President – Tom Burns

Tom is currently a PhD student in the Department of Physiology at Monash University. In his PhD project, he analyses electrophysiological signals from a range of cortical areas in response to stimuli and trauma. He is focused on analysing and modelling local field potentials. He is interested in applying his findings in the areas of real-time diagnostics and neuromorphic computing by way of techniques developed in computational and theoretical neuroscience.

In 2013, he completed a Bachelor of Science with Honours at Monash University. His thesis focused on how humans perceive non-linguistic sounds and how these perceptions relate to a sounds’ mathematical or statistical features. In 2014, Tom took a sea change from science to pursue his interest in philosophy and ethics, completing a Master of Bioethics. As part of this course, he produced a thesis which analysed the ethics of proposed euthanasia legislation in Australian jurisdictions.

He was awarded the Monash-World Health Organization Bioethics Fellowship in 2015, which led to him spending three months at the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. There he contributed towards bioethical analysis of the Ebola epidemic response in West Africa.

Tom is excited to be involved in this year’s SOBR committee and hopes to help build lasting networks between students, academics, institutions, and industry.

Secretary – Karra Harrington

Karra is a second year PhD student researching the impact of the ageing process on cognitive function in older adults at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health. Her studies are supported by the Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation, CRC for Mental Health, and the Yulgilbar Alzheimer’s Research Program. Karra is also a registered psychologist, having completed a Masters of Clinical Psychology at Deakin University in 2014. She is particularly interested in mental health and well-being, cognitive function, and development of dementia in late life.

In 2009 Karra completed a Bachelor of Arts with a Psychology major at the University of Melbourne, followed in 2012 by an Honours degree in Psychology at RMIT University. Whilst studying, Karra has coordinated research projects that investigated rates of cognitive change in late life at the Mental Health Research Institute of Victoria and dementia risk reduction through physical activity at the Academic Unit for Psychiatry of Old Age at the University of Melbourne.

Karra is grateful for the opportunity to be the SOBR secretary for 2016 and is excited to foster connections across the SOBR network this year.

Treasurer – Linden Parkes

Linden Parkes completed his Bachelor of Science (Hons 1st class) (Psychology & Psychophysiology) at Swinburne University in 2013. From this, Linden published his honours work using magnetoencephalography (MEG) to investigate the neural responses to emotional sentence processing.

Currently, Linden is a 3rd year PhD student at the Brain & Mental Health laboratory at Monash University. Working under the supervision of Prof. Murat Yucel, A/Prof. Alex Fornito, and Dr. Ben Fulcher, Linden’s thesis examines motivational phenotypes that underly and cut across multiple disparate mental health disorders. Specifically, he uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine the functional and structural brain circuits linked to impulsivity and compulsivity in problem gambling and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Linden’s PhD work also focusses more generally on the area of brain networks and gene expression. Within this, Linden applies computational techniques (e.g., machine learning) to identify the brain’s structural and functional organisation and cross-validates this with large-scale gene microarray data.

Events Manager – Tia Cummins

Tia graduated in 2012 with a BSc in psychology from Queen’s University Belfast, before moving to Melbourne later that year. In 2013, motivated by her 3 years service within the British army reserves, Tia took up a role with Austin Health as study coordinator on a project entitled: Effects of traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder on Alzheimer’s disease in Vietnam war veterans. Fascinated by this work, Tia undertook a PhD with The Florey, supervised by Prof Chris Rowe and Prof Mal Hopwood. Now in its second year, Tia’s PhD research utilizes a range of measures including PET, MRI, clinical and neuropsychological tools, to investigate tau and beta-amyloid deposition, micro hemorrhage and brain function after traumatic brain injury in Vietnam war veterans. With this work she hopes to highlight the long-term effects of combat, and increase awareness surrounding the invisible wounds of war.

When not submersed in the depths of Austin Health, PET centre, Tia can be found locked away in her beats laboratory, playing drums. She looks forward to being a part of the SOBR team, and facilitating the coming together of brain enthusiasts from a wide spectrum of backgrounds.

