Sharon Salzberg has been a student of meditation since 1971, and has led meditation retreats worldwide since 1974. She teaches both intensive awareness practice (vipassana or insight meditation) and the profound cultivation of lovingkindness and compassion (the Brahma Viharas).
Sharon’s latest book is the New York Times Best Seller, Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation: A 28-Day Program, published by Workman Publishing. She is also the author of The Kindness Handbook and The Force of Kindness, both published by Sounds True; Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience, published by Riverhead Books; Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness and A Heart as Wide as the World, both published by Shambhala Publications; and co-author with Joseph Goldstein of Insight Meditation, a Step-by-Step Course on How to Meditate (audio), from Sounds True. She has edited Voices of Insight, an anthology of writings by vipassana teachers in the West, also published by Shambhala.
Sharon Salzberg is cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, Massachusetts. She has played a crucial role in bringing Asian meditation practices to the West. The ancient Buddhist practices of vipassana (mindfulness) and metta (lovingkindness) are the foundations of her work. “Each of us has a genuine capacity for love, forgiveness, wisdom and compassion. Meditation awakens these qualities so that we can discover for ourselves the unique happiness that is our birthright.” For more information about Sharon, please visit: www.SharonSalzberg.com.
Clifford Saron, Ph.D.
Clifford Saron, Ph.D., is an Associate Research Scientist at the Center for Mind and Brain and M.I.N.D. Institute at the University of California at Davis. He received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1999, studying the electrophysiology of interhemispheric visuomotor integration. Dr. Saron has had a long-standing interest in behavioral and brain effects of meditation practice. He has been a frequent faculty member at the Mind and Life Summer Research Institute and is currently a member of the Mind & Life Institute’s Program and Research Council. In the early 1990′s he was centrally involved, along with Francisco Varela, Alan Wallace, Jose Cabézon, and Richard Davidson, among others, in a field research project investigating Tibetan Buddhist mind training under the auspices of the Private Office of H.H. the Dalai Lama and Mind and Life. Currently, in collaboration with a large consortium of scientists and researchers at UC Davis and elsewhere, he is Principal Investigator of the Shamatha Project, conceived with and taught by Alan Wallace. The project is the most comprehensive multimethod study to date regarding investigation of the effects of long-term intensive meditation practice on physiological and psychological processes central to well-being, attention, emotion regulation and health. His other primary research interest, in collaboration with researchers at the Center for Mind and Brain and the M.I.N.D. Institute , is studies of brain and behavioral correlates of sensory processing and multisensory integration in children on the autism spectrum.
Jonathan Schooler, Ph.D.
Jonathan Schooler is Professor of Psychology and Canada Research Chair in Social Cognitive Science at the University of British Columbia. His research crosses traditional boundaries impacting topics in social, cognitive, and clinical psychology as well as philosophy and law. His areas of research include memory, problem solving, creativity, analogical reasoning, attitudes, emotion, consciousness, and the relationship between language and thought. Although diverse, two themes unite his research inquiries. First, much of Schooler’s research speaks to real world questions such as: What is the effect of verbal description on eyewitness identifications? What is the impact of mind wandering during reading on reading comprehension?
Schooler is also dedicated to using the methodologies of science to address foundational issues that that have long fascinated philosophers, such as: What is the nature of self-awareness, and are their situations in which we can be in error about the quality of our own experience? Several of his current lines of research include: examining the impact verbalizing non-verbal cognition (verbal overshadowing) which demonstrates how language can sometimes interfere with thoughts that are difficult to articulate; investigating case studies of discovered memories of abuse which has helped to defray some of the polarization surrounding this controversial topic; and researching mind wandering while reading which illustrates how people can lose “meta-awareness” of their own thought, and highlights a critical, but largely overlooked source of reading failure. In addition to his research, Schooler has served as a consultant on numerous topics ranging from eyewitness identification to assisting the Exploratorium Science Museum in developing an exhibit on memory.
Ven. Geshe Jampel Senge
Geshe Jampel Senge was born in Tibet and educated in India. He had to leave his country with his parents when communist China invaded and occupied Tibet in 1959. He escaped Tibet via Nepal with his family, taking six months to cross the Himalayan Mountains. The family eventually arrived in India but lost his father during the journey through trauma and ill health.
