European Varela Awards (EVAs) Recipients


Neuroscientist, philosopher, and Mind & Life co-founder Francisco J. Varela (1946-2001) believed that contemplative training offered modern science novel methods for investigating the depth of human experience. In his vision, contemplative training such as meditation not only provided a new domain for scientific study, but also offered resources for advancing scientific models of consciousness, emotion, and cognitive processing.

Named in his honor, the European Varela Awards (EVAs) are grants of up to 17.500 Euro awarded annually to research scientists who have attended the European Summer Research Institute (ESRI). These grants fund scientific and scholarly examinations of contemplative techniques, with the ultimate goal that findings will provide greater insight into the mechanisms of contemplative practice and its application for reducing human suffering. See in the list below all EVA recipients and their research projects, or proceed to our EVA Alumni page for more information about mentoring and the finished projects.

Mind & Life Europe extends its sincere thanks to the Hershey Family Foundation for its support of this programme. Mind & Life Europe also congratulates the awardees on their award and wishes them well in their work.

2022 EVA Recipients

Explore the 2022 EVA recipients and their research projects.

Image © BD Hypno Plus 

2021 EVA Recipients

Click here to read more about the 2021 Awardees.

2020 EVA Recipients

Learn more about the Awardees from the 2020 EVA cycle.

2021 European Varela Awards (EVAs) Recipients

Omer Dar 

Cultivating Internal Attention Through Intensive Mindfulness Training

University of Haifa, Mount Carmel Haifa, Israel

Milan Scheidegger

Mindfulness and Psychedelics: A neurophenomenological approach to characterizaton of DMT-induced transformative experiences in long-term meditators 

University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

Anna Ciaunica 

Walking with my Heart: Examining the Effect of Dynamic Real-Time Sensory Feedback of Bodily Movements and Heartbeats on the Sense of Self and Sense of Presence in Depersonalisation

University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal 

Anam Saifullah 

What Captures Your Attention? The Effects of Mindfulness on Attentional Capture and Attentional Blink with and without Emotion 

Brunel University London, Middlesex, United Kingdom

Aude Cardona

The Motor Impact of Mindfulness Meditation on Voice Production 

University of Delaware, Delaware, USA


Click here to explore more details and read the abstracts of the 2021 EVA Research Projects.

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2020 European Varela Awards (EVAs) Recipients

Constanza Baquedano

A Mindful Mental Vaccine for the Neuromarketing Virus? Assessing the Protective Effect of a Brief Mindful Instruction to Prevent Desires Generated by Advertising in the Food Domain 

Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, Santiago, Chile 

Prisca Bauer

PRESENCE Prodrome Recognition in Epilepsy and its Neurophenomenological Correlates

Universitätsklinikum Freiburg, Germany

Ema Demšar

Towards the Neurophenomenology of Dreaming: Developing and Employing a Novel Interview-Based Research Format for Acquiring Reports on Lucid and Nonlucid Dream Experience

Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

Jonas Mago

Practicing Plasticity: How Collective Rituals Promote Neuro Cognitive Flexibility

McGill University, Raetzlingen, Germany

Shannon Maloney

Effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy - 'Taking it Further' (TiF) Programme Compared to Waitlist Control in the Promotion of Well-being and Mental Health: A Randomised Controlled Trial with Graduates of MBCT and MBSR.

University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Betül Tatar

Bringing Brief Mindfulness Instructions into Daily Life Encounters with Food

University of Glasgow, United Kingdom


Click here to explore more details and read the abstracts of the 2020 EVA Research Projects.

