President – Isabella Bower

Degree/University: PhD, Deakin University

Area of research: Built Environment & Cognitive Neuroscience

Background: Isabella holds a Bachelor of Design (Architecture) and Master of Architecture. Since 2015, Isabella has been a researcher in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, University of Melbourne, having previously worked with the Office of the Victorian Government Architect, Department of Premier and Cabinet, State of Victoria. Most recently Isabella was awarded the inaugural John Paul Eberhard Fellowship by the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture (San Diego, United States).

Research focus: Isabella’s research investigates how design variables of the built environment affect human emotion. With increasing mental health issues in the population and lifestyles where substantial time is spent inside of buildings, this research investigates whether and how exposure to the built environment might be affecting our emotional states. In particular Isabella is investigating the impact from the scale of interior rooms using a combination of neurophysiological correlates and subjective indicators. It is hoped through this understanding the design of the spaces we inhabit can be optimised to support physical and psychological health and wellbeing; contributing to preventative mental health care.

What are you most excited about being a part of the 2019 SOBR committee? SOBR has an extraordinary array of passionate young professionals. As a researcher originating from Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS), I look forward to learning new knowledge and skills from the Sciences, while helping grow our reach to those who have come to brain research from diverse backgrounds of life and study. The energy and enthusiasm within SOBR is an incredible unique culture that I’m thrilled to be part of.

Vice President – Eveline Mu

Degree/University: PhD, Swinburne University

Area of research: Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience

Background: Eveline completed her undergraduate and Honours studies at Swinburne University of Technology, majoring in psychology and psychophysiology.

Research focus: Eveline’s research examines emotional and early visual processing in individuals with varying autistic tendencies through electrophysiological measures.

What are you most excited about being a part of the 2019 SOBR committee? Working with and meeting amazing people across Victoria studying brain research would be the top of my list!

Secretary – Jennyfer Payet

Degree/University: PhD, La Trobe University

Area of research: Behavioral Neuroscience, Neuropharmacology, Neurophysiology and Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience.

Background: Jennyfer has a background in psychology, graduating from La Trobe University with a Bachelor of Psychological Science (with Honours). However, her path definitely was not linear. She first began studying medicine in France, then moved to Australia to study arts, before trying to pursue marketing and communication, finally settling for psychology. It was during her third year research project that she discovered a passion for brain research, in particular behavioural neuroscience.

Research focus: Jennyfer’s research is looking at the serotonergic systems and their roles in anxiety and affective disorders, and how they are altered by selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor drugs (i.e. SSRIs, like Prozac for example). While SSRIs are one of the most widely used drugs for anxiety and depression, we still don’t know how they work. Also, it takes weeks of treatment for the therapeutic effects of SSRIs to appear, and the initial response is usually an exacerbation of symptoms. Thus, in her research she is using animal models to look at possible mechanisms underlying the acute and chronic effects of SSRIs.

What are you most excited about being a part of the 2019 SOBR committee? I am really excited to help improve the research community, by contributing to the creation of amazing events and networking opportunities for young researchers around Victoria! I believe that it is very important for students and young researchers to feel connected to peers and the research community, both for their mental health and also to maintain motivation and enthusiasm for research. SoBR provides an amazing platform to meet other students, share knowledge, network and hear about opportunities in the field, and I am excited to be here to help make it grow!

Treasurer – Katie Drummond

Degree/University: PhD, The University of Melbourne

Area of research: Behavioral Neuroscience

Background: Katie is a PhD student at the University of Melbourne based in the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health. She first became interested in brain research when realising that behaviors, from motion to emotion, are the outcome of the billions of cells in our brain interacting together. Katie strongly believes in the importance of brain research, as it will increasingly allow us to better alleviate the suffering of people who suffer from brain disorders.

Research focus: Katie is currently investigating how adversity early in life can have a lasting impact on our brain. This research will improve our understanding on the relationship between vulnerability, resilience and the development of mental health disorders.

What are you most excited about being a part of the 2019 SOBR committee? I can’t wait to help facilitate the connection between such a diverse network of students. The more we foster these connections, the more vibrant our community will become!

