2019 SYR Presenters
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SYR 2019

is pleased to welcome our honored presenters


Keynote Presenters


Elisa Kozasa, PhD

In 2015, Elisa was the first Latin American nominated fellow of the Mind and Life Institute due to her scientific contribution, in international journals and in the field of contemplative practices. She has been studying the psychophysiology of meditation, yoga and tai chi as well as performance training and well-being since 2002, when she finished her PhD at Universidade Federal de São Paulo.  She is a researcher in the field of Neuroscience and Behavior at the Brain Institute/Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein and has been working with a multidisciplinary team in a multimodal platform including magnetic resonance imaging, near infrared spectroscopy, electroencephalography, movement lab, peripheral sensors and neuropsychological tests. Some of their recent studies are related to yoga and aging, yoga for multiple sclerosis patients and the effects of meditation retreats. Her group developed a well-being app evaluated in a sample of women workers in a top hospital which was launched with more than 30,000 downloads in the first month. Elisa’s contemplative background includes a 5th dan degree in Aikido (a Japanese martial art), meditation, yoga and surfing.

Helen Lavretsky, MD, MS

Dr. Lavretsky is a Professor In-Residence in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences,  the Semel Scholar in Integrative Mental Health, the Director of Late life mood, stress and wellness research program and the Integrative Mental Health program at the Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. She conducts research in the biomarkers of resilience and response to mind-body interventions in older adults with mood and cognitive disorders. She received the 2001-2007 and 2010-2015 Career Development awards from NIMH; and 2016-2022 from the NCCIH, and other prestigious research awards. Her current research includes the NCCIH-funded study of complementary use of Tai-Chi to improve antidepressant response in older adults, and the ARPF-funded Kundalini yoga study in women 50+ with cardiovascular risk factors and memory complains among others. She is board certified in the Holistic and Integrative medicine. 


Dean Ornish, MD

Dr. Dean Ornish is the founder and president of the nonprofit Preventive Medicine Research Institute, clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and the author of six books, all national bestsellers. He has received numerous honors, including the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award from the University of Texas, Austin, and the National Public Health Hero Award from the University of California, Berkeley.  Dr. Ornish was recognized as a “TIME 100 Innovator;” by Life magazine as “one of the 50 most influential members of his generation;” by People magazine as “one of the most interesting people of the year;” and by Forbes magazine as “one of the world’s seven most powerful teachers.”   His most recent book, just published in January, 2019 is “Undo It!: How Simple Lifestyle Changes Can Reverse Most Chronic Diseases”



Oral Presenters

Cynthia L. Battle, PhD

Dr. Cynthia Battle is a licensed clinical psychologist and researcher based at Alpert Medical School of Brown University, in Providence Rhode Island. Her research primarily focuses on developing and testing innovative behavioral interventions to help women who are experiencing perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, including yoga and physical activity interventions, as well as tailored approaches to psychotherapy. Dr. Battle’s work has been funded by the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH), the National Institute for Nursing Research (NINR), and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Center for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), as well as other federal agencies and foundations. Dr. Battle received her BA from Vassar College, and her MS and PhD from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She is currently on the medical staff of Butler Hospital and Women & Infants’ Hospital of Rhode Island.


Peter J. Bayley, PhD

Peter J. Bayley is Director of Research at the War Related Illness and Injury Study Center (WRIISC) at VA Palo Alto, and Associate Professor (Affiliated) in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. He conducts research on managing chronic illness. His recent work focuses on integrative approaches to health. He has recently completed a DoD-funded study of yoga for pain management and is currently conducting a VA-funded study on the effects of a breathing-based meditation intervention, Sudarshan Kriya yoga, on PTSD Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  He has published studies of yoga, including the first evaluation of a clinical telehealth yoga program for treating chronic disease.  Dr Bayley studies the effects of yoga through autonomic variables, evoked potentials, actigraphy, and fMRI. He is also an enthusiastic practitioner of yoga.



Holger Cramer, PhD

Dr. Holger Cramer is Research Director at the Department of Internal and Integrative Medicine, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany. He also holds a fellowship from the University of Technology Sydney, Australia, and is current Secretary and member of the Board of Directors at the International Society for Complementary Medicine Research. His research focus is the utilization, efficacy and safety of non-pharmacological interventions; including clinical trials and meta-analyses on yoga for individuals with cancer, chronic pain, mental health issues, gastrointestinal, cardiological and pulmonary diseases. The implementation of integrative medicine and mind-body interventions in pediatrics and in schools is a further focus. Dr. Cramer has published over 150 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles and is Section Editor for clinical research at BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. He is a clinical psychologist, medical scientist and state licensed naturopath, and completed training in mind-body medicine.


