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    EVA Mentoring


    Mentoring is an essential component of fostering the next generation of contemplative scientists. It is an opportunity to share ‘pearls of wisdom’ with those who are only starting on this journey, supporting the contemplative community of scientists to grow, expand, and strengthen.

    Who is better to do it than our EVA success stories? These EVA alumni members offer prospective EVA applicants mentoring advice: for example, how best to present your EVA application or guidance on securing further funding and a research post to ensure career progression.

    For the prospective applicants: Please feel free to contact our EVA alumni members listed in the Mentoring section below for advice prior to submitting your application or during your award – they will be happy to share their own academic experiences and offer guidance. You might also explore possible collaborations and networking opportunities with the EVA alumni members.

    If you have further questions about the EVA Mentoring, please send an email to VarelaAwards@mindandlife-europe.org.

    Overview of EVA Mentors

    Please find below an overview of those EVA awardees who have offered to serve as an EVA Mentor.

    NAMEEVA Project / AFFILIATIONRESEARCH FIELDEVA Cycle
    Enrico FucciInvestigating Modulation of Compassion by Self-Related Factors in Expert and Novice Meditators: Behavioural and Neuroendocrine Correlates
    Lyon Neuroscience Research Centre, France
    Link to published paper
    Basic Science + Social Science2015
    Josipa MihicTowards Caring & Mindful Schools Model
    University of Zagreb, Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation Sciences, Croatia
    Link to published paper
    Philosophy & Humanities2015
    Carlos Garcia RubioThe Effects of Mindfulness Practice on Neural Correlates of Executive Functions in Elementary School Children: A Cluster-randomized Controlled Trial
    Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, Chile
    Link to published paper
    Basic Science + Clinical Science2016
    Catherine AndreuThe Effects of Mindfulness Practice on Neural Correlates of Executive Functions in Elementary School Children: A Cluster-randomized Controlled Trial
    Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, Chile
    Link to published paper
    Basic Science + Clinical Science2016
    Michael TremmelRisks and Adverse Effects of Meditation
    University of Giessen, Germany
    Clinical Science2016
    Freya von HohnhorstRisks and Adverse Effects of Meditation
    University of Giessen, Germany
    Clinical Science2016
    Liudmila GamaiunovaEffects of two different meditation-based programs on the dynamics of stress response
    University of Lausanne, Switzerland
    Link to published paper 1
    Link to published paper 2
    Basic + Social Science2017
    Filip Van DroogenbroeckCompassionate Attitude Training in a Challenging School Context in Brussels – An Effectiveness Study Assessing the Impact on Well-Being, Prosocial Attitudes and Behavior, And Socio-Psychological Attitudes Concerning Prejudice
    Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
    Social
    Science
    2018
    Kaya PeerdemanMindfulness effects on pain beyond placebo effects: Disentangling the role of decentering and positive treatment expectations
    Leiden University, The Netherlands
    Clinical Science2018
    Mareike SmolkaTracing collaborative reflection moment-to-moment: bringing Science & Technology Studies to contemplative science and vice versa 
    Maastricht University, The Netherlands
    Link to open data set
    Social Science2019

    Mentors Contact Details

    Catherine Andreu

    Title and affiliation: Engineer in Molecular Biotechnology, University of Chile. Master in Neuroscience and PhD in Neuroscience, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

    Contact details: website & e-mail

    About: In her doctoral thesis, she conducted research on the effect of Mindfulness practice at the brain level. Postdoctoral researcher at the MIDAP Millennium Institute and the School of Psychology, research funded by the Francisco Varela Award from Mind & Life Europe. Trained in the Mindful Schools program and in the Mindfulness-based Relapse Prevention for Addictive Behavior Program (MBRP). Professor in the Mindfulness and Compassion Master program at the Adolfo Ibáñez University. Trainee at the Compassion Cultivation Training Program at Nirakara Institute and Compassion Institute, her main current research interest now is the science of compassion.

    EVA project (research field, year): The Effects of Mindfulness Practice on Neural Correlates of Executive Functions in Elementary School Children: A Cluster-randomized Controlled Trial (Basic Science + Clinical Science, 2016; click here to learn more).

    Filip Van Droogenbroeck

    Title and affiliation: Assistant Professor at the Data Analytics Lab in the Business Technology & Operations department at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Solvay Business School of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB, Brussels, Belgium). 

    Contact details: website & e-mail

    About: Filip Van Droogenbroeck has extensive experience in the coordination (design, data-collection, analysis, and valorisation) of large-scale quantitative research. His main research interests include sociology of youth, sociology of education, educational policy, compassion and altruism research, and how artificial intelligence can be used to solve social science issues and vice versa. He coordinated projects such as the ‘Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS 2018 Flanders)’ and the ‘Holocaust Police and Human rights project’. Moreover, Filip is co-promotor of an interdisciplinary project on increasing Compassion in universities, workplaces, and other communities. In 2018 he was awarded the European Varela Award for his research project ‘compassionate attitude training in a challenging school context in Brussels.’ 

