MLERN Core Members

Richard J. Davidson, Ph.D.

Richard Davidson is the Director of the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience and the W.M. Keck Laboratory for Functional Brain Imaging and Behavior at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He was educated at New York University and Harvard University, where he received his B.A. and Ph.D., respectively, in psychology. Over the course of his research career he has focused on the relationship between brain and emotion. He is currently the William James Professor and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin. He is co-author or editor of thirteen books, including Visions of Compassion: Western Scientists and Tibetan Buddhists Examine Human Nature and The Handbook of Affective Science. Professor Davidson has also written more than 250 chapters and journal articles. He is the recipient of numerous awards for his work, including the Research Scientist Award from the National Institute of Mental Health, the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Institute of Mental Health. He was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine in May, 2006 and in November, 2006 he received the first Mani Bhaumik Award from UCLA for advances in the understanding of the brain and the conscious mind in healing. In 1992, as a follow-up from previous Mind and Life meetings, he was a member of a scientific team doing neuroscientific investigations of exceptional mental abilities in advanced Tibetan monks.
(W.M. Keck Laboratory):

John Dunne, Ph.D.

John Dunne is an assistant professor in the Department of Religion at Emory University, where he is Co-Director of the Encyclopedia of Contemplative Practices and the Emory Collaborative for Contemplative Studies. He was educated at the Amherst College and Harvard University, where he received his Ph.D. from the Committee on the Study of Religion in 1999. Before joining Emory’s faculty in 2005, he taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and held a research position at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. Support from the American Institute of Indian Studies sustained two years of his doctoral research at the Central Institute for Higher Tibetan Studies in Sarnath, India. Dr. Dunne’s work focuses on various aspects of Buddhist philosophy and contemplative practice. In Foundations of Dharmakirti’s Philosophy (2004), he examines the most prominent Buddhist theories of perception, language, inference and justification. His current research includes an inquiry into the notion of “mindfulness” in both classical Buddhist and contemporary contexts, and he is also engaged in a study of Candrakirti’s “Prasannapada”, a major Buddhist philosophical work on the metaphysics of “Emptiness.” His recently published work includes an essay on neuroscience and meditation co-authored with Richard J. Davidson and Antoine Lutz. He frequently serves as a translator for Tibetan scholars, and as a consultant, he has assisted Drs. Davidson and Lutz in their neuropsychological studies of Tibetan contemplative practices.

Jacquelynne S. Eccles, Ph.D.

Dr. Jacquelynne S. Eccles (McKeachie Collegiate Professor of Psychology) received her Ph.D. from UCLA in 1974 and has served on the faculty at Smith College, the University of Colorado, and the University of Michigan. In 1998-99, she was the Interim Chair of Psychology at the University of Michigan. She also chaired the MacArthur Foundation Network on Successful Pathways through Middle Childhood and was a member of the MacArthur Research Network on Successful Pathways through Adolescence. She was SRA (Society for Research on Adolescence) program chair in 1996, has served on the SRA Council, and is now Past-President of SRA. She was also Program Chair and President for Division 35 of APA, and chair of the NAS Committee on After School Programs for Youth.

Dr. Eccles’ awards include: the Spencer Foundation Fellowship for Outstanding Young Scholar in Educational Research, the Sarah Goddard Power Award for Outstanding Service from the University of Michigan, the APS Cattell Fellows Award for Outstanding Applied Work in Psychology, SPSSI’s Kurt Lewin Award for outstanding research, and the University of Michigan Faculty Recognition Award for Outstanding Scholarship. She is a Fellow in American Psychological Association, American Psychological Society, and Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. She has conducted research on topics ranging from gender-role socialization, classroom influences on motivation to social development in the family, school, peer and wider cultural contexts. Much of this work focuses on the socialization of self-beliefs and the impact of self-beliefs on many other aspects of social development. Her most recent work focuses on: (1) ethnicity as a part of the self and as a social category influencing experiences and (2) the relation of self beliefs and identity to the transition from mid to late adolescence and then into adulthood.

Adam EngleR. Adam Engle, J.D., M.B.A.

R. Adam Engle is the Chairman and co-founder of the Mind & Life Institute. He was educated at the University of Colorado, Harvard University and Stanford University, where he received his B.A., J.D., and M.B.A. degrees respectively. Over the past 40 years, he has divided his professional life as a lawyer and entrepreneur between the for-profit and non-profit sectors. In the for-profit sector, Mr. Engle began his career as a lawyer, practicing for 10 years in Beverly Hills, Albuquerque, Santa Barbara, and Teheran. After leaving the practice of law, he formed an investment management firm, focusing on global portfolio management on behalf of individual clients. He also started several business ventures in the United States and Australia.

Mr. Engle began working with various groups in the non-profit sector in 1965. In addition to the Mind & Life Institute, he also co-founded the Colorado Friends of Tibet, a statewide Tibetan support group based in Boulder, Colorado; was a founding member of the Social Venture Network; and has advised numerous other non-profit organizations.

