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BrainWaves: The Neuroscience Graduate Program Newsletter

Welcome to the New MiNDS of the Neuroscience Graduate Program

Author: Leanne Monteiro

September is always a time to welcome new scholars to our program, school, and community, as well as to catch up with old friends and colleagues after the summer term. Please join me in greeting this year’s new cohort of graduate students. We look forward to working alongside each one of you!

Supriya Bains

Hello everyone! My name is Supriya Bains, and I recently graduated from McMaster University with an Honours BSc in Biology & PNB. I am very excited to embark on a new journey at McMaster as a graduate student under the supervision of Drs. Heather McNeely and Margaret McKinnon. My interests outside of school encompass hiking, rock climbing, listening to music and travelling. I’m always eager to try new activities and recently have tried knitting, painting and scrapbooking.

Luke Barkovich

Hello everyone! My name is Luke and I am a first-year MSc Student within the Neuroscience Graduate Program under supervision of Dr. Iris Balodis. My primary research interests include: addiction, the role of cannabinoids in cognitive/affective/social processing, cannabis, alcohol, psychedelics, novel therapeutics, and health/drug policy. 

Previously, I completed my undergraduate degree at Carleton University in Ottawa where I obtained an Honours BSc in Neuroscience and Mental Health. Much of my past research experience pertains to pre-clinical/basic neuroscience, where I worked under direction of Dr. Natalina Salmaso to study stress-induced sex differences in glial cells and the effects of hormone exposure on astroglial cell phenotype within the developing neocortex. Additionally, I conducted work alongside Dr. Kim Hellemans to aid in developing a student-led campaign through Carleton University and partners such as the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction and Community Addictions Peer Support Association to share current and scientifically-grounded knowledge surrounding substance use and addiction, with the ultimate goal of mitigating stigma and disseminating principles of harm reduction. 

I am incredibly excited and eager to join McMaster and to meet the Neuroscience Graduate Community. Outside of research, I really enjoy travel, reading, fashion, fitness!

Deniz Bengi

Hello, I’m Deniz (‘Denise’) Bengi. I’m from Istanbul, Turkey. I completed my undergraduate degree in Psychology (B.S.) at Lafayette College in the United States, and I did my master’s degree (MSc) in Affective Disorders at King’s College London.

I am thrilled to start the Neuroscience Ph.D. program under the supervision of Dr. Benicio Frey. In my research, I’ve mainly focused on mood disorders and reproductive psychiatry. I’m particularly interested in women’s mental health and shedding light on how female-specific hormones may affect psychiatric illness course and disease burden. 

Outside the lab, you can find me practicing skincare (which I’m a bit obsessed with), biking through Hamilton, traveling, watching Netflix, doing pilates, or FaceTiming with my cats. Looking forward to meeting you all!

Salina Edwards

Hi! My name is Salina Edwards. I recently completed my BA degree in Psychology and English Literature at the University of British Columbia. My undergraduate thesis, under the domain of cognitive psychology, examined how changes in pictorial medium and representation of people modulate the perceived mind. I am very excited to join the lab of Dr. Sukhvinder Obhi and start my MSc in neuroscience here at McMaster University! Outside of the lab, I enjoy the avid sport of birdwatching, playing chess, exploring local coffee shops, caring for my many houseplants, or *learning* how to bake.

Arooba Mansoor

Hi everyone, my name is Arooba! I completed my HBSc at the University of Toronto with a double major in Human Biology and Mental Health Studies. I am incredibly excited to continue my academic journey at McMaster this fall, where I will be supervised by Dr. Ryan Van Lieshout. I am interested in women and children’s health and hope to pursue a career in medicine and clinical research. In my free time, I enjoy going on walks, baking, and spending time with my sisters!

Prabdeep Panesar

Hi everyone! My name is Prabdeep, and I recently completed my HBSc at the University of Toronto with a specialist in Neuroscience and minor in Biology! I am absolutely thrilled to join the Neuroscience Graduate Program at McMaster University under the supervision of Dr. Khrista Boylan! Outside of research, I enjoy crocheting, photography, going on walks, and of course binge watching tv shows! I look forward to being a part of the Neuroscience Graduate program and am excited to meet everyone!

Shelby Prokop-Millar

My name is Shelby Prokop-Millar, and I completed my undergraduate degree in psychology from York University. My graduate supervisor is Dr. Dante Duarte! In my spare time, I research and write for the true crime podcast Canadian True Crime, dabble in makeup artistry and fashion, take part in activism and cook/practice my barista skills.

Jana Radosavljevic

Hi Everyone! My name is Jana, and I completed my HBSc at the University of Toronto, specializing in Neuroscience, with a major in Psychology and a minor in Biology. I am thrilled to be starting my MSc in Neuroscience under the supervision of Dr. Benicio Frey and Dr. Jane Foster. My project will investigate clinical and inflammatory phenotypes in Major Depressive Disorder. I’m passionate about discovering biomarkers in Psychiatry and hope to become a Clinician-Scientist one day! Other interests/hobbies of mine include dancing, Zumba, mindfulness meditation, and binging reality TV shows. I'm excited to meet everyone :) 

Aisha Abdul Rahiman

Hello! My name is Aisha Abdul Rahiman. I'm a first year Neuroscience PhD student in the Choe lab. I did my Bachelor's in Neuroscience at the University of Toronto and Master's in Neuroscience at York University. Here in Dr. Katrina Choe's lab, I will be studying the neural mechanisms underlying social behavior in genetic models of autism. Outside of research, I love traveling, trying new food, exploring the outdoors, and watching Indian movies.

Fermin Retnavarathan

Hi! My name is Fermin and I completed my undergraduate degree at McMaster University where I studied Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour and specialized in mental health. I will be completing my Masters in Neuroscience in the Multisensory Perception Lab under the supervision of Dr. David I Shore. I completed my senior honours thesis with Dr. Shore on audio–tactile temporal perception in adults. A few of my hobbies include listening to music, watching movies, and spending time with my family. I look forward to meeting the other new MiNDS of the Neuroscience graduate program!

We would also like to extend a warm welcome to Barjot Gill, Prabdeep Panesar, Julia Peak, Sarah Naseem and Andrew Yang!