ESRI 2021 Faculty bios & abstract texts

On this page you will find the bios, followed later by the abstract texts & references of our ESRI 2021 Faculty, Contemplative Faculty as well as information on our Planning Committee members.


  • Marion  Chaygneaud-Dupuy
    Marion Chaygneaud-Dupuy Global Nomad / NGO Highland Initiatives - China
    Marion Chaygneaud-Dupuy

    Marion Chaygneaud-Dupuy is a meditation practitioner, living in the Himalayas since twenty-two years. After four years of practice near a monastery at Darjeeling, she studied Tibetan Buddhism at the philosophy department of Lhasa in China. She is a Himalayan mountain guide and first European woman, who summited Mt Everest three times. By leading Clean Everest expeditions with a group of fifty Tibetan mountain guides, she set up a waste management model to keep Himalayan glacier’s water pure.

    Eighteen years ago, she set up a project on the Tibetan nomadic plateau, determined to restore the cultural values of Tibetan nomads, as guardians of the environment, while the great economic and social changes on the plateau made them become marginalized in their own territory. By monitoring the project, she promotes a local vision on how to revive the Tibetan Nomadic Civilization in which lies the Tibetan “eco-awareness”. The high plateau of Hindu Kush Himalaya is mainly made of permafrost and is known as Third Pole, which holds over 30,000 square miles of glacier ice and sustain 240 million people in their peaks and valleys. The mountain ranges also cradle the headwaters of rivers like the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra that provide water to billions in the lowlands downstream. This area is feeling the impacts of climate change already, and more intensely, than many other parts of the world, though it’s not fully clear why.

    By working with scientists, the vision of the Nomad Institute; it is to serve life by merging two streams of the tradition and the modernity, with an Institute delivering nomadic knowledge and wisdom and acting as a business incubator to adapt with Chinese economic development. She is an entrepreneur who lives in Lhasa, where she manages a network of Tibetan travel agencies. Her company Global Nomad certifies and promotes sustainable travel, in partnership with dozens of international tour operators. Since 2002, with her NGO Highland Initiatives, she led over fifty local projects that restore Tibetan ecosystem.

  • Luisa  Damiano
    Luisa Damiano IULM University Milan - Italy
    Luisa Damiano

    Luisa Damiano (PhD) is Associate Professor of Logic and Philosophy of Science at the IULM University (Milan, Italy), and the coordinator of the Research Group on the Epistemology of the Sciences of the Artificial (RG-ESA).

    Luisa Damiano (Ph.D. in Epistemology of Complex Systems) is Associate Professor of Philosophy of Science at the University of Messina (Italy), where she coordinates the Research Group on Epistemology of the Sciences of the Artificial (RG-ESA).

    Her main research fields are: Epistemology of the Sciences of Complex Systems; Epistemology of the Cognitive Sciences and Philosophy of Mind, with a focus on Cognitive Extension, Minimal Cognition, Inter-subjective Cognition, Embodiment and Enaction; Philosophy of Biology, with a focus on Self-organization, Autopoiesis, Minimal Life, Origins of Life; Epistemology of the Sciences of the Artificial, with a focus on the Synthetic Modeling of Life and Cognition, in particular in Synthetic Biology and in Cognitive, Developmental and Social Robotics.

    On these topics she wrote many articles, published two books (Unità in dialogo, Mondadori, Milano 2009; Living with robots, with P. Dumouchel, Harvard University Press, 2017) and co-edited several journal special issues. Her philosophical exploration of the above mentioned domains of contemporary science is based on ongoing collaborations with scientific teams (e.g., University of Salento, Italy, and ELSI, Japan, SB-AI Project; Ritsumeikan University Graduate School of Core Ethics and Frontier Sciences, Kyoto, Japan, Artificial Empathy Project).

  • Sonja  Geiger
    Sonja Geiger Justus-Liebig-University Gießen - Germany
    Sonja Geiger

    Sonja M. Geiger is a senior researcher and lecturer at the Consumer Research Department at the Justus-Liebig-University, Germany. A cognitive psychologist by training, she has become an expert on sustainable consumption over the years. She has been working in various research projects aimed at understanding the determinants of sustainable behaviors and the design of according environmental educational interventions.

    Before returning to the scientific exploration of sustainability issues, she has worked for an international environmental NGO in Latin America. Especially interested in the interplay between personal determinants of (e.g. mindfulness or values), and structural conditions for (e.g. temporal infrastructures) sustainable behavior.

