Lab Director


Kirk Warren Brown, PhD is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he is also Director of the Contemplative Science and Education Core of the College Behavioral and Emotional Health Institute. Kirk conducts research that combines social psychology, cognitive science, and behavioral neuroscience, with a substantive focus on quality of attention as it operates in personal and social domains. A particular current focus is upon mindfulness, including its phenomenology and consequences for emotion regulation, behavior regulation, and well-being. 

Kirk earned his B.Sc in Psychology at the University of Toronto and Ph.D in Social-Personality Psychology at McGill University; he also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Social Psychology at the University of Rochester. He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters and edited two books. His work has been featured in national and international media outlets, including The New York TimesThe Washington Post, and TIME, among others. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Rochester and the University of Paris and is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, the American Psychological Association, the Society of Personality and Social Psychology, and the Mind and Life Institute. He is currently an Academic Editor at the journal PLOS ONE

Graduate Students

Advisor: Kirk Warren Brown

Advisor: Kirk Warren Brown

Advisor: Kirk Warren Brown

Advisor: Kirk Warren Brown

Nabila Jahan, BS, studies constructive contemplative training effects on mental health and behavior regulation. She is also interested in the application of contemplative training for underserved populations. 


Hadley Rahrig, BS, is broadly interested in the impact of mindfulness training on moral judgments and behavior. Her current research concerns the role of mindfulness in moral decision-making and self processes more generally. She uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) as a lense through which to study these processes.

Advisor: Bruce Rybarczyk

Advisor: Bruce Rybarczyk

Sarah Braun, MA, focuses her research on improving burnout and stress in healthcare professionals using mindfulness-based interventions that emphasize yoga. She also investigates the effect of contemplative training on stress-related, health-relevant circulating and epigenetic markers in various at-risk populations. Clinically, she implements evidenced-based treatment as a behavioral health psychologist and peer supervisor. Working with healthcare professional teams and interdisciplinary mentors has focused her career on the interprofessional practice and research. Longer-term, Sarah plans to develop, lead, and evaluate an interdisciplinary mindful healthcare team. 

Project Manager

Camila Tirado

Camila Tirado

Camila Tirado is a Psychology major, and coordinates various aspects of the Lab’s studies. She plans to continue her psychological science training in graduate school, focusing on mindfulness and other contemplative practices applied to issues pertaining to diversity and social justice. She is a Commonwealth Scholar, an initiative of VCU’s iCubed Research and Innovation Program.   

Research Interns

Elif Celik

Olivia Golden

Vanessa Lemus

Alina Massey

Jordan Morrison

Alexis Claros Nunez

Camila Claros Nunez

Jasmine Platania

Sam Racine

Madeleine Roberts

Alyson Turkewitz

Lab alumni

Daniel Berry, PhD, Assistant Professor, California State University, San Marcos

Sean Barnes, PhD, Clinical Psychologist, Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Veteran Suicide Prevention

Matthew Della Porta, PhD, Consultant and trainer, Workplace Wellness 

Alex Foxworthy, PhD, Post-doctoral fellow, Neuroscience, West Virginia University

Robert Goodman, PhD, Assistant Professor, Northern Arizona University

Melissa Holt, PhD, Assistant Professor, Culver College

Laura Kiken, PhD, Post-doctoral fellow, Psychology, Kent State University

Kostadin Kushlev, PhD, Post-doctoral fellow, University of Virginia

Alexandra Martelli, MA, PhD student, Virginia Commonwealth University

Maureen Mathews, PhD, Assistant Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University

Jordan Quaglia, PhD, Assistant Professor, Naropa University

Tarah Raldiris, MA, PhD student, Virginia Commonwealth University

Jordan Silberman, MD, PhD, Medical Director, EdLogics

Karen Stewart, PhD, Assistant Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center


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