Contemplative Science and Education Core-affiliated research, education, and community engagement initiatives are spearheaded by faculty, staff, and students in schools, departments, and divisions across VCU’s Monroe Park and Medical College campuses, including the School of the Arts, the School of Business, the School of Dentistry, the School of Nursing, the School of Education, the School of World Studies, the College of Humanities and Sciences Department of Psychology, and the Division of Student Affairs Wellness Resource Center, as well as at the VCU-affiliated H.H. McGuire Veterans Administration Medical Center.
Faculty and Staff
Kirk Warren Brown, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University, where his research centers on the role of attention to and awareness of internal states and behavior in healthy human functioning. He has a particular interest in the nature of mindfulness, and the role of mindfulness and mindfulness-based interventions in emotion regulation, behavior regulation, and mental health in both normative and clinical populations. He has authored numerous journal articles on these topics and has edited two scholarly volumes, including the Handbook of Mindfulness: Theory, Research, and Practice and the new Oxford Handbook of Hypo-egoic Phenomena. Dr. Brown is an elected Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science. He teaches the evidence-based Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course in the Richmond, VA community.
Dr. Abigail H. Conley is an Assistant Professor of Counselor Education in the VCU School of Education. She is the track coordinator for the College Counseling and Student Affairs M.Ed. program, and an affiliate faculty member with VCU’s Institute for Women’s Health. She began her exploration of contemplative studies while an undergraduate at Wake Forest University, where she studied Asian mystical religions. Dr. Conley’s research interests include spiritual development, the impact of contemplative practices on counselor preparation, and interpersonal violence survivorship, healing, and prevention. She is actively exploring the role of mindfulness and resilience as protective factors mitigating the risk of re-victimization and other traumatic experiences. She also teaches a course in Wellness Counseling (CLED 612), an in-depth exploration of the mind, body, spirit, and heart connection with health and well-being. Finally, Dr. Conley serves as Associate Editor of the journal Quantitative Research for Counseling and Values, published under the auspices of the American Counseling Association.
Dr. George R. Deeb earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery (1995) at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. Continuing his education at Oregon Health Sciences University, he earned a Doctor of Medicine and completed a residency in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Before coming to VCU he was a partner in a group surgical practice in Tuscson, Arizona. Dr Deeb is an Associate Professor in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the VCU School of Dentistry, where he maintains a faculty practice and teaches surgery to residents and dental students.
Dr. Deeb is actively interested in mindfulness as a means to reduce stress and burnout in healthcare practitioners, and in implementing its use in healthcare education. Along with Dr. Patricia Kinser, he implemented and teaches the Mindfulness Practices for Healthcare Providers course at VCU (IPEC 525).
Christopher Guerry, M.D. is an Anesthesiologist and Critical Care physician with appointments in the Departments of Anesthesiology and Surgery at the VCU Medical Center.He developed an interest in Contemplative Studies during medical school under Dr. Michael Baime at the University of Pennsylvania and currently advocates for expanding opportunities in mindfulness training for medical professionals and trainees.
Dr. Linda Hancock is the Director of VCU’s Wellness Resource Center and a family nurse practitioner. She has won several national awards for creative health education programs and her high energy and lively sense of humor have made her a popular national speaker. She assists people in growing their understanding about all the “S’s” – sex, substances, stress, and spirituality. As rates of stress and anxiety have increased among college students, Linda has infused mindfulness skills training into much of her educational work at VCU. and also in the community. She has found that when people understand how their body works and why mindfulness skills improve health, they are more likely to experiment with, and include mindfulness practices in their daily lives. Dr Hancock also supports COBE faculty in researching the impact of mindfulness interventions on academic and life success.