Mark Greenberg, Ph.D.

Mark Greenberg holds The Bennett Endowed Chair in Prevention Research in Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development. He is currently the Director of the Prevention Research Center. Since 1981, Dr. Greenberg has been examining the effectiveness of school-based curricula (The PATHS Curriculum) to improve the social, emotional, and cognitive competence of elementary-aged children. Since 1990, he has served as an Investigator in Fast Track, a comprehensive program that aims to prevent violence and delinquency in families. His research has focused on the role of individual, family, and community-level factors in prevention. Current studies include the evaluation of Communities That Care and The PROSPER Model. He received the Research Scientist Award from the Society for Prevention Research in 2002.

Amishi P. JhaAmishi Jha, Ph.D.

Amishi Jha was born in Ahmedabad, India and raised and educated in the United States receiving her B.S from the Dept of Psychology at the University of Michigan, her Ph.D. from the Center for Neuroscience at UC-Davis, and her post-doctoral training at Duke University’s Brain Imaging and Analysis Center. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania. She received the Charles Ludwig Distinguished Teaching award in 2007 at the University of Pennsylvania for her courses on the cognitive neuroscience of meditation. Dr. Jha investigates the neural bases of attention and working memory using functional MRI, electroencephalography (EEG), and behavioral measures. Her active research projects examine how mental load, social-emotional contexts, and mindfulness-training may alter attention’s efficiency throughout the course of the lifespan.

Recently, Dr. Jha has also begun to explore if mindfulness-training may benefit those who suffer form emotional and attentional difficulties due to high-stress experiences (such as military duty) or medical conditions such as ADHD. In addition, she is conducting a multi-year National Institutes of Health (NIH) project to investigate if attention training may lead to improvements in attentional tuning and working memory.

Thupten JinpaThupten Jinpa, Ph.D.

Thupten Jinpa was educated in the classical Tibetan monastic academia and received the highest academic degree of Geshe Lharam (equivalent to a doctorate in divinity). Jinpa also holds a BA in philosophy and a Ph.D. in religious studies, both from the University of Cambridge, U.K, where he also worked as a research fellow for three years. Since 1985, he has been the principal translator to the Dalai Lama, accompanying him to the United States, Canada, and Europe. He has translated and edited many books by the Dalai Lama, including the recent New York Time’s bestseller Ethics for the New Millennium.

Dr. Thupten’s published works include also scholarly articles on various aspects of Tibetan culture, Buddhism and philosophy, including the entries on Tibetan philosophy for Encyclopedia of Asian Philosophy recently released by Routledge, UK. His two latest works are Songs of Spiritual Experience: Tibetan Poems of Awakening and Insight (co-authored) and Self, Reality and Reason in Tibetan Thought. He is on the advisory board of various educational and cultural organizations in North America, Europe and India, and is also the book reviews editor for Contemporary Buddhism, a bi-annual, interdisciplinary journal exploring the interface between Buddhism and modern society. He is currently the president and the editor-in-chief of the Institute of Tibetan Classics, a non-profit educational organization dedicated to translating key Tibetan classics into contemporary languages.

Linda LantieriLinda Lantieri, M.A.

Linda Lantieri is a Fulbright Scholar, keynote speaker, and internationally known expert in social and emotional learning, conflict resolution, intergroup relations, and crisis intervention. Currently she serves as the Director of The Inner Resilience Program (formerly Project Renewal), a project of the Tides Center, which is an initiative that equips school personnel with the skills and strategies to strengthen their inner resiliency in order to model these skills for the young people in their care. She is also the cofounder of the Resolving Conflict Creatively Program (RCCP). Started in 1985, RCCP is now one of the largest and longest running research-based school (K-8) programs in social and emotional learning in United States. Linda is also one of the founding board members of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL).

Linda has almost 40 years of experience in education as a former teacher, assistant principal, director of an alternative middle school in East Harlem, and faculty member of the Department of Curriculum and Teaching at Hunter College in New York City. Linda is a Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress from the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. She is the coauthor ofWaging Peace in Our Schools (Beacon Press, 1996) editor of Schools with Spirit: Nurturing the Inner Lives of Children and Teachers (Beacon Press, 2001), and author of Building Emotional Intelligence: Techniques to Cultivate Inner Strength in Children (Sounds True, 2008 forthcoming).

Ellen Leibenluft, M.D.

