Nicholas Van Dam, Ph.D., is the inaugural director of the Contemplative Studies Centre and associate professor in the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne. Nicholas is a highly regarded global leader in contemplative research and practice. His vision for the Contemplative Studies Centre reflects a desire for inclusivity, authenticity, integrity, and excellence, embedded within a rigorous ethical framework to ensure retention of the ethos of contemplative practices while simultaneously promoting their empirical study.
Nicholas completed a Bachelor of Science in Neurobiology and Psychology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (USA), followed by an M.A. and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University at Albany, SUNY (USA). Upon completing his Ph.D., Nicholas undertook post-doctoral fellowships in psychiatry, clinical neuroscience, and psychiatric neuroimaging. Nicholas’s research program includes exploration of the ways that meditation and mindfulness practices can support well-being, as well as improved understanding and treatment of high-prevalence psychiatric disorders (i.e., anxiety, depression, substance use), and is ultimately aimed at better understanding the human condition.
Nicholas focuses on finding ways to mitigate maladaptive functioning and increase adaptive functioning. Nicholas has expertise in decision-making processes in psychiatric disorders, introspection, and insight of self-concept via meditation research, and combines his extensive academic expertise in contemplative practice with an interest and understanding of the complex ethical, social, and systemic issues associated with the “hype, hope, and reality” of meditation and mindfulness research and practice.