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2019 European Varela Awards (EVAs) Recipients

Tatiana de Castro Amato Locatelli

The FO-CO Programme: Development of Contemplative Practices and Scientific Assessment Plan

UNIFESP/NEPSIS, São Paulo, Brazil

Click here to read to e-book

Jonathan Hamilton

Using Sustained Mindfulness Training to Change Brain Functioning in Patients with Persistent Depression

University of Surrey, United Kingdom

Catherine Juneau

Investigating the Relationship between Equanimity and Automatic Emotional and Motivational Reactions

LAPSCO Université Clermont Auvergne, France

Léa Martinon

Realtime Neuroimaging of Mental States: Enhancing Wellbeing by Shifting Individuals' Mode of Self-Consciousness

LAPSCO Université Clermont Auvergne, France

Lena Ramstetter

Meeting Global Challenges from the Inside Out: Tracing the Effects of Mindfulness on Climate Change Attitudes and Actions

University Salzburg, Austria

Julio Rodriguez Larios

Integrating Brain, Body and Phenomenology to Investigate Mind Wandering Eposides During Breath Focus Meditation: An Experience Sampling Study with Mindfulness Practitioners and Novices

KU Leuven, Belgium

Mareike Smolka

Tracing Collaborative Reflection Moment-To-Moment: Bringing Science & Technology Studies to Contemplative Science and Vice Versa

Maastricht University, the Netherlands

Kim Lien van der Schans

The Dynamics of Mindful Conflict in Romantic Relationships

Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands


Click here to explore more details and read the abstracts of the 2019 EVA Research Projects.

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2018 European Varela Awards (EVAs) Recipients

Corina Aguilar-Raab

The Enhancement of Compassion in Burdened Couple Relationships and Its Impact on Immune-Functioning

Universität Heidelberg, Germany

Filip Van Droogenbroeck

Compassionate Attitude Training in a Challenging School Context in Brussels - An Effectiveness Study Assessing the Impact on Well-Being, Prosocial Attitudes and Behavior, And Socio-Psychological Attitudes Concerning Prejudice

Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium

Mike Keesman

Compassionate Attitude Training in a Challenging School Context in Brussels - An Effectiveness Study Assessing the Impact on Well-Being, Prosocial Attitudes and Behavior, And Socio-Psychological Attitudes Concerning Prejudice

Leiden University, the Netherlands

Heather McDonald

Turning the Curse into a Blessing: Using Mindfulness to Reduce Suspiciousness and Paranoia in Individuals with High Positive Schizotypy

Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King's College London, United Kingdom

Ciaran Tobin

Tibetan Mind Science and Western Mental Health: A Cultural Congruence Framework

University College London, United Kingdom

Anthony Tuckwell

The Differential Effects of Attention and Insight Meditations on Economic Decision-Making: Evidence on Four Behavioural Biases from a Randomised-Control Trial

University of Warwick, United Kingdom

Sebastjan Vörös

Laying Down a Path in Walking: The Life-Worlds of Francisco Varela

Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia


Click here to explore more details and read the abstracts of the 2018 EVA Research Projects.

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2017 European Varela Awards (EVAs) Recipients

Oussama Abdoun

Investigating the Deconstructive Effects of Open Presence Meditation on Neural Representations of Perceptual Objects and Bodily Signals Using Magnetoencephalography

INSERM UMR 1028 Lyon, France

Michelle Carr

Dream Work, Dream Yoga: A Comparative Neurophenomenological Study of Intentional Practices for Healing Nightmares

Swansea University, United Kingdom

Liudmila Gamaiunova

Effects of Two Different Meditation-Based Programs on the Dynamics of Stress Response

Institute of Social Sciences for Contemporary Religion (ISRRC), University of Lausanne, Switzerland

Annika Lübbert

Assessing the Subjective Experience of Engaged Interaction: How Asking Questions About Experience Influences Experience and Behavior in the Mirror Game, an Interactive Coordination Task

Department of Neurophysiology and Pathophysiology, University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf (Germany)

Patricia Milz

Do Personality Traits and Brain Electric Activity Predict How Meditation Affects Individuals' Psychological and Physical Well-Being? - A Combined Electrophysiological and Mobile App-Based Experience Sampling Approach

The KEY Institute for Brain-Mind Research, Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, University Hospital of Psychiatry, Zurich, Switzerland

Willeke Rietdijk

A Micro-Phenomenological Exploration of Vipassana and Shamatha Meditators' Experiential Shifts Into Deeper Meditation

University of Southampton, United Kingdom

Frank Schumann

Mindful Movement and Skilled Attention: Quantifying Changes in Spatial Awareness Induced by a Mindful Sensorimotor Intervention Based on the Feldenkrais Method

School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom


Click here to explore more details and read the abstracts of the 2017 EVA Research Projects.

