Meet the new MiNDS of the Neuroscience Graduate Program

Author: Kathryn Reynolds


We are pleased to welcome a new cohort of students to the Neuroscience Graduate Program!


While the start of this school year is unlike any other, we’re looking forward to seeing your friendly faces on Zoom this fall, and finding common ground over your diverse research and personal interests. We wish each new student all the best with the unique challenges this year will bring, and we’re eager to watch your progress as the year unfolds!



Shawniya Alageswaran




Hi, my name is Shawniya (pronounced "Shonya"). I recently graduated from the Biology & PNB program at Mac. This Fall, I'll be joining Dr. Kathy Murphy's lab to complete my MSc. My interests in neuroscience lie in the molecular changes throughout neurodevelopment and in the computational techniques used to analyze neural data. Outside of neuroscience, I like to spend my time baking, listening to music, working out, and reading. I also enjoy watching movies with my friends, especially anything in the psychological thriller genre. As for TV shows, I'm a huge GoT fan - I'm currently reading the book series. I look forward to meeting everyone this fall!


Andrei Alexe





Hello, my name is Andrei Alexe and I completed my undergraduate degree in Honours Biology-Physiology at McMaster University. In my honours thesis I studied the conductive pathways for sodium and potassium reabsorption in the Malpighian tubules of larval Trichoplusia ni under the supervision of Dr. Michael O'Donnell. I will be joining the laboratory of Dr. Deda Gillespie as a MSc student. Outside of school, I enjoy watching the NBA and spending time outdoors. I look forward to meeting all of you!

Andrea D’Alessandro







My name is Andrea D’Alessandro and I am a first-year MSc student in the Neuroscience Graduate Program. I recently graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University in Honours Psychology and Sociology. I am very excited to pursue further academic studies at McMaster under the supervision of Dr. McCabe and Dr. McKinnon. In my free time, I enjoy cooking, baking, biking, and working out. I look forward to meeting the rest of the students in the program and hope to connect soon!

Seyedbehrad Dehnadi







Hi all! My name is Behrad and I’m a first year MSc student. I joined Dr. Goldreich’s lab for my undergraduate thesis, and I’m doing my MSc under his supervision as well, modelling neuronal response. My hobbies include modding, memeing, and camping. etc. Nice to meet you all. Also, GLORY TO BAYES!

Emma Marsden






Hi all, my name is Emma. I will be starting my MSc under the supervision of Dr. James MacKillop at the Peter Boris Centre for Addictions Research (PBCAR). I graduated with an Honours Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour degree here at McMaster, and subsequently obtained a Mental Health & Disability Certificate from Mohawk College. For the past two years, I have worked as an RA in the Cognitive Neuroscience of Addictions Lab at PBCAR. Outside of school, I enjoy volunteering, travelling, hanging out with my friends and family, and exploring the outdoors with my pup. 

Donya Merza







Hey guys! My name is Donya and I graduated from Western University with a BA in Kinesiology. This year I am lucky enough to be coming into the MSc. Neuroscience Program under the supervision of Dr. Ryan Van Lieshout. Outside of school, my interests are staying active and working out, as well as spending time with my family and friends. My favourite movie of all time would have to be Click, which I've watched at least 10 times.


Leanne Monteiro







Hi everyone! My name is Leanne Monteiro. I graduated from the University of Toronto with BSc

(Honors) in Molecular Biology. Under the supervision of Dr. Kathy Murphy, I will begin my MSc in Neuroscience this fall. In my free time, I love reading, making 3D origami, and gardening. I am excited to continue my academic journey at McMaster and I look forward to meeting you all!

Peter Najdzionek





Hello! I recently graduated from SUNY Geneseo with a BA in Psychology and minors in Human Development and Cognitive Science. During my time at Geneseo I participated in two labs: a behavioral toxicology lab studying the effects of perinatal exposure to THC in an animal model, and a social-emotional development lab examining a unique brain pattern for children at risk of developing social anxiety disorder. I am fortunate to be earning my MSc at McMaster and working with Dr. James MacKillop to study the effects of cannabis in a clinical setting. Outside of academics, I’m a relaxed, easygoing person. I love playing volleyball, exploring the outdoors, gaming with friends, and have recently been interested in cooking. 

