Kelly A Zepelin, PhD
Adjunct Professor
BA Psychology Online
BA, Psychology, specialization cognitive science and neuroscience MA, Cultural Anthropology, specialization health and wellbeing PhD, Cultural Anthropology
BA Psychology Online

I have been Zen Buddhist for nearly two decades, practiced monastically in Asia and at monasteries in Colorado and Oregon. As a Fulbright scholar and research fellow, I have worked as a cognitive scientist in India, Japan, and Sri Lanka where I researched the impact of meditation on the brain, cognition, bodily awareness, and interpersonal perception. It was working in this capacity — with monks and nuns, who for example had been meditating in a cave for decades — that made me feel a need to find a more holistic way to study human experience outside of quantitative data. This is what led me to move into anthropological study of human experience and utilize qualitative research methods. I recieved my MA in the anthropology of health and wellbeing where I examined the impact of meditation on views of self/ecology among American Zen monastics. After a surprise diagnosis of multiple sclerosis in 2016, however, I became interested in the role of diet in inflammatory disease. I pursued my PhD in cultural anthropology to examine contemporary wild food traditions of the United States and the human and ecological health ramifications, as well as the legal issues of such “alternative” food practices within a colonial context. I am currently based in Durango, Colorado, with my husband, dog, and my young daughter, Lily.

Search Naropa University


This is where experiential learning meets academic rigor. Where you challenge your intellect and uncover your potential. Where you discover the work you’re moved to do—then use it to transform our world.

“*” indicates required fields