WashU’s new Mindfulness in Science Practice Cluster includes two Olin professors

  • January 11, 2023
  • By Jill Young Miller
  • 2 minute read

Two Olin Business School professors are part of WashU’s new Mindfulness in Science Practice Cluster, chosen for funding from the Incubator for Transdisciplinary Futures: Erik Dane, associate professor of organizational behavior, and Armando Gomes, associate professor of finance.

Dane, one of four faculty leaders of the cluster, teaches about mindfulness in the workplace to Olin MBA and undergraduate students.

Erik Dane

“I have a longstanding interest, certainly on the academic side and increasingly an interest in the practice,” he said.

“In a work world besieged by tension, anxiety and conflict, timeless practices associated with mindfulness are perhaps more timely than ever.”

“Mindfulness” refers to a set of mental training practices and skills that can improve health, wellness and psychological functioning in a low-cost, non-pharmacological way. 

“The practice of mindfulness can fundamentally change how we experience life,” Gomes said.


His interest in mindfulness started with personal practice. Now he’s attempting to weave that into his academic and research work. “In an economy increasingly competing for our attention, which is a scarce resource we all have, the importance of mindfulness practice is bound to grow as a way to create more balance in our lives.”

For more than 2,500 years, mindfulness practices have formed a central component of Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Mindfulness practices have gained widespread adoption in Western culture, as well, and are becoming a focus of intense transdisciplinary research interest.

“Over the past two decades, research on mindfulness has seen remarkable growth across the psychological and health sciences,” Dane said.

Numerous articles have been published in leading journals, including Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Multiyear collaborations

The Incubator for Transdisciplinary Futures is an Arts & Sciences Signature Initiative at WashU that’s funding several clusters on campus. The clusters are multiyear thematic research and learning collaborations.

The mindfulness cluster started a couple of years ago as an informal working group designed to transform the science of mindfulness through collaborative research. The cluster brings together researchers, scholars and mindfulness practitioners from a range of Arts & Sciences departments and other units, including Olin, the Brown School and the School of Medicine.

The mindfulness cluster will advance Arts & Sciences and university-wide strategic initiatives through activities including:

  • developing a new interdisciplinary undergraduate minor;
  • expanding mindfulness programming to support campus and community needs;
  • hosting public-facing events, including interdisciplinary seminars, lecture series, scientific conferences; and
  • launching the first-of-its-kind mindfulness instructor certification program to fully incorporate DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) perspectives.

Said Dane, “I’m delighted and honored to be working with scholars and practitioners throughout the WashU community on this important initiative.”

About the Author

Jill Young Miller

Jill Young Miller

As research translator for WashU Olin Business School, my job is to highlight professors’ research by “translating” their work into stories. Before coming to Olin, I was a communications specialist at WashU’s Brown School. My background is mostly in newspapers including as a journalist for Missouri Lawyers Media, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Washington Post and the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida.

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