The Science of Interpersonal Peace
Emiliana Simon-Thomas is the Science Director at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. A Berkeley native, she earned her PhD in Psychology studying how emotional and cognitive processes interact in the brain to shape decisions and behavior. During her post-doc, Emiliana studied the biological correlates and social functions of pro-social emotions like compassion, gratitude, and awe.
She then served as Associate Director/Senior Scientist at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford, examining how compassion, both innate and learned, benefits health and wellbeing. At the GGSC, she oversees the student research fellowship program, runs key initiatives like Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude, and provides an expert scientific voice on the key roles that social connection, support, and belonging play in wellbeing to audiences worldwide.
She also co-teaches The Science of Happiness, a BerkeleyX MOOC that has enrolled over 600,000 people from all over the world, in addition to the recently launched Science of Happiness at Work Professional Certificate Series. She regularly lectures on the biological underpinnings of social connection, as well as empirically supported approaches to improving interpersonal dynamics — like practicing mindfulness, and increasing compassion, gratitude, and generosity. Alongside her academic and popular writing, Emiliana recently co-edited the Oxford Handbook of Compassion Science, a transdisciplinary compendium of articles from world-class researchers. Emiliana's work leverages leading-edge scientific insights to help people live better lives individually, in relationship with others, within organizations and communities, and society-wide.