    Astract text

    Many ways to live …(a happy life)
    Recent research on mindfulness has revealed small positive relationships of mindfulness as a dispositional trait and different measures of environmental attitudes and behaviors. These relationships could arise from different potential fields in which a mindful attitude (and underlying practice) influences our thoughts and behaviors. These fields comprise: disruption of routines, stronger accordance of attitudes and behaviors, increased feeling of connectedness and compassion, declining importance of external accomplishments as material possessions and a heightened sense of physical and psychological well-being. Evidence from a longitudinal studies show strong evidence for increased compassion, declining materialism and increased well-being. These areas relate to different value groups within Schwartz’s circumplex model of universal values. As individuals differ in the importance they assign to those values, they also differ in terms of the effects mindfulness practice has on them. In other words, mindfulness practice works differently for everyone and for some it doesn’t.

    Source: Mindfulness and sustainability: correlation or causation?


  • Hsuan-Hsiu  Hung
    Hsuan-Hsiu Hung Resident Artist - Estonia
    Hsuan-Hsiu Hung

    Hsuan-Hsiu Hung is a dance and movement artist from Taiwan. She comes from a visual art background with a B.F.A from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Over time, because of her personal practice of Qi Gong and dance, her work gradually evolved into an interdisciplinary practice which crosses over visual and movement, and contemplative art. She has received modern dance training at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance and obtained an M.A. in Creative Practice from the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. She has studied with a Qi Gong master in Taiwan for over ten years.

    In Taiwan, she has worked as an artist in residence in school, collaborating with teachers to develop projects that incorporate both visual and movement art in the learning process. She has presented her dance works in New York and in London. In Europe, she has been invited to teach in dance festivals as well as in meditation retreats where movement is practised as a way to work with the many layers of our self. 

    Her current research Gestures of Offering explores the improvisational nature of encounters within a context of contemplative movement practice. It is inspired by the love of tea ceremonies and the movement rituals in Buddhist practice.

  • Ven. Damien D.  Jampa
    Ven. Damien D. Jampa Palpung Sherabling Monastic Seat - India
    Ven. Damien D. Jampa

    Jampa Dorje is a French Monk ordained by Tai Situ Rinpoche.

    After alternating meditation retreat and his para-medical work (nurse) in France he went to India to learn Tibetan and deepen his understanding of Buddhism.

    Since 2005 he is residing mainly at Palpung Sherabling Monastic Seat in India where he completed 11 years of Shedra (Monastic University) while receiving many empowerments and transmissions, the foremost being the Mahamudra Transmission. During his university studies he studied the 5 great topics of Buddhism: Vinaya, Abhidharma, Pramana, Madyamika and Prajnaparamita as well as the bases for Tantra (Uttaratantra-Shastra etc.)

    His Gurus are Tai Situ R, Mingyur R and the late Bokar Rinpoche.

    Since 2010 he translates from Tibetan to French His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa as well as Tai Situ Rinpoche, Mingyur Rinpoche and other Masters. When necessary he also translates from Tibetan to English. In March 2020, he had to come back to France and started to teach meditation to Buddhists as well as Non-Buddhists students while keeping working on translation works.

  • Anne  Speckens
    Anne Speckens Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen - the Netherlands
    Anne Speckens

    Professor Anne Speckens is a psychiatrist and professor at the Department of Psychiatry, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, the Netherlands. She founded the Radboud UMC Center for Mindfulness, which provides Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy to patients with psychiatric disorders, such as depressive disorder and ADHD, as well as chronic somatic conditions, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease ( The Center also offers Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction to health care professionals and the general population and a 1,5 year post-graduate training program to become a mindfulness teacher. Anne Speckens closely collaborates with the Donders Center for Brain, Cognition, and Behavior in Nijmegen as well as academic partners including the University of Amsterdam, Tilburg, and Groningen and non-academic partners including the Dutch Association of Mindfulness Teachers. The Center for Mindfulness also maintains international collaborations with mindfulness centers at Oxford (Prof. Willem Kuyken), Bangor (Dr. Rebecca Crane) and Brown University (Prof. Jud Brewer). Prof. Speckens co-organised the International Conference on Mindfulness 2018 in Amsterdam, which was attended by approximately 800 practitioners and researchers in the field.

