I received my bachelor's degree in Psychology in 2008 at the University of Novi Sad, Serbia and my master's degree in Psychology in 2010 at Belgrade University, Serbia. I obtained my Advanced Practicum in Rationale Emotive Behavioral Psychotherapy at the Affiliated training center of Albert Ellis Institute in Belgrade after which I became a certified psychotherapist. I started my Ph.D. in 2013 at the Research Institute of Child Development and Education at the University of Amsterdam. I participated in the longitudinal project of prof. dr Susan Bögels on the intergenerational transmission of anxiety. My Ph.D. dissertation was focused on the development of social anxiety. I investigated how fear and inhibition in social situations and how heightened self-consciousness (shyness, blushing) influence children's social anxiety. I discovered that not only inhibited children but also children with heightened self-consciousness, that is, children who blush and children who express shyness in a negative way, are at risk for developing social anxiety. During my Ph.D. track, I visited the Psychotherapy and Emotion lab at Boston University, US and the Center for Emotional Health at Macquarie University, Australia. I also received a Kind & Adolescent travel grant to visit Emotion & Self Lab at the University of British Columbia, Canada. My Ph.D. thesis was awarded cum laude in June 2017 and was voted among the best three Ph.D. theses in the Netherlands in the field of child psychology (biennial doctoral thesis award of VNOP). I also won the George Butterworth Young Scientist Award from the European Association of Developmental Psychology. The award is awarded every two years “to young scholars who have made valuable contributions to the field of Developmental Psychology at an early stage of their career”. I recently received Amsterdam Brain and Cognition Talent grant to investigate neural mechanisms of self-conscious emotional reactivity in high vs. low socially anxious adolescents together with Dr. Disa Sauter, Dr. Ramon Lindauer, Dr. Christian Keysers, and Dr. Valeria Gazzola.
My research interests evolve around the development of social emotions and social cognition in children. I am interested in understanding how children feel in social situations, how they think about other people, and how these feelings and thoughts influence the onset of children's social problems on one hand and their social adjustment on the other hand. I investigate how social self-conscious emotions, such as shyness, shame, and guilt develop in toddlers and young children and how the disturbances in these emotions (for example, excessive or lack of shame) influence the occurrence of psychopathological symptoms (for example, anxiety and depression) and social adjustment (for example, prosocial behaviors). I am also curious about understanding how children's understanding of other people and the social world influences their everyday social functioning.