Fellow Spotlight: Norm Farb

Norman Farb, University of Toronto Mississauga

In this month’s Fellow Spotlight we are pleased to share the work of Norman Farb, Associate Professor of Psychology and Principal Investigator of the Regulatory and Affective Dynamics Laboratory at the University of Toronto Mississauga. 

Norm studies the social neuroscience of the self and human emotion, with a focus on how biases in self-representation shape emotions to determine well-being. He has led several influential studies on the mechanisms of mindfulness training and depression vulnerability. Norm’s graduate research was galvanized by his experiences at several Mind & Life Summer Research Institutes, which supported several of his initial research projects. Norm is also the recipient of multiple Mind & Life grants including two Mind & Life Varela Grants in 2005 and 2009, and a Mind & Life 1440 Grant in 2016. He continues to be involved in service with the Mind & Life Institute and is excited by the growing number of scientists, clinicians, and practitioners working in the emerging field of contemplative studies.

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PEACE Grant Named in Honor of Samuel B. Hanser

Samuel B. Hanser

Since 2017, the Mind & Life Institute’s PEACE grants program has funded projects to support research on interdisciplinary approaches for investigating wholesome qualities related to Prosociality, Empathy, Altruism, Compassion and Ethics (PEACE). Mind & Life is especially interested in research proposals that relate to interconnection or societal issues of othering and disconnection with implications for mental health and well-being. 

We are honored to announce that beginning this year, one PEACE grant of $25,000 will be awarded annually as the Samuel B. Hanser Visionary Grant. (Selections will be made internally for this special designation; no separate application process is required.) This grant, funded by the Samuel B. Hanser Memorial Trust endowment, continues Sam’s legacy by supporting innovative research on contemplative practices for creating a more peaceful world.

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Helen Weng: Using Science to Spread a Message of Compassion, Equity, and Inclusion

In late 2019, Helen Weng, PhD was honored with the Mind & Life Institute Annual Service Award. The award is given to individuals who are distinguished by the breadth and depth of their involvement with Mind & Life, and who embody its core values of compassion, integrity, curiosity, inclusion, and excellence. Below is a tribute to Dr. Weng, who will be formally acknowledged at Mind & Life’s Contemplative Research Conference in November 2020.

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Fellow Spotlight: Brooke D. Lavelle

Brooke D. Lavelle, Courage of Care Coalition
In this month’s Fellow Spotlight we are pleased to share the work of Brooke D. Lavelle, PhD. Brooke is the Co-Founder and President of the Courage of Care Coalition, a nonprofit dedicated to facilitating the co-creation of a more just, compassionate world. Together with her diverse, interdisciplinary, and multi-generational team at Courage, Brooke provides training and consultation in relational compassion practices, anti-oppressive pedagogies, restorative healing methods, and systems tools to social service and caring professionals, as well as to educational, spiritual, and human rights organizations. 
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Toward a Whole World Ethic: The Role of Conscious Evolution

This is the second of two blog posts describing recent Mind & Life Conversations with the Dalai Lama and prominent thought leaders on the topic of “Compassion, Interconnection, and Transformation.” Photos by Phil Walker and Tenzin Choejor.

At a time of sweeping change and daunting global challenges, what’s needed is a whole world ethic to unite people in pursuit of the collective good. On this, both the Dalai Lama and evolutionary scientist David Sloan Wilson agree. In a recent two-hour dialogue, Wilson informed the Dalai Lama of a paradigm shift in evolutionary science and the role that conscious evolution can play in achieving their shared vision.

Sponsored by the Mind & Life Institute, their conversation on the theme of “Compassion, Interconnection, and Transformation” bridged science and contemplative wisdom, offering insights both practical and profound.

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Transforming Lives and Communities with Compassion

This is the first of two blog posts describing recent Mind & Life Conversations with the Dalai Lama and prominent thought leaders on the topic of “Compassion, Interconnection, and Transformation.” Photos by Phil Walker and Tenzin Choejor.

Clinical psychologist and social scientist Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela traveled thousands of miles from the southernmost tip of Africa to northern India for a conversation with the Dalai Lama that spanned both the hatred and brutality of which humans are capable and the conditions that make individual and societal transformation possible.

Sponsored by the Mind & Life Institute, their conversation on the theme of “Compassion, Interconnection, and Transformation” bridged African wisdom, science, and spiritual traditions to reveal common ground and actionable insights. In attendance were some 50 invited guests—with tens of thousands joining online from around the globe.
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Fellow Spotlight: Jennifer Mascaro

Jennifer Mascaro, Assistant Professor at Emory University

In this month’s Fellow Spotlight we are pleased to share the work of Jennifer Mascaro, Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at Emory University. She will be presenting her work at the 2020 Mind & Life Summer Research Institute.

Jennifer’s research interests center on human social cognition and the biology of interconnection, as well as the variation of these elements across individuals and over time. A biological anthropologist by training, Jennifer weaves together multiple research methodologies, including neuroimaging (both anatomical and functional MRI), experience sampling, and hormonal and genetic assays to explore how contemplative practices affect prosocial emotions and behaviors, and how these in turn impact health. Ever interdisciplinary, Jennifer’s research also interfaces with the fields of medicine, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, religion, and social, clinical, and cognitive psychology in order to examine interventions that enhance social connectivity, and in so doing, impact well-being.

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Upcoming Mind & Life Conversations to Explore Role of Compassion and Conscious Evolution in Healing Growing Divides


How can contemplative wisdom and science better inform our knowledge of human nature and what it takes to inspire caring and action for our collective future? On October 30th and November 1st, the Dalai Lama will engage prominent thought leaders—evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson and clinical psychologist Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela—in two intimate conversations designed to inspire insight, provoke debate, and offer hope for healing deep divides in today’s world.

Sponsored by the Mind & Life Institute, these “Conversations on Compassion, Interconnection, and Transformation“ will be livestreamed, for free, from Dharamasala, India. The two hour-long events are adapted from Mind & Life’s Dialogues with the Dalai Lama, which have taken place regularly since 1987.

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Special Issue on Mindfulness

Mind & Life is excited to share the special issue on Mindfulness, published in Current Opinion in Psychology earlier this month. This compilation showcases the work of many in the Mind & Life academic community. The authors have received grants, served on committees, attended events, presented at conferences, participated as Fellows, and been active with the Mind & Life Institute and our sister organization Mind & Life Europe in myriad ways. In their introduction to the issue, editors Amit Bernstein, Dave Vago, and Thorsten Barnhofer name the Mind & Life Institute’s grants and activities as “a catalyst for the emergence and ongoing growth of a network of contemplative scholars, scientists, monastics, and practitioners.” We are deeply grateful to these authors and our entire community for joining us in this work.

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Fellow Spotlight: David Creswell

David Creswell, Associate Professor of Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University

Mind & Life is excited to announce our first-ever Mind & Life Fellow Spotlight! The Fellow Spotlight is a new monthly segment where we will highlight the contributions of Mind & Life Fellows to our shared mission, featuring a different Fellow each month. 

In this month’s spotlight we are pleased to share the work of David Creswell, Associate Professor of Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University. David’s work focuses on understanding what makes people resilient under stress, and more recently has examined the role of acceptance and equanimity in mindfulness training for stress reduction and health. David received the American Psychological Association and the American Psychosomatic Society Early Career Awards, and was named a Rising Star by the Association for Psychological Science. His work is regularly profiled in the media, including coverage in the NY Times, LA Times, NBC News, and the Today Show. 

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