Mind & Life Europe Board members
Amy Cohen Varela
Amy Cohen Varela is a clinical psychologist specialized in psychodynamic therapy and philosophy. Involved with Mind & Life since its inception, Amy Cohen is now Chair of Mind & Life Europe.
Roshi Joan Halifax
Roshi Joan Halifax, PhD, is a Buddhist teacher, anthropologist, and author. She is co-founder of the Mind & Life Institute, founded the Ojai Foundation, the Prajna Mountain Buddhist Order, is Abbot and Head Teacher of Upaya Zen Center, and is a co-founder of the Zen Peacemaker Order. She is a pioneer in the end-of-life care field, and is well known internationally for her work in engaged Buddhism. She is a Board Member of various institutions, including Mind & Life International and Mind & Life Europe. She was an Honorary Research Fellow at Harvard University and a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Library of Congress.
Charles-Antoine Janssen is Managing Partner of KOIS INVEST, as well as a Board Member of UCB s.a. and Tubize s.a.. Charles-Antoine worked in several senior management positions with UCB in Brussels, Austria, India and emerging markets, inter alia as Head of Global Business Development. Charles-Antoine has also worked with Merril Lynch for five years in London, where he served as Vice President for European Equities Research and Strategic Solutions Group. Additionally, he has co-founded Toolbox and Toolbox India, a non-profit organisation that provides management services to NGOs, and has volunteered with several NGOs such as MSF and UNHCR. Charles-Antoine teaches social entrepreneurship at Brussels University (ULB). He holds a bachelor degree in Law from ULB, and an AMP from Harvard Business School.
Astrid Lunkes has a scientific background in neurobiology and a strong expertise in developing research frameworks at the European level. She is currently Director of Scientific Portfolio Management and Strategy at the Helmholtz Zentrum Munich, responsible for the strategic development of epigenetics and its research impact in society. During her PhD in Germany and a postdoc time in France, Astrid researched the causes of neurodegenerative diseases. As of 2001 she joined major European Organizations, and since then held key positions in science management, strategy development and science policy with extensive experience in scientific publishing, fund raising and partnership establishment.
She has worked at EMBO (European Molecular Biology Organisation), ESF (European Science Foundation) and at the biomedical research institute IGBMC in France. During her time as Director of Scientific Affairs at IGBMC (2009-2016), she was also member of the scientific advisory board and the pedagogic board of the Life Sciences Doctoral School, University of Strasbourg. Astrid has always been actively working towards fostering dialogue between scientific disciplines, notably between the life sciences and social sciences & humanities.
Cornelius Pietzner - on leave of absence
Cornelius Pietzner is Chief Executive Office of Alterra Impact Finance GmbH, an impact investment firm in Zurich. He is President of the Alterra Foundation, a Swiss charitable foundation, which supports transformation initiatives related to a human-centered economy. He served as Chief Financial Officer on the Executive Board at the Goetheanum (www.goetheanum.org), General Anthroposophical Society, Switzerland with affiliates in 90 countries and approx. 10,00 related institutions in agriculture, medicine and therapy, education, ethical banking and business and the arts.
He has had leading roles for 25 years in social impact enterprises, financial management, philanthropy and investments. Cornelius Pietzner serves as Trustee/Advisory Board on a number of organisations and foundations in the USA and Europe. He was Managing Director of Mind and Life Europe until 2016 (Zurich). He received his degree in Political Science from Williams College, Mass. and was awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship.
Andreas Roepstorff is a professor in cognition, communication and culture in the Department of Culture and Society & Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University, Denmark. He works at the interface between anthropology, cognitive science and neuroscience, equally interested in the workings of the mind and brain, and in how cognitive science and brain imaging, as fields of knowledge production, relate to other scientific and public fields.
He has formal training in social anthropology and in neurobiology, and he has published widely both within these disciplines as well as in various collaborations across other fields, such as psychology, linguistics, clinical medicine, semiotics, and philosophy. He is the director of the Interacting Minds Centre at Aarhus University and is involved in a number of transdisciplinary collaborations, focusing on aspects of human interaction. He has a long-standing research interest in cognitive aspects of contemplative practices.
Tania Singer is the Director of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig since 2010. After receiving her PhD in Psychology at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, she became a Post-doctoral Fellow at the same institution, at the Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience, and at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience in London. In 2006, she went to the University of Zurich as Assistant Professor and later became Inaugural Chair of Social Neuroscience and Neuroeconomics and Co-Director of the Laboratory for Social and Neural Systems Research.
Her research focuses on the foundations of human social behavior and on the neuronal, developmental, and hormonal mechanisms underlying social cognition and emotions. She investigates the psychological and neuroscientific effects of compassion and mental training on the brain, the mind, health, and cooperation, in longitudinal studies (The ReSource Project), and holds a cooperation with Prof. Snower from the Kiel Institute for the World Economy on the topic of Caring Economics, funded by the Institute of New Economic Thinking. They investigate how biology and psychology can inform new economic models and decision-making.
Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Wolf Singer studied Medicine in Munich and Paris, obtained his MD from the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, and his PhD from the Technical University in Munich.
He is Director emeritus at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt and Founding Director both of the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS) and of the Ernst Strüngmann Institute (ESI) for Neuroscience in Cooperation with Max Planck Society. His research focuses on the neuronal substrate of higher cognitive functions, in particular on the question of how the distributed sub-processes in the brain are coordinated and bound together in order to give rise to coherent perception and action.
Matthieu Ricard is a Buddhist monk at Shechen Monastery in Nepal. He received a Ph.D. in Cellular Genetics at the Institut Pasteur in France under Nobel Laureate Francois Jacob. He has lived in the Himalayas since 1972, studying with Kangyur Rinpoche and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, two respected Tibetan spiritual masters. Since 1989, he served as French interpreter for His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
He is the author of The Monk and the Philosopher (with his father, the French thinker Jean-Francois Revel), The Quantum and the Lotus (with the astrophysicist Trinh Xuan Thuan), Happiness, A guide to Developing Life's Most Important Skill and Altruism: The Power of Compassion to Change Yourself and the World. He has translated several books from Tibetan, including The Life of Shabkar and The Heart of Compassion. As a photographer, he has published several albums, including The Spirit of Tibet, Buddhist Himalayas, and Motionless Journey. He donates all proceeds from his books and much of his time to 140 humanitarian projects in Tibet, Nepal and India, through his charitable association Karuna-Shechen.