Jennifer Dungan began her meditation practice in 2003 with a mindfulness based stress reduction course (MBSR). The discipline of meditation opened a new world of personal discovery and her desire to continue learning propelled her to IMSB in January 2006. Jennifer especially appreciates the scientific method promoted by the Buddha. She lives with her spouse in Mountain View and works at NASA Ames Research Center.
Jim Podolske is an atmospheric scientist at NASA who has been a Vipassana student since 1998. He serves the Insight Meditation Center sangha both as a volunteer and introductory meditation instructor, and is a former IMC board member. He has sat vipassana, samadhi, and brahmavihara retreats over the last 11 years, including a six week retreat in 2003. Jim enjoys sailing on the San Francisco Bay.
John Astin holds a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California, Irvine. He is a nationally recognized researcher in the field of mind-body medicine. Prior to his current position as a Research Scientist at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, he was a fellow at Stanford University and a professor in the School of Medicine at the University of Maryland's Center for Integrative Medicine. He lectures widely on the topics of stress and health and the applications of meditation in medical training and practice. He has published over 50 scientific papers in the areas of stress reduction and mind-body medicine, and is the co-author of the book Control Therapy: An Integrated Approach to Psychotherapy, Health & Healing. His scientific work has been featured on CNN, Fox News, and a host of other local and national media. He is also the author of two books of poetry and prose reflections on the non-dual nature of awareness, Too Intimate for Words and This Is Always Enough.
"Kelly McGonigal, PhD, is an instructor of meditation, psychology,
and yoga at Stanford University, with a special emphasis on the
collaboration of science and traditional practitioners. She teaches
the Compassion Cultivation Program, which integrates traditional
lovingkindness and compassion practices with insights from Western
neuroscience and scientific psychology, under the guidance of Geshe
Kim Allen practiced with Gil Fronsdal for a dozen years, and now serves on the Teacher’s Council at Insight Santa Cruz. She has spent cumulative two years in silent retreat, and lived for another two years at the Insight Retreat Center. She has studied the suttas with Gil, Bhikkhu Bodhi, and Shaila Catherine, and offers classes for dedicated students. She has completed the Sati Center’s Buddhist Chaplaincy training program, and is the founder of the Buddhist Insight Network. Her teaching emphasizes the willingness to look truthfully at experience, and to soften in light of what is seen.
"Leah Weiss is a Contemplative Educator whose research focuses on the application of meditation in secular contexts. She has taught in a variety of settings including at Harvard affiliated hospitals, the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights, the Alzheimer’s association, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. In 2008, Leah co-founded the Foundation for Active Compassion, a nonprofit organization which provides meditation practices of compassion and wisdom to people involved in social service and social change work. Her work at CCARE includes curriculum development and teaching. She developed and directs the CCT Teacher Certification Program as well as other educational initiatives. Leah received her BA from Stanford University, her MA in clinical social work from Boston College, and her PhD in theology and education from Boston College. Her website is