Geshe Jampel Senge initially joined the Tibetan Homes Foundation in Mussoorie and later studied at Cambrian Hall School in Dehradun. He completed his Senior Cambridge Examinations and passed from Cambrian Hall in 1971. He went back to Nepal and taught there at the local Tibetan School in Swayumbunath.
In 1973 he became a monk and joined the Sera Monastic University in South India. He studied the Five Great Buddhist Treatises of Prajna Paramita, Madhiyamika, Vinaya Sutra, Abhidharma Kosa and Pramana and graduated from the Sera Jhe College with the Highest Academic achievement of Geshe Lharampa in 1991. He was ordained as a Bhikshu by HH The Dalai Lama on 5th July 1976.
He was invited to teach in Australia and arrived there on September 16th 1996. He founded the Tashi Choeling Tibetan Buddhist Centre on February 6th 2000. In the year 2004, he was posted to Switzerland by HH The Dalai Lama where he is based today. He teaches across Europe during the months of May to December and returns to Australia to teach in down under during the cold winter in Europe.He has also taught in Reno, Nevada, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, in the United States of America.
Emma Seppala is a 5th year graduate student in the Department of Psychology at Stanford University working with Dr. James Gross. Her current research interests center on empathy, compassion, and connectedness. Emma is a 2005 recipient of the Mind and Life Francisco J. Varela Research Award to pursue research on loving-kindness meditation and its effect on feelings of connectedness and compassion. Together with co-PI Cendri Hutcherson, they have found that, compared to a tight control, loving-kindness meditation leads to increased connectedness to the target of meditation after only seven minutes of meditation, as measured both implicitly and explicitly. They are currently working on an fMRI version of this study as well as on another follow-up behavioral study.
Emma has a Master’s in Buddhist Studies from Columbia University and enjoys bringing her two passions, meditation and psychology, together through academic inquiry as well as personal practice. She has been a student of Buddhism and Vedanta for 10 years and has trained in many forms of hatha yoga, from Iyengar to Sri Sri Yoga. When not doing research, she volunteers by teaching yoga, breathwork and meditation workshops with the Art of Living Foundation, a United-Nations chartered NGO dedicated to furthering peace within society by bringing peace to the individual, and the International Association for Human Values, a sister NGO founded by His Holinesses Sri Sri Ravi Shankar & the Dalai Lama.
Bennett M. Shapiro, M.D.
Bennett M. Shapiro, M.D. Bennett Shapiro is a consultant in biotechnology. He was previously Executive Vice President, Worldwide Licensing and External Research, where he directed Merck’s research relationships with the academic and industrial biomedical research community. He joined Merck Research Laboratories in September of 1990 as Executive Vice President, Basic Research, Merck Research Laboratories. In this position he was responsible for all the basic and preclinical research activities at Merck worldwide.
Earlier, he was Professor and Chairman of the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Washington. He is the author of over 120 papers on the molecular regulation of cellular behavior and the biochemical events that integrate the cascade of cellular activations at fertilization.
Shapiro received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Dickinson College and his doctor’s degree in medicine from Jefferson Medical College. Following an Internship in Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, he was a Research Associate at the NIH, then a Visiting Scientist at the Institut Pasteur in Paris and returned to the NIH as Chief – Section on Cellular Differentiation in the Laboratory of Biochemistry, prior to joining the University of Washington. Dr. Shapiro has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and a Visiting Professor at the University of Nice.
He is currently a Trustee of Dickinson College and a Director of the Drugs for Neglected Disease Initiative-North America and the Tricycle Foundation, as well as of several biotechnology companies.
Phillip R. Shaver, Ph.D.
Phillip R. Shaver, a social and personality psychologist, received his PhD in psychology from the University of Michigan in 1970 and is currently Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Davis. He has served on the faculties of Columbia University, New York University, University of Denver, and SUNY at Buffalo. He is associate editor of Attachment and Human Development, a member of the editorial boards of Personal Relationships, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and New Review of Social Psychology, and a former member of study sections for NIH and NSF. He has received numerous research grants and published several books, including Measures of Personality and Social Psychological Attitudes, Measures of Political Attitudes, and Handbook of Attachment: Theory, Research, and Clinical Applications, and more than 150 scholarly journal articles and book chapters.
