Compassionate Education across Two Cultures

Our Team

Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi - Director

Geshe Lobsang Tenzin NegiPhD, is the co-founder and Director of the Emory-Tibet Partnership, a multi-dimensional initiative launched in 1998 to bring together the foremost contributions of the Western scholastic tradition and the Tibetan Buddhist sciences of mind and healing.  Additionally, he is the founder and director of Drepung Loseling Monastery, Inc., in Atlanta, GA, and a Professor of Practice in Emory University's Department of Religion.

As director, Dr. Negi oversees the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative (ETSI), an educational program created at the invitation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to design and implement a comprehensive modern science curriculum specifically for Tibetan monastics.  Additionally, Dr. Negi developed Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT), a compassion meditation program based on Tibetan contemplative methods and taught as both a research protocol and to the public for personal enrichment.  A systematic method for gradually training the mind until compassion becomes a spontaneous response, CBCT is currently utilized in a wide variety of research studies, including an NIH-funded study examining the efficacy of compassion meditation on the experience of depression.  He also created and leads the Tibetan Mind-Body Sciences Summer Study Abroad program, a uniqe experiential learning opportunity for undergraduates.

Dr. Negi was born in Kinnaur, a remote Himalayan region adjoining Tibet.  A former monk, he began his monastic training at The Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in Dharamasala, India and continued his education at Drepung Loseling Monastery in south India, where in 1994 he received his Geshe Lharampa degree—the highest academic degree granted in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.  Dr. Negi completed his Ph.D. at Emory University in 1999; his interdisciplinary dissertation centered on traditional Buddhist and contemporary Western approaches to emotions and their impact on wellness.  His current research focuses on the complementarity of modern science and contemplative practice.

Carol Beck - Assistant Director, Emory-Tibet Partnership

Carol Beck joined the Emory-Tibet Partnership as Assistant Director of Programs in January of 2014. In this role, she serves as the administrative director of CBCT, supports ETSI and its accompanying research, facilitates partner programs, and spearheads program development and outreach. 

Carol has a duel BA in Psychology and Theater and Media Arts from Rhodes College, and an MFA from the School of Film at Ohio University. Her interest in cross-cultural collaboration and communication began in graduate school, and as a young assistant professor, she served as the first American participant in a unique faculty exchange in the former Soviet Union. Her academic experience was followed by twenty years as a self-employed writer, producer and project manager, successfully executing hundreds of projects on five continents. With expertise in project logistics and management, organizational communications, media and event production, and strategic planning, Carol's eclectic skillset, along with her teaching background, complements the existing strengths of the ETP team.

Since 1999, Carol has studied and practiced various types of meditation within the Tibetan tradition, and she has a deep understanding of, and appreciation for, Tibetan history and culture. Prior to her official appointment, Carol worked with ETP on a volunteer basis to create numerous videos highlighting its programs. 

Email address:  carol.beck@emory.edu

Timothy Harrison - Assistant Director, Cognitively-Based Compassion Training

Timothy Harrison coordinates the programs of Cognitively- Based Compassion Training (CBCT), including the nine-month-long Teacher Certification program.  

As Assistant Director of the ETP, Tim supports CBCT teachers as they teach and adapt the meditation protocol for a variety of populations, often for research purposes.  Research projects for 2014-2015 include: PTSD patients (San Diego Veteran’s Administration), HIV+ patients (Atlanta Grady HIV Clinic), neonatal intensive care unit nurses (Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta), breast cancer survivors (University of Arizona), parents of autistic children (Marcus Autism Center), and medical students (Emory School of Medicine).  Current ETP outreach projects include the Atlanta Wounded Warrior Project for veterans with PTSD and the New Teacher Residency Project in the Atlanta Public Schools.

Tim speaks regularly on CBCT and, as a Senior Teacher, has taught CBCT to many groups including undergraduates in the Emory College of Arts and Science, students at the Emory School of Medicine, and Atlanta K-8 public schoolteachers.  He has also taught in several CBCT community outreach programs, including those for incarcerated persons and adolescent foster children. 

Alongside his professional journey as an architect (M.Arch. ‘94, Harvard Design School), Tim benefited from two decades of meditation before discovering CBCT.  Previously unaware that the practices of compassion meditation could be shared in a broad and cross-cultural context, Tim’s practice, teaching, and support of CBCT has grown steadily since.

