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Mindful : December 2017
PATRICIA JENNINGS, PHD Associate profes- sor of education, Curry School of Education, Univer- sity of Virginia KNOWN FOR Innovative research on mindfulness in education. She recently published a randomized con- trolled trial show- ing that a mind- fulness-based professional development program for teachers, CARE for Teachers, reduces teacher stress and improves class- room interactions. FUTURE DIRECTIONS She’s conducting a randomized con- trolled trial of the Compassionate Schools Project. It aims to promote focus, resilience, empathy, and well-being by teaching mindful- ness, contempla- tive movement, and social/ emotional skills to students at 50 Louisville elemen- tary schools. AMISHI JHA, PHD Neuroscientist, associate profes- sor of psychology, founder and head of the Jha Lab, University of Miami KNOWN FOR Pioneering work, much of it funded by the Department of Defense—car- ried out with mili- tary, students, and athletes, showing mindfulness can protect attention and working mem- ory and examin- ing how to scale up mindfulness training for larger populations and make its effects long lasting. FUTURE DIRECTIONS Adding compas- sion training to mindfulness tech- niques to study how the blend affects prosocial behavior and peer- to-peer support. “ We’re looking for best training deliv- ery practices; e.g., how to achieve and sustain maximum benefits with low- est time demands. Accessible training is key for broad adoption by high-performance and high-demand groups,” Jha says. SARA LAZAR, PHD Associate researcher in psychiatry, Massa- chusetts General Hospital; assistant professor in psy- chology, Harvard Medical School KNOWN FOR Studying the neuroscience of yoga and medita- tion. Her research has indicated that meditation may produce structural changes in the brain and slow aging-related brain atrophy. FUTURE DIRECTIONS She’s beginning a study among adults with no pre- vious meditation experience, testing whether mind- fulness training can enhance and preserve memor y. MICHAEL MRAZEK, PHD Director of research, Center for Mindfulness and Human Poten- tial, Department of Psychological and Brain Sci- ences, University of California, Santa Barbara KNOWN FOR Finding ways to increase the effec- tiveness of mind- fulness training, par ticularly in K-12 school settings. FUTURE DIRECTIONS Over the nex t three years, he will be conduct- ing a series of US Depar tment of Education-funded studies to discover the best ways to teach mindfulness to high school students. CLIFFORD SARON, PHD Researcher, neuroscientist, Center for Mind and Brain; director of the Saron Lab, University of California, Davis KNOWN FOR Directing the Sha- matha Project, a multiyear investi- gation of long- term intensive meditation (in the form of a three- month retreat). Findings so far are that the practice sharpens and sustains attention, enhances well- being and empa- thy, and improves physiological markers of health. FUTURE DIRECTIONS Examining psychological well-being among Shamatha Project par ticipants seven years after the initial retreat. And among partic- ipants in one- month meditation retreats, Saron is examining bio- markers of cellular aging, stress, and inflammation. ZINDEL SEGAL, PHD Professor of brain and therapeutics, University of Toronto– Scarborough KNOWN FOR Being a founder of Mindful- ness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), which integrates medita- tion into psycho- therapy. A leading researcher on mindfulness and mood disorders, he has shown that MBCT can prevent relapses in people with depression. FUTURE DIRECTIONS Segal is con- ducting a study at a large HMO examining whether adding a digital form of MBCT to standard depres- sion care can reduce symp- toms. Another study in progress examines neural changes, over a two-year period, in patients who have used MBCT and recovered from depression. ● December 2017 mindful 59