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The Neuroscience of Learning and Development


This book is a collaborative effort with Marilee Bresciani Ludvik, Ph.D and her colleagues

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About the Editor

Marilee J. Bresciani Ludvik serves as a professor of postsecondary educational leadership at San Diego State University. She is also the founder of the Rushing to Yoga Foundation, which seeks to strengthen peace and compassion within higher education by training attention, emotion, and cognitive regulation skills among undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and administrators through integrative inquiry (www.integrativeinquiry.org). Bresciani Ludvik’s past research has focused on the evaluation of student learning and development and the role leaders play in using evidence to improve student learning and development in higher education. Her most recent research explores the effectiveness of attention, emotion, and cognitive regulation training programs on the use of intuition and self-inquiry in evidence-based decision making and one’s ability to think critically and act compassionately. Bresciani Ludvik has held faculty and higher education administration positions for more than 28 years. In those positions, she has conducted enrollment management research, quantitative and qualitative institutional research, course-embedded assessment, and academic and administrative program assessment. As assistant vice president for institutional assessment at Texas A&M University and as director of assessment at North Carolina State University, Bresciani Ludvik led university-wide initiatives to embed faculty-driven outcomes-based assessment in the curriculum. She has led reforms in outcomes-based assessment program review, assessment of general education, quality enhancement, and cocurricular assessment. Bresciani Ludvik has been invited to present and publish her findings on assessment and is a lead author of six books on assessing student learning and outcomes-based assessment program review along with two books on selfinquiry and authenticity exploration. Bresciani Ludvik has developed and delivered several courses on assessment of student learning, as well as attention, emotion, and cognitive regulation. In 2013, Bresciani Ludvik was awarded the George D. Kuh Award for Outstanding Contribution to Literature and/or Research Award. The award recipient is nominated by peers, members of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, and honors individuals who have demonstrated a lifetime commitment to outstanding research and scholarship relating to higher education. Bresciani Ludvik is a certified Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute teacher, a certified yoga teacher who has trained with the Baron Baptiste Power Yoga Institute, and a certified meditation instructor trained by the Chopra Center for Well-Being. Furthermore, Dr. Bresciani Ludvik has also been trained in the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) methodology by Jon Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli. Her mantra is “I teach what I need to learn.” Bresciani Ludvik holds a PhD in administration, curriculum, and instruction from the University of Nebraska and a master of arts in teaching from Hastings College.

About the Contributors

Jacopo Annese, PhD Jacopo Annese is the director of the Brain Observatory, a San Diego–based neuroimaging laboratory and brain bank. He is also the founder/CEO of the Institute for Brain and Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering mental health and social welfare through improved knowledge and awareness of the brain. He is also a faculty member in the department of radiology at the University of California–San Diego. He graduated from the University of Rome in Italy with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in biology and zoology, respectively. He obtained a master’s degree in neurological sciences at University College London, the United Kingdom. He completed the PhD program in cognitive neuroscience at Dartmouth College, NH.

Mark Baxter, PhD Mark Baxter’s work uses animal models to establish causal links between manipulations of defined neural circuits and behavioral and cognitive functions. After earning his PhD in neurobiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and doing his postdoctoral training at the National Institute of Mental, he established an independent research program in neuropsychology and cognitive effects of neurochemical lesions, first as an assistant professor at Harvard University and then at Oxford. His research is funded by a senior fellowship from the Wellcome Trust. He now serves as a tenured faculty member at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and moved his laboratory from Oxford to New York in January 2010.

Anne Beffel, MA, MFA Anne Beffel is an artist and a professor at Michigan Technological University’s department of visual and performing arts. Prior to joining the faculty at MTU, she taught studio courses at Syracuse University for 13 years. Currently she teaches creative processes to students from a wide range of disciplines. As an artist and teacher, she offers opportunities to project participants and students to pay attention to their surroundings and one another. Since earning degrees from the University of Michigan and the University of Iowa, and participating in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Studio Program in New York City, she has worked within contexts as diverse as the World Financial Center in Lower Manhattan shortly after 9/11; Saint John’s Benedictine monastery in rural Minnesota; New York Downtown Hospital and surrounding streets, offices, and community centers; and the Wykoff toxic waste site on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Bruce Bekkar, MD Bruce Bekkar served as a staff physician with Kaiser Permanente in San Diego from1989 to 2013. He coauthored Your Guy’s Guide to Gynecology, chosen as one of the Top 10 Books of the Year in 2001 by the Independent Publisher’s Book Association. The book was also featured in numerous local and national television, radio, and print interviews. Bruce’s other passion, environmental activism, was inspired by his time spent living on the North County coast while earning his degree in biology at University of California– San Diego. After receiving his MD from the University of Southern California School of Medicine and completing a residency at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, he returned to Del Mar and helped jump-start the first local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. Most recently, he served on Del Mar’s Sustainability Advisory Board and the city’s Design Review Board. He also has served as a strategic adviser for the Equinox Center and as a community ambassador for SurfAid International. Bruce additionally loves exercising and eating sustainably. He takes pleasure in telling himself he feels much younger than his 59 years of age.