His current research focuses on emotions, close relationships, and personal development, especially from the perspective of attachment theory. In recent years he has been collaborating with Professor Mario Mikulincer, of Bar-Ilan University (Israel), on questionnaire, observational, and experimental studies of attachment security, compassion, and altruism, focusing especially on the ways in which attachment security (increased experimentally) fosters compassion and virtuous behavior, such as helping others in need and forgiving people who have been hurtful. He has made notable contributions to the scientific literatures on human emotions, close relationships, and the psychology of religion. In 2002, he received a Distinguished Career Award from the International Association for Relationship
Kim Schonert-Reichl, Ph.D.
Kim Schonert-Reichl is an applied developmental psychologist and Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia (UBC). She received her MA from the University of Chicago and her Ph.D. from the University of Iowa, and was a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Postdoctoral Fellow in the Clinical Research Training Program in Adolescence at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University Medical School in the Department of Psychiatry. For over 20 years, the research conducted by Dr. Schonert-Reichl has focused on the social, emotional, and moral development of children and adolescents with a particular emphasis on identifying the processes and mechanisms that foster children’s positive human traits, such as empathy, compassion, and optimism. Currently, she is investigating the effectiveness of classroom-based universal social and emotional learning promotion programs, including the Roots of Empathy and MindUp – a program that integrates social and emotional learning and mindfulness-based education. She is also engaged in conducting interdisciplinary research in collaboration with neuroscientists and psychobiologists examining the relation of executive functions and biological processes to children’s social emotional development. She is active with several national and international advisory boards, including the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) Research Advisory Group. Dr. Schonert-Reichl is an award winning teacher and has been internationally recognized for her collaborative work that translates research into practice, and in 2009 the Confederation of University Faculty Association (CUFA-BC) awarded Dr. Schonert-Reichl with their highest Distinguished Academic Award – the Paz Buttedahl Career Achievement Award. In 2006, Kim served on the organizing committee for the visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for the Vancouver Dialogues, and chaired a dialogue between the Dalai Lama and leading educators, researchers, and policy makers on the themes of cultivating compassion and educating the heart.
Catherine Shaddix began her intertwined studies of hatha yoga and Buddhist meditation and philosophy in 1990, and has devoted her life to the exploration of each of these since. She began studying traditional Ashtanga yoga in 1993, and has studied extensively with her main teacher in America, Richard Freeman, as well as Chuck Miller and Maty Ezraty. Since 2000, she has also practiced under the guidance of the late Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and his grandson, Sharath Rangaswamy. Catherine began teaching in 1996 while living in a meditation center, and has since taught yoga for people with chronic and terminal illness at the Body/Mind Restoration Retreats in Ithaca, NY, where she directed the yoga program for eight years; at Bridge to Wellness in San Francisco with Dr. JoEllen Brainin-Rodriguez, with whom she designed a body awareness program for the clients living in the Tenderloin; and at the Dublin FCI Women’s Prison in Dublin, CA. She currently teaches Mysore classes in the traditional Ashtanga style six days a week in San Francisco, as well as teaching privately. Her teaching style is infused with the co-arising spaciousness and intensity of her Buddhist training. She has practiced with many of the great Dzogchen masters of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, beginning with the Venerable Trulshik Rinpoche in 1991, and currently with the Venerable Tsoknyi Rinpoche, as well as H.H. the Dalai Lama.
Dan Siegel, M.D.
Dan Siegel received his medical degree from Harvard University and completed his postgraduate medical education at UCLA with training in pediatrics and child, adolescent and adult psychiatry. He served as a National Institute of Mental Health Research Fellow at UCLA, studying family interactions with an emphasis on how attachment experiences influence emotions, behavior, autobiographical memory and narrative.
Dr. Siegel formerly directed the training program in child psychiatry and is the recipient of teaching awards and honorary fellowships and professorships. He is currently an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine where he is on the faculty of the Center for Culture, Brain, and Development. He is also the Director of the Mindsight Institute, an educational organization that focuses on how the development of insight and empathy within individuals, families and communities can be enhanced by examining the interface of human relationships and basic biological processes.
Dr. Siegel is the author of the internationally acclaimed text, The Developing Mind: Toward a Neurobiology of Interpersonal Experience (1999) which introduces the idea of “interpersonal neurobiology” as a way of defining the mind and mental well-being. This approach is further explored in the Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology of which Dan is the Founding Editor. His book with Mary Hartzell, M.Ed., Parenting from the Inside Out: How a Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive (2003) explores the application of this newly emerging view of the mind, the brain, and human relationships to families. He is currently finishing two texts, Mindsight and The Mindful Brain in Psychotherapy, which will expand these applications into the arenas of everyday life and psychotherapy.
