of Elizabeth Dunn at the University of British Columbia (UBC), where I have since received my MA. My Master’s thesis on parents’ experience of meaning in life and its relation to parents’ socioeconomic status was distinguished with a certificate of academic excellence by the Canadian Psychological Association. Through my PhD studies, I have continued to examine the factors that contribute or compromise people’s experience of meaning in life, while pursuing other research interests with Toni Schmader, including the link between shame and guilt and a motivation to change oneself.
My research has been published in a number of top psychology journals including Psychological Science, the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, and Social Psychological and Personality Science. My work has also been published in top review journals in psychology including the most impactful journal in the field, Psychological Bulletin. I have also received several prestigious awards and distinctions including the Vanier Graduate Scholarship, the Howard Webster Foundation Fellowship, and the Lacey Fellowship in Psychology. In addition to working with distinguished scholars at UBC, including Elizabeth Dunn and Toni Schmader, I have collaborated with other prominent scholars on the science of well-being, meaning, and wealth including Sonya Lyubomirsky and Kathleen Vohs.
Throughout my academic career, I have maintained my passion to contribute to my community. I have served on multiple boards and organizations including being the President of the Green College Dining Society and President of the Graduate Student Committee at the Department of Psychology, UBC.
In my free time, I like travelling to novel and remote places. On one of my trips to Thailand in 2009, I attended an intensive 10-day meditation retreat, which kick-started my meditation practice. I also like to swim, bike, hike, dance, and spend time in nature.