BrainWaves: The Neuroscience Graduate Program Newsletter

SOMA Has Got You Covered for All Things Fun! 

AUTHOR: Gabriella Mattina

SOMA wants you to come out and have a great time! SOMA president Gabriella Mattina shares her thoughts on why engaging in social events is important for graduate students in the MiNDS program. 

Being in an interdisciplinary graduate program has many advantages. It gives us the ability to approach challenging questions in the field of neuroscience using different perspectives and techniques. However, it also means that many of our peers aren’t in the lab next door. We are lucky to have access to facilities across campus and around the Hamilton area, but the distance can feel isolating at times.    

The mission for SOMA (Students of MiNDS Association) is to bring MiNDS graduate students together by hosting fun social events. Life as a graduate student can be overwhelming and stressful, this is why I feel it’s extremely important to provide opportunities for students to take a break from their research to enjoy each other’s company, eat some good food and engage in stress relieving activities such as playing games. We’re all aware of the mental and physical benefits of an enriched environment, and since human-sized running wheels were not available, we decided to plan social events for you to enjoy instead!  

SOMA is structured with three acting presidents: a past-president (Gesine Alders), current president (Me! Gabriella Mattina) and president-elect (Ashley Bernardo). We also have a group of wonderful volunteers who help promote and develop new initiatives. We plan different events to suit a variety of student’s interests and welcome all to attend and participate. 

Over the last few years, SOMA has established several annual events, including a spooktacular Halloween party and ping-pong night. Past events also include a campus-wide photo scavenger hunt, yoga classes, and hot chocolate and board game nights. This year we’ve started a new tradition of attending trivia nights at the Phoenix every other Tuesday evening.  

SOMA is also involved in welcoming new students to the program and providing venues for networking in a relaxed environment. These events can afford you the opportunity to ask others in the program questions about their experiences and their research. You can pick each other’s brains about scholarship applications, troubleshooting experiments, the comprehensive exam process and even how to prepare for a committee meeting or defense.  

We’ve got some exciting upcoming events in mind for this year, and I hope more students will be able to find the time in their busy schedules to come out and take part in SOMA events. We’re always looking for new ideas, so please reach out if you’d like to be part of this great student-led initiative. 

More information on SOMA and past events can be found at and on our various media platforms (give us a like or follow!):




Contact the SOMA Team at!