Mirena’s research interests are early child development, with a particular focus on language and emotional development as well as the difference between typical and atypical development in relation to educational outcomes. She is also interested in the impact of alternative interventions and in particular animal-assisted interventions.
She completed her PhD at the University of Lincoln, entitled ‘Animal Assisted Interventions for Children with Special Educational Needs- What works?’ This was a longitudinal, RCT project funded by MARS/Waltham. The research assessed the impact of therapy dogs within the school setting on children’s language and cognitive skills; physiological measures (cortisol and galvanic skin responses), self-esteem and anxiety.
Since completing her PhD Mirena started a number of research projects including the development of a resilience toolkit for university and college students, the general public and secondary school children.
Mirena is also leading the development of a dog training program for prisoners, to improve engagement and enhance the effectiveness of other interventions. This is a project in collaboration with dog trainers and behaviorists, forensic psychologists and prison equality leads.
Mirena is a member of the following research networks:
- LEAD: Lincoln Educational Assistance with Dogs, University of Lincoln
- Human-Animal Interaction and Animal Welfare Network, University of York
- ARIC: Autism Research Innovation Centre, University of Lincoln
- RIC:HER Alliance: Rare & Invisible Conditions: Health Education and Research, University of Gloucestershire
- PhD: "Animal Assisted Interventions for Children with Special Educational Needs- What works?" University of Lincoln
- BSc (Hons) Psychology with Clinical Psychology, University of Lincoln
- British Psychological Society