Funded Projects

Projects We Have Funded

Project: Exploring the Epistemology of Memory in Exile and Its Relation to Land Through Art/Film.

Tsering Wangmo
Doctoral Student, Anthropology

This project supports the production of a short film to be shot in Ladakh, India. In both form and content, the film explores the temporality and “embodiment” of land in bodies through memories, particularly delving into the possibilities of the “physicality” of memory. The transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary frameworks and methods from anthropology, filmmaking, and film studies in this project directly tie in with the objectives of the Incubator for Transdisciplinary Futures Cluster. The political lives of the characters in this film reflect a subtle understanding of religious and historical contexts from which important discourses and teachings of mindfulness emerged in the “West”.

As a filmmaker and creative researcher interested in embodied research practices, “being aware” is one of the consciously driven forces crucial to how I analyze, critique, and produce epistemology and stories. This project aims to situate multi-modal methods of argumentation and knowledge-seeking relating to the topics of memory, narratives, and representations into academic discourses while recognizing and bringing to the forefront the people and places that inspire new insights. In this creative pursuit for knowledge, the people are Tibetan exiles in India, and the places: Tibet and India.  

Project: An Emotional Support Intervention to Improve Educator Well-Being, Increase Mindfulness, and Change How Teachers Communicate About Stress to Students

Maegan Arney
Doctoral Student, Education

Educators have stressful jobs and experienced widespread burnout and a decline in their overall well-being during the pandemic. They also serve as key emotional supports for students who often come to them with their emotional difficulties and stressful life situations. Many educators have noticed that students are even more likely to experience and need support for their emotions and mental health since the pandemic began. Therefore, additional emotional supports for educators are both well-timed and relevant.

The proposed study will test a newly developed emotional support intervention for teachers. The intervention will provide a toolkit of effective emotion management strategies and different ways people think about their emotions, including how to utilize mindfulness personally and how to be more mindful with their students. Evidence from this study will help us learn about intervention efficacy and gather feedback from teachers about the intervention materials with an aim of improving the content based on that feedback.

Project: Looped Soundscapes: Composing and Creating Harp Music for Use in Mindfulness Settings and Research

Lisa Gilbert, Ph.D.
Lecturer and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Education Department

Sound can be a powerful anchor for meditation. Yet the resources available to both researchers and musicians are often constrained: researchers need a stable set of compositions and recordings that meet certain criteria, and musicians often search for advice beyond playing old favorites or improvising. This transdisciplinary, artistic work will contribute to our broader community via the composition of repetitive loops conducive to meditative states, both written and recorded, all ultimately made freely available to researchers and therapeutic musicians alike.

Throughout the project, consultations with disciplinary specialists in music, neuroscience, and religious studies will allow for the identification of best practices and emergent questions. The Mindfulness Cluster’s anti-bias values will further guide the pursuit of a path characterized by respect for religious traditions and cultural values embedded in chant and other longstanding uses of sound for meditation.

Project: Understanding the Effect of Focused Attention and Open Monitoring Meditation on Attentional and Cognitive Control in Anxiety

Resh Gupta, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences

Anxiety disorders are highly prevalent and one of the leading causes of disease burden worldwide. Research in the field of cognitive neuroscience has focused on understanding the neural mechanisms that may account for anxiety symptoms; for example, many studies and theories have pointed to the importance of general attentional and cognitive control deficits associated with anxiety. In parallel, a large body of research has demonstrated the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) in the treatment of anxiety, and it has been proposed that mindfulness meditation exerts its effects through improvements in attentional and cognitive control.

The proposed project will utilize EEG combined with a novel “state induction” design to compare two types of mindfulness practices – focused attention (FA) and open monitoring (OM) – in terms of their potentially distinct effects on neural activity and behavioral performance in a well-established experimental task assessing attention and cognitive control. A key hypothesis to be tested is whether mindfulness-related effects on anxiety symptoms are mediated by changes in neurobehavioral markers of attentional and cognitive control.