    Prof Speckens was a member of the Dutch Health Council from 2007 until 2015. She was a member (2007-2012) and chair (2012-2017) of the Committee Clinical Scientific Research of the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development. She is a current member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the European Association of Behavior and Cognitive Therapies (EABCT) and Scientific Committee of the Internal Conference on Mindfulness. She was chair of the Medical Examination Board of the Radboud UMC from 2014 until 2020. From 2018 onwards, she has represented the Radboud UMC on the board of Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health (CIZG). Prof Speckens has published more than 250 publications, including 187 peer-reviewed international papers. She has supervised 18 completed PhD dissertations. Her H-index is 34 (Web of Science) / 41 (Research Gate) / 48 (Google Scholar).


  • Bas  Verplanken
    Bas Verplanken University of Bath - United Kingdom
    Bas Verplanken

    Bas Verplanken graduated in 1980 at Leiden University, the Netherlands. He was a lecturer and senior lecturer at the University of Leiden (1980-1990) and the University of Nijmegen (1990-1998), and a professor of social psychology at the University of Tromsø, Norway (1998-2006) and the University of Bath (2006-2020). He is currently professor emeritus at the University of Bath.

    His research interests are in the domains of environmental, health, and consumer psychology and he has a particular interest in habits and behaviour change. He published on topics such as behavioural and mental habits, environmental concern and sustainable lifestyles, (un)healthy eating, values, persuasion and attitude change, impulsive buying, transportation, energy use, risk perception, self-esteem, body image, anorexia nervosa, worrying, nostalgia, mindfulness, perfectionism, and narcissism. He served as an Associate Editor of the British Journal of Social Psychology and Psychology and Health, and was the Head of Department of Psychology at the University of Bath from 2010-2016.

    He is interested in cosmology, meteorology, geology, and photography, a student of Tsoknyi Rinpoche and an admirer of the great impressionist painters.

    Abstract text

    Cracks in the wall
    We are used to the assumption that we are driven by motivation and willpower. In other words, we are in control of what we think and do. However, we are not always as thoughtful as this assumption may suggest. We often do things 'on the automatic pilot' or 'by force of habit'. That can lock us in on behaviours that are unhealthy, unsafe or unsustainable, and as motivation and willpower are not in the driving seat, these are difficult to change.

    However, sometimes we face life course events such as transition from school to work, moving house, starting a family, retirement, or external events such as the COVID-19 pandemic. These are moments our worlds change and motivation and willpower have to take over. Such 'cracks in the wall' are opportunities for reflection, behaviour change and personal growth and may be starting points for building new, but healthy, safe and sustainable habits.

    Reading materials:

  • Marieke van Vugt - Netherlands
    Marieke van Vugt - Netherlands University of Groningen - the Netherlands
    Marieke van Vugt - Netherlands

    Marieke van Vugt is an assistant professor at the Institute of Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Engineering (ALICE) of the University of Groningen (Netherlands). The research in Dr. van Vugt's lab focuses on how, when and why we mind-wander, and what the fundamental cognitive operations are that underlie meditation and mindfulness.

    Most recently, she started to investigate how analytical meditation practiced by Tibetan monks and nuns affects cognition and emotion. She addresses these questions using a combination of computational modeling, neuroscience, and experimental psychology tools. She very much enjoys projects were science, art (particularly classical ballet), and contemplation meet.

    Marieke van Vugt is also a Mind & Life Europe Association member.

    Photo credits Sander Martens

  • Ven. Karma  Wangmo
    Ven. Karma Wangmo Palpung Yeshe Chöling Dharma Center - Slovenia
    Ven. Karma Wangmo

    Lama Karma Wangmo has been studying and practicing Buddhism since 2000 under the guidance of H.E. Chamgon Kenting Tai Situ Rinpoche at Palpung Sherabling Monastic Seat in India. She received Getsulma (novice) monastic ordination at the age of 29 from Tai Situ Rinpoche in 2006 and Gelongma (bhikṣuni) ordination in 2015 in Taiwan.

    She received many empowerments, transmissions, teachings and pith instructions on Mahamudra from Tai Situ Rinpoche. She also received empowerments, teachings and meditation instructions from many other masters such as H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama, H.H. the 17th Karmapa Orgyen Trinley Dorje, H.E. Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche, H.E. Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, Ringu Tulku Rinpoche, Chungpo Gyalton Rinpoche, Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche, and others.

    Lama Wangmo studied Tibetan language by attending several Tibetan language courses in India and Nepal, and by living with the Tibetan community for many years.

