2022 Keynote Speakers

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Elissa Epel, PhD

Dr. Elissa Epel is a Professor and Vice Chair in the Department of Psychiatry at University of California, San Francisco. Her research aims to elucidate mechanisms of healthy aging and to apply this basic science to scalable interventions that can reach vulnerable populations. She is the Director of the Aging, Metabolism, and Emotions Center and the Consortium for Obesity Assessment, Study, and Treatment (COAST), and Associate Director of the Center for Health and Community. She studies psychological, social, and behavioral pathways underlying chronic psychological stress and stress resilience that impact cellular aging. She also studies the interconnections between stress, addiction, eating, and metabolic health. With her collaborators, she is conducting clinical trials to examine the effect of self regulation and mindfulness training programs on cellular aging, weight, diet, and glucose control. She co-leads studies funded by NIH (NIA, NIMH, NCCIH, NICHD, and NHLBI) including a Stress Network. For ten years she led a UCOP multicampus center on obesity. She is involved in NIH initiatives on role of stress in aging, and on reversibility of early life adversity, and Science of Behavior Change. She is the President of the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research, and co-chair of the Steering Council for Mind & Life Institute, and co-lead of the UCSF Task Force on Climate Crisis and Mental Health. She is involved in interventions for climate distress and activation.

Dr. Epel studied psychology and psychobiology at Stanford University (BA), and clinical and health psychology at Yale University (PhD). She completed a clinical internship at the Palo Alto Veterans Healthcare System. Epel has received several awards, including the APA Early Career Award, the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research Neal Miller Young Investigator Award, and is a member of the National Academy of Medicine. She was named Innovator of the Year by McLaughlin group and received the 2017 Silver Innovator Award from the Alliance for Aging Research.

Her research has been featured in venues such as TEDMED, NBC’s Today Show, CBS’s Morning Show, 60 Minutes, National Public Radio, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Wisdom 2.0, Health 2.0, and in many science documentaries. She co-authored The Telomere Effect (2017) with Elizabeth Blackburn, a NYT bestseller under the category of Science.

Laura Kubzansky, PhD

Dr. Laura Kubzansky is Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences, co-director of the Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness, and director of the Society and Health Laboratory at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She also serves as co-director of the JPB Environmental Health Fellowship Program. Dr. Kubzansky received her PhD in social psychology from the University of Michigan, and completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in social epidemiology, as well as obtained her master of public health, from the Harvard Chan School. Dr. Kubzansky has published extensively on the role of psychological and social factors in health, with a focus on the effects of stress and emotion on heart disease. Primary lines of research include: 1) studying whether and how stress, emotion and other psychological factors may help to explain the relationship between social status and health; 2) studying whether and how positive psychological functioning and positive aspects of the social environment may lead to greater longevity and healthier aging. Other research projects and interests include biobehavioral mechanisms linking emotions, social relationships, and health; defining and measuring aspects of well-being; relationships between early childhood environments, resilience, and healthy aging; interactions between stress and environmental exposures (e.g., lead, air pollution) and how they influence health; workplace and other social conditions in relation to well-being; strategies for modifying psychological well-being.

Dr. Kubzansky has advised numerous graduate students and postdoctoral fellows as a mentor, academic advisor, and dissertation committee member. She is a fellow in the American Psychological Association and the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research. She has served as senior advisor to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded Positive Health Research program, as a member of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Healthy People 2020 Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being Workgroup, and as a member of the American Heart Association Science of Well-Being Expert Panel. She is a principal investigator or co-investigator on a wide variety of grants funded through the Veterans Administration, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Institutes of Health, among others.

Rhonda V. Magee, MA, JD

Rhonda V. Magee is a Professor of Law at the University of San Francisco and an internationally recognized thought and practice leader focused on integrating mindfulness into higher education, law and social change work. A prolific author, she draws on law and legal history to weave storytelling, poetry, analysis and practices into inspiration for changing how we think, act and live better together in a rapidly changing world.

Born in North Carolina in 1967, Magee experienced a childhood of significant trauma and challenge. Yet, she was gifted with the insight that through a life of caring engagement, self-development, and service with others, she could find a way up and out. She has dedicated her life to healing and teaching in ways that support others in a journey to wholeness and justice. A student of a variety of Buddhist and other wisdom teachers, including Norman Fischer, Joan Halifax and Jon Kabat Zinn, she trained as a mindfulness teacher through the Oasis Teacher Training Institute of the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness. She teaches mindfulness-based interventions, awareness, and compassion practices from a range of traditions. A former President of the board of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, Professor Magee is a Fellow of the Mind and Life Institute, where she recently completed a two-year term on its steering council. She is a member of the board of advisors of the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness and the board of directors for the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute.

A professor of Law for twenty years (tenured since 2004), Magee teaches courses dealing civil actions for personal injury and insurance recovery; courses dealing with race and inequality; and a course she co-created on mindfulness and lawyering, Magee is experienced in interpersonal dynamics-informed small group facilitation (supported by training, retreats, and practice through a variety of programs, including Stanford University’s Interpersonal Dynamics Facilitator Program and Gregory Kramer’s Insight Dialogue). Magee’s teaching and writing support compassionate conflict engagement and management; holistic problem-solving to alleviate the suffering of the vulnerable and injured; presence-based leadership in a diverse world; and humanizing approaches to education. She sees embodied mindfulness meditation and the allied disciplines of study and community engagement as keys to personal, interpersonal, and collective transformation in the face of the challenges and opportunities of our time.

In addition to serving as a guest teacher in a wide variety of mindfulness teacher training programs, Professor Magee is the author of numerous articles and book chapters on mindfulness in legal education, and on teaching about race using mindfulness. Her first book, The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming Our Communities Through Mindfulness, was published in September 2019 by TarcherPerigee, a member of the Penguin Random House Group, with paperback issued in September 2021. 

Tyler J. VanderWeele, PhD

Tyler J. VanderWeele is the John L. Loeb and Frances Lehman Loeb Professor of Epidemiology in the Departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Director of the Human Flourishing Program and Co-Director of the Initiative on Health, Religion and Spirituality at Harvard University. He holds degrees from the University of Oxford, University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard University in mathematics, philosophy, theology, finance, and biostatistics. His methodological research is focused on theory and methods for distinguishing between association and causation in the biomedical and social sciences and, more recently, on psychosocial measurement theory. His empirical research spans psychiatric and social epidemiology; the science of happiness and flourishing; and the study of religion and health. He is the recipient of the 2017 Presidents’ Award from the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS). He has published over four hundred papers in peer-reviewed journals; is author of the books Explanation in Causal Inference (2015), Modern Epidemiology (2021), and Measuring Well-Being (2021); and he also writes a monthly blog posting on topics related to human flourishing for Psychology Today