President – Jaime Lee
Jaime completed her Bachelor of Science (Psychology & Psychophysiology) at Swinburne University in 2012. During her time at Swinburne, she was involved in human cognitive research having published her study investigating the effects of a Mediterranean diet on cognition, mood and cardiovascular function. She then transferred to the University of Melbourne in 2013 to complete her Honours degree, focussing on electrophysiological deficits in schizophrenia. Now in her second year of her PhD under the guidance of A/Prof Nigel Jones, she has combined both her interests and is looking at electrophysiological correlates of cognition with relevance to schizophrenia in both animal models and in a clinical setting.
Away from science, Jaime volunteers with the Make-A-Wish foundation, plays tennis and partakes in fun-runs.
Jaime is both excited and honoured to be president of SoBR. She is thoroughly looking forward to providing the students of brain research a platform to expand their network, foster collaborations and be involved with the scientific community.
Secretary – Orwa Dandesh
Orwa has recently completed his PhD with the department of psychiatry at the University of Melbourne and is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Monash Clinical and Imaging Neuroscience and Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre. Orwa’s primary research focuses on understanding the neurochemical disturbances that underlie psychosis and their impact on large-scale functional brain networks. Orwa utilises functional and structural imaging as well as pharmacological challenges and genetics to further delineate the relationship between neurochemistry and function in the human brain
Treasurer – Talitha Ford
Talitha completed her Bachelor of Psychology/Psychophysiology at Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, in 2007, and took on a role as an Applied Behaviour Analysis therapist for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Motivated by her experience with children with ASD, and the struggles of their families, she enrolled in Psychophysiology Honours at Swinburne in 2012, supervised by Prof. David Crewther. Her research component investigated the heterogeneity of ASD and Schizophrenia, and common behavioural phenotypes, particularly social cognitive dysfunction. Neural correlates of these phenotype traits were investigated utilising MEG technology in the hope of identifying neural markers. The preliminary results of this project were promising, and have subsequently motivated her PhD research, which began in 2013. The PhD research aims to identify common neural correlates, and neural markers, of this comorbid social disorganization phenotype using MEG and MRS technologies. Ultimately, these results will provide information regarding the way in which the processing of simple and social auditory information contributes to behavioural manifestations.
As Treasurer, she is excited to play an active role in the facilitation of various events and initiatives throughout the year, allowing students expanding their career horizons.
Events Manager – Imogen Bell
Imogen is a provisional psychologist and current first year PhD and Master student. She completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology and Psychophysiology, with honours in Psychology, in 2013 at Swinburne University of Technology. Imogen’s honours research was conducted through MAPrc under supervision of Professor Susan Rossell, and focused on exploring the role of a schizophrenia candidate gene, Neuregulin1, on semantic deficits in schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.
In 2014, Imogen moved to New York City to complete an internship at Columbia University at the Child Psychiatric Epidemiology Group. The focus of this internship was in the collection of data for a longitudinal research study exploring the relationship between parental trauma as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and child/family mental health and wellbeing. As of 2015, Imogen will begin her PhD and Master in Clinical Psychology at Swinburne University of Technology. For her PhD, she will be working along-side Dr Neil Thomas and Professor Susan Rossell , utilising mobile technology to develop novel, and support current, interventions for people who hear voices.
Throughout her undergraduate degree, Imogen enjoyed volunteering at ARAFEMI organisation as a helpline volunteer for carers of those with mental illness. This rewarding experience solidified her ambitions towards a career where both research and clinical practise complement one another, with ultimate aims to advance treatment efficacy for those who suffer from severe mental illness. Imogen is passionate about supporting fellow research students and promoting networking among like- minded peers and she is excited to be a part of the committee as Event Co-coordinator, and primary coordinator for the SoBR Symposium.
Events Manager – Jenny Sun
Jenny is a second year PhD student. In 2013 she completed her Bachelor of Science in Physiology with Honours at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. Her Honours project was a topic in auditory neuroscience, where she explored the therapeutic potential of adenosine amine congener in mitigating antibiotic-induced hearing loss. During her undergraduate years she was fascinated by both the complexity and uncertainty of schizophrenia, so upon completion of her Honour’s year she swiftly crossed the ditch to begin her PhD in schizophrenia research under the supervision of Professor Maarten van den Buuse of La Trobe University and Dr Andrea Gogos at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health. Her PhD project primarily focuses on the effect of sex steroids, namely progesterone and estrogen, on the pathophysiology and therapeutics of schizophrenia by utilising pharmacologically induced animal models of the illness.
