Palo Alto University Students Earn Elton C. & Joan R. Waelde Meditation and Psychology Fellowships

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Students recognized for excellence in the application of meditation and mindfulness in Psychology

The students receiving these awards have demonstrated the ability to bring meditation into their research and clinical work.

Palo Alto University (PAU), a private non-profit higher education institution, announced today that three Meditation and Psychology Area of Emphasis students have been selected to receive the
Elton C. & Joan R. Waelde Meditation and Psychology Fellowship awards for 2013. Stephanie Williams will receive the $750 Everest Award, Jason Thompson will receive the $500 K2 Award, and Adam Staffaroni will receive the $250 Kangchenjunga Award for their outstanding efforts.

“I started the fellowship in my parents’ honor to reflect their deep appreciation for education,” said Dr. Waelde, PAU Professor and Director of the Inner Resources Center at the University’s Gronowski Center. “The students receiving these awards have demonstrated the ability to bring meditation into their research and clinical work.”

Everest Award: Stephanie Williams
Stephanie Williams received the Everest Award for her adaptation of the Inner Resources for Teens meditation program for use with incarcerated youth offenders. She conducted a nonrandomized controlled trial of its effectiveness for Latino American and African American boys in juvenile detention. She recently received the Diversity in Psychology and Law Research Award from the American Psychology-Law Society of Division 41 of American Psychological Association (APA) for this project, and the results will be will be presented at the next APA convention in July.

“My passion is working with populations of color,” says Williams, “specifically Black and Latino populations who have issues with emotion regulation. My hope is to publish the results of this study of Inner Resources meditation for incarcerated youth and continue to use Inner Resources within a military community.”

K2 Award: Jason Thompson
Jason Thompson has been a student under Dr. Waelde’s direction for two years and has used the Inner Resources for Teens meditation programs with child and adolescent patients at Packard Children’s Hospital and at the City of Fremont: Youth & Family Services community mental health center. One achievement that earned him the K2 Award was his research assistance on a Stanford University fMRI study of the neural networks that define and distinguish three different forms of meditation in novice and expert meditators (David Spiegel, Principal Investigator). He plans to focus his dissertation on the neurophenomenology of meditation in expert meditators.

In the long-term, Thompson hopes to integrate mindfulness techniques directly into psychotherapy to the extent that treatment guidelines for such an integrated approach for specific disorders and populations emerge through ongoing empirical research.

"I am greatly honored by this award, and deeply grateful to Dr. Waelde and PAU for the important recognition the award provides for the field of meditation in psychology," Thompson said.

Kangchenjunga Award: Adam Staffaroni
Adam Staffaroni has received one year of training in Dr. Waelde’s supplemental practicum and will return next year as a Student Supervisor. Staffaroni’s interest in studying the effectiveness of the Inner Resources protocol for improving clinical, cognitive, occupational and social outcomes in individuals with acute, non-chronic depression played a large part in earning him the Kangchenjunga Award. Staffaroni’s proposed study will create the opportunity for fellow graduate students to assist with this study and facilitate the groups.

“My clinical aspirations are to provide neuropsychological assessment as well as the subsequent intervention and cognitive rehabilitation,” says Staffaroni. “I hope to employ meditation techniques in the context of these interventions - my knowledge of evidence-based meditation techniques will undoubtedly influence my treatment recommendations.”

“I want to congratulate these students for their outstanding efforts,” added PAU President Allen Calvin, Ph.D. “The impact they are having on the field of psychology is a testament to Dr. Waelde’s efforts.”

For more information on PAU, please visit

About Palo Alto University
Founded in 1975 as the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, Palo Alto University (PAU) is dedicated to improving lives through education and research anchored in psychology, clinical training and practice in a diversity of cultures, and service to communities around the world. PAU offers seven degree programs, ranging from Bachelor level to Ph.D., including a consortium with Stanford University and a Ph.D./J.D. dual degree program with Golden Gate University. The University’s faculty is ranked among the top 25 schools and universities for research productivity out of the 166 APA-accredited clinical psychology Ph.D. programs. Through the University's Gronowski Center, PAU offers mental health services to the community at-large regardless of ability to pay. PAU’s LGBTQ Emphasis provides specialized clinical and research training in sexual and gender minority psychology. PAU is a 501(c)(3), non-profit institution.

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