Current Educational Programs can be viewed at DrDanSiegel.com
Venerable Sik Hin Hung, MA
Venerable Sik Hin Hung MA (London) is a Buddhist monk ordained under the Mahayana tradition. His main interest is in ‘repackaging’ the Teaching of Buddhism so that it becomes ‘user friendly’ for people in today’s world. He is one of the Founding Fellows of the Centre of Buddhist Studies of The University of Hong Kong where he is also teaching. Ven. Sik is also providing counseling and spiritual guide to staffs of the Hong Kong Hospital Authority and needy. He has published books and articles on Buddhism, psychotherapy and personal growth. The motto of the spiritual and growth center found by him is “Be mindful of your heart!” His current research projects include: “Orientation to Life Enhancement Project” designed for high schools students, and Dharma Therapy.
Tania Singer, Dr. Phil.
Tania Singer is Assistant Professor of Social Neuroscience and Neuroeconomics at the Center for the Study of Social and Neural Systems at the University of Zurich. She studied psychology and media at the University of Marburg and the Technical University of Berlin. She was Pre- and Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, where she worked on cognitive development over the life span. For her dissertation she was awarded the Otto Hahn medal and a one-year grant, which she used to go to London to work with Chris Frith on the social brain at the Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience, UCL. With the support of another grant from the Academia Leopoldina, she extended her stay in London for two years in order to proceed with her work on the neural underpinnings of empathy and fairness. In her last year in London she worked with Uta Frith at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL, in London, where she extended her previous work on healthy subjects to autistic populations.
She recently obtained a highly competitive grant (of the 9,167 applications submitted, 3% were funded) by the European Research Council (ERC) to fund a project entitled: “Plasticity of the Empathic Brain: Structural and Functional MRI Studies on the Effect of Empathy Training on the Human Brain and Prosocial Behaviour.” She has authored many articles on the social brain in prestigious journals such as Science or Nature, is associate editor of the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience and on the board of the Society for Neuroeconomics. Her main research interest is in the understanding of the foundation of human social behaviour and social emotions such as empathy and fairness from the perspective of social neuroscience, developmental and social cognitive psychology as well as economics. In her spare time, she pursues interests in the arts, participating in drama and film productions as well as studying music, voice, and dance.
Heleen A. Slagter, Ph.D.
Heleen A. Slagter, Ph.D. is a scientist in the Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior, headed by Professor Richard J. Davidson, at the University of Wisconsin. She holds a doctorate in cognitive neuroscience from the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and conducted part of her graduate work at Duke University. Her research focuses on the cognitive and neural bases of attention and investigates how we perceive, attend, ignore and become aware of events in our environment. Dr. Slagter’s work integrates measures of human brain function (functional magnetic resonance imaging: fMRI, and electroencephalography: EEG) with traditional behavioral measures.
Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior: http://tezpur.keck.waisman.wisc.edu
Mary Taylor began studying yoga in 1971 while earning a degree in psychology. It was not until the early 80’s, when she moved to Boulder and started studying yoga with Richard, that yoga became a central thread in her life. Before that yoga had provided a means of relieving stress, and honing a sense of focus and well being. In 1988 Mary traveled to India to study with K. Pattabhi Jois, and began to see the overlay of yoga with her interests in food, cooking, movement, anatomy and art. Mary has authored three cookbooks and co-authored a book which explores yoga, meditation and finding one’s personal dharma as a means of bring lasting meaning and happiness. (“What Are You Hungry For? Women, Food and Spirituality.”) As the Yoga Workshop’s director, Mary has attended all of Richard’s teacher trainings, and feels she’s just beginning to understand the subject at hand. She brings to her teaching a deep respect for the healing and calming effects of yoga. Her classes are engaging and fun, focusing on the flow of breath, steady movement and the feeling of completeness that can be cultivated through a lasting practice.
Neil Theise, M.D.
Neil Theise, M.D. is a diagnostic liver pathologist and adult stem cell researcher in New York City, where he is Professor of Pathology and of Medicine at the Beth Israel Medical Center of Albert Einstein College of Medicine. His research revised understandings of human liver microanatomy which, in turn, led directly to identification of possible liver stem cell niches and the marrow-to-liver regeneration pathway. He is considered a pioneer of multi-organ adult stem cell plasticity and has published on that topic in Science, Nature, and Cell.