    EVA project (research field, year): Compassionate Attitude Training in a Challenging School Context in Brussels – An Effectiveness Study Assessing the Impact on Well-Being, Prosocial Attitudes and Behavior, And Socio-Psychological Attitudes Concerning Prejudice (Social Science, 2018)

    Enrico Fucci

    Title and affiliation: Researcher and Board Member, Insitute for Globally Distributed Open Research and Education (IGDORE), Spain & Nomadic

    Contact details:  website & e-mail

    About: Enrico has a PhD in Neuroscience from UCBL Lyon 1 (France). His research spans from investigating the brain correlates of sensory perception under stress to collecting first-person and behavioural data on people’s reactions to others suffering. Through a transdisciplinary approach, he seeks to falsify existing models of emotion, cognition and intersubjectivity in psychology and neuroscience by integrating theories and methods from contemplative traditions. His current project, supported by a Mind & Life European Varela Award, focuses on the embodiment of different forms of compassion as a result of extensive practice in long-term Buddhist practitioners. Enrico is a researcher and board member of the Institute for Globally Distributed Open Research and Education (IGDORE), a not-for-profit institution that hosts independent researchers and promotes open and reproducible science.

    EVA project (research field, year):  Investigating Modulation of Compassion by Self-Related Factors in Expert and Novice Meditators: Behavioural and Neuroendocrine Correlates (Basic Science + Clinical Science, 2015).

    Liudmila Gamaiunova

    Title and affiliation: Postdoctoral researcher and teaching assistant, Institute for Social Sciences of Religions, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Lausanne, Switzerland

    Contact details: website & e-mail

    About: I hold a Ph.D. in Religious Studies (specialization in the Psychology of Religion). During the last few years, my research has focused on the association of contemplative training and psychophysiological response to social stress. I’ve been interested in how contemplative practices affect the intensity/dynamics of the stress response and the underlying psychological mechanisms, primarily emotion regulation and cognitive appraisals. As a teaching assistant and occasional lecturer, I designed and introduced a seminar on contemplative practices for BA/BSc level students at the University of Lausanne.

    EVA project (research field, year): Effects of two different meditation-based programs on the dynamics of stress response (Basic Science / Social Science, 2017)

    Carlos García Rubio

    Title and affiliation: Stress and Health Team, Faculty of Psychology, Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain / Mindfulness Teacher at Nirakara Institute for Research and Training in Cognitive Sciences / Co-founder Sukha Mindfulness

    Contact details:  e-mail

    About: Carlos has a degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Health Psychology from the Autonomous University of Madrid. He also studied a University Postgraduate Degree in Mindfulness in Health Settings from the Complutense University of Madrid and a Postgraduate degree in Buddhism at the Hispanic Buddhist Studies Institute. His research interests are contemplative practices, contemplative education, socio-emotional learning, mindfulness-based interventions, mental health, and human development. He is a Ph.D. student on the benefits of mindfulness practice in children and adolescents in the school context, and he received the European Varela Award in 2016 to examine the impact of mindfulness practice on executive function in at-risk children. Also, Carlos is a specialist in the application of mindfulness with adults, children, and adolescents. He is a Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy teacher and the co-creator of the GrowingUp Breathing mindfulness program, which aims to promote socio-emotional, cognitive, academic, and ethical development of children and adolescents in the school.  In his spare time, Carlos likes traveling and meeting new cultures. Carlos’s academic work can be found here.

    EVA project (research field, year): The Effects of Mindfulness Practice on Neural Correlates of Executive Functions in Elementary School Children: A Cluster-randomized Controlled Trial (Basic Science + Clinical Science, 2016; click here to learn more).

    Freya von Hohnhorst

    Title: Licensed physician, Germany

    Contact details:  website & e-mail

    About: With nearly two decades of work as psychiatrist and psychotherapist both in a clinical setting and in the last eight years as a free practitioner, I am profoundly skilled in diagnostics and medical estimation. I am an experienced therapist, with special expertise in trauma therapy. I have profound knowledge and deep interest in a broad range of anthropological and ethnocultural questions, including the Buddhist and Hindu background of meditation. When I started serious meditation practice (Tibetan Buddhist tradition) in 2006, I got in contact with people who had adverse affects of meditation right from the beginning, so my attention was drawn not only to the positive, but also to the problematic aspects of meditation. I have always been interested not only in the part of meditation regarding personal development, but also in its scientific exploration. Therefore, I feel glad having met Ulrich Ott. With his supervision for my dissertation, I have the opportunity to put it all together. Combining my experiences in meditation and my expertise in psychiatry/psychotherapy with a scientific approach allows me to contribute to help people with severe problems on their contemplative path.

    EVA project (research field, year):  Risks and Adverse Effects of Meditation (Clinical Science, 2016; click here to learn more).

