Dr. Alea Skwara is a Postdoctoral Scholar in Dr. Cliff Saron’s research group at the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain. She completed her PhD in Psychology, specializing in Cognitive Neuroscience, with Dr. Saron in 2021. Her research explores the neurocognitive bases of compassion and responses to suffering to better understand how we can cultivate our ability to be with suffering in adaptive ways.
To this end, Alea’s work brings together a variety of methodological approaches–including brain electrophysiology, peripheral nervous system activity, eyetracking, and self-report and behavioral measures–to better understand how individuals respond to suffering, and how meditation training may relate to the development of compassion for oneself and for others.
She is particularly interested in how scientific research on compassion can be applied in real-world contexts and policy-making to build a more just and thriving society, with immigration justice as a core area of personal priority. This includes a collaboration with Prof. Raquel Aldana at UC Davis School of Law that brings together legal and mental health academic faculty, and clinical practitioners working with immigrants and trauma to bridge the legal/scientific gap in immigration cases.
As a whole, Alea’s goal is to contribute to our collective understanding of the psychological and societal factors that support compassionate responses to suffering, and how these may be applied to build a more just and equitable world.