Netri Pajankar





I did my undergraduate degree at McMaster where I majored in Life Sciences. I pursued an undergraduate thesis in the Language, Memory, and Brain (LMB) lab, and have received the invaluable opportunity to continue studying my topic of interest under Dr. John Connolly through my MSc! When I'm not surfing through journal articles, I enjoy painting, sketching, and exploring the interdisciplinary field of science communication, where I hope to share relevant scientific findings through an artistic lens and through the written word. Apart from that, I enjoy watching comedic commentary videos on pop culture and current events and indulge in reruns of my favourite TV series (hi Brooklyn 99 fans!).


Vidhi Patel






I completed my undergraduate degree at McMaster University, where I majored in Biochemistry. I'm excited to return to Mac for the Neuroscience Graduate Program and I will be working in Dr. Ram Mishra's neuropharmacology lab. When I'm not in the lab, I enjoy hiking, painting, and baking. 

Coral Rakovski






Hi everyone, my name is Coral Rakovski. I'm very excited to be starting the Neuroscience Graduate Program with Dr. Flavio Kapczinski as my supervisor. I did my undergraduate degree at McMaster in the Honours Biology - Discovery Sub-Plan program. After volunteering at a hospital and conducting research at a centre for children with ASD, I've realized that I am especially interested in clinical and health neuroscience. In my spare time, I enjoy all things active especially if it involves being outdoors. When I'm not busy with research and schoolwork, you can usually find me working out, snowboarding, or going on walks to see all things nature. I'm looking forward to starting grad school and meeting everyone in the program!

Nicolette Rigg





My name is Nicolette Rigg. I graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University in 2019 from the BSc Psychology and Neuroscience program. I previously volunteered in a behavioural neuroscience lab at Laurier where I ultimately went on to complete a thesis surrounding the lasting impact of early life exposure to THC on impulsivity and attention during adolescence. Following graduation, I worked at a pharmaceutical CRO as a research technician doing work surrounding pain and epilepsy, with some work into the benefits of psychedelics. In the fall, I will be starting the Neuroscience Graduate program here at McMaster working under the supervision of Dr. Ram Mishra. 

Joshua Rychlik





My name is Joshua Rychlik and I graduated from the undergraduate honours neuroscience program at McMaster. I will be beginning my MSc in the fall with Dr. Katrina Choe. Outside of neuroscience I spend my time playing hockey, cycling, and reading. I have an 8-year old son who keeps me on my toes and both of us are always ready to "lay down villages" (play Catan). My favourite show is The Patriot and if you have seen it, you have had a peek inside of my brain. 


Katy Celina Sandoval




Name: Katy Celina Sandoval

Undergraduate: BSc Psychology: Neuroscience option with a minor in Biochemistry (Bishop’s University)

Master’s Degree: MSc Psychology (University of Calgary)

Thesis title: The effects of maternal immune activation on the behaviour of mice lacking vesicular zinc

PhD Supervisor: Dr. Katrina Choe (McMaster University)

Favourite books: The Alchemist and The King’s Daughter

Fun fact: I co-created a nap room (The BU Snooze Room) in my last year at Bishop’s University as an independent research project. I’m a latin singer and I speak Spanish and French.


Olivia Turner



Hi everyone, I'm Olivia! In 2020, I completed my undergraduate degree in Neuroscience and Mental Health (with honours) at Carleton University. Under the supervision of Dr. Tremblay and Dr. Guimond, I completed my honours thesis, investigating neuroplasticity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex using TMS-EEG in healthy controls. I am very excited to start my MSc in Neuroscience this Fall under the supervision of Dr. Iris Balodis. I’m originally from the East Coast, and I love spending time in nature, listening to podcasts, and playing the ukulele!