    Between 2006 and 2010 she completed the traditional three year and three month retreat at Ringu Tulku Rinpoche's Bodhicharya Meditation Centre in Sikkim, India. After completing the retreat, Tai Situ Rinpoche appointed her as the resident lama of Palpung Yeshe Chöling Dharma Center in her home country Slovenia, which also has a branch in Padua, Italy. Lama Wangmo has spent a total of over seven years in retreat. She divides her time between India and Europe, practicing, studying, translating and teaching the Dharma.

    In 2017, she participated in the neuroscientific study The effect of meditation practices on attention and emotion regulation: A study on the brain correlates and on the biomarkers of stress and inflammation, conducted by Dr. Antoine Lutz at Centre de Recherche en Neurosciences in Lyon.

  • Andreas Weber
    Andreas Weber Independent researcher - Germany
    Andreas Weber

    Dr Andreas Weber is a biologist, philosopher and writer. His work focuses on a re-evaluation of our understanding of the living. He proposes to view – and treat – all organisms as subjects and hence the biosphere as a meaning-creating and poetic reality.

    Andreas teaches at Berlin University of the Arts and is Adjunct Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology in Guwahati. He contributes to major German newspapers and magazines and has published more than a dozen books, most recently Enlivenment. A Poetics for the Anthropocene, MIT Press, 2019 and Sharing Life. The Ecopolitics of Reciprocity, Boell Foundation, 2020.

    Photo credits Florian Büttner 
  • Ven. Holger Yeshe
    Ven. Holger Yeshe Tergar Meditation Community - Germany
    Ven. Holger Yeshe

    Born in Nürnberg, Germany, Holger Yeshe began practicing Buddhism in 1999. Since that time, he has studied and practiced extensively in both the Theravadan and Tibetan Buddhist lineages. In 2005, he met his main teacher, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche with whom he has practiced with ever since. During his two decades of intensive study and practice, Holger Yeshe became proficient in Tibetan language and now serves as primary interpreter for Khenpo Kunga, Mingyur Rinpoche’s main Khenpo. In 2010, he ordained asBuddhist monk under the tutelage of Mingyur Rinpoche, splitting his time between facilitating meditation seminars, interpreting for teachings and different projects.

    Holger Yeshe has a particular interest in the intersection between the meditative tradition and western Scientific modes of inquiry. Since 2019, Holger Yeshe serves as a planning committee member of Mind and Life Europe Summer Research Institute which he believes is a great place to continue to explore this dialogue. He currently helps co-direct Tergar Germany, offering meditation seminars in both English and German, coordinating community outreach, and providing support for students in their meditation practise.

Contemplative Faculty & Practice at ESRI

At ESRI contemplative practice is a core element we engage in to deepen our own felt experience gained through such techniques.
Familiarising ourselves with the qualities of mindfulness/awareness enables us to settle our minds and look directly at our inner experience. Through cultivation of our innate qualities of love, compassion, wisdom and joy we gain insight using analytical meditation which investigates and directly examines our experience and perceptions. 
We will offer short presentations that highlight key elements of meditation along with direct quotes from meditation masters to contemplate and incorporate in guided daily meditation sessions. A half practice day dedicated to contemplative techniques provides the possibility of some space from our usual habits so we can take our understanding and experience deeper.

We look forward to sharing this day of meditation with you all. Some of you may be new to meditation, some may have been meditating for quite a while. Regardless of your experience - a beginner’s mind is your best resource.

Planning Committee

  • Catherine  Bastien-Ventura
    Catherine Bastien-Ventura Strategy and Development Consulting - France
    Catherine Bastien-Ventura

    Trained as a biologist in toxicology and pharmacology, Catherine Bastien-Ventura worked as a research engineer at the national center for scientific research (CNRS) in Paris, France. After 10 years of research in the field of cancerology (Institute Gustave Roussy, Villejuif), she has been teaching and managing research projects in the field of environment and sustainable development for public sector and private companies (Rhodia, Schneider Electric, Hutchinson).

    Research project manager for the French Ministry of Environment, within the research and foresight department, she was in charge of programs dealing with different types of pollution and their consequences on ecosystems. After this position for almost ten years, at the interface of research and public policies, she joined the headquarter of CNRS, working for the Institute devoted to environment and sustainable development where she managed a cooperation program with China on environmental issues. Meanwhile, she also was the project manager for the Frontiers of Sciences programs with Japan and Taiwan.