Outside of the lab, Jenny enjoys photography and eating nice food. Jenny is excited to be a part of the SoBr committee as one of the events co-ordinators. She hopes to bridge the gap between student researchers and the ever-expanding community of academia and research by building a great starting platform for students to gain confidence in networking and be more involved in the growing science community.
Media and Communications Manager – Sally Grace
Sally completed a Bachelor of Psychology and Psychophysiology at Swinburne University of Technology in 2009. She went on to complete an Honours year in Cognitive Neuroscience investigating facial emotion perception in Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) using functional MRI. During this time Sally gained a passion for Neuroscience research with a particular focus on the neural basis of emotion perception in mental illness.
Sally begun her PhD in 2014 at Swinburne University of Technology investigating the neuromodulatory role of Oxytocin in BDD. She is particularly interested in the underlying Neurobiology of the BDD and is using cognitive testing coupled with both structural and functional MRI to understand sensory and emotion perception in the disorder.
Sally is passionate not only about Neuroscience, but science and research in general. She believes supporting the development of Early Career Researchers and in communicating science to the public, which is why she is excited to part of the 2015 SOBR committee in the role of Media and Communications co-manager.
Media and Communications Manager – Alyssa Sbisa
Following completion of her Bachelor of Social Science degree, Alyssa spent three years working as a trauma counsellor at the Trauma Centre of Australia. During this time, Alyssa completed a Graduate Diploma and Honours year in Psychological Science at Deakin University. Following a year of working as a counsellor at beyondblue, Alyssa was motivated to further explore the neuroscience behind mental illness and decided to pursue research.
In 2014, Alyssa began her PhD under the supervision of Professor Maarten van den Buuse at La Trobe University, and Dr Andrea Gogos at The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health. Alyssa’s PhD research aims to explore the utility of sex hormones as a form of treatment for the symptoms of schizophrenia. More specifically, research includes testing the effect of estrogen on deficits in prepulse inhibition and spatial working memory.
During her spare time Alyssa enjoys photography and writing for the science blog Sciengage. Alyssa is excited to be a part of the 2015 SOBR committee in the role of Media and Communications co-manager.
YouTube Channel Manager – Kristina Vacy
Kristina Vacy completed her Bachelor of Behavioural Neuroscience (hons) at Monash University in 2008. Her passion is to improve our understanding of psychiatric conditions through research and education. This drove her to be involved in a professional and volunteer capacity in various roles including demonstrating, course administration, research assistant and various brain awareness community outreach programs, including SOBR. She has completed a Masters of Biomedical Science at Monash and The Florey and is staying on to do a PhD. Her interest in behavioural neuroscience and in rodents began when she was involved in a small project as an undergrad with the Psychopharmachology laboratory, investigating the role of the hormone oxytocin in rats. Following this, she has been involved in many behavioural neuroscience projects, investigating such behaviours as learning and memory, drug discrimination, anxiety and social interaction in rodents. She’s currently studying the effects of environmental endocrine disruptors on the development of brain regions involved in social cognition at with the Steroid Neurobiology Lab at The Florey.
Non-steering Member -Jijoe Mathews Abraham
Jijoe is a humanitarian and a science enthusiast with interests in molecular
biology and biochemistry. Jijoe is a Master’s graduate and an Alumnus of La
Trobe University with research experience in Neurodegenerative diseases in the
lab of Dr Julie Atkin. Jijoe has successfully completed a major research
project in ALS/MND during his Master’s program and has been awarded with the La
Trobe Summer Scholarship during the academic year 2013-14, for outstanding
achievement and been part of the Atkin lab post- graduation on a short term
basis, pursuing his interests in MND research.
Jijoe is currently involved with The Red Elephant foundation- Gender Equality (UN Volunteer). Jijoe is also an active member of the community as a mentor with the L2P program of Victoria Government- a joint program run by VicRoads, Victoria Police and Monash and Kingston City Councils. He is also engaged as an Academic Enrichment Mentor with the School Partnerships program of La Trobe University, providing academic assistance to high school students promoting their interests into scientific research.
An opportunity to meet and work with culturally diverse individuals from various research backgrounds has been the motivation to join SOBR and to promote neuroscience research to a wider audience.