    Josipa Mihic

    Title and affiliation: Associate professor, Laboratory for Prevention Research, Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation Sciences University of Zagreb, Croatia

    Contact details: website & e-mail

    About: I work as associate professor at the Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Zagreb, Croatia. Since 2013 I hold a PhD in prevention science. At the Faculty I teach different courses in a field of prevention of mental, emotional and behavioural problems and mental health promotion at the graduate and postgraduate level. As a researcher I am involved in projects focused on socio-emotional learning, community-based prevention, prevention and promotion of mental health of children and youth, and mindfulness for students and adults. I am especially interested in evaluating and assessing effectiveness of mindfulness interventions, including mindfulness apps. Since 2018 I am certified in a Gestalt psychotherapy and I work as a children and adults? counselor at the Centre for Rehabilitation, City of Zagreb. I?m a member of American and European Societies for Prevention Research and European Network for Social and Emotional Competences.

    EVA project (research field, year):  Towards Caring & Mindful Schools Model (Philosophy & Humanities, 2015).

    Kaya Peerdeman

    Title and affiliation: Assistant professor; Health, Medical and Neuropsychology unit, Leiden University, The Netherlands

    Contact details: website & e-mail

    About: Kaya Peerdeman is an assistant professor in Health and Medical Psychology at Leiden University. Her research is focused on unraveling how biopsychosocial mechanisms affect health and translating these findings to improve health in clinical practice. Her main focus is on how expectations shape health, for example through examining placebo and nocebo effects (i.e., beneficial and adverse treatment outcomes, respectively, not attributable to active treatment components). She examines how they impact health outcomes like pain and other symptoms (e.g., itch, anxiety) and what biopsychosocial factors are involved (e.g., doctor-patient communication). Mechanistic studies bridging fundamental and applied research are key in her work. A European Varela Award from Mind & Life Europe enabled her to disentangle mindfulness and placebo effects on pain and anxiety. In lab and online experiments, she studied the effects of manipulating the core components of each (decentering and treatment expectations, respectively), using a balanced placebo design, on qualitative and quantitative self-reported measures and physiological responses. 

    EVA project (research field, year): Mindfulness effects on pain beyond placebo effects: Disentangling the role of decentering and positive treatment expectations. (Clinical science, 2018)

    Mareike Smolka

    Title and affiliation: Postdoctoral researcher in Science & Technology Studies and coordinator of the Collaborative Innovation research group at the Human Technology Center of RWTH Aachen University

    Contact details: website & e-mail

    About: Mareike is an empirical social science and humanities researcher trained in Science & Technology Studies (sociology, anthropology, and philosophy of science and technology). She received a PhD degree from Maastricht University in the Netherlands for the dissertation Ethics in Action: Multi-Sited Engaged Ethnography on Valuation Work in Contemplative Science. In her PhD research, she combined different qualitative research methods (ethnographic and praxeographic fieldwork, semi-structured interviews, reflexive dialogues and group discussions) to study the entanglements between knowledge production and practices of valuation in neuroscientific research on contemplative practices like mindfulness meditation. She further probed meditation researchers’ capacities to engage with the socio-ethical dimensions of their work by drawing on methods akin to action research, in particular Socio-Technical Integration Research. This was also the subject of her 2019 EVA project. In her postdoctoral research, Mareike investigates the societal dimensions of neuromorphic computing hardware for Artificial Intelligence applications in
    transdisciplinary collaboration with, for example, physicists, material scientists, engineers, computer scientists, industry representatives, and regional stakeholders.

    EVA project (research field, year): Tracing collaborative reflection moment-to-moment: bringing Science & Technology Studies to contemplative science and vice versa (Social Science, 2019)

    Michael Tremmel

    Title and affiliation: Doctoral candidate at the Bender Institute of Neuroimaging, University of Giessen, Germany

    Contact details: website & e-mail

    About: Contemplative experiences occupy me for more than a decade now. I started meditating 13 years ago and have been meditating mostly in a Buddhist tradition, on a daily basis and in some retreats. In 2011 I earned my degree in psychology. My Diplom thesis was a combined fMRI/EEG study on EEG indicators of default mode network activity during daydreaming and mindfulness of breathing. After my graduation, I began studying Indo-Tibetology to become more familiar with original meditation literature. Consequently, I have a unique perspective on contemplative experiences, combining backgrounds in meditation practice, psychology, neurosciences, as well as cultural and lingual studies. Looking into the varieties of contemplative experience has been the logical next step in my career path. Having worked at a neuroscience institute, I could simply have opted for a neuroscientific PhD thesis on meditation. However, considering my career history, I wanted to pursue a more interdisciplinary study approach and to combine first- and third-person perspectives. Thus, I felt very lucky when the opportunity came up to replicate and advance the study of Willoughby Britton and colleagues. Having even more luck, I received a scholarship, our study got funded, and I am part of a team of multiple researchers working on different parts of this study. From 2016 to 2019 I worked as a research fellow at the Bender Institute of Neuroimaging at the University of Giessen, Germany, and currently I am a doctoral candidate.

    EVA project (research field, year): Risks and Adverse Effects of Meditation (Clinical Science, 2016; click here to learn more).




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