Crystal L. Park, PhD

Dr. Crystal L. Park is Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Connecticut, Storrs. Her research focuses on multiple aspects of coping and adjustment to stressful events, including traumatic events and life-threatening illnesses. For the past 10 years, she has been conducting and publishing research on yoga, including clinical trial results, reviews, and methodological considerations, and, with her colleagues, Dr. Park helped develop a tool to quantify the essential properties of yoga (the EPYQ). She is currently supported by NIH to conduct studies of resilience in cancer survivorship, yoga for back and neck pain, and self-regulation and academic success in college students.  At UConn, she maintains an active research lab of graduate and undergraduate students, and teaches health psychology at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. 


Danilo Santaella, PhD

Danilo Forghieri Santaella is one of the first researchers in Yoga physiology of Brazil, working with Yoga teaching and research at the University of São Paulo. He teaches practical and theoretical classes for the elderly and the university community, as well as applying his acquired knowledge to research and for strengthening Yoga’s respectability among the scientific and medical society. He also teaches Applied physiology in post-grad Yoga and Yoga therapy courses. His main research field is the interaction between mind and body, with special emphasis to the influences of Yoga on psychobiological variables/markers. Investigations made have addressed the following interventions and variables: aging process, yoga as therapy, relaxation, breathing exercises (pranayama), physical exercise, hypertension, post-exercise blood pressure, heart rate variability, EEG, evoked potentials, ageing brain, functional connectivity, stress, sleep quality and quality of life. Danilo is also connected to Kaivalyadhama Yoga Institute (India), and represented South America in the first World Consortium for Yoga therapy in Japan (2018).


Jennifer Webb, PhD

Jennifer B. Webb is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Science and a core member of the Health Psychology Ph.D. Program’s clinical faculty at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She received her baccalaureate degree in Cognitive Neuroscience magna cum laude from Harvard University. She went on to complete her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Southern California and postdoctoral fellowship training in clinical health psychology at Duke Integrative Medicine. Dr. Webb’s research program is informed by a non-dieting, weight-neutral philosophy on health promotion in culturally- and body-diverse groups with a particular emphasis on enhancing the integration, dissemination, and accessibility of evidence-based mind-body approaches to strengthen embodied self-regulation, positive body image, and well-being among women during the developmental transitions of young adulthood, pregnancy, and the postpartum. She also serves on the editorial boards of Body Image: An International Journal of Research, Eating Behaviors: An International Journal, and Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology. Dr. Webb teaches courses at the undergraduate level on positive psychology, clinical psychology, and weight stigma and weight acceptance. The focus of her doctoral-level instruction centers on introducing students to the personal and professional benefits of evidence-based third-wave behavior therapeutic approaches.

   2019 SYR Young Investigator

Carissa Wengrovius, PT, DPT, PhD Candidate 

Carissa Wengrovius, PT, DPT, is a PhD candidate in the School of Kinesiology at the University of Michigan.  She has practiced as a physical therapist in a variety of land- and aquatic-based pediatric settings including early intervention, school, and private practice. She is also an active member of the Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy, serving on multiple committees. Carissa has completed several children’s yoga trainings and commonly integrates yoga techniques in her practice. Her research examines the physical and psychosocial effects of yoga in children and how to translate this knowledge into practice. She is committed to advancing intervention design, implementation, and knowledge translation to improve health outcomes in children. 

Scientific Program Committee Members and
Pre-Conference Presenters


Symposium Chair


Sat Bir Khalsa, PhD

Sat Bir has practiced a yoga lifestyle for over 35 years. He is the Director of Research for the Kundalini Research Institute and the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health and is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School at Brigham and Women\'s Hospital in Boston. His central research funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of NIH is targeted at examining the efficacy of yoga for the treatment of chronic insomnia and the mechanisms underlying its effectiveness. He is also involved in research initiatives on yoga's effectiveness in drug dependency, at-risk youth, professional musicians, music students, cancer and cardiovascular disease among others. He has established relationships with fellow yoga researchers in the U.S. and Europe and in India where he routinely attends international yoga research conferences. Dr. Khalsa also teaches an elective course at Harvard Medical School in Mind Body Medicine.



