Researcher, Fundacion Zen Montana de Silencio, Medellin, Colombia
Juan F Santoyo is a neuroscience researcher and a Brown University 2015 graduate in Cognitive Neuroscience and Contemplative Science. His work in cognitive neuroscience includes research on the mechanisms and effects of meditation-based clinical programs in the treatment of psychiatric illnesses. Additionally, he has worked in basic neuroscience studying the neural mechanisms that underlie innate behaviors, and working on the development of a novel genetic tool for mapping and manipulating neural circuits. Outside of research, Juan has helped to co-found and develop a Boston based organization that aims to create spaces and models for engaging with meditation practice that prioritize the needs of marginalized peoples and for addressing the erasure of marginalized identities in mainstream contemplative spaces.
Bringing these different threads of work together, Juan joins the HI² International Fellows with a project he has co-developed that looks to adapt US clinical models for using mindfulness meditation practices in psychiatric care to the context of peacebuilding in Colombia. Starting in August 2018, he will be working with a non-profit in Medellin, Colombia to develop and implement a program using meditation-based practices to help FARC ex-combatants with the psychological experience of reintegration. While Juan seeks to contribute to the efficacy of healing practices used in marginalized populations, his broader goal is to foster a model in which engaged peacebuilding work is mutually informing and informed by scientific work on the biological bases for social behaviors, healing, and altruistic care.