Graduate Students

Cortland Dahl

Cortland Dahl

Graduate Student - IGM

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Cortland is interested in exploring the interface between the body, the mind, and the brain, and especially in the question of how meditation and other contemplative practices may help us cultivate positive qualities like compassion and resilience. His current work focuses on the effects of long-term meditation practice on aversive conditioning.

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Tammi Kral

Graduate Student - IGM

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Tammi is interested in exploring the neural and behavioral mechanisms underlying affective experience, its regulation and relationship with pro-social behavior.  In her graduate work she will investigate these processes, as well as the effects of meditation and behavioral interventions utilizing a combination of functional brain imaging and behavioral measures. She is currently researching empathy in adolescents, and developing and testing video games aimed at training emotion recognition and pro-social behavior.

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Regina Lapate

Graduate Student - IGM

Email

Regina is interested in advancing the understanding of the structure of affect and affective regulation. Currently, she is conducting experiments that examine the role of conscious access in affective processing-- in particular, affective chronometry and pervasiveness-- using a combination of behavioral, peripheral-physiological and neuroimaging measures.

Daniel Levinson

Daniel Levinson

Graduate Student – Clinical

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Daniel received a B.S. from Stanford University and is currently a doctoral student in clinical psychology studying with Dr. Richard Davidson in the Department of Psychology, Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior, and Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center. His research focuses on the study of mind wandering, mindfulness, and the development of games that may improve mindfulness. His work has garnered awards and funding, such as the Francisco J. Varela Memorial Award. His clinical practice includes facilitating mindfulness groups, and he enjoys meditating.

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Martina Ly

Graduate Student - NTP

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Martina is presently a graduate student in the Neuroscience Training Program, under the advising of Dr. Barbara Bendlin, in the Department of Medicine, and Dr. Richard Davidson, in the departments of Psychiatry and Psychology. Martina’s graduate work is focused on understanding age-related brain and cognitive changes, and determining the effect of negative and protective factors on aging, and in particular, defining the characteristics of successful aging. Her work has centered on characterizing structural and functional brain changes in aging, in addition to utilizing multiple neuroimaging modalities to assess the impact of stress, inflammation, cognitive reserve, and mindfulness training on brain and psychological outcomes.

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Princess Ojiaku

Graduate Student - NTP

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Princess is a graduate student in the Neuroscience and Public Policy program interested in how external factors such as stress and low socioeconomic status interact with brain structure and function to produce internalizing disorders such as anxiety and depression. She is interested in investigating how different measures of stress and adversity in early life relate to measures of emotional reactivity and resilience in later life. She has hopes that scientific research on the effects of early life adversity and emotional resilience will inform policy change and provide greater social benefits. She is currently involved in examining the role of life stressors in a longitudinal study of family life and brain development.

David Perlman

David Perlman

Graduate Student - IGM

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Fun with Dave's head

David comes from a background in physics, computers and statistics. He is currently working on functional magnetic resonance imaging studies of the effects of meditation on pain perception, as well as on altruistic behavior and reward circuitry using neuroeconomics methodologies. He has also worked on real-time fMRI neurofeedback.

Other ongoing projects include work with cognitive models of depression and anxiety, combined with pain affect; thermal imaging of particular advanced yoga practices; and various methodological and instrumentation developments. Eventually he hopes to study effects of abstract beliefs and cognitive styles on emotion and psychopathology, and the role of societal factors in this process.

Helen Weng

Helen Weng

Graduate Student – Clinical

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Helen grew up in Sunnyvale, CA and Mt. Sinai, NY. She earned her undergraduate degree at Columbia University in Neuroscience & Behavior, which sparked her interests in affective neuroscience, clinical psychology, and Buddhist philosophy. Before graduate school, she spent a year at the New York State Psychiatric Institute studying the effect transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) on treatment-resistant depression and schizophrenia. She is currently a doctoral student in clinical psychology studying with Dr. Richard Davidson in the Department of Psychology, Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior, and Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center. She is currently funded by a predoctoral NCCAM fellowship through the Department of Family Medicine.  Helen studies the impact of compassion meditation on neural responses to human suffering and altruistic behavior using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and economic decision-making methodology. She also studies the impact of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, long-term meditation, and brain injury on altruistic behavior. She has received numerous awards for her work including the Francisco J. Varela Memorial Award and the Cognitive Neuroscience Society Graduate Student Award. She was recently appointed a member of the Mind and Life Institute Fellows Board.

Helen's clinical interests include integrating emotion-focused, mindfulness, and interpersonal process approaches to psychotherapy to treat mood disorders. Her long-term goals include studying how interventions that increase love and compassion impact both psychological and physical health in patients, and how training these qualities in health care providers can prevent burnout and improve patient outcomes. She is also passionate about multicultural communication and understanding. Helen loves eating good food with friends, music, and cats.

Cecilia Westbrook

Cecilia Westbrook

Graduate Student - IGM, MD/PhD

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Ceci is interested in the role of executive function and memory in the risk for internalizing disorders, with a major focus on rumination. She is interested in how rumination affects, and is affected by, cognitive function both immediately and across development. Ceci is also interested in the role of these processes in shaping the narrative self, which she think has implications for psychopathology as well.

Joe Wielgosz

Joe Wielgosz

Graduate Student - Clinical

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Joe's broad motivation is to explore integrated models of emotional health that recognize the complex interactions of cognition, emotion, the body, and the interpersonal environment. He plans to focus his research on phenomena that cross these boundaries in interesting ways.

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