With the limited resources available, a deliberate decision was made for the focus of the Division of Perceptual Studies (DOPS) to be a research unit rather than provide instruction 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 mentoring in various ways over the years.
The following are the current educational opportunities and activities in place at the UVA 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 contact us at DOPS@virginia.edu if your academic institution, interest group or professional research organization would like to invite the faculty individually or collectively, to speak about their research.
For more information, please see public lectures by the DOPS faculty.
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
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.
Research Student Publications:
- Childhood Gender Nonconformity and Children’s Past-Life Memories authored by Marieta Pehlivanova, Monica J. Janke, Jack Lee & Jim B. Tucker, published in 2018 in the International Journal of Sexual Health. (pdf)
- Cases of the Reincarnation Type with Memories from the Intermission Between Lives, authored by Poonam Sharma and 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 analyzed 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)
Opportunities for Graduate Students, Medical Students, Medical Residents, and Visiting Researchers
Qualified UVA graduate students, academic faculty from UVA and other institution, and graduate students, medical students and medical residents 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 collaborator or 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.Here are two examples of published academic papers that came out of specially arranged selected projects. The first one here is the result of the collaboration between Geena Athappilly and Bruce Greyson. Dr. Athapply was a visiting medical resident from an accredited institution at the time of her project.
Faculty from other academic institutions and disciplines have used their paid sabbaticals or outside funding to come and do research projects with us that fall within the scope of the DOPS research endeavors with the support and supervision of the DOPS faculty. These guest researchers have worked with us on various projects of mutual interest. We welcome inquiries from any and all such persons who might have an upcoming paid sabbatical leave and are interested in our research. We do not provide course credit or funding to any visiting guest researchers for these specially arranged circumstances. For those researchers who are interested in learning more about this possibility, send an email outlining your background and research interests to: DOPS@virginia.edu
- Do Prevailing Societal Models Influence Reports of Near-Death Experiences? A Comparison of Accounts Reported Before and After 1975 by Geena Athappilly, M.D. and Bruce Greyson M.D. (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)
This published academic paper is the result of a collaboration between Masayuki Ohkado, and Bruce Greyson. Masayuki Ohkado was on paid sabbatical as a visiting researcher from Chubu University Japan at the time of this project. Dr. Ohkado made special arrangements with the faculty to spend his year long sabbatical here to learn about the research being carried out at UVA DOPS, as well as to collaborate on various projects of his own with the DOPS faculty. Numerous academic papers came out of his time here.
- A Comparative Analysis of Japanese and Western NDEs, by Masayuki Ohkado, Ph.D. Bruce Greyson, M.D. (Journal of Near-Death Studies, 32(4), Summer 2014) Decades of studies on near-death experiences (NDEs) have revealed both cross-cultural and culture-specific features (Kellehear, 2009) and that it is important to determine which aspects are attributed to the physiological, biological, or psychological mechanisms shared by all humans and which aspects are of cultural origin. In this article, we examine Japanese NDEs and compare their features with generalizations based on observations of Western NDEs. (pdf)
Student and Community Volunteers
Qualified UVA undergraduate students and community members 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 and community volunteers. Those students and community members 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 DOPS@virginia.edu. 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 and community members who presents themselves as volunteers will need to commit to at least 4 hours every week for the arrangement be successful for the volunteers and for DOPS.
Please see Volunteer Opportunities for more details about volunteering at UVA DOPS.
Self-paced Reading Curriculum
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.