New Varela Awardees Announced!

Each year, Mind and Life strives to support young scholars by funding cutting edge research in contemplative science. Our Varela Research Awards are based on neuroscientist, philosopher, and Mind and Life cofounder Francisco J. Varela’s belief that contemplative training offers modern science novel methods for investigating human experience. In his vision, contemplative training not only provides a new domain for scientific study, but also, and more importantly, offers resources for advancing scientific theories and models of consciousness, emotion, and cognitive processing.

SRIblog2Varela Awards support outstanding empirical examinations of contemplative techniques–studies that are often difficult for scholars to fund through traditional mechanisms. Applicants must have attended the Mind and Life Summer Research Institute as a Research Fellow within the last five years, and must currently be graduate students, post-docs, or junior faculty up to their third year of appointment. Since the Varela Awards began in 2004, we have awarded $1,420,000 to 113 researchers. This program has resulted in more than 80 publications in top scientific journals, and more than $15 million in follow-on funding for principal investigators. Along with building the field of contemplative science by promoting research, we also hope to help build the careers of the young scholars we fund.

After completing a highly competitive review process, it is Mind and Life’s great pleasure to announce this year’s 13 new awardees, whose projects represent an exciting range of inquiry. That these studies are being undertaken is a testament to the rapid growth of contemplative science, and reflects a commitment within the field to increasingly rigorous and nuanced examinations of the human mind. We at Mind and Life are thrilled to be able to offer support for such research, and we wish the awardees great success in their efforts. May all of our collective work lead to reduced suffering and greater well being.

2013 Varela Awardees

Eileen Cardillo
University of Pennsylvania
Neural mechanisms of self-transcendence: Insights from non-invasive brain stimulation

Marie-Eve Hoeppli
McGill University
Investigation into the effects of compassion training for subjects and relatives on uncontrollability over pain that drives temporal summation from a first-, second-, and third-person perspective

Rachel Jacobs
University of Illinois at Chicago
Mindfulness Intervention to study the Neurobiology of Depression (MIND)

Emily Lindsay 
Carnegie Mellon University
Mechanisms of mindfulness and stress resilience: A mobile app mindfulness training study

Lisa May
University of Oregon
Does meditation cause pain relief through endogenous opioids?

John Plass
Northwestern University
Neural dynamics of attention and meta-attention during meditation

Chivon Powers
University of California – Davis
Laura Schmalzl
University of California – San Diego
What is it about Yoga? Isolating the effect of structured movement sequences on cognition, interoception, and stress markers

Sean Pritchard
Fielding Graduate University
Mindfulness and beyond: A qualitative study of advanced Mahasi meditators’ experience

Kathrine Shepherd
Kent State University
Examining the relationship of meditation experience to the neural correlates of spontaneous emotion regulation

Sarah Short
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The effects of contemplative training on brain structure and function in 6-year-old children

Elizaveta Solomonova
University of Montreal
Embodied dreaming and procedural memory consolidation following daytime nap in Vipassana meditators and non-meditating controls: a neurophenomenological study

Fadel Zeidan
Wake Forest School of Medicine
The role of endogenous opioidergic systems in mindfulness meditation-related pain relief