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Mira Nencheva

Department: Psychology
Faculty Adviser: Casey Lew-Williams
Year of Study: G4
Undergraduate School: Stanford
Undergraduate Major: Symbolic Systems (Cognitive Science)

Personal Bio

I spent the first 18 years of my life in Sofia, Bulgaria, and the first time I set foot in the US was when I arrived at the airport a day before my new student orientation. Other than watching some movies about college in the US and reading any article I could find online, I had no idea what to expect. Luckily I soon realized I didn't have to figure it out on my own, and since then a series of incredible mentors, friends and resources have helped me learn at every step.

I spent every summer in undergrad doing research but it took me a while to get to my current interests (I even changed my major my senior year!). Just to give you a sense of how long it took me to get to my current research interests: I've worked on how elephants respond to earthquakes, how rats make decisions, how people choose a partner in online dating, how anxiety changes what we pay attention to, and finally at Princeton - how the dynamics of communication with caregivers shapes infants' attention and learning. While it took a bit of trial and error, I love what I do now, and I'm excited to share what I've learned with undergrads who are interested in communication in early childhood!

Fun Fact

I will go with least favorite: cilantro and melon (one is more tied to nature, the other to nurture - you can guess which one is which)

Research Pitch

My field is developmental psychology, and in the Princeton Baby Lab I primarily focus on early development (infants - 5-year-olds). I'm interested in how various dynamically changing cues in communication shape young children's attention and learning. To unpack this a bit, by dynamically changing cues I mean things like intonation or facial expressions - over the course of seconds or even less these cues might change quite a bit during a social interaction. I'm interested in how these changes affect how much attention an infant is paying (how tuned in they are) at any given moment during communication with their caregivers, and how they learn from their experience with these cues over many interactions. As a field we're just starting to be able to measure such fast processes in infants and they may be quite important (after all development is a series of moments).

Plans for Summer 2022

Confirmed pairing; no longer looking for a mentee.

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