Lanay Mudd, PhD

Dr. Mudd, is the Training Officer for the National Center for Complementary Health (NCCIH), and is also a Program Director in the NCCIH Clinical Research Branch. Her grant portfolio centers on clinical studies of movement meditation, including yoga, tai chi, and qi gong, for a variety of conditions and populations. As the Training Officer, Dr. Mudd also oversees the training and career development programs at NCCIH and develops and maintains resources for students, postdoctoral trainees, and early-mid career faculty pursuing research careers. Dr. Mudd earned a dual-major doctoral degree in kinesiology and epidemiology, and completed postdoctoral training in perinatal epidemiology at Michigan State University. Prior to joining NCCIH, she was an assistant professor of kinesiology at Michigan State University, where her research investigated the health benefits of physical activity during pregnancy and the development of interventions to improve health behaviors among pregnant women.



Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, PhD, MPH, RD,  RYT-500

Dr. Neumark-Sztainer is Mayo Professor and Division Head in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota. Dr. Neumark-Sztainer’s research focuses on a broad spectrum of eating and weight-related outcomes including eating disorders, unhealthy weight control behaviors, body image, dietary intake, weight stigmatization, and obesity. She is dedicated to ensuring that her research has a positive impact on the health of the public, particularly our most vulnerable populations. She leads an active program of research and recently received an Outstanding Investigator Award from the National Institutes of Health to fund her work. Dr. Neumark-Sztainer has published nearly 500 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Her research has been recognized with awards from the Academy for Eating Disorders, the National Eating Disorders Association, and the Eating Disorders Coalition. She is the author of the book: I'm, Like, SO Fat! Helping Your Teen Make Healthy Choices about Eating and Exercise in a Weight-Obsessed World. In recent  years, she has been exploring the potential for using yoga as a tool for addressing weight-related problems.



Stephanie Jean Sohl, PhD

Dr. Sohl is an Assistant Professor at the Wake Forest School of Medicine. Her research focuses on the mind-body relationship and cancer survivorship. Specifically, she aims to strengthen the evidence base for scalable mind-body approaches (e.g., yoga, integrative health coaching) that aim to empower patients with strategies for achieving optimal health. Her work is innovative because she adapts mind-body approaches that may be efficacious so they can be integrated into and enhance conventional care. For example, her current Mentored Research Scientist Development Award (K01) supports an investigation of a brief yoga intervention targeted to reduce fatigue that is taught in the clinical setting during chemotherapy for colorectal cancer. Dr. Sohl earned her doctorate in Social and Health Psychology from Stony Brook University and completed postdoctoral fellowships in Cancer Prevention and Control at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Wake Forest School of Medicine with a focus on Cancer Survivorship and Integrative Oncology. She has also completed a Kripalu-affiliated 200-hour yoga teacher training, Integral Yoga Adapting Yoga for People with Cancer Teacher Training, and the Urban Zen Integrative Therapist training program.



Chris Streeter, MD

Dr. Chris Streeter is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology at Boston University School of Medicine. She completed a Neurology Residency, a Behavioral Neurology Fellowship and a Psychiatry Residency. She is boarded in Neurology, Behavioral Neurology and Neuropsychiatry, Psychiatry, and Forensics. She is the Director of Functional Neuroimaging for the Department of Psychiatry and the Boston Yoga Research Center at Boston University School of Medicine. She is an Instructor at Harvard School of Medicine and a Research Associate at the McLean Hospital. During 20 years of NIH funding, she has served as the Principal Investigator on numerous study involving alcohol and substance abuse. Most recently, her research interests have focused on a series of studies looking at the association between yoga-based practices, brain gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels and mood. Her most recent study has used Iyengar yoga and coherent breathing to treat Major Depressive Disorder.



Lisa Uebelacker, PhD

Dr. Uebelacker is Associate Professor (Research) in the Departments of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, and Family Medicine, at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University. She conducts research on innovative ways to manage depression and chronic pain, including hatha yoga, physical activity, self-help videos, and the integration of behavioral healthcare into primary care settings. She receives research funding from several NIH institutes, including NIMH, NCCIH, NHLBI, and NINR. She is a licensed clinical psychologist. She works at two Brown-affiliated hospitals, Butler Hospital and Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island.