Educational Activities

With the limited resources available, a deliberate decision was made for the focus of the Division of Perceptual Studies (DOPS) to be research rather than teaching as the the main contribution of the Division to this field of study. In addition, the Division’s organizational affiliation within the UVA School of Medicine precludes its having direct responsibility for teaching classes leading to academic degrees. Nevertheless, the members of research faculty and have engaged in a considerable amount of teaching and mentoring in various ways over the years. The following are the current educational opportunities and activities in place at the Division of Perceptual Studies:


  • Lectures and Public Events

Members of the research faculty sometimes give lectures within the department of the UVA School of Medicine Psychiatry & Neurobehavioral Sciences, as guest lecturers at other universities or institutions, and at professional conferences and special public lecture events.

Please see the page on this site for information about public lectures by the DOPS faculty.

Kim Penberthy, Bruce Greyson, Jim Tucker, and Ed Kelly
The DOPS Research Faculty Presented at the UVA Medical Center Hour, February 2017


Recently, the DOPS research faculty had the opportunity to present at the UVA School of Medicine Medical Center Hour to commemorate 50 years of research into the question of post-mortem survival of consciousness.

Click here to view the UVA DOPS faculty present their research at the UVA Medical Center Hour-Is there Life after Death? Fifty Years of Research at UVA

To view a curated collection of other lectures by the DOPS research faculty, please see our UVA Division of Perceptual Studies YouTube Channel.


  • Summer Research Interns
Kelsey O'Leary and Monica Janke Medical Student Research Interns 2016

Medical Students Kelsey O’Leary and Monica Janke, Class of 2019-UVA DOPS Research Interns, Summer 2016

Since the year 2002, DOPS has engaged 1 or 2 first year UVA medical student summer research interns in coding the cases of children who report memories of previous lives. The medical students apply and are interviewed for this summer research program. The medical students are here for 7-8 weeks during their break from their first and second year of medical school.  The students are supervised and trained in the coding procedures in a standardized manner. They are then given access to the files and field notes of the cases of children who remember previous lives. Using standardized procedures, they code the cases for over 200 variables. Once a case is coded, the data is entered into a large SPSS data base. The medical students are then encouraged to create a research project of their own in which they use statistical analysis to look for patterns and and trends in the data. At the end of the summer, the medical students typically give a presentation about their project to the faculty and write a short summary paper. It is possible for these medical student projects to evolve into published academic papers with the guidance and collaboration of the research faculty.

One of the student projects which became a published paper is Cases of the Reincarnation Type with Memories from the Intermission Between Lives, by Poonam Sharma and Dr. Jim B. Tucker, published in 2005 in the Journal of Near-death Studies, 23(2):101-118. This project reflects an analysis of a minority of children who claim to remember previous lives and also claim to remember events between lives.  This project analysed statements from 35 Burmese subjects, revealing patterns in the memories that they described.  A comparison of these reports, to reports of near-death experiences indicates significant areas of overlap between these two types of experiences. (pdf)


  • Graduate Students-Special Projects

Qualified UVA graduate students and graduate and medical students from other approved academic institutions and medical schools may also set up special research projects related to the scope of what is being studied at UVA DOPS provided that a member of the Division’s research faculty has made arrangements to act as an associate supervisor on the project. Graduate students may engage in research projects with UVA DOPS while they are pursuing a wide variety of degrees within other departments, such as Anthropology or Religious Studies, Psychology, Neurobiology, or Sociology among many other related academic programs, provided they satisfy all requirements of the parent department and/or parent institution, and have the explicit cooperation of their department supervisor to do a special research project with The UVA Division of Perceptual Studies. We do not provide course credit or funding to any students for these specially arranged circumstances.

An example of a published academic paper that came out of a specially arranged project is this one by Geena Athappilly. She was a visiting medical student from another accredited institution at the time of her project.

Do Prevailing Societal Models Influence Reports of Near-Death Experiences? A Comparison of Accounts Reported Before and After 1975 by Geena Athappilly, and Bruce Greyson (Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease, 194, 218-222, 2006).  This article compares the phenomenology of 24 NDEs that were reported prior to Dr. Raymond Moody’s introduction of the term “NDE” in 1975 with 24 recently reported NDEs, matched on relevant demographic and situational variables. Tunnel phenomena were reported more frequently in the recent NDEs, but 14 other features described by Moody were reported as frequently in the pre-1975 NDEs as they were in the recent cases. This consistency in NDEs reported before and after Moody described the “typical” NDE suggests that NDEs reports have not been substantially influenced by prevailing cultural models. (pdf)


  • Student Volunteers
Lara Karadeniz

Student Volunteer, Lara Karadeniz, Academic Year 2016-2017

Qualified UVA undergraduate students work for DOPS as volunteers, thus affording them an opportunity to learn about the scope of the Division’s research. They are supervised by the DOPS Research Coordinator Lori Derr M.Ed., and are offered the option to work on a number of projects such as coding and entering the cases of children who remember previous lives, assisting with data base projects, assisting with the Ian Stevenson Memorial Library, and assisting with projects in the eeg lab. We are always looking for interested qualified student volunteers. Those student who have skills in statistics, data management and in coding procedures are especially needed. If you are interested in the possibility of volunteering, please send us an email describing your interests as related to the research being done here at DOPS and send your resume to Lori Derr at Once we receive your resume, we will ask you to come in for an interview. Please note, if you want to volunteer, we will ask you to complete training through the UVA IRB-SBS and IRB-HSR. We can only take a certain number of volunteers per semester. The students who presents themselves as volunteers will need to commit to at least 4 hours every week for the arrangement be successful for the student and for DOPS.


  • Self-paced Reading Curriculum 

Emily Kelly, Ph.D.

Our esteemed colleague, Dr. Emily Kelly, currently on sabbatical, has authored many publications on research into the survival of consciousness post mortem. She was a close colleague of our founder Dr. Ian Stevenson, and has been a researcher at UVA Division of Perceptual Studies for over thirty years. Dr. Kelly has developed a self-paced reading curriculum for those wanting to become more familiar with the scope and the background of the research being conducted at the Division of Perceptual Studies.

Click here to view the self-paced reading curriculum compiled by Dr. Emily Kelly reflecting the scope of the research being done at the UVA Division of Perceptual Studies into the survival of consciousness post mortem.