Finance Team Member – Sydney Juan

Degree/University: PhD, The University of Melbourne 

Area of research: Cellular and Molecular neuroscience, Behavioural neuroscience and Neurodegeneration 

Background: Sydney completed her Bachelor of Science with Honours at Monash University where she majored in Physiology and Immunology. During her Honours year she studied how permeability of the blood-brain barrier was affected by traumatic brain injury. Sydney is currently undertaking her PhD at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health (University of Melbourne) where she has continued to work on head trauma and neurodegeneration.

Research focus: Sydney’s research focuses on understanding how repeat head injuries (which can result from sports and war related injuries) can lead to neurodegeneration with a specific focus on how misfolded proteins and dyshomeostasis of various metals can exacerbate neurodegenerative events. 

What are you most excited about being a part of the 2019 SOBR committee? I am honoured to be a part of the 2019 SOBR committee. This organization brings together people from various fields of Neuroscience, allowing us to network and foster new relationships while hearing about new and exciting neuroscience research! I am excited to do my part in organising the events that SOBR hold each year alongside amazing female neuroscientists! 

Media and Marketing Manager – Flavia Gomes

Degree/University: PhD, Monash University

Area of research: Behavioral Neuroscience, Neurophysiology and Clinical Neuroscience

Background: Flavia completed her Bachelor and Teaching degrees in Biological Sciences in 2014 at the University of Brasilia, Brazil. In 2016, she completed her Masters of Science degree in Animal Biology at the same university. In the six years of her undergrad and masters, she developed several research projects in neuropharmacology and toxinology, investigating how neuroactive compounds isolated from arthropods venoms could be used as therapeutic tools to treat neurological diseases, such as epilepsy, her main research focus.

Research focus: Following her interest in epilepsy, Flavia is currently exploring the mechanism of how the epileptic brain and the endocrine systems respond to acute stressors in a model of post-status epilepticus in rodents, as well as investigating why patients with epilepsy are vulnerable to stress-related disorders. She believes that this knowledge will further contribute to the development of an animal model of comorbidity between epilepsy and depression.

What are you most excited about being a part of the 2019 SOBR committee? I believe that being part of this committee will be a great opportunity to develop and improve my communications skills as a scientist. I am looking forward to share experiences and learn more from this lovely community of brain researchers.

Media and Marketing Assistant – Anahita Ghanbari

Degree/University: Honours, The University of Melbourne

Area of research: Sensory Neuroscience and Neuroanatomy

Background: Anahita completed her Bachelor of Biomedicine mid-2018 and decided to take the rest of the year off to think about and decide what to do next. She reached out to a lecturer for some internship work to get a feel of what research would be like and was sold in a couple of months (with some minor convincing!) to continue studies through completing Honours.

Research focus: There is an overriding goal in neuroscience to define the connectome: a map of every synaptic connection in the brain. Anahita’s research will focus on sensory information from the major organs that is mediated by the vagus nerve. The signals are passed to second order neurons in the nucleus of the solitary tract, but where they go to after this point is the basis of her research.

What are you most excited about being a part of the 2019 SOBR committee? I’m excited to amp up all the SOBR media channels with our wonderful media team to reach more people than ever before. I’m also looking forward to be surrounded by like-minded individuals who come from all kinds of different brain research backgrounds on the committee, to meeting a wider range of people in the community who share the same interests.

Media Team Support – Nhi Tran

Degree/University: PhD, RMIT University

Area of research: Developmental Neuroscience and Neurophysiology

Background: Nhi graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Biomedicine and an Honours degree at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience. Nhi has always been interested in neuroscience and the clinical translation of research, and so she decided to pursue a PhD at RMIT University and Hudson Institute of Medical Research in perinatal neuroscience and physiology, with focus on how to protect the fetus and neonate from brain injury.

Research focus: Nhi’s research involves investigating the neuropathology and pathophysiology that occurs with intrapartum asphyxia or the disturbance of oxygenated blood to the fetus/neonate during labour. The healthy development of a baby depends on the constant supply of oxygen and when this supply is interrupted, brain injury can occur. The global high morbidity and mortality rates due to asphyxia highlights the need for an effective treatment. In a sheep model of pregnancy, Nhi will investigate the use of creatine as a fetal supplementation via the mother as a means of conferring neuroprotection in the event of intrapartum asphyxia.

What are you most excited about being a part of the 2019 SOBR committee? I am excited to be part of a student-run committee who understand the importance of science communication and who are dedicated to providing other students of brain research the opportunities and platform to engage themselves with their research and others around them.

Events Manager (Symposium) –  Felicia Reed

Degree/University: PhD, Monash University

Area of research: Behavioral Neuroscience, Neurophysiology and Neuroanatomy

Background: Felicia completed a Masters in Biomedical Science at Melbourne University, where she was introduced to the wonderful world of neuroscience. Her project looked at mechanisms of learning that help prevent relapse to cocaine-seeking in rats. Following this (poor in both finances and molecular skills!) she went on to work as a research assistant for two years in a metabolic neuroscience lab at The Garvan Institute in Sydney. She is now combining her experiences from both labs doing a PhD at Monash University.

Research focus: Felicia’s research is looking at the neural pathways that contribute to learning and memory in a state of hunger. In other words, can being hungry help you to learn?

What are you most excited about being a part of the 2019 SOBR committee? I’m super excited to a part of such an amazing team of impressive female neuroscientists! I’m especially looking forward to being involved in the co-ordination of the events, and hope we can and inspire young scientists and facilitate professional relationships!

Events Manager (Dinner) – Daisy Spark

Degree/University: PhD, Monash University

Area of research: Behavioral Neuroscience, Neuropharmacology and Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience.

Background: Daisy first got a taste for brain research near the end of her Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Science, which motivated her to pursue an Honours project investigating orphan GPCRs as drug targets for neuropsychiatric disorders. From there it was a no-brainer (ha ha!) to continue her career in research with a PhD!

Research focus: Daisy’s PhD will look to unravel the complex relationship between preclinical and clinical efficacy of antipsychotics, which have a particularly high rate of attrition in clinical trials. Using neuroimaging and behavioural paradigms, she will be investigating animal models of schizophrenia, alone and in combination with antipsychotics, in order to identify new ways in which to screen novel compounds with greater translational power.

What are you most excited about being a part of the 2019 SOBR committee? Getting to meet current leaders of research at the 2019 Professional Development Dinner, and building a network like minded, ambitious students that will be the future leaders of research!

Events Team – Annai Charlton

Degree/University: PhD, University of Melbourne

Area of research: Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience

Background: Annai undertook a Bachelor of Science (majoring in neuroscience and physiology) at the University of Melbourne which is where her interest in the brain really developed. Following this, she completed an honours project looking at Alcohol Use Disorders in the Addiction Neuroscience laboratory at the Florey. She enjoyed it so much that she enrolled in a PhD to continue working on the same project!

Research focus: Annai’s research investigates the effects of long-term alcohol consumption on cognition and the neurological underpinnings of this in the brain. She uses an animal model, where rats voluntarily consume alcohol over 6 months, after which she tests their cognitive function using touchscreen tasks, and then looks at the underlying pathology (such as cell populations).

What are you most excited about being a part of the 2019 SOBR committee? Organising the networking dinner and meeting other people in brain research, particularly the guest speakers!

Events Team – Teresa Wulandari

Degree/University: PhD, Monash University

Area of research: Behavioral Neuroscience, Neurophysiology, Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience.

Background: I graduated from Bachelor of Medical Science (Honours), Monash University, in 2017. I got into brain research first during my Honours year because I was really interested in how people learn, react and behave. I want to deepen my understanding about the physiological mechanism behind it, factors that influences it and if we can modulate it to help people with various neuropsychological disorders.