Ellen Leibenluft is Senior Investigator and Chief of the Unit on Bipolar Spectrum Disorders in the Emotion and Development Branch, Mood and Anxiety Program, National Institute of Mental Health, and Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine. Her research focuses on the brain mechanisms involved in bipolar disorder in children and adolescents. Her work involves the use of cognitive neuroscience techniques and neuroimaging modalities, including functional MRI. She has demonstrated that children with bipolar disorder have difficulty processing and adapting flexibly to emotional stimuli, such as emotions on other people’s faces. She has begun to elucidate the brain mechanisms underlying this deficit, including amygdala dysfunction. In addition, since questions have been raised as to whether children with impairing irritability should be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Dr. Leibenluft conducts research on the brain mechanisms mediating severe irritability in children. Finally, she has published on rapid cycling bipolar disorder (a severe form of the illness) in adults, the role of the sleep-wake cycle in bipolar disorder, and gender differences in mood disorders.

Dr. Leibenluft received her B.A. from Yale University summa cum laude and her M.D. from Stanford University. After completing residency training at Georgetown University Hospital, she served on the faculty there as director of the psychiatric inpatient unit and day hospital. She came to the NIMH in 1989, and since that time has been conducting research on bipolar disorder. She has approximately 100 professional publications and is a Deputy Editor of theJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and a member of the editorial boards of Biological Psychiatry, Bipolar Disorders and of the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology.

Dr. Leibenluft is a member of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation Professional Advisory Board, the Scientific Council of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, and the Program Committee of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. She is Co-Chair of the Steering Committee for the DSM/ICD Conference on Externalizing Disorders of Childhood. She has served as President of the Association for Academic Psychiatry, Chair of the Research Training Committee and as a member of the Council on Research of the American Psychiatric Association. Her awards include the Distinguished Psychiatrist Award of the American Psychiatric Association, Special Service Awards from the NIH, the NIMH and NIH Outstanding Mentor Awards, and the Virginia Tarlow Memorial Lectureship at Northwestern University.

David MeyerDavid E. Meyer, Ph.D.

David Meyer is a faculty member of the Cognition and Perception Program in the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. A mathematical psychologist and cognitive scientist, he received his Ph.D. from Michigan and subsequently worked for almost a decade as a Member of Technical Staff in the Human Information Processing Research Department at the Bell Telephone Laboratories before returning to academe. His teaching and research – sponsored by the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Mental Health, and Office of Naval Research – have dealt with fundamental aspects of human perception, attention, learning, memory, language, movement production, multitasking, executive mental control, human-computer interaction, personality and cognitive style, cognitive aging, cognitive neuroscience, mathematical models, and unified computational theories. Numerous reports of this research have appeared in books and journals such as Science, the Psychological Review, Cognitive Psychology, Memory & Cognition, Journal of Experimental Psychology, Journal of Memory and Language, and volumes of theAttention and Performance symposium series.

After completing their doctoral degrees, Professor Meyer’s many graduate students have taken professional positions at major universities and research institutions throughout the U.S. and abroad. For his diverse scientific contributions, Prof. Meyer has been elected as a Fellow in the Society of Experimental Psychologists, American Psychological Society, American Psychological Association, and American Association for The Advancement of Science. The American Psychological Association has honored him with its Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award. His professional activities have also included extensive service on journal editorial boards, government review panels, and international administrative committees. More information about Professor Meyer may be obtained at his laboratory website, .

Robert W. RoeserRobert W. Roeser, Ph.D.

Robert Roeser is an Associate Professor of Psychology in the Department of Applied Psychology at Portland State University and the Senior Program Coordinator for the Mind Life Institute. He received his Ph.D. from the Combined Program in Education and Psychology at the University of Michigan and holds master’s degrees in religion and psychology, developmental psychology and clinical social work. In 2005 he was a United States Fulbright Scholar in India, and from 1999-2004 he was a William T. Grant Faculty Scholar. Dr. Roeser’s research focuses on school as a primary context of human development and its socializing influences on young people’s identity development, social-emotional development, motivation to learn, and achievement. He has also studied the professional identity development of teachers who work with adolescents in middle and high school contexts.

More recently, Dr. Roeser’s work has focused on education and immigrant adolescent identity development; education and adolescent identity development in the context of globalization in India and South Africa; and now, contemplative education– how practices like yoga and mindfulness meditation can be taught in school settings with the aims of reducing stress, enhancing well-being, strengthening self-regulatory capacity, and cultivating clear and compassionate forms of awareness among educators, staff, and students alike.

David R. VagoDavid Vago, Ph.D.

David Vago, Senior Research Coordinator, Mind & Life Institute, is a post-doctoral research fellow at the Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory in the Department of Psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medical College and Senior Research Coordinator for the Mind & Life Institute. In 2005, he received his Ph.D. in cognitive and neural sciences from the Department of Psychology, University of Utah. While a post-doctoral research associate at the Utah Center for Exploring Mind-Body Interactions, David received the Francisco J. Varela award as for his clinical and brain imaging studies investigating the effects of mindfulness training on cognitive and emotional processing in fibromylagia. David’s research interests broadly focus on the neurobiological substrates of cognitive and emotional control in the context of learning and memory processes. His current research has a particular focus on fronto-limbic modulation across the neuropsychiatric spectrum.