Events Manager – Riccarda Peters

Riccarda is currently working on her PhD at the Centre for Human Psychopharmacology at Swinburne University, which she started in 2015. In her project she is exploring brain changes associated with advancing age and nutritional interventions using MRI and MEG. Her journey to the PhD began when she completed her bachelor’s degree in Psychology (Neuropsychology) at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. Her curiosity about ways to study the brain led her to start a master’s degree in Behavioural and Cognitive Neuroscience. In 2013 the program provided her with the opportunity to travel all the way from Groningen to Melbourne in order to work on her master’s degree final project at Monash University. After graduation she started to work as a research assistant on projects involving neuroimaging at Monash University and Swinburne. Given her interest in neuroimaging and the great facilities here in Melbourne (and a love for the city!) she decided to grab the opportunity to do her PhD at Swinburne. Riccarda also teaches yoga, likes the outdoors, travelling and socialising with interesting people. She is very excited to be part of the 2016 SOBR committee as the Event Manager for the Student Symposium. She’s looking forward to meet you all!

Media and Marketing Manager – Adrienne Grech

After completing her Bachelor of Behavioural Neuroscience at Monash University (2012), Adrienne went on to complete an Honours year under the Drug Discovery Biology laboratory at Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (2013). In 2015 Adrienne began her PhD under the supervision of Dr. Rachel Hill and Dr. Xin Du at The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health. Adrienne is investigating the therapeutic benefits of targeting BDNF/TrkB signalling for cognitive impairments associated with mental illness.

Adrienne is not only interested in the science of mental illness, but also the human experience including breaking down mental health stigma. Adrienne has pursued this advocacy for mental health consumers through volunteering at the Mental Health Foundation of Australia (Victoria) and participating in the Mates and Mentors program run by cohealth which aims to reconnect mental health consumers with the community.

In her spare time Adrienne enjoys sport and live music. For Adrienne, being a part of SOBR 2016 is an exciting opportunity to empower and inspire other young researchers by connecting the brain research student community.

Media and Marketing Manager – Joanne Harris

Joanne is delighted to be on the SOBR committee and have the opportunity to help make SOBR bigger and brighter. Joanne is currently a PhD (Health Sciences) Consumer Neuroscience Candidate at Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia. She has worked as a Neuroscience Demonstrator at Swinburne and postgraduate and undergraduate Marketing Tutor at the University of Adelaide. Joanne has a unique set of research skills and experience with studies in marketing and neuroscience and is keen to play an active role in the emerging field of consumer neuroscience, particularly in terms of education.

Joanne’s current consumer neuroscience research involves analysis of integrated public health digital marketing communications, behavioural economics and the consumer decision-making process. Previously Joanne completed a Master by Research (Business), Marketing, (2015) and Master of Commerce (Marketing) (2013) at the University of Adelaide. She is a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society, validated by the University of Adelaide, of which participation requires a high distinction average. Joanne lived and worked in Japan on the Japanese Exchange Teaching (JET) Program, Ministry of Education, and speaks fluent Japanese. Joanne is also a Student Council representative for the international Neuromarketing Science and Business Association.

Events Manager – Jessica Owens

Jess completed a Bachelor of Behavioural Neuroscience (2010) followed by Honours in the Blood-Brain Interactions Laboratory (2011) both at Monash University. Her Honours project examined the toxicity of hemin iron in astrocytes as a cell culture model of haemorrhagic stroke.

Currently she is completing a PhD at RMIT University under the supervision of Prof. Steve Robinson. The project is investigating the neuropathological link between obstructive sleep apnoea and Alzheimer’s disease. This project is in collaboration with University Hospital Iceland and Jess was fortunate enough to be able to travel to Iceland as part of the project.

Outside the laboratory, Jess enjoys playing netball and tap dancing. She hopes to help increase communication and collaboration among brain research students by being a part of SOBR 2016.