Email address:  timothy.harrison@emory.edu

Jim Wynn - Project Coordinator, Emory-Tibet Partnership

Jim Wynn serves as the Project Coordinator for the Emory-Tibet Partnership with a particular emphasis on the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative. Leveraging his extensive financial and managerial experience, Jim deftly handles the financial aspects of all of ETP's programs, assists with grant preparation and compliance, and helps to coordinate numerous ETP activities and projects such as Tibet Week, visits by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and the Tenzin Gyatso Science Scholar program. His contribution is both a crucial and invaluable component to the execution of ETSI's summer teaching intensives in India, as Jim plans and facilitates the multifaceted arrangements necessary to running the program at multiple sites in India.

After retiring from a successful career with the IBM Corporation in the areas of finance, marketing, and consulting, Jim directed business-training programs at Gaston Community College in North Carolina as Associate Dean for Corporate Education. He first came to Emory in 2003, as coordinator for various projects within the Emory Faculty Science Council, the Program for Science & Society, and the Sustainability Initiative. He joined the Emory-Tibet Partnership in 2009.

A Georgia native, Jim has recently become a new, and proud grandfather (PoPo), and continues to enjoy traveling, hiking, and photography.

Marcia Ash - Program Coordinator

Marcia Ash joined the Emory Tibet Partnership as Program Coordinator in August, 2014 after earning her BA in Philosophy, Neuroscience, and Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis. In her new role, Marcia supports both ETSI and CBCT, in addition to being actively involved with ETP's facilitation of Tibetan-themed curricular and cultural programs.

Marcia's academic experience was defined by an interest in Tibetan studies and positive psychology. In 2010, she volunteered as a research assistant for a study at Emory University evaluating the effects of Cognitively-Based Compassion Training on foster children. She then went on to participate in the Emory Tibetan Mind-Body Sciences Summer Study Abroad program in Dharamsala, India, where she researched Tibetan conceptions of happiness. In 2013, Marcia returned to Dharamsala to participate in Emory's Tibetan Studies semester-abroad program, during which she conducted research examining Tibetan life satisfaction within both the monastic and lay communities. Her findings demonstrated that Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns had higher life satisfaction than laypeople.

In addition to her multi-disciplinary experience within Tibetan studies, ETP benefits greatly from Marcia's keen organizational talents and organizational communication skills.

Geshe Dadul Namgyal - Translator/Interpreter

Geshe Dadul Namgyal began his Buddhist studies in 1977 at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, Dharamsala, and completed the prestigious Geshe Lharampa Degree in 1992 at Drepung Loseling Monastic University, South India. He also holds a Master's degree in English Literature from Panjab University, Chandigarh, India.

Geshe Dadul served as Principal of Drepung Loseling School for five years before joining Central University of Tibetan Studies (CUTS), Sarnath, India, as Lecturer in the Department of Indian Buddhism for seven years.  In June 2007, he began serving as one of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's English language interpreters/translators for religious topics. In this capacity, he traveled extensively with His Holiness' entourage for two and a half years, both within India and abroad.

Since 2010, Geshe Dadul has served as Senior Resident Teacher at Drepung Loseling Monastery Inc., Atlanta. At the same time, he began his current position with the Emory-Tibet Partnership where he is engaged in preparing a six-year curriculum in Modern Science to be formally used in Tibetan monasteries and nunneries. Geshe Dadul also advises the ETP staff on Tibetan cultural issues, and assists with other translation and interpretation needs.

A published author and translator, Geshe Dadul¿s credits include a Tibetan translationof His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Power of Compassion, and a language manual, Learn English through Tibetan, in addition to a critical edition of Tsongkhapa's Speech of Gold, among others publications. His translation into Tibetan of Prof. Jay Garfield's Western Idealism and Its Critics was published by CUTS under the title nub phyogs pa'i sems gtso'i grub mtha' dang der rgol ba rnams kyi lugs, and was formally released in December, 2010.

Tsondue Samphel - Translator/Interpreter

Tsondue Samphel received his BS in physics from Emory College in 2006. Prior to that, from 1992-2000, he studied at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, India where he obtained his MA and BA equivalents in Buddhist Studies.

While studying at the Institute, Tsondue started contributing translations of articles on science and western philosophy for the Institute's literary journal called Lhagsam Tzepga. Later, he served as its editor for six years and brought out two books and several journals. He also taught language classes at the Institute.

In 2006, when the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative (ETSI) was in its initial stage of inception, Tsondue joined ETSI as a translator-cum-research assistant. He has ever since been working for the ETSI and its science education project. He has translated, reviewed and edited two books, Brain Facts and Philosophy of Science, as well as translating numerous scientific articles into Tibetan.