Research focus: My PhD research is about the effect of contextual factors towards executive control. I focus mostly on response inhibition and cognitive flexibility, which in simple words can be taken as the ability to stop a planned action and the ability to adapt to rule changes respectively. I test subjects using computerized neuropsychological tasks, look into the effects of various intervention strategies such as exercise, and brain stimulation.

What are you most excited about being a part of the 2019 SOBR committee? I am excited to meet new people from different areas of brain researches and be more in touch in what everyone else is doing. On top of that, I am sure it will feel very rewarding to know that I am contributing for a good cause in my field. Hoping for a very enjoyable year with the 2019 SOBR committee!

General Support – Louisa Selvadurai

Degree/University: Doctor of Psychology (Clinical Neuropsychology), Monash University.

Area of research: Psychology, Clinical Neuroscience/Psychology and Neuroimaging.

Background: Louisa’s fascination with the brain began when she completed VCE Psychology in high school. On completing high school she wanted to continue studying psychology and the biology of the brain, so undertook a Bachelor of Behavioural Neuroscience at Monash University, majoring in Behavioural Neuroscience and Psychology. She then went on to complete her Honours in Psychology where she found her way into her current field of neuroimaging.

Research focus: Louisa’s research investigates the cerebral effects of Friedreich ataxia, a rare genetic neurodegenerative disorder. She is using brain imaging (MRI) to better understand how the brain of someone with this disorder is different from that of an unaffected individual, particularly focussing on white matter. Louisa is also looking at how brain imaging measurements may change over time in Friedreich ataxia, and whether we can use this to track disease progression. Through this research she hopes to contribute to a better understanding of the neuropathology of this disease and to provide more information about potential biomarkers for clinical trials.

What are you most excited about being a part of the 2019 SOBR committee? I am most excited about helping to bring Victorian brain research students together to network, get inspired by each other and leaders in our field, and share ideas. There is such a breadth of exciting research in this area and I am really looking forward to meeting other students and hearing about all the fantastic work being undertaken to better understand the complex organ that is the brain!

General support – Zahra Ali

Degree/University: Honours, Monash University

Area of University: Molecular and cellular neuroscience/Bioinformatics

Background: Zahra completed her Bachelor of Biomedical Science in 2015, majoring in Biosciences/co-majoring in Biochemistry. She initially planned to apply for medicine however, she found her calling in research, particularly in biochemistry. Following a long break, she returned to university this year with interest in neuroscience, particularly epilepsy.

Research focus: Zahra’s research investigates the underlying genetic architecture of genetic generalised epilepsy particularly childhood absence epilepsy using the GAERS (Genetic Absence Epilepsy Rats from Strasbourg) model. Using Bioinformatics platform, Zahra is aiming to pinpoint novel proteomic biomarkers that may lead to better intervention for epilepsy.

What are you most excited about being a part of the 2019 SOBR committee? I’m most excited to explore the diverse areas of brain research and meet the AMAZING minds leading ground breaking research in neuroscience. In addition, working in a team that is but a small representation of future leadership will be very rewarding, inspiring the younger ones to pursue careers in STEM (particularly in Neuroscience (^_^)).

General Support – Catherine Offer

Degree/University: PhD Student, Deakin University

Area of research: Cognitive Neuroscience

Background: Catherine has a background in biomedical sciences, which she undertook as part of her third year research project. She choose to investigate rehabilitation and non-invasive brain. It was from that opportunity which sparked her interested in research and non-invasive brain stimulation. Since, Catherine has continued to use non-invasive brain stimulation throughout her Honours and PhD research.

Research focus: Catherine’s research involves the use of non-invasive brain stimulation known as Theta Burst Stimulation to help improve executive functioning (working memory, response inhibition and selective attention) in elderly patients and Parkinson’s Disease patients. She uses techniques such as cognitive tasks and measure changes in oxygenation and deoxygenation of the frontal areas within the brain using functional near infrared spectroscopy.

What are you most excited about being a part of the 2019 SOBR committee? Having the opportunity to contribute to a committee and community that I am passionate about. Working with like minded people. Building networks and connection with other researcher both in and outside my field and to support other researchers along their journey.