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 is the Director of Research at the UCSB Center for Mindfulness & Human Potential. His research tests the limits of cognitive, affective, and neural plasticity. Another focus of his work is determining the optimal ways to integrate mindfulness into K-12 schools.

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. 

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.

Lab Manager

Madeleine's interests are in creativity and consciousness. She works as the lab manager for the META lab- feel free to reach out if you have any questions for the lab!

Graduate Students

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.

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.

Tiff's work is centered on the intersection between EEG and Depth Psychological theory. Ms. Thompson additionally provides a wide array of psychotherapeutic and neurotherapeutic services at the TheraMind Center of Santa Barbara, where she works with adults, adolescents, and children

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.

Vivian is in her fourth year at UCSB, studying Biopsychology and Chemistry. Her interests include medicine, cognitive diseases and disorders. Vivian is currently assisting Jonathan Schooler and Claire Zedelius on projects studying the relationship between mind-wandering and creativity.

Jennifer is a fourth year studying Psychology and Spatial Thinking. She is working under Jonathan Schooler and Madeleine Gross in creativity research concerning topics such as delusional thinking and awe-eliciting experiences. Jennifer is additionally interested in visual and environmental perception as well as the subjective human experience of consciousness.

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. 

Anahit is a third year chemistry and psychology double major who joined the META lab as a Research Assistant to Dr. John Protzko in Fall of 2014. She is primarily interested in motivation, creativity and intelligence research

Abbey is a fourth year Psychology and Sociology student assisting Dr. Michael Mrazek with his research. Her primary interests are on the effects that mindfulness and meditation trainings have on cognitive ability and mental health. 

Talia is a third year Biopsychology student assisting Dr. Protzko on his research on meta-science. She is excited to contribute to the world of psychological research through her work at UCSB!

Kavya is a fourth year biopsychology major and is assisting Jennifer Dorfman with her research in creativity. Her interests include consciousness, creativity, and mindfulness. 

Blake is a fourth year psychology student at UCSB assisting Elliott Ihm on research aimed at the neurological processes of meditation and awe-inspiring events. His research interests are on 5-HT2A serotonin receptors and how the manipulation of these receptors can greatly aid severe cases of depression, anxiety, addiction, and obsessive-compulsive disorders.

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.

Simon is a fourth year Psychology major with a deep interest in cognitive psychology.He is working with Elliott Ihm looking at awe experiences in climate change education.

Tamara is a second year Biopsychology major currently assisting Elliott Ihm on research on the neurological processes of awe-eliciting experiences and epiphanies. Tamara is also interested in neurodegenerative and neuromuscular disease research.

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. 

Nicole is a fourth year psychology student with a minor in applied psychology and education assisting Claire Zedelus with her research under Jonathan Schooler's supervision. Her interests include psychopathology, the unconscious mind, and biopsychosocial development. 

Lauren works as a research assistant with John Prozko on various projects. She really enjoys developmental and evolutionary psychology, and she is excited to be a part of the META lab! 

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.

Anna is a fourth year psychology and music double major currently assisting Elliott Ihm on research aimed at understanding when and why people change their minds. She is also interested in meta-awareness and introspection and research topics dealing with memory.


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