Tsondue is also involved in an ongoing effort to create and build up scientific lexicon in Tibetan. Working closely with his colleagues at Emory and the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, he has been organizing an annual conference, for the past five years, to coin and standardize scientific vocabulary in Tibetan. Their efforts have resulted in coining new of and standardizing thousands of scientific terms in Tibetan.   

L to R: Dr. Carol Worthman, Dr. Arri Eisen, Dr. Mark Risjord, Dr. John Malko

ETSI Faculty Leadership

The Emory-Tibet Science Initiative is fortunate to have a number of Emory faculty members who serve tirelessly with the program as the academic coordinators for their respective disciplines. In this role they facilitate staffing the summer teaching intensives, author textbooks and consult on translation, orchestrate all curricular content, and mentor the Tenzin Gyatso Science Scholars.

Dr. Carol Worthman, the team leader for neuroscience, is the Director of the Comparative Human Biology Laboratory at Emory. Her research focuses on how human nature and culture influences and legitimates behavior, values, and decisions. She also holds the position of Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Anthropology.

An Emory Professor of Pedagogy, Dr. Arri Eisen leads the biology group. In addition to teaching biology to both undergraduate and graduate students, Arri is on the faculty of the Center for Ethics. Arri regularly publishes in peer-reviewed literature on science, science education, and bioethics, as well as in popular literature through such avenues as his contributions on science and religion in ReligionDispatches.org.

Professor of Philosophy, Dr. Mark Risjord, heads up the philosophy of science team. Mark also serves as Associate Dean in the Graduate School. A specialist in the philosophies of science, mathematics, anthropology and language, Mark is currently investigating the ways in which moral and political values become part of scientific judgment.

Dr. John Malko leads the physics group and advises on the mathematics curriculum for ETSI. He is on the Radiology faculty of the School of Medicine and has an adjunct appointment in the Physics Department, where he teaches astronomy and medical physics. He also teaches physics in Grady¿s School of Radiologic Technology. 

Gaƫlle Desbordes, Ph.D. - ETSI Staff Scientist

Gaëlle Desbordes, PhD, is an Instructor at Harvard Medical School and a visiting scholar at Boston University. She conducts brain imaging research at the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging within the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Trained as a neuroscientist (Ph.D., Boston University, 2007) and with previous postgraduate training in engineering and computer science, her current research focuses on the neuroscientific investigation of meditative practices, using advanced methods in brain imaging (especially functional MRI) and physiological measurements of the autonomic nervous system. She is particularly interested in contemplative methods for cultivating compassion and loving-kindness.

Since 2009, Dr. Desbordes has worked in collaboration with Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi (Emory University) and Drs. Charles Raison and Thaddeus Pace (now at University of Arizona) on the Compassion and Attention Longitudinal Meditation (CALM) study, a randomized controlled trial that examines how Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT) affects emotional processing in the brain and the regulation of physiological responses to psychosocial stress. Dr. Desbordes is the recipient of a K01 Career Development Award from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and a Francisco J. Varela Research Award from the Mind and Life Institute. She has been an active contributor to the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative since 2008.  As ETSI staff scientist, she directs the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data relevant to understanding the impact of ETSI on the monastic and lay Tibetan communities.

Michael Romano - Post-Doctoral Fellow in Science Education

Michael Romano is a cognitive scientist with the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative (ETSI). In collaboration with the ETSI teams (Biology, Neuroscience, Philosophy, Physics), Tibetan translators, and the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamsala, India, he is developing, implementing, and assessing innovative distance learning programs for Tibetan Buddhist monastics in India. As part of the two-way exchange between Western science and Tibetan Buddhism, Dr. Romano's research also investigates methods for integrating aspects of Tibetan Buddhist pedagogy and cognitive training techniques into Western education.

Prior to being at Emory University, Michael taught cognitive science courses at the University of California, Merced and the Pennsylvania State University. He was a software developer during the initial dot-com boom in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and later was involved in researching artificial intelligence methods to support humanitarian efforts in detecting and removing landmines. After that, he joined the Graduate Programme at the United Nations in developing oversight-training manuals for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and learning coordination systems for the Office of Internal Oversight Services.

With a focus on an interdisciplinary approach, Michael has a PhD in Cognitive and Information Sciences from the University of California, Merced, a MA in Psychology from New York University, and undergraduate degrees in Computer Science and Philosophy from Stevens Institute of Technology.