Wendy Bracken, EdD Wendy Bracken has an MA in psychology and an EdD in educational leadership from San Diego State University. She currently serves as a faculty member in the College of Education at San Diego State University, teaching doctoral research and writing support courses. Her research explores person–environment first theories among underrepresented populations and examines training programs designed to enhance attention, emotion, and cognitive regulation. She also serves as the program coordinator for the San Diego State University Educational Leadership doctoral program. Previously, she coordinated the San Diego State University Human Research Protection Program, educating students, faculty, and staff about responsible conduct in research.

Laurie Cameron, BA Laurie Cameron’s focus is on developing resilient, compassionate leaders and cultures through consulting, teaching, and coaching. She teaches mindful leadership with the EMBA program at the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland College Park and is a senior fellow at the Center for the Advancement of Well-being, George Mason University. She also is a certified teacher with the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute and is a certified coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF). Formally with Accenture, she founded PurposeBlue and serves clients in the United States, Europe, and Latin America. She studies mindfulness with teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. Laurie has a bachelor of arts in speech communication, organizational psychology, and attitude change and persuasion from the University of Maryland College Park.

Les Cook, EdD Les P. Cook currently serves as the vice president for student affairs and advancement at Michigan Technological University. In this capacity, Cook is responsible for leading and helping to oversee student life, residential life, enrollment management and marketing, intercollegiate athletics and recreation, diversity programs, advancement, alumni relations, and the dean of students. Cook has a doctorate of education in educational leadership from Brigham Young University, a master of social science from Utah State University, and a bachelor of science in political science from Utah State. Cook has been actively involved in a number of professional associations, including the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, National Orientation Director’s Association, and the LeaderShape Institute. He currently serves as a faculty member for the LeaderShape Institute and the NASPA Foundation Board and sits on the editorial board for Student Affairs Today. Les is involved in the Houghton community and is a member of the board of directors for the Keweenaw Community Foundation and the Michigan Tech Blue Line Club.

Matthew R. Evrard, MA Matthew R. Evrard is working toward his doctorate in neural and behavioral science at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York. His research interests seek to better elucidate the neural mechanisms that supersede learning and development, which can then be applied to improve areas of education and medicine. Matthew received his master of arts in postsecondary educational leadership at San Diego State University (SDSU), where his research, supervised by Marilee Bresciani Ludvik, focused on the role of attention, emotion, and cognitive regulation training to improve critical thinking dispositions. His bachelor of science is from SUNY in biopsychology. While enrolled at SDSU, Matthew worked at the University of California, San Diego, where he gained experience in neuroimaging, histology, microscopy, and experimental psychology. His diverse background has made him an invaluable asset in the assessment of integrative inquiry, a curriculum that has been shown to reduce students’ stress and anxiety while increasing critical thinking dispositions.

Lisa Gates, PhD Lisa Gates earned her PhD in communication from the University of Southern California and spent the early part of her career as a corporate management consultant. Throughout her academic career, she has won several awards for outstanding teaching and publishes in the areas of qualitative methods, organizational and health communication, leadership, and gender. She has taught at the University of Southern California, San Diego State University, and at San Diego Christian College, where she was founding chair of the department of communication. She currently is a lecturer and coordinator of the Leadership Minor and Masters in Student Affairs at San Diego State University.

Philippe Goldin, PhD Philippe Goldin earned a PhD in psychology at Rutgers University. He directed the clinically applied affective neuroscience laboratory at Stanford University for a decade and currently serves as an assistant professor and founding faculty in the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at the University of California Davis Health System. His clinical research, funded by the National Institute of Health, focuses on functional neuroimaging of emotion regulation mechanisms of mindfulness meditation, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and aerobic exercise in adults with anxiety disorders.

Christine L. Hoey, MSN, FNP Christine Hoey’s long interest in mind-body medicine has drawn her to using an integrative approach to healthcare. She holds a BSN from Florida State University, and an MSN as a Family Nurse Practitioner from Duke University. Christine has practiced in maternal/child health and women’s health in a variety of settings as well as published research on the medical costs and benefits of breastfeeding. She continues to engage in studies centered on meditation, mindfulness and nutrition as well as work with non-profit organizations in San Diego.

