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Day 1 - Session 1
May 10, 11:00 am - 12:00 pm (EST/USA)
Awe Practices


Emiliana Simon-Thomas, PhD

  • Science Director, Greater Good Science Center, University of California - Berkeley (USA)

Susan Magnan, PhD

  • Thrive Center for Human Development 

Jeff Thompson, PhD

  • Detective/Mental Health and Wellness Coordinator, NYPD

  • Adjunct Associate Research Scientist, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center (USA)

Expert Panelists:











Peter Collins, MD

  • Associate Professor, University of Toronto; Forensic Psychiatrist, Criminal Behaviour Analysis Section, Ontario Provincial Police (Canada)





Golnaz Tabibnia, PhD

  • Assistant Research Professor, University of California - Irvine (USA)​​​

  • Twitter: @GolnazTabibnia





John Bale

  • Co-Founder and Managing Director, Fortem Australia (Australia)


Session Description

Awe Practices: Science-Backed & Practical

Emiliana Simon-Thomas, PhD

Emotional experiences of awe shift how we feel and think in ways that benefit our psychological well-being, both in the moment of the experience and thereafter. While awe does happen naturally at different rates for different people, anyone can infuse more awe into their day-to-day life to enjoy more uplift, connection, and motivation. From writing, reflection, and close observation to dramatic vistas, heroes, and aesthetic arts, researchers have discovered simple and effective approaches to inviting in more awe.  

More information:

Evoking Awe in Your Daily Life

Susan Magnan, PhD

Like many positive emotions, awe can help us decrease our stress and improve our mental and physical well-being. One more unique aspect of awe is that it also reminds us that our lives are but one part of a bigger story the universe is telling – this act of remembering the world at large and our connection to something bigger helps us reflect on what is truly important in our lives, what troubles are worth our trouble, and what our real priorities are. In this talk, I’ll give an overview of awe as well as discuss some of the more active, experiential-based activities that help bring out the awe in all of us. 

More information:


The Awe Project

Jeff Thompson, PhD

The Awe Project consists of five days (Monday through Friday) of short, evidence-based, practices and takes place online through the Google Classroom platform in a private, password-protected classroom.  

Participants take part voluntarily and are provided with the access code to the private classroom. 

Learn about the program and the feedback from first responders and front-line participants. 

More information:


Emilianna Simon-Thomas, PhD

Emiliana Simon-Thomas, PhD is the Science Director at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. She oversees the student research fellowship program, runs key initiatives like Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude, and co-teaches both GG101x: The Science of Happiness massive open online course and the Science of Happiness at Work Professional Certificate Series. She serves as an expert voice on human pro-sociality, as well as empirically-supported approaches to fostering sustained kindness and compassion at individual, interpersonal, and collective levels.

Alongside her academic and popular publications Emiliana co-edited the transdisciplinary Oxford Handbook of Compassion Science authored by leading world-class researchers. She also advises organizations on boosting happiness, both from a product perspective and through policies aimed at enhancing a culture of trust, agility, and well-being.

In sum, Emiliana’s work shares scientific insights and practical tools for strengthening the skills of connection, positivity, and resilience that measurably increase health, well-being, and happiness.


Susan Magnan, PhD

Dr. Susan Mangan earned her doctorate in Positive Developmental Psychology from Claremont Graduate University. She is currently a postdoctoral research associate for the thrive center for human development (https://thethrivecenter.org/) specializing in positive youth development, positive psychology interventions (PPIs), gratitude, joy,and purpose in life. Susan is dedicated to applied work and has a passion for translating academic research for the general public, so that we all have the opportunity to enhance the good things in our lives not only as individuals, but as communities.

Towards this end, Susan’s research is especially focused on creating short, feasible, online exercises that can increase our feelings of well-being. Susan’s research focuses on fleshing out for whom, and under what conditions, these interventions are most effective. She is also a trained evaluator and has worked with local cities and communities to develop community and youth-based programs. 

Email: Susan.a.mangan@gmail.com.

Jeff Thompson, PhD

Jeff Thompson, Ph.D., is a 18-year veteran NYPD detective currently serving as the Department’s Mental Health and Wellness Coordinator. He is also an adjunct associate research scientist at the Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center and the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

Additionally, he is the recipient of the Griffith University Arts, Education and Law's 2020 Outstanding International Alumnus Award and The New York City Police Foundation’s 2020 Hemmerdinger Award for Excellence for Distinguished Public Service.

Email: jt2768@cumc.columbia.edu, jeff.thompson@nypd.org

Peter Collins, MD

Dr. Collins has been the operational forensic psychiatrist with the Ontario Provincial Police since 1995. Prior to that he was a member of the Violent Crime Analysis Section of the RCMP. Dr. Collins is a Lieutenant Commander (ret) with the Royal Canadian Navy reserves and served on 2 deployments to Southern Afghanistan.

Email: peter.collins@opp.ca

Golnaz Tabibnia, PhD

Golnaz Tabibnia is a neuroscientist at the University of California in Irvine. She received her PhD in Psychology at UCLA and was an Assistant Professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh for three years before moving back to California. Dr. Tabibnia's research focuses on the interaction of passion and reason in the brain, including in such contexts as emotion regulation, impulse control, social decision-making, and resilience. Ultimately, she is interested in using insights from neuroscience to explore novel cognitive or behavioral strategies for improving mental health and wellness.

Email: tabibnia@uci.edu

Twitter: @golnaztabibnia

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John Bale

Prior to Fortem, John Co-Founded Soldier On Australia, a charity that works side by side with veterans who have served, and continue to serve our nation. John was the CEO of Soldier On from its inception in April 2012 until November 2018.
John was an Army Officer for 12 years prior to Soldier On. He has deployed to Afghanistan twice; once in 2008 and then again in 2010. He holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honours and a Masters of Arts and Masters of Management. He is current a PhD candidate writing on Moral Injury in Australian Peacekeeping Operations.

Email: john.bale@fortemaustralia.org.au

Twitter: @JBBale


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