Patricia Kinser, PhD, WHNP-BC, is a nurse scientist with a program of biobehavioral research focused on integrative health interventions to promote wellness across the lifespan. She is co-director of the Mindfulness for Health Care Professionals course at VCU (IPEC 525) and a contributor to the Artfulness initiative at VCU. Dr. Kinser maintains an active clinical practice as a board-certified women’s health nurse practitioner and teaches in the nurse practitioner and PhD programs in the VCU School of Nursing. Her research is funded by the National Institutes of Health and by several foundations to explore epigenetics of depressive and stress symptomatology, and to evaluate the biobehavioral effects of mindful movement for symptom self-management in various populations. She lectures locally, nationally, and internationally about various applications of mindfulness practices for health.
Brian L. Meyer, PhD, is a Clinical Psychologist and the Substance Abuse/Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Specialist at the H.H. McGuire Veterans Administration Medical Center, and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Virginia Commonwealth University. He obtained his A.B. from Harvard University and his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Duke University. Dr. Meyer has worked in the child and adult mental health and the child welfare fields as a clinician, administrator, teacher, policy maker, program developer, trainer, and researcher. Dr. Meyer’s clinical expertise is in treating trauma and its co-morbid disorders. He provides evidence-based treatments for veterans with PTSD, substance abuse, depression, TBI, and other co-occurring conditions; supervises psychology trainees; and conducts research on treatments for veterans with PTSD. His current research studies the effects of mindfulness meditation on PTSD, and the delivery of mindfulness meditation via different modalities, including telehealth.
Jo Robins, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the VCU School of Nursing. Her biobehavioral program of research began with the use of tai chi as a mindfulness-based moving meditation intervention in a variety of populations. She is currently building a community based participatory research program focused on understanding cardiometabolic risk in underserved African American families. Ultimately, this work will inform individual and family centered mindfulness based self-management strategies for decreasing cardiovascular disease risk. Dr. Robins is also passionate about integrating stress management and nurse self-care. As a certified advanced practice holistic nurse, she has expertise across several complementary and alternative therapies, particularly mindfulness-based approaches. This expertise informs the incorporation of nurse self-care into her teaching at the School of Nursing, the VCU Health System, and in the community.
Lori Speagle, M.A. E-RYT 200, RYT-500 is a Registered Yoga Teacher with a combined 30 years of dance, fitness, yoga, and meditation training. She is certified in Integral Yoga I and II, Mindful Yoga and Meditation, and AHA-CPR. Lori received her training through IYC-Richmond, Satchidananda Ashram, and Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Lori integrates mindfulness and the embodiment practice of yoga. Her classes are grounded in the heart practices of love and compassion. Lori teaches at VCU RecSports, Reynolds Community College, and IYC-Richmond.
Dr. Chris Reina is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Management at Virginia Commonwealth University. His research focuses on the intersection of leadership, mindfulness, and emotions in the workplace and how they aid employees and organizations in successfully adapting to change in order to facilitate employee engagement and organization performance and well-being. Christopher is especially interested in understanding the impact of leadership on followers and how this translates to customer/patient outcomes. Christopher received his Ph.D. in Business Administration (Management) from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and has corporate experience in leadership training and development as well as sales and marketing in the healthcare industry. He consults and teaches seminars on mindful leadership, negotiation strategies, and managing the emotional space within organizations.
Dr. D. Mark Cooper is a certified yoga teacher who regularly leads yoga classes in the Richmond, VA area and acts as a contemplative education liaison between the COBE CES Core and the local community. Dr. Cooper served as Chair of the Department of Patient Counseling at VCU, as a Supervisor in the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education, and as a Diversity Consultant with Nichols & Associates in Washington, DC. An ordained Lutheran clergy, he also served as executive director for the Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area, and as president of both Discern Inc. and Pastoral Counseling Associates, Inc. He is the author of two books: Get a Life: A Second Chance After Fifty (1997) and Mapping Your Adventure: Discovering Integrity in a Life Review (2016). Dr. Cooper is also an adventurer, having biked the span of the US on two occasions, first from San Diego, CA to Fairfax, VA and then from Canada to Mexico along the Continental Divide. He has run 10 marathons and hiked 177 miles on the Camino de Santiago, in France and Spain.