Principal Investigator

My lab’s research takes a “big picture” perspective in attempting to understand the nature of mental life, and in particular consciousness. Combining empirical, philosophical, and contemplative traditions, we address broad questions that cross traditional disciplinary boundaries.

Project Scientists

Michael Mrazek, Ph.D. is the director of research at the University of California's Center for Mindfulness & Human Potential. His research identifies innovative ways to increase the effectiveness of mindfulness training, particularly in high schools. He also tests the limits of how much a person can improve through intensive evidence-based training programs that target health, mindfulness, and self-control. 

One line of Claire's research focuses on the role meta-awareness plays in the dynamic changes between states of mind wandering and focused attention. Another line examines the relationship between different types of mind wandering, creativity and curiosity. 

Postdoctoral Researchers

 Alissa Mrazek, Ph.D. develops research-based interventions that enhance self-regulation—the ability to direct one's attention, thoughts, emotions, and behavior in line with one's personal goals. In addition to designing self-regulation interventions, she evaluates their efficacy and underlying mechanisms.  Her research extends across lab studies and intervention contexts with a key focus on examining the fidelity and efficacy of school-based interventions.

John Protzko's current research explores the field of meta-science, studying the assumptions and processes of science and scientists. 

Research Specialist

Stephen contributes to an an interdisciplinary effort to research the nature of time with a focus on anomalous cognition in the Theoretical and Applied Neurocausality Laboratory (TANC Lab), which he cofounded.

Robert Bernstein has an MS from UCSB Physics 1984 and a BS in Physics from MIT 1980. He is interested in the Hard Problem of Consciousness: How it is that we have phenomenal experience at all.

Tam Hunt

Tam Hunt is an Affiliate Guest in Psychology in the META Lab. His work focuses on the philosophy of mind, reconciliation of scientific and spiritual views of the world, and the interaction of mind and matter. A practicing lawyer, Hunt brings a unique perspective to psychology and philosophy. Hunt also teaches at UCSB's graduate program Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, where he focuses on climate change law and policy and renewable energy law and policy.

Alan Macy is currently focusing on psychophysiology, emotional and motivational state measurements, magnetic resonance imaging and augmented/virtual reality implementations. His recent research and artistic efforts explore ideas of human nervous system extension and the associated impacts upon perception.  As an applied science artist, he specializes in the creation of cybernated art, interactive sculpture and environments. 

Lab Manager

Shivang is the current lab manager of the META Lab. His interests lie in human-machine interaction, consciousness, and cognitive modeling. He is assisting Asa Young in his research regarding interpersonal synchrony via physiologically generated electromagnetic fields.

Graduate Students

I study the mechanisms and content of mind wandering. In the past, I’ve worked on assessing the content of the spontaneous stream of consciousness. I’m currently investigating the differences between the quality of thoughts obtained during think aloud and silent mind wandering protocols. 

Madeleine studies the psychological basis of creative idea generation and insight. Using eye tracking technology, she also investigates how inter-individual differences in eye movement behavior may relate to dopamine-related cognition and personality traits, such as curiosity, schizotypy, and creativity.

Elliott's research interests include peak experiences, neuroplasticity, affective neuroscience, and the nature of consciousness. 

Research Assistants

Meghan is a 3rd-year Biopsychology major assisting Madeleine in her research on curiosity and creativity. She is interested in Neuroscience and Cognitive Psychology research.  

Medina is a third year Biopsychology major assisting Elliot Ihm with research regarding emotional experiences. Medina is especially interested in the influences of biological processes on emotions, conditions, and other mental processes.


Saga is a third-year psychology major assisting Madeleine in research on curiosity and creativity. She is interested in cognitive psychology and neuroscience research. 


Becky is a third year Psychology major and French minor assisting Elliot Ihm with research on emotional experiences. She is currently interested in cognition and memory.

Chi is a fourth-year majoring in Psychology and Chinese.  He is assisting Stephen Baumgart with EEG research in TANC Lab. Chi is interested in working in the behavioral health field. 

Majoring in Psychological and Brain Sciences, Victoria is currently assisting Madeleine Gross with her research on how creativity and curiosity are generated and further explored. She is also collaborating with Elliot Ihm and Anne Taves among others on the Inventory Project. She is especially interested in the adaptive nature of human perceptions and how those guide behavior as well as investigating how subjective experiences stem from objective neural processes.

Sofia is a 2nd year Psychological and Brain Sciences major and she plans on obtaining a minor in Applied Psychology as well. She is especially interested in metacognition and mindfulness in addition to psychological disorders and hopes to pursue applied behavior analysis. She will be assisting Asa Young in his research in the META lab

Emily is a 3rd year biopsychology major with a minor in philosophy. She is currently assisting James Elliott and Stephen Baumgart in the TANC lab, where they use EEG to study physiological anticipatory activity. Her interests include consciousness, mindfulness, psychopharmacology and the philosophy of science. 

