The Team

  • Alfred Tolle
    Alfred Tolle Symposium Director
    Alfred Tolle

    Alfred Tolle is the Founder and Chairman of a non-profit association, Wisdom Together e.V. initiating a series of regional and international overarching platforms, conferences, workshop and executive coaching seminars to host dialogues, transformation and change-initiatives that embrace a holistic perspective. Furthermore, Alfred is supporting companies as a Coach and Consultant in their transformation process towards conscious leadership and meaningful growth. His experience as an executive manager in major blue-chip companies working across the globe, have fed into his belief that we are truly living within an interconnected society.

    Alfred has instigated many projects that built upon a meaningful framework for transformation towards conscious leadership at the intersection of strategy and humanity. Alfred asks powerful questions that invite deep reflection, generate compelling visions, and reveal new possibilities.

  • Cornelius Pietzner
    Cornelius Pietzner Managing Director, Mind & Life Europe
    Cornelius Pietzner

    Cornelius Pietzner is Chief Executive Officer of Alterra Impact Finance GmbH, an impact investment firm in Zurich. He is President of the Alterra Foundation, a Swiss charitable foundation that supports transformation initiatives related to a human-centered economy. He served as Chief Financial Officer on the Executive Board at the Goetheanum, General Anthroposophical Society, Switzerland with affiliates in 90 countries. He has had leading roles 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 received his degree in Political Science from Williams College, Mass. and was awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship.

  • Andreas Roepstorff
    Andreas Roepstorff Planning Committee, Symposium
    Andreas Roepstorff

    Andreas Roepstorff is a professor in cognition, communication and culture at the department of Culture and Society and the department of Clinical Medicine at Aarhus University, Denmark. He works at the interface between anthropology, cognitive science and neuroscience, ans is 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 has published both within these disciplines as well as in various collaborations across other fields.

    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.

  • Diego Hangartner
    Diego Hangartner Planning Committee, Symposium
    Diego Hangartner

    Diego Hangartner completed his studies in pharmacology at the Federal Institute of Technology, (ETH Zurich), specializing in psychopharmacology and addiction.

    Following his work with an aid project in Nepal, he lived in Dharamsala, India, for 11 years, learned Tibetan, and studied for 7 years at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in the Tibetan language. He has completed several silent, meditation retreats of several months, worked as an interpreter, translating Tibetan into many languages, and published several books. On returning to Europe in 2003, he taught widely, organized large events with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, such as the visits of H.H. to Switzerland (2005) and Hamburg (2007), and participated in research aimed at exploring the benefits of meditation as a long-term practitioner.

    He is associated with and has worked for the Mind and Life Institute since the 1990s, as the Mind and Life COO from 2008 – 2012 in the USA, as co-founder of Mind and Life Europe, and as its director until 2014.

    In 2015, he decided to concentrate on my main passion of teaching content and tools that build mental balance. He founded the “Institute of Mental Balance and Universal Ethics” (IMBUE), an interdisciplinary initiative, to develop and provide tools and programs that foster mental balance. Besides acting as the IMBUE’s Founding Director, he is also the institute’s principal teacher.

  • Catherine Bastien-Ventura
    Catherine Bastien-Ventura Planning Committee, Symposium
    Catherine Bastien-Ventura

    Trained as a biologist in toxicology and pharmacology, Catherine Bastien-Ventura is a research engineer at the national center for scientific research (CNRS) in Paris, France. After 10 years of research in the field of cancerology (Institute Gustave Roussy, Villejuif), she has been teaching and managing research projects for environment and sustainable development for public actors and private companies (Rhodia, Schneider Electric, Hutchinson). Working for the French Ministry of Environment she was a research project manager within the research and foresight department, dealing with different types of pollution. After this position for almost ten years, at the interface of research and public policies, she joined the headquarter of CNRS where she has been in charge of a cooperation program with China on environmental issues. Meanwhile, she also was the project manager for the Frontiers of sciences programs with Japan and Taiwan.

    These past few years, she has been participating actively to the European Summer Research Institute (ESRI) organized by Mind & Life Europe. She is currently the international cooperation officer for French research networks dealing with area studies in Asia, Africa, Middle East and Muslim World.  

Poster Session: Scientific Committee

  • Donata Schöller
    Donata Schöller Senior Lecturer - University of Koblenz, Germany
    Donata Schöller

    Donata Schoeller is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Koblenz and Guest Professor of Philosophy at the University of Iceland.Donata Schoeller’s research focuses on the embodied approach to meaning, based on hermeneutical, phenomenological, pragmatist and psychotherapeutic perspectives, as well as on the cognitive sciences. Her new book Close Talking: Erleben zu Sprache bringen is to be published by De Gruyter in 2019. Among her recent publications are: Saying What We Mean, edited together with Ed Casey (Northwestern University Press), and Thinking Thinking, edited together wie Vera Saller (Alber Verlag). She has translated Eugene Gendlin’s main philosophical work A Process Model into German with a first time introduction. Donata Schoeller publishes frequently in international journals like Continental Philosophy Review, Mind and Matter, Nietzsche Studien, Deutsche Zeitschrift fuer Philosophie. She is a trainer in the mindfulness practices of Focusing and Thinking-at-the-Edge, which she teaches at universities internationally. She has been trained in the Elicitation-Method by Claire Petitmengin and is part of the Micro-Phenomenology Laboratory, Paris.


