As the 2017 SOBR Committee we are excited to have the opportunity to build upon and extend the great work of previous years. We hope to help SOBR continue to be as brilliant as it has been and look forward to what promises to be an exceptional year!
2017 COMMITTEE MEMBERS
Caitlin is currently studying a PhD in cognitive neuroscience at Swinburne University. Under the supervision of Prof. Susan Rossell, Caitlin is investigating the relationship between antioxidant concentrations and cognitive impairment in chronic, treatment-resistant Schizophrenia. This research is being undertaken as a section of a larger clinical trial investigating a new antioxidant treatment for schizophrenia, N-acetyl cysteine (NAC). Through the acquisition of cortical antioxidant concentrations using Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, Caitlin’s findings will provide information as to the processes by which NAC may work to improve the cognitive symptoms observed in schizophrenia.
In 2012 Caitlin completed her Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science double degree at Deakin University, majoring in both Drama and Psychology respectively. At this time she was awarded lifetime membership of the Golden Key International Honours Society.
After taking a couple of years to frolic around the world and experience an array of occupational fields, Caitlin was excited to return to her Psychology studies. In 2015 she undertook her Psychology Honours at Deakin University, receiving First Class Honours and the Outstanding Fourth Year Project (Psychology Honours) Award.
Caitlin is thrilled to be working with SOBR in 2017 and is looking forward to continuing the excellent work set forth by previous committees, by creating and strengthening networks for student researchers.
Leonie is currently a third year PhD student in the Department of Psychology at the University of Melbourne. In her PhD project, she analyses BOLD responses and event-related functional connectivity during learning from errors in drug addiction. She is interested in applying her findings to improving treatment methods and policies.
In 2014, Leonie received a Research Master in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Amsterdam. In 2011, she attained a Bachelor in Biology at the University of Hamburg, completing her Bachelor project externally in the department for Neuropsychology of the Hamburg Epilepsy Centre. In her work as a Research Assistant in the department of Psychobiology and during her studies, Leonie performed experiments assessing hormone data, time-frequency and ERP analysis of EEG data, fMRI data, ultrasound and eye tracking. Moreover, she administered alcohol and oxytocin to investigate their effects on voluntary response inhibition and trust, respectively.
Leonie is excited to be involved in this year’s SOBR committee and hopes to help build lasting networks between students, academics, institutions, and industry.
Jess is currently a first year PhD student at Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, in conjunction with the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health at Melbourne University. She is researching into the effects of over-expressing Heat Shock Protein 72 on the cognitive decline and disease progression of Alzheimer’s Disease, as a potential therapy. Her studies are supported by the Baker Bright Sparks Program and the Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation.
In 2014, Jess completed her Bachelor of Biomedical Science and went on to complete an Honours year (2015) investigating the effects of skeletal muscle-specific Heat Shock Protein 72 as a potential treatment for obesity and Type 2 Diabetes at the Baker Institute.
When she’s not in the lab, Jess can be found on stage as an avid musical theatre performer. Credits include; Hairspray, Cinderella, Once Upon a Mattress, Evita, Grease, Legally Blonde, Wicked and currently working on Godspell. She is very excited to be immersed into the world of neuroscience with you all!
Sean Carruthers completed his Bachelor of Science (Honours 1st Class; Psychology & Psychophysiology) at Swinburne University in 2013. His honours thesis focused using magnetoencephalography (MEG) to investigate early neuronal responses to emotion-inducing visual information.
Currently, Sean is a 4th year PhD student at the Brain and Psychological Sciences Research Centre at Swinburne University and the Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre (MAPrc). Working under the supervision of Prof. Susan Rossell, Sean’s thesis explores the pervasive executive functioning deficits prevalent in schizophrenia. Specifically, he is using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine the functional and structural brain networks linked to executive functioning and how any abnormalities in such networks may contribute to the deficits prevalent in schizophrenia.
In addition to his own thesis, Sean currently works on several projects focussed on developing and validating therapies aimed at enhancing the cognitive capacities of people with schizophrenia. Sean is excited to be working with SOBR in 2017 and looking forward to developing and strengthening SOBR across the year.
Remika is a second year PhD student at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health. After graduating from the University of Sydney with a BSc(Adv)(Hons)/BA with the university medal, along with a fascination for neurodegenerative diseases and clinical neuroscience, she moved to Melbourne to commence her PhD research. Working under the supervision of Prof Alan Connelly, A/Prof Amy Brodtmann, and Dr Victor Villemagne, she is currently researching white matter pathology in Alzheimer’s disease with novel neuroimaging techniques. By applying state-of-the-art MRI methods, she hopes that her work will foster greater understanding of the mechanisms underlying white matter degeneration in dementia.