    During the last years she was the international cooperation officer for French research networks dealing with area studies throughout Asia, Africa, Middle East and Muslim World. 

    She recently developed a strategy and development consulting activity for basic research and international cooperation.

    Catherine Bastien-Ventura is also a Mind & Life Europe Association member.

  • Luisa Damiano
    Luisa Damiano IULM University Milan - Italy
    Luisa Damiano

    Please see the bio under 'Faculty'.

  • Hsuan-Hsiu Hung
    Hsuan-Hsiu Hung Resident Artist - Estonia
    Hsuan-Hsiu Hung

    Please see the bio under 'Faculty'.

  • Gabor Karsai
    Gabor Karsai Mind & Life Europe
    Gabor Karsai

    Gabor Karsai, based near Budapest, Hungary, is a long-standing member of the MLE Association, and presently serves as Rector of the Dharma Gate Buddhist College in Budapest, as well as Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies. Gabor has undertaken Ph.D studies with a focus on process philosophy (A. N. Whitehead), phenomenology and Buddhism.

    Over the last 15 years, he has had extensive management engagements, including as a deputy CEO at Bankar Holding Plc. (Hungary), Director of the Spirit of Humanity Forum (Iceland), the Education for Peace Foundation (Switzerland) and as CEO at the Ling Jiou Mountain Buddhist Society (Taiwan). He combines practical experience in running a not for profit organisation together with a deep appreciation for contemplative practice and science as well as the values and vision which MLE embodies.

  • Hendrik  Stark
    Hendrik Stark University of Freiburg - Germany
    Hendrik Stark

    Hendrik studied forest sciences at the University of Dresden with stays in Canada, Ecuador and Sweden. As part of his doctoral and postdoctoral research, Hendrik worked at the University of Freiburg in the field of forest ecology and was active in the graduate school "Environment, Society and Global Change". Inspired by years of private study of Buddhist meditation and psychology with teachers from India, he is interested in what we can learn from the ancient Buddhist psychology and its very practical and experience-based meditation for the societal transformation towards social and ecological sustainability.

    Thus, Hendrik brought his professional and private backgrounds together and in 2016 initiated the seminar "Linking Mind and Environmental Sustainability" at the Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Freiburg. He has trained as an MBSR teacher (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) with the University of Bangor / the Mindfulness Network, Wales, GB, and with the Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP) in London.

    In early 2019, Hendrik started working with the Meditation4Balance project as a freelancer and also started a PostDoc at the Systemic Health Research Section at the Freiburg University Medical Center looking at the topic of mindfulness and sustainability. Hendrik is employed as a forest scientist the Forest Research Institute in Baden-Württemberg (FVA) since mid 2020 working on forest growth modeling and climate change.

  • Mathis Trautwein
    Mathis Trautwein University Medical Center Freiburg - Germany
    Mathis Trautwein

    Towards the end of my psychology studies, I started to explore the world of contemplative practice, but also learnd about phenomenological philosophy. Being intrigued by the parallels of these traditions, I was captivated when I realized that they had been introduced to the empirical science of the mind by Francisco Varela and his colleagues. Their work thus opened a path for my academic trajectory.

    After finishing my psychology studies, I completed a PhD in cognitive neuroscience at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, in the lab of Dr. Tania Singer, where I contributed to the ReSource project, a large-scale longitudinal mental training study. Subsequently, I completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the lab of Dr. Aviva Berkovich-Ohana at the University of Haifa. Here we explored the experience of self-boundary dissolution during meditation using the neurophenomenological approach. These different stages allowed me to gain experience in EEG, MEG and fMRI methodologies as well as first-person methods, such as the microphenomenological interview.

    In my current work at the University Medical Center Freiburg in the lab of Prof. Stefan Schmidt, I expand on this research. Here the aims include building a formal embodied and enactive model of meditative practice, explore how self/non-self boundaries act as a guiding principle in attention and social cognition and contribute to the synthesis of first-person and third-person as well as scientific and contemplative perspectives.

  • Marieke van Vugt
    Marieke van Vugt University of Groningen - the Netherlands
    Marieke van Vugt

    Please see the bio under 'Faculty'.


    Photo credits Sander Martens

  • Ven. Holger  Yeshe
    Ven. Holger Yeshe Tergar Meditation Community - Germany
    Ven. Holger Yeshe

    Please see the bio under 'Faculty'.