Kristel is a 4th year Psychological & Brain Sciences major assisting Madeleine Gross in her exploration of the experience of awe and wonder through aesthetic chills. Her personal interests lay in neuroplasticity, meditation, psychopharmacology, and the interaction of the former on perception and consciousness across organisms.  

Maliha is a fourth year Biopsychology student. Her relentless passion to both learn and share mindfulness and self development techniques has brought her to CMHP, where she is contributing to the development of the Mindful Education Initiative. Her passions include teaching yoga, personal and community development, cognitive neuroscience, the idea of consciousness, and the power of the human mind.

My name is Jinny Kim, and I am a 3rd year Biopsychology major and Applied Psychology minor. I am assisting James Elliott regarding fluctuations of experience and EEG during meditation. My specific interests are dream analysis and psychotherapy for criminals.

Raina is a third year Psychological and Brain Sciences major and Art History minor assisting Claire Zedelius with her research on creativity and mind wandering. She is interested in cognition and perception. 

Spencer Kwit is a third year at UCSB who studies Biopsychology and Medical Humanities. He is also the President of Floating Doctors at UCSB and works downtown at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. Spencer works for Elliott Ihm, studying awe and accommodation role in top-down and bottom-up processes for attention and memory. He is interested in how certain drugs help alleviate severe symptoms of extreme special needs.

Alex is an undergraduate psychology student researching mindfulness, cognition, and self-regulatory processes with Dr. Michael Mrazek and Dr. Schooler. He is especially interested in the budding field of positive psychology and the promise behind the study of human flourishing.

Megan Lee

Megan is a fourth-year Biopsychology major assisting Claire Zedelius in research studies on curiosity, creativity and mind-wandering. Her interests include consciousness, mindfulness and epigenetics. 

Haley Mehlman is a 3rd year Psychological and Brain Sciences and Communication double major. She is working in the TANC lab assisting James Elliott with studies using EEG on expectation, perception of random stimuli, magical thinking, and creativity.

Kayla is a second year pre-Psychological and Brain Sciences major and is working with Alex Landry and Elliot Ihm on their research on dehumanization. She is currently interested in cognition, behavior, and mental disorders.

Melody is a 3rd year Psychological and Brain Sciences major assisting James Elliott with his EEG research on expectation, perception of random stimuli, magical thinking, and creativity. She is currently interested in the subconscious mind, attention, and computational models of the brain.

Nele is a 3rd year Psychology and Brain Sciences major assisting Elliott Ihm with his research on emotional experiences. She is interested in psychotherapy, alternate states, and personality psychology.

Andrew is a 4th-year student majoring in biopsychology and philosophy. His educational interests include consciousness, anomalous experiences, meditation/spirituality, self-identity, dreaming and the subconscious mind, and metaphysics. He is currently assisting Elliott Ihm in emotional experiences. 

I am a fourth year Psychological & Brain Sciences major with an interest in behavioral neuroscience and cognition. I am specifically interested in consciousness and meta conscious processes.

Stella Rufeisen is a Psychological and Brain Sciences major at UCSB. She is currently working in Madeleine Gross's lab to more closely study concepts such as creativity and curiosity. She is interested in studying psychological topics like as happiness, romantic relationships, and, of course, creativity!

Kiana is an undergraduate Psychological & Brain Sciences and Philosophy double major. She is currently assisting James Elliott in studying fluctuations of mental states during meditation using EEG. Her interests include meta-awareness and belief in free will/determinism.

Surya is a third-year Psychological & Brain Sciences major assisting Madeleine Gross in her exploration of the experience of awe and wonder, and Eliott Ihm in his exploration of the feelings of awe. His personal interests lay in meditation and self-awareness as a tool for motivation, creativity, and anxiety reduction, and how emotion affects biological processes. 

Brooke is a third year Psychological and Brain Sciences Major. She has a keen interest in mindfulness, complex trauma, neuroplasticity, and the interplay between these domains. Brooke is currently assisting Alex Landry in his exploration into dehumanization in intergroup conflict.

Ashley is a third year Psych and Brain Sciences major. She is excited to be a part of the CMHP team studying mindfulness techniques and media multitasking for high school students across the US. My interests include educational and developmental psychology as well as running and calligraphy!

Heyu Wang

Heyu is a fourth-year Psychological and Brain Sciences major with a minor in applied psychology. She is currently assisting Stephen Baumgart in TANC lab. She is interested in cognition, memory, mental disorders, and psychotherapy. 

Alexandra recently graduated from UCSB with an undergraduate degree in psychology. She is assisting Claire Zedelius with her research on mind wandering. 


Benji is working primarily with John Protzko on research exploring The Decline Effect. 

 Ben's research investigates distortions in the subjective experience of time and the resulting perceptual concequences.

Asa Young

Asa is a Psychological and Brain Sciences graduate continuing his studies in theories of consciousness, particularly into the neuronally generated EM fields found within the brain and body.