Remika looks forward to working alongside a fantastic SOBR team to bring about exciting events and in particular, organise this year’s Networking Dinner. While she investigates the connectivity networks in the ageing brain for her research, she hopes to facilitate networking and create opportunities for lasting connections to be made among brain research students, neuroscience enthusiasts, and established researchers and professionals in her role as Events Manager this year.
Umesh moved from Singapore 7 years back to begin his undergrad degree in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Melbourne. Having passion in research, he joined the Petrou lab headed by Prof. Steve Petrou at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, to complete his honours year.
Umesh’s area of research looks at precision therapies for childhood epilepsies caused by mutations in ion channels using electrophysiology as his experimental methodology. Focusing on potassium channels, under the supervision of Dr. Carol Milligan from the Petrou lab, Umesh determined the effects of Quinidine, an antiarrhythmic, on SLACK channels, which are encoded by the KCNT1 gene. Having found a novel potential therapeutic, the lab published Umesh’s findings as part of a study on SLACK channels in Annals of Neuroscience.
Currently in his third year of his PhD with the same lab, Umesh is investing the effects of other possible therapeutics for a variety of potassium channels found in the central nervous system using an array of modern electrophysiological techniques.
Umesh strives to balance work and play. He is an avid traveller and enjoys photography. Umesh also enjoys networking, as he truly believes everyone has a story to tell.
Aurina completed her Bachelor degree in Physics (2013) and Masters in Neurobiology (Magna Cum Laude, 2015) at Vilnius University, Lithuania. During her Masters, she was working on cognitive EEG experiments using three-dimensional mental rotation paradigms in relation to sex and hormone related differences. In 2014 she was awarded ERASMUS placement scholarship which allowed her to spend 5 months in MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge, England, where she carried out neurophysiological experiments related to audio time perception during different stages of consciousness.
Currently, she is a 2nd year PhD student at the Brain and Mental health Laboratory at Monash University under the supervision of A/Prof Alex Fornito and Dr. Ben Fulcher. Her main research interest is to understand how genetics can influence brain connectivity in both health and disease. Determining these influences on brain organisation will shed the light on the underlying genetic principles of brain disorders and provide some information about potential targets for their treatment. In order to tackle this issue, she is relating brain connectivity to its underlying genetic mechanisms in both human and animal brain networks.
Yann Chye is currently a PhD candidate at the Brain and Mental Health Laboratory at Monash University, under the supervision of Prof. Murat Yücel, A/Prof Nadia Solowij, Dr Valentina Lorenzetti, and Dr Chao Suo. Her project focuses on the impact of cannabis use on the brain, as well as predisposing vulnerabilities and moderators that may result in worse outcomes and greater dependence in cannabis users. Prior to commencing her PhD, Yann completed her undergraduate studies (BBiomed) majoring in Neuroscience, followed by a graduate and postgraduate diploma in Psychology, at the University of Melbourne.
Lizzie completed her Bachelor of Biomedical Science/Bachelor of Science double degree at Monash in 2013, majoring in Genetics/Molecular Biology and Immunology/Human Pathology. Lizzie then went on to complete her Honours year (2014) at the Monash Alfred Psychiatry research centre (MAPrc). She is now currently in her third year of her PhD with the same lab, under the supervision of Dr. Caroline Gurvich, Prof. Susan Rossell and Dr. Kiymet Bozaoglu.
Lizzie’s PhD project involves investigating the influence of the glutamatergic system on cognition across the schizotypy/schizophrenia continuum. It is believed that the symptoms and personality characteristics of schizophrenia are believed to lie on a continuum; schizophrenia on one end and psychosis proneness or schizotypy on the other end, observed in healthy individuals. Her main research interest is to investigate the glutamatergic pathways that influence cognition and explore what tips the balance from being a healthy individual with mild symptom presentation to having a clinical diagnosis.
Lizzie is excited to be part of the 2017 SOBR committee and working with the rest of the team. She hopes to continue creating opportunities for brain research students to network and develop lasting connections.
Dylan completed his Bachelor of Behavioural Neuroscience at Monash University in 2014. During his time as an undergraduate, he was involved in teaching first-year biomedical science students where he developed a passion for education. He was also involved in a summer project under the supervision of A/Prof. James Bourne investigating the role of area MT in facilitating preserved vision following early-life disruptions to primary visual areas.
The following year he completed his honours year with the same supervisor where his project aimed to develop protocols for the voluntary training and assessment of the awake/conscious marmoset in their visually guided behaviours. Now just finished his first year of his PhD (as of 12/02/17), he has applied the protocols he developed during honours to investigate the functional role of the pulvinar nucleus in the early development of visually guided actions such as reaching to grasp.