Subsequently, while continuing laboratory and clinical research, he has extended his work to areas of theoretical biology and complexity theory, defining a “post-modern biology.” These ideas suggest that alternate models of the body, other than Cell Doctrine, may be necessary to understand non-Western approaches to the body and health and also that understanding Western hard sciences through a complexity theory lens provides direct analogies to the major principles of Buddhist metaphysics, including emptiness of inherent existence, interdependence, impermanence, and Karmic effects.
Current laboratory investigations focus on nerve-stem cell interactions in human livers, melatonin-related physiology of human liver stem cell and regenerative processes, and aspects of human liver stem cell activation in acute, fulminant hepatic failure. He is also a long time meditator and student of Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara of the Village Zendo in New York City. His writings on diverse topics can be found at www.neiltheise.com
Evan Thompson, Ph.D.
Evan Thompson is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto. He received his B.A. from Amherst College in Asian Studies, and his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Toronto. He is the author of Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind (Harvard University Press, 2007 http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog/THOMIN.html), and the co-editor (with P. Zelazo and M. Moscovitch) of The Cambridge Handbook of Consciousness (Cambridge University Press, 2007) He is also the co-author with F.J. Varela and E. Rosch of The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience (MIT Press, 1991) and the author of Color Vision: A Study in Cognitive Science and the Philosophy of Perception (Routledge Press, 1995). He is currently working on a new book, titled Waking, Dreaming, Being: New Revelations about the Self from Neuroscience and Meditation. Thompson held a Canada Research Chair at York University (2002-2005), and has also taught at Boston University. He has held visiting positions at the Centre de Récherch en Epistémologie Appliqué (CREA) at the École Polytechnique in Paris and at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is a member of the Mind & Life Institute’s Program and Research Council.
Anne Treisman, D.Phil.
Anne Treisman is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor at Princeton University. She has two BA degrees from Cambridge, England, in Modern Languages and in Natural Sciences, Psychology, and a D.Phil. degree in Psychology from Oxford. Her main area of research has been on selective attention, starting with studies of selective listening, (“the cocktail party problem” or how we can focus on one voice among two or more), and then turning to visual attention and object perception, particularly the “binding.problem”. Other interests have been in the integration of information in the perception of moving objects; perceptual learning; visual memory for objects and events; and in the brain mechanisms underlying these perceptual, attentional and memory functions.
She has been elected to the Royal Society, London, the National Academy, USA, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Society of Experimental Psychologists, and has received the following awards: Killam Senior Fellowship, James McKeen Cattell Sabbatical Award; Howard Crosby Warren Medal of the Society of Experimental Psychologists; Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of the American Psychological Association; Fellow of American Psychological Society; Golden Brain award of the Minerva Foundation (for “fundamental breakthroughs that extend our knowledge of vision and the brain”). Recent publications include: Treisman, A. & DeSchepper, B. 1996. “Object Tokens, Attention, and Visual Memory”. In T. Inui and J. McClelland (Eds.) Attention and Performance XVI, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 15-46. And Treisman, A. 1998. “Feature Binding, Attention and Object Perception”, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Series B, 353, 1295-1306.
Tsoknyi Rinpoche has been teaching students worldwide about the innermost nature of mind in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. He is the author of two books, Carefree Dignity and Fearless Simplicity, and has a keen interest in the ongoing dialogue between western research, especially in neuroscience, and Buddhist practitioners and scholars. Tsoknyi Rinpoche’s activity greatly contributes to the preservation of the Buddha Dharma in the East, while nurturing its growth in the West. His Holiness the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa recognized Tsoknyi Rinpoche III (the present incarnation) as the reincarnation of Drubwang Tsoknyi Rinpoche II. He is a renowned master of the Drukpa Kagyu and Nyingma traditions and holder of the Tsoknyi Lineage, which is based on Ratna Lingpa’s termas. Rinpoche was born into an unbroken father-to-son lineage of realized Dzogchen masters. His great-great-grandfather was the treasure revealer Chokgyur Lingpa, and Rinpoche was trained in that family tradition by his father since an early age. Rinpoche was born in 1966 and was recognized as a tulku at the age of eight. When he was thirteen he was brought to Khampagar Monastery at Tashi Jong in India, the seat of Khamtrul Rinpoche. His teachers include some of the most renowned masters of Tibet: Khamtrul Rinpoche Dongyu Nyima, his father Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche and Adeu Rinpoche. Rinpoche is the spiritual head of two nunneries in Nepal, as well as one of the largest nunneries in Tibet. He also heads 50+ practice centers and hermitages with over 2,000 nuns and 900 monks that practice the Tsoknyi and Ratna Lingpa Lineages in the eastern region of Tibet (Nangchen). Yeshe Rangsal in Crestone, Colorado, is his seat in the West.
Ringu Tulku Rinpoche D.
Ringu Tulku Rinpoche is a Tibetan Buddhist Master of the Kagyu Order. He was trained in all schools of Tibetan Buddhism under great masters such as His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa and His Holiness Dilgo Khentse Rinpoche. Rinpoche was formally educated at Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, Gangtok and Sampurnananda Sanskrit University, Varanasi, India and has served as Professor of Tibetology in Sikkim for 17 years. His doctoral thesis was on the Ecumenical Movement in Tibet. He was the first Kagyu lama to obtain the Acharya degree at Varanasi University in India and the title of Khenpo was awarded to him by His Holiness XVI Karmapa. He has also received the Lopon Chenpo Ph.D. title from the International Nyingma Society and he has studied and practised under the guidance of many distinguished lamas from all the traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. He was professor of Tibetology in India for seventeen years.
He founded Bodhicharya ((www.bodhicharya.org), an international organization that coordinates the worldwide activities to preserve and transmit Buddhist teachings, to promote intercultural dialogues, and conduct educational & social projects to expose the ancient wisdom of Buddhism to the modern world. Since 1990 Rinpoche has taught Buddhism and meditation at more than 40 Universities, Institutes and Buddhist Centers in Europe, USA, Canada, Australia and Asia. He also participates in various interfaith dialogues. He has authored several books on Buddhism in Tibetan and European languages.
David 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, Brigham & Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School. He received his Bachelors Degree in Brain and Cognitive Sciences in 1997 from the University of Rochester. In 2005, David received his Ph.D. in Cognitive and Neural Sciences with a specialization in learning and memory from the department of Psychology, University of Utah. David’s research interests broadly focus on the neurobiological substrates of cognitive and emotional risk and resilience to developing psychopathology. Using models of fronto-limbic function, David aims to elucidate cognitive, emotional and behavioral styles that promote adaptive mind-brain-body interaction. His research capitalizes on experience with animal models of memory-related processes (i.e., encoding, consolidation, retrieval, & re-consolidation) to inform the field of clinical neuropsychiatry. For more information about David, please visit http://mindofvago.com
William Waldron, Ph.D.
William Waldron has been teaching courses on Buddhism, Hinduism, and the Study of Religion at Middlebury College since 1996. He received a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from the University of Wisconsin after working with Buddhist teachers and scholars in India, Nepal and Japan. William’s research has focused on Indian Buddhism in general and the Yogacara notion of a cognitive unconscious (alaya-vijñana) in particular (The Buddhist Unconscious, 2003). This also incorporates comparative theories of mind in evolutionary biology and cognitive science in terms of the dependent arising of consciousness, asking, for example, how world and awareness, self and society, arise and evolve through patterns of interaction free of substantive entities or agents (‘Buddhist Steps to an Ecology of Mind,’ online). His current research interests include problems raised by using impersonal causal models to analyze immediate, personal experience-a distinction between the explanatory and interpretive sciences that Buddhists have typically addressed through the theory of two truths.
B. Alan Wallace, Ph.D.
B. Alan Wallace is president of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies. He trained for many years as a monk in Buddhist monasteries in India and Switzerland. He has taught Buddhist theory and practice in Europe and America since 1976 and has served as interpreter for numerous Tibetan scholars and contemplatives, including H. H. the Dalai Lama. After graduating summa cum laude from Amherst College, where he studied physics and the philosophy of science, he earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in religious studies at Stanford University. He has edited, translated, authored, and contributed to more than thirty books on Tibetan Buddhism, medicine, language, and culture, and the interface between science and religion.
His published works include Choosing Reality: A Buddhist View of Physics and the Mind (Snow Lion, 1996), The Taboo of Subjectivity: Toward a New Science of Consciousness (Oxford, 2000), Buddhism and Science: Breaking New Ground (Columbia University Press 2003), Balancing the Mind: A Tibetan Buddhist Approach to Refining Attention (Snow Lion, 2005), Genuine Happiness: Meditation as the Path to Fulfillment (John Wiley & Sons, 2005), The Attention Revolution: Unlocking the Power of the Focused Mind (Wisdom 2006), and Contemplative Science: Where Buddhism and Neuroscience Converge (Columbia University Press, 2007).
Shinzen Young, Ph.D.
Shinzen Young became fascinated with Asian culture while a teenager in Los Angeles. Later he enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Buddhist Studies at the University of Wisconsin. Eventually, he went to Asia and did extensive training in each of the three major Buddhist meditative traditions: Vajrayana, Zen, and Vipassana. Upon returning to the United States, his intellectual interests shifted to the burgeoning dialogue between Eastern internal science and Western technological science. In recognition of his original contributions to that dialogue, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology has awarded him an honorary doctorate.
Shinzen’s innovative techniques for pain management derived from two sources: The first is his personal experience dealing with discomfort during intense periods of meditation in Asia, and during shamanic ceremonies with tribal cultures. The second is some three decades of experience in coaching people through a wide spectrum of chronic and acute pain challenges. Shinzen leads meditation retreats in the mindfulness tradition throughout North America, and has helped establish several centers and programs.
Carolyn Zahn-Waxler, Ph.D.
Carolyn Zahn-Waxler is a developmental psychologist at the University of Wisconsin. She is affiliated with the departments of Psychology and Psychiatry and the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds. She received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin and her Ph.D. from the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota. Before moving to Madison she was a research psychologist at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, MD where she headed the Section on Development and Psychopathology. She was an Associate Editor and Editor of Developmental Psychology for nearly a decade and President of the Developmental Division of the American Psychological Association. After moving to Wisconsin she served on the Task Force on Women and Depression for the Lt. Governor and works to de-stigmatize mental illness. She conducts longitudinal investigations of the origins and development of empathy and caring behaviors beginning in the first years of life. She has published extensively on the role of genes, temperament, physiology, family dynamics, and socialization experiences that foster or impede compassion and altruism in children. She also publishes research on the development of depression and antisocial behavior in children; etiology of sex differences in psychopathology; and the impact of parental suffering (e.g. depression and conflict) on children. In collaboration with investigators in Israel she examines interactions of parenting, genes, and epigenetic factors on the development of kindness and generosity. Translational questions are of special interest, i.e. how scientific advances can inform practices that foster empathy and compassion in children.
Arthur Zajonc, Ph.D.
Arthur Zajonc is professor of physics at Amherst College, where he has taught since 1978. He received his B.S. and Ph.D. in physics from the University of Michigan. He has been visiting professor and research scientist at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, and the universities of Rochester, and Hannover. He has been Fulbright professor at the University of Innsbruck in Austria. His research has included studies in electron-atom physics, parity violation in atoms, quantum optics, the experimental foundations of quantum physics, and the relationship between science, the humanities, and the contemplative traditions. He has written extensively on Goethe’s science work. He is author of the book: Catching the Light, co-author of The Quantum Challenge, and co-editor of Goethe’s Way of Science. In 1997 he served as scientific coordinator for the Mind and Life dialogue published as The New Physics and Cosmology: Dialogues with the Dalai Lama. He currently is an advisor to the World Future Council, and directs the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, which supports appropriate inclusion of contemplative methods in higher education. He has also been a co-founder of the Kira Institute, General Secretary of the Anthroposophical Society, president/chair of the Lindisfarne Association, and was a senior program director at the Fetzer Institute.
Philip David Zelazo, Ph.D.
Philip David Zelazo received his Honours B.A. from McGill in 1988 and his Ph.D. (with distinction) from Yale in 1993. From 1992-2007, he taught at the University of Toronto, where he held the Canada Research Chair in Developmental Neuroscience. He is currently the Nancy M. and John L. Lindahl Professor at the Institute of Child Development at University of Minnesota. He is also the Co-Director of the Sino-Canadian Centre for Research in Child Development, at Southwest University, China. Professor Zelazo’s research, which centers on the development and neural bases of executive function (or the conscious control of thought, action, and emotion), has been honored by numerous awards, including a Boyd McCandless Young Scientist Award from the American Psychological Association, a Premier’s Research Excellence Award from the Government of Ontario, and a Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 Award. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Jean Piaget Society, and he is a member of several editorial boards (Child Development, Emotion, Cognitive Development, Journal of Cognition and Development, Psyche, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, and Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development). He is also the co-editor of The Cambridge Handbook of Consciousness (Zelazo, Moscovitch, Thompson, 2007), and the editor of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Developmental Psychology.