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. 

Postdoctoral Researchers

Alissa’s research investigates the roles of mindsets and self-regulatory strategies on cognitive and affective malleability. Another focus of her research explores the fidelity and efficacy of mindfulness-based training programs

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

Lab Manager

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

Junior Research Specialists

Leandro earned his dual-BA in psychology and communication from UCSB in 2013. He has research experience in the fields of social, developmental, and school psychology, as well as media neuroscience in communication. He has experience implementing interventions for children with developmental disorders and in emergency medical treatments. He also has experience in clinical trials research in neurology. His research interests are in neuroplasticity, flow states, attention, mental performance, and cognitive training.

Abbey earned her B.A.’s in Psychology and Sociology from UC Santa Barbara in 2017. After working in the META Lab at UCSB for a year, she joined the Center for Mindfulness and Human Potential as a research Post-Bac to work on the Mindful Education Initiative. Abbey is primarily interested in examining the effects that mindfulness and meditation interventions have on cognitive abilities, emotion regulation, and overall well-being.

Theo graduated from the University of Bristol with a BSc in Experimental Psychology in 2016. After working in a range of different labs at the Universities of Bristol, Reading and Oxford, he has now joined the UCSB team to assist with the Mindful Education Initiative. As a life long practitioner of meditation and mindfulness, he is deeply fascinated by how a relatively simple practice can have such a profound effect on our mind and its underlying neural structures.

Graduate Students

Madeleine is currently investigating how trait differences, such as in curiosity and belief, as well perceptual differences, predict creative motivation and performance.

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

Visiting Researchers

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.

Anastasia is an Integrative Psychotherapist and is interested in developing interventions that improve well-being. Currently, she is working with Professors Jonathan Schooler and Shelly Gable and Dr Alissa Mazrek on investigating  the effectiveness of Experience Sampling when used as a well-being intervention.

Draulio works as a professor of neuroscience at the Brain Institute in Natal, Brazil. His interests are related to the science behind psychedelic substances, such as ayahuasca, including recent randomized trials to test its antidepressant potential.

Jennifer is a cognitive psychologist with interests in memory and creativity, particularly as they intersect with language.  Her research at UCSB has two foci: the benefits of mind wandering for creativity and creative writing; and Zeigarnik-type effects in creative problem solving.


Tam's work focuses on the philosophy of mind, reconciliation of scientific and spiritual views of the world, and the interaction of mind and matter.

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. 

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 mind wandering and creativity.

Research Assistants

Sarah Bristol is in her second year at UCSB, study psychology and counseling, clinical, school psychology. She is a behavioral therapist, a preschool teacher, and a research assistant under Jonathan Schooler and Claire Zedelius working on projects studying the relationship between mind-wandering and creativity.

Luke graduated in 2017 with his degree in biopsychology. Luke is assisting Elliot Ihm with his fMRI and goosebumps studies. He is also working with local biofeedback specialists and is investigating how technology can assist in meditation. Luke's main interest is promoting wellbeing through presencing (which he thinks should be a word).

Jonathan is an undergraduate biopsychology student assisting with Dr. Michael Mrazek's research. Jonathan is most excited about the neuroscience of mindfulness and yogic practices.

Chasen is a 4th year Biopsychology major currently assisting Claire Zedelius with various experiments surrounding creativity and it’s promotion via states of mind wandering. His interests include medicine, teaching, and cognitive therapy. 

Talia is a fourth year Biopsychology student assisting Dr. John Protzko on his research on meta-science and intelligence testing. 

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.

Amanda is a fourth year Psychology major assisting Madeleine Gross with her research. She is interested in mindfulness, creativity, and meditation.

Matejas is an undergraduate economics major with an interest in the intersection of psychology and economics. He is assisting Madeleine Gross with her research on creativity.

Sabrina is a third year Psychology student working under Dr. Schooler and Dr. John Protzko. She is studying creativity and intelligence, as well as the concept of free will. 

 Madeline is a third year Psychology major and Asian American Studies minor. She is assisting Madeleine Gross with research about creativity, specifically creative ideas and creative performance. Her interests include understanding conscious awareness and creative processes.

William is a 3rd year Psychology major assisting Elliot Ihm with research on peak experiences and piloerection.  He is currently fascinated by progress in the fields of neuropsychopharmacology, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and behavioral endocrinology.

Chinmay is a 3rd year undergraduate pursuing his degree in Biopsychology. He’s currently working with Elliott Ihm to understand how meaningful experiences can contribute to an individuals narrative experience as well as interpreting neuroimaging results. Chinmay is looking to pursue a graduate degree in clinical psychology and use holistic healing techniques in understanding their significance in mental health therapy.

Isaiah is a 4th year Biopsychology and Pharmacology double major here at UCSB. He is currently working with Elliott Ihm on his research on the neurological processes of awe inspiring experiences, as well as a study on piloerection. He is interested in creativity and consciousness, psychopharmacology, and drugs of abuse. 

Jenna is a third year Biopsychology major currently assisting Dr. Schooler and Elliot Ihm with research. Her interests include consciousness, meditation, and the point at which science and spirituality meet.

Alexis is a fourth year undergraduate majoring in Sociology with an applied psychology minor. She is currently working with Elliott Ihm on his research of neurological connections in relation to awe inspiring experience, as well as a study on piloerection. She is interested in counseling, clinical, and neuropsychology and is looking forward to furthering her education in graduate school next year. 


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