Helen Y. Weng, Ph.D. Research Associate, Osher Center for Integrative Health, University of California, San Francisco

Public Lecture Title: "Intersectional Neuroscience: Bringing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to the Neuroscience of Meditation"
Thursday, September 22, 5:00pm: Stackhouse Theater
If you can't attend, watch the livestream/recording at https://livestream.com/wlu

"I will show step-by-step how the neuroscience of meditation can be re-imagined by changing our methods in communicating with diverse participants and using quantitative methods that honor brain diversity. These new perspectives can provide new measures and insights into understanding how meditation can change our brains, bodies, and how we interact with others."

Helen Weng is a neuroscientist and clinical psychologist who studies how meditation may improve social and physical health using neuroscientific, behavioral, and psychophysiological methods. She has developed new ways to quantify meditation skills using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and machine learning to identify mental states of body awareness during meditation.

Dr. Weng's graduate work at the Center for Healthy Minds and Department of Psychology (UW-Madison) showed that short-term compassion meditation may increase both altruistic and neural responses to suffering. Her clinical interests include integrating compassion and mindfulness meditation with psychotherapy to treat mood and anxiety disorders, particularly for LGBTQ clients.

More recently, Dr. Weng's research has focused on the neuroscience of meditation through the lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion. As an Assistant Professor in the UCSF Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, a core faculty member of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, and an affiliate faculty member of Neuroscape Center, Dr. Weng increased the diversity of meditators included in neuroscience studies using community engagement with the East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland, CA. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, UCSF, and the Mind and Life Institute.

In recognition of her impact, Dr. Weng was named one of the 12 Powerful Women in the Mindfulness Movement at mindful.org in 2019. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, NPR, Huffington Post, and Mindful Magazine. She has given public talks at the California Academy of Sciences, TedxMarin, and the Exploratorium After Dark series. She had the honor of presenting to His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2012 and 2016, and received the Mind and Life Institute Service Award in 2019.

Dr. Weng earned a B.A. from Columbia University and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She completed a clinical internship at Wisconsin Psychiatric Institute & Clinics and a Research and Integrative Medicine postdoctoral fellowship at the UCSF Osher Center.