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2016 European Varela Awards (EVAs) Recipients

Gabriel Axel Montes

Elicitation Interviews as a Contemplative Intervention: Insights from Stroke into Body Ownership and Agency

University of Newcastle, Australia

Carlos Garcia Rubio and Catherine Andreu

The Effects of Mindfulness Practice on Neural Correlates of Executive Functions in Elementary School Children: A Cluster-randomized Controlled Trial

Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, Chile

Britta Hölzel

Is the Neural Signature of Emotion Regulation following a 2-Week Mindfulness Intervention in Chronically Depressed Patients Characterized by Positive Fronto-Limbic Connectivity?

Department of Neuroradiology, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technical University of Munich, Germany

Barbara Jachs

The Neurophenomenology of Meditative States: Integrating Neural Markers of Consciousness with Dimensions of Subjective Experience

Consciousness and Cognition Lab/ University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

Gesa Kappen

The Effect of an Online Mindfulness-Based Intervention on Partner Acceptance and Relationship Quality

Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands

Anna Reebs

Mindfulness and Refugee Mental Health: Cross-Cultural Contemplative Science with a Social Mission

IRCA, University of Haifa, Israel

Michael Tremmel and Freya von Hohnhorst

Risks and Adverse Effects of Meditation

University of Giessen, Germany


Click here to explore more details and read the abstracts of the 2016 EVA Research Projects.

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2015 European Varela Awards (EVAs) Recipients

Katarzyna Bylow-Antkowiak

Second Person Issues in Contemplative Life - Polite Talk, Teasing and Debating Dyads in a Tibetan Buddhist Non-Monastic Educational Setting

University of St Andrews, Scotland

Anira Esrichs

Interplay between Structural Connectivity and Resting-State Dynamics in Meditators

University of Barcelona, Spain

Enrico Fucci

Investigating Modulation of Compassion by Self-Related Factors in Expert and Novice Meditators: Behavioural and Neuroendocrine Correlates

Lyon Neuroscience Research Centre, France

Emily Hammond

Investigating the Impact of Mindfulness Practice on Embodied and Subjective Dimensions of Emotion Dynamics

University of Exeter, United Kingdom

Josipa Mihic

Towards Caring & Mindful Schools Model

University of Zagreb, Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation Sciences, Croatia

Anne Maj van der Velden

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and maintenance antidepressant treatment: differential mechanisms in the treatment of recurrent depression

Aarhus University, Denmark

Nina Vollbehr

The Effects of Yoga-Based Therapy for Patients with Chronic Mood and Anxiety Disorders: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Center for Integrative Psychiatry, Lentis Mental Health Care, Groningen, The Netherlands


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2014 European Varela Awards (EVAs) Recipients

Corina Aguilar-Raab

The Effects of Compassion Meditation on Health and Social Interaction in Depressed Patients

Institute of Medical Psychology, University Hospital Heidelberg, Germany

Tim Gard

Assessing Resilience of Brain Functional Networks and Fluid Intelligence in Aging editators: A Combined TMS-fMRI Study

Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, The Netherlands

Bergljot Gjelsvik

A Translational Approach to Short-Circuiting On-Going Suicidal Vulnerability: Understanding Brain Mechanisms of Action

University of Oxford Department of Psychiatry, United Kingdom

Terje Sparby

Varieties of Contemplative Experience: Anthroposophy

Bender Institute of Neuroimaging/University of Giessen, Germany


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