Charles Iyoho, MA and EdD Research Assistant Charles Iyoho currently serves as a research assistant in the doctoral program in community college leadership at San Diego State University, where he explores the role of attention, emotion, and cognitive regulation on specific learning and development outcomes, particularly that of creative expression. Charles is also an adjunct professor of communication at National University. In the past, Charles has served as a journalist for the Marshall News Messenger, a newspaper in Marshall, Texas. He was part of a team that won an Associated Press award for its coverage of the Ku Klux Klan. Charles received a graduate assistant fellowship while studying mass communication at the University of Houston. He earned an academic scholarship to attend the University of Missouri– Columbia, where he studied Spanish and mass communication.

Emily Marx, PhD Emily Marx has served in student affairs at the University of California, San Diego for 14 years, most recently as the director of the Center for Student Involvement at the University of California, San Diego, with responsibility for student organization advising, Greek Life, communication and leadership development programs, community service initiatives, campus-wide events, and veterans’ services. Marx has also served as adjunct faculty at San Diego State University, where she taught educational leadership. Her areas of academic interest include college student development, student engagement, leadership development, civic engagement, and service learning and professional development in student affairs. She earned her doctorate in higher education leadership from the University of San Diego, where her dissertation research focused on new student affairs professionals’ use of advising strategies that promote self-authorship among college students.

Patsy Tinsley McGill, PhD Patsy Tinsley McGill is a professor of strategic management in the College of Business at California State University–Monterey Bay, in which she also serves as the capstone program director and faculty lead for assurance of learning. Her research focuses on understanding capstone as a transformative experience, improving high-stakes writing outcomes of students, and increasing educational effectiveness using technology. She earned her PhD in educational human resources development from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.

Shaila Mulholland, PhD Shaila Mulholland is an assistant professor in the department of administration, rehabilitation, and postsecondary education in the College of Education at San Diego State University. Her teaching and research interests focus on understanding the experiences of diverse students in postsecondary education. In addition, Mulholland is a classically trained pianist, and performs as well as creates music in the San Diego community and beyond. She received a BA in biology and MS in higher education and student affairs from Indiana University Bloomington, and a PhD in higher education administration from New York University.

Sara Schairer, BA Sara Schairer is the founder and executive director of COMPASSION IT , a global social movement and nonprofit. A certified teacher of Stanford University’s Compassion Cultivation Training, Sara teaches at the University of California, San Diego’s Center for Mindfulness and at various medical institutions. She speaks to audiences around the world and has presented at the Anthony Robbins Foundation’s Global Youth Leadership Summit. Through COMPASSION IT and in partnership with the Botswana Ministries of Health and Education, Schairer led compassion training workshops in Gaborone. She is a proud graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Mark Tucker, PhD Mark Tucker is an assistant professor in the department of administration, rehabilitation, and postsecondary dducation at San Diego State University and a project coordinator with the university’s Interwork Institute. Prior to joining the Interwork Institute, Tucker worked as a program coordinator for a Southern California–based nonprofit agency providing case management, crisis counseling, and vocational planning services. His areas of research interest include examining the relationships between individual, contextual, or case-service factors and vocational rehabilitation outcomes of transitionage youth and adults with disabilities. Tucker is a certified rehabilitation counselor; he holds a master of science degree in rehabilitation counseling from San Diego State University, and a PhD in human rehabilitation from the University of Northern Colorado.

Tom Van Vleet, PhD Tom Van Vleet is a leader in a new generation of scientific pioneers in brain plasticity research. As senior scientist and director of sponsored programs at Posit Science, Van Vleet leads the company’s innovative clinical applications projects. Van Vleet has published more than 25 articles in leading peerreviewed journals (e.g., Brain and Progress in Brain Research), received numerous research awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIA, NINDS, NIMH), Department of Veteran Affairs, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Ageency. His work has also been highlighted in the popular press, including the New York Times and BBC News.

J. Luke Wood, PhD J. Luke Wood is an associate professor of community college leadership and the director of the doctoral program concentration in community college leadership at San Diego State University. Wood teaches courses on assessment, evaluation, and quantitative research in the master’s program in student affairs and in the doctoral program in community college leadership. Wood is codirector of the Minority Male Community College Collaborative, a national project of the Interwork Institute at San Diego State University that partners with community colleges across the United States to enhance access, achievement, and success among minority male community college students. He is also chair-elect for the Council on Ethnic Participation for the Association for the Study of Higher Education, director of the Center for African American Research and Policy, and coeditor of the Journal of Applied Research in the Community College.


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