    Area of exptertise at CSS Poster Session: philosophy.

  • Katherine Weare
    Katherine Weare Professor - University of Exeter and University of Southampton, UK
    Katherine Weare

    Katherine Weare is known internationally for her work on cultivating well-being, mental health, social and emotional learning and mindfulness in education, and has published widely in the field, developing both theory and the evidence base and advising policy makers and governments such as the UK government, EU and WHO. She has developed and led programmes and practical strategies across most European countries including the UK’s Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) programme, and the European Network of Health Promoting Schools. She currently advises various mindfulness projects and initiatives such as the UK Mindfulness in Schools Project, the Plum Village mindfulness community and the UK government’s Mindfulness Initiative national network on policy and practice surrounding mindfulness and wellbeing.

    She is an associate board member for Mind and Life Europe and principle investigator on an ambitous new initiative to develop a ‘Community of Contemplative Education’ Europe. She leads the postgraduate diploma/MSc course on Mindfulness Based Approaches at the University of Exeter and herself teaches MBCT/MBSR courses to a wide range of groups. Her recent book, co-written a book with Thich Nhat Hanh ‘Happy Teachers Change The World: a guide to cultivating mindfulness in education’ has proved to be a best seller, and is currently being translated into a wide range of languages and launched across the world. She can be contacted at

  • Sander Tideman
    Sander Tideman Faculty Member - School of Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands
    Sander Tideman

    Sander Tideman, LL.M., is specialized in developing societal- and sustainability oriented leadership in organisations. He has been studying contemplative traditions and practices for 30 years, integrating the insights gained from this into his work as a management professional, consultant and researcher.

    He also serves on the faculty of Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University in the Netherlands. He authored several books and articles, including ‘Mind over Matter; Towards a New Paradigm for Leadership in Business and Economics’ (2007) and ‘Business as Instrument for Societal Change: In Conversation with H.H. the Dalai Lama‘ (2016). Sander received education in International Law.

  • Guiseppe Pagnoni
    Guiseppe Pagnoni Associate Professor - University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy
    Guiseppe Pagnoni

    Giuseppe Pagnoni began his scientific formation as a physicist, but “switched” to neuroscience by enrolling in the PhD program of the University of Parma led by Prof. Giacomo Rizzolatti, and has worked in neuroimaging research ever since. After completing his PhD, he moved to the U.S. as a postdoc, and was a faculty member for several years at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences of Emory University, Atlanta, GA. Since 2008, he has moved back to Italy where he now lives and works as an associate professor in the Department of Biomedical, Metabolic and Neural Sciences at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia.

    Using brain imaging techniques as fMRI and PET, Dr. Pagnoni has worked on different research topics during his career, such as the neural bases of pain perception and reward, with a specific interest in the effect of stimulus predictability, social cognition, the relationship between immune function and cognitive/emotional processes, and the role of mental imagery in rehabilitation from stroke.

    Dr. Pagnoni's interest in meditation began during his PhD, when he started practicing zazen at the Fudenji Zen temple in Salsomaggiore, Parma, under the guidance of Rev. Fausto Taiten Guareschi. He began investigating the neural and bodily processes engaged by meditation at Emory University, and has since co-authored a number of scientific articles in this field. His current interests include the role and neural bases of mental effort and the application of the theoretical framework of predictive processing to contemplative research.


    Area of exptertise at CSS Poster Session: neuro- and cognitive science

  • Fabienne Picard
    Fabienne Picard Neurologist - Neurology Department, University Hospital of Geneva, Switzerland
    Fabienne Picard

    Dr Fabienne Picard is a neurologist. She is currently Senior consultant in the EEG and Epilepsy Unit of the Neurology Department at the University Hospital of Geneva. She holds a MD degree in medical studies in Neurology and a Diploma of Advanced Studies (DEA) in Cellular and Molecular Biology, with a major in neurobiology, from the Faculty of Medicine of Strasbourg, France. In 1995she joined the University Hospitals of Geneva where she obtained a title of privat-docent and senior lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine of Geneva. Internationally renowned in the field of epilepsy genetics, she has published about 80 articles in peer-reviewed journals. Over the last few years, she has been particularly interested in the role of the insula in altered states of consciousness through the study of “ecstatic” epilepsy (which includes heightened state of awareness, clarity, and a sense of oneness with the universe).

    Area of exptertise at CSS Poster Session: neuro- and cognitive science (focus: clinical psychology).