Events Co-Manager – Anzari Atik

Anzari Atik is currently completing her PhD in the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Monash University and at the Monash Institute of Medical Research, under the supervision of Dr Mary Tolcos, Dr Robert De Matteo and Prof Richard Harding. Anzari is interested in the field of neonatal neurology. Her PhD focuses on investigating the effects of caffeine for the treatment of apnea of prematurity, specifically assessing the effects on the immature brain. Anzari has presented her work at numerous conferences, both local and international and has been successful at winning best oral and poster presentations and travel awards.

During her academic career, Anzari has shown an interest in community involvement. This includes being a volunteer lifeguard/lifesaver, volunteering as a teacher in India, student representative at Monash University open days, supervising high school students in a Monash University Leadership program and speaking at the brain awareness week school outreach program. Anzari has also been involved in the organization of university events while being involved in various committees such as the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Monash University students committee and the students of brain research (SoBR) network.

Finance and Sponsorship Manager – Ayaka Ando

Ayaka Ando is currently undertaking her PhD in the Neuroimaging group at the Florey Neuroscience Institutes, supervised by Dr Michael Farrell. She investigates brain responses to airway irritation in individuals with chronic cough using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Additionally, she uses fMRI to investigate desensitisation to airway irritants in patients with cystic fibrosis. She aims to describe how the brain contributes to aberrant cough in disease by contrasting the functional organisation of brain sensorimotor networks of both sensitised and desensitised coughers against healthy controls.

Ayaka’s primary interest is in medical imaging, where she has experience in investigating interoception as well as neurodegenerative disease such as Huntington’s disease. She is also currently working at Orygen Youth Health on an imaging project looking at adolescent at-risk psychosis patients. Ayaka is an APA holder as well as the UQ merit-based scholarship. She has enjoyed being an active committee member of the Florey’s student society (SOFI) over the past year and she is excited to be part of the SOBR steering committee as the Finance and Sponsorship manager.

Media and Communications Manager – Andrew Watt

Andrew Watt completed his Bachelor of Science (Psychology) at Monash University in 2008 and Honours (Pathology) at The University of Melbourne in 2009. He is currently undertaking a PhD within The University of Melbourne, where he is investigating blood borne biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease with the view of improving the diagnostic accuracy of contemporary measures. Andrew has published his research in internationally recognised, peer-reviewed journals and has presented his work at conferences and institutes both nationally and abroad.

Andrew’s diverse range of interests have led to him working extensively within the third sector. Since 2002 Andrew has worked closely with Alzheimer’s Australia to raise awareness of the disease within the community through talks at various symposia and events as well as through work with both print and radio media outlets. In 2007, Andrew was the opening speaker at the Alzheimer’s National Conference in Perth and in 2009 he was a steering committee member for the National Consumer Summit on Younger Onset Dementia. Since 2010 Andrew has served on the Board of Directors for Alzheimer’s Australia Research. Andrew has also had the opportunity to work closely with both The Alannah and Madeline Foundation, where he helped to implement the inaugural Social Return on Investment evaluation, as well as Lifeline Australia, where he worked as a telephone counselor. More recently, Andrew has turned his attention towards bridging the gap between Science and the general public by creating the neuroscience blog, A Hippo on Campus. The blog focuses on contemporary research from the fields of neuropsychology to neurobiology and beyond and has been well received from the science writing community. Andrew’s work on A Hippo on Campus has also led to his appointment as Editor at ScienceSeeker, covering the topics of Medicine, Neuroscience and Psychology.

Societies and Conference Liaison Manager – Annabel Short

Annabel Short began her research career in Tasmania where she completed her undergraduate degree in medical research followed by honours in cancer genetics. After graduating, Annabel was employed as a research assistant in the cancer genetics lab at the Menzies Research Institute, Tasmania. In 2011 Annabel moved to Melbourne to follow an interest in neurogenetics at the Florey Neuroscience Institutes, namely the effect of environment on gene expression. She is now one year into her PhD research on modelling the effects of paternal lifestyle on offspring mental health.

Annabel has a keen interest in community outreach programs and has been actively involved in various programs including national science week and the CSIRO scientists in schools program. She is also involved in undergraduate mentoring programs and the community organisation Camp Quality. This year Annabel has been elected as secretary of the student society for Florey Neuroscience Institutes in addition to her role as Societies and Conference Liaison Manager for SOBR. Annabel has a firm belief in the importance of networking programs and investing time in the scientific community. She is a strong believer in promoting science to a wide audience, especially encouraging young people to become more involved.

Students Liaison and Enquiries Manager – Benjie Barzel

Benjamin Barzel is in his final year of his PhD studies at the Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute and Monash University under the supervision of Professor Geoffrey Head and Dr James Armitage. Benjie’s research is focused on identifying neuronal pathways in the hypothalamus that are responsible for the development of obesity related hypertension. His lab is uniquely placed to perform such work with the ability to record sympathetic nerve activity to renal beds in conscious animals. Benjie has had the opportunity to present his work at national and international conferences, winning several prizes. In addition to his tertiary studies Benjie is a passionate student advocate serving as a member of the Anatomy & Developmental Biology Student Committee at Monash and was previously the treasurer for the Baker IDI Student committee (2010-2011). His volunteer work also extends to the wider scientific community (Australian Society of Medical Research, Science in Schools program) as well as the general community (Royal Children’s hospital, Rotary Club Victoria).