Dylan is grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the SOBR 2017 team. He hopes to learn new skills to assist in connecting and strengthening the students of the neuroscience community.
Mana completed her Bachelor’s and master’s degree in Physiotherapy at Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran. After graduating, she began her research career and engaged in several research projects on human motor control. During which time, she developed a strong interest in Neuroscience and moved to Australia in 2015 to pursue her passion in this field. Now she is a second year PhD student at Monash University, working under the supervision of Dr. Nigel Rogasch and A/Prof Alex Fornito in Brain & Mental Health Lab. Her project mainly involves investigating modulatory effects of TMS on brain networks. She uses brain stimulation techniques (mainly TMS) and neuroimaging modalities (EEG and fMRI) to investigate neural mechanisms such as plasticity, inhibition and connectivity.
Mana is very excited to be a part of this year’s SOBR committee and hopes that she can make a valuable contribution to the network.
Kimberly is a first year PhD student at The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health at The University of Melbourne. Predominantly using whole-cell electrophysiology to investigate the networks and processing of primary afferents within the brainstem, Kimberly is interested in how the vagus nerve modulates behaviour. By utilising optogenetic tools, she aims to dissect how such information is differentially processed within the brain.
After completing a Bachelor of Science (Physiology) at The University of Melbourne, Kimberly joined the Viscerosensation lab at The Florey. Her Honours work investigated the gating of internal sensory afferent information in the nucleus of the solitary tract by somatostatin-expressing interneurons. Kimberly continued in the lab as a research assistant, taking on a number of projects through 2016.
Outside of the lab Kimberly enjoys cycling and walking her dog. She recently took up track cycling and is determined not to fall off the velodrome. She looks forward to working with the SOBR committee and community in 2017.
Anthony completed his Bachelor of Science in 2012 at Monash University, Clayton Campus. He majored in Anatomy and Developmental Biology/ Immunology and Human Pathology. In his final year he undertook a mini-research project in the Bourne Lab, subsequently undertaking a Summer Project. These experiences peaked his interest in Neuroscience, in particular towards a group of myelin-associated proteins and how they may have key roles in regulating plasticity and repair inhibition following neocortical injury. Staying in the lab for Honours, he started characterising the expression of these proteins following focal ischemia of neonate and adult nonhuman primate neocortex.
He is currently undertaking his PhD under the supervision of A/ Prof. James Bourne and Dr Leon Teo continuing on with the project. He is currently investigating these myelin proteins more in-depth, specifically their inhibitory roles and how cells expressing these proteins respond at different times following neocortical injury. This project aims to identify an appropriate window in which to interfere with the activity of these myelin proteins to assess whether we can elicit improved functional outcomes following neocortical injury.
Anthony has thoroughly enjoyed the networking opportunities provided by SOBR and the fantastic events hosted each year. He is very thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the 2017 SOBR committee.
Rhian Stavely completed his Bachelor of Science (Biomedical Sciences) with honours at Victoria University in 2014. Rhian received the vice-chancellors scholarship and is currently undertaking his PhD with the Victoria University enteric neuropathy group under the supervision of A/Prof Kulmira Nurgali at the Western Centre for Health Research and Education, Sunshine hospital. His current research focuses on inflammatory bowel diseases with a specific interest in the neuroprotective mechanisms of adult-sourced stem cells and serotonergic signalling associated with intestinal inflammation.
As a 2017 committee member of the SOBR network, Rhian is excited to be a part of an organisation which aims to connect junior researchers and promote their professional development.
From an early age, Ella knew genetics and neuroscience are the tools that benefit both individuals and the entire society. She wanted to be a part of the community of scientists to create a more humane and advanced world. In 2006, she gained a Bachelor of Cell and Molecular Biology at Shiraz University.
For her MSc, she studied Genetics at TMU, and her topic was “Investigation of 22q11.2 Microdeletions and Microduplications among Idiopathic Mental Retarded (and Schizophrenic) patients in an Indo-European population.” In July 2011, she accepted a funded research position as a visitor at the Langer laboratories, MIT. Ella has extensive research experience in a variety of research sectors including, Sarem Women Hospital, Apollonia College Ltd, Children Cancer Institute of Australia, and WEHI.
Ella is currently a PhD student at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience & Mental Health focusing on neurogenetic and proteomic studies of post-mortem human brain tissues in Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, and MDD under the supervision of Professor Brian Dean and Dr. Andrew Gibbons.
SOBR’s mission to connect the local neuroscience network reflects my personal and professional goals to contribute to the scientific community and help those in need, especially those suffering from psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders.