Directors & Advisors


Robert Ornstein, Ph.D., was an internationally renowned psychologist and author who wrote more than 20 books on the brain, mind and health, among them The Psychology of Consciousness, The Roots of the Self and The Right Mind. Considered one of the foremost experts on the brain, he taught at Stanford University, Harvard University and UCSF and was president of ISHK from 1969 until his death in December of 2018. He was 76.

Photo of Robert Ornstein

Born in 1942 in Brooklyn, NY and winner of two city-wide high school math competitions, he traded math and physics for a distinguished career as a psychologist and brain scientist. He received his PhD in psychology from Stanford (1968) where his doctoral thesis won the American Institutes for Research Creative Talent Award.  But no single discipline could restrain his inquiring and creative mind as he fearlessly explored anthropology, brain science, religious studies, genetics, medical science, and much more.

Robert Ornstein seated

Considered one of the foremost experts on the brain, he taught at Stanford University, Harvard University and UCSF and was founder and president of The Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing important discoveries concerning human nature to the general public. Working along with his wife, Sally Mallam, he created The Human Journey website to provide a continually updated resource on the journey of the human mind, how it developed, the world it made, and how we can be equipped to fully adapt and solve the problems facing the world today.

No ivory-tower theorist or academic, Dr. Ornstein carefully chose his areas of endeavor for their overall usefulness to solve the unprecedented challenges facing humanity. His fundamental optimism was always rooted in real possibilities and tempered by a tough-minded scientific rigor. Not that everything was dull and serious. Ornstein possessed a sharp wit and clever sense of humor which he regularly exercised and infused into his writing.

His singular gift was the ability to absorb massive amount of information, think across broad disciplines, synthesize the disparate findings, and write with amazing clarity. His books provide an ongoing legacy inviting readers to rethink our origins, human nature, and the necessity of extending human capacities toward “conscious evolution.” His groundbreaking books The Psychology of Consciousness and The Evolution of Consciousness introduced the two modes of consciousness of the left and right brain hemispheres, and a critical understanding how the brain evolved.  His writings are infused with a reconsideration of ancient religious and spiritual traditions in light of contemporary needs and modern psychology.

God 4.0 is Robert Ornstein’s forthcoming book, completed just before his death. It offers a fresh understanding of how the brain can produce a transcendent shift in consciousness that some have called “seeing God.” The book points toward a new unity of science and spirituality concerning a reality that people have sought forever. This higher consciousness is not something “out there,” but something in the brain that we can develop. Once unlocked it allows us to see and use vital connections that can help us unite around a common higher perspective.


David Sasseen, Esq., has been a practicing attorney for 34 years, representing some of Silicon Valley’s most successful technology companies during this time.  His work currently focuses on commercial transactions and litigation, often involving intellectual property, corporate counseling for startups and early growth stage companies, as well as the representation of non-profit entities.  He has also worked with ISHK for more than 25 years in his capacity as a lawyer, and otherwise.

Photo of David Sasseen

Board of Directors

David Sasseen Esq. – President
Sally Mallam – Executive Director
Shane DeHaven –Secretary
Jill Barnes – Treasurer

Margaret Caudill, MD
Jonathan Russell
Charles Swencionis, PhD

Advisors and Collaborators

From 1969 to present, partial list:

James Burke
William Dement
Edward T. Hall
Doris Lessing
Rene Dubos

Paul Ehrlich
Jonas Salk
Hans Seyle
Idries Shah
Roger Sperry

Program Directors

Charles Swencionis, Ph.D., is Associate Professor in Clinical Health Psychology at Ferkauf Graduate School and Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York, where he is also Associate Professor of Psychology, Epidemiology and Population Health, and Psychiatry. His research concerns developing new treatments for obesity. He has written numerous articles and is co-editor of The Healing Brain: A Scientific Reader, and co-author of The Lazy Person’s Guide to Fitness and The Complete Weight-Loss Workbook.

Photo of Charles Swencionis

CME Medicine

Margaret Caudill, M.D., Ph.D., is an internist specializing in health improvement and patient-centered care. Formerly an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, she is currently an Adjunct Associate Professor of Anesthesiology at Dartmouth Medical School, as well as a fellow in the Quality Scholars Program at Veterans Administration Hospital in White River Junction, Vt., and an MPH candidate at the Center for Evaluative Clinical Sciences, Dartmouth Medical School.

Co-Directors Denise Nessel PhD and Sally Mallam

Sally Mallam spent 15 years in international business and publishing prior to coming to the U.S. She joined ISHK in 1983 as Administrative Director. In 1996 she initiated the ISHK publishing imprints Malor and Hoopoe Books, and the subsequent development of ISHK’s literacy outreach four years later. She is also an artist who has exhibited in the U.S. and Britain.

Photo of Sally Mallam

Brain-Mind and Consciousness

Robert Ornstein (1969-2018) and Sally Mallam