Postdoctoral Fellows

Dr. Michael Kelly (September 2021 - Present)

Mike is leading a project investigating how traumatic brain injury (TBI) affects sleep in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease and whether an anti-seizure medication can prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease if given immediately following TBI. This is part of a larger project which includes collaborations with UBC, among others, and incorporates a new system (CHIMERA) for delivering a controlled concussion to mice.

 Mike’s research interests include animal behaviour, comparative sleep physiology, sleep evolution, chronobiology, and wild sleep. His previous research has focused on describing sleep and its behavioural and physiological correlates in aquatic apex predators such as sharks and saltwater crocodiles.

 Mike joined the Translational Neuroscience Lab at SFU in the fall of 2021 in order to develop his knowledge and skillset within the mammalian sleep field and to gain experience in a lab with a focus on real-world applications. He is also currently leading a project in the Circadian Rhythms and Sleep Lab that focuses on the effects of predation pressure on the evolution of sleep in wild rat models via a collaboration with France’s CRNS.

 Mike is now on parental leave, raising the newest member of the TNL :D

Sean Tok (September 2022 - Present)

Sean joined the lab in September 2022 and is currently working on modulating GABAergic cells in the thalamic reticular nucleus in order to modulate sleep in mouse models of Alzheimer’s Disease. This study looks at increasing the amount of certain phases of sleep using optogenetics and chemogenetics. In addition, Sean is also currently involved in investigating the epileptiform sequelae of Traumatic Brain Injury, along with Victoria Carraquiriborde. Sean is also involved in prototyping and developing scientific equipment, such as stereotactic injectors, sleep deprivation devices, etc.

Sean’s research interests include sleep physiology, epileptogenesis, immunohistology , neurogenesis, chronobiology, pathophysiology, electrophysiology, neuroinflammation, Alzheimer’s Disease, drug development, and programming (R, MATLAB). During his spare time, Sean is (usually) busy prototyping (3D printing/AutoCAD, laser cutting) new equipment or programming stuff in R (or MATLAB) and learning machine learning. Sean joined the lab in order to develop his skillsets in sleep biology and expand upon translational opportunities relating to sleep in Alzheimer’s Disease.

Hobbies:

Building computers (trying to make a homelab), plating food (Instagram account for delicious food pics), cooking food, programming, gaming, building stuff (Arduino, etc.)

Recent Studies:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jniHqfN_uuQMana7TyLvlT8mjFGYha7O/view?usp=share_link

ORCID Profile

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4310-9511

 

Graduate Students

Aina Roenningen (September 2021 - Present)

Aina joined the lab in September 2021 and is currently working together with Honours student Devan Gill on a correlational research study measuring Sleep, Mental Health and Cognition in younger adults. 

Aina completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops and conducted research on the relationship between anxiety and executive functioning in older adults. She is passionate about neuroscience as well as older adults' health and wellbeing and seeks to increase her understanding of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease, and how sleep fragmentation may lead to detrimental health outcomes. 

Alice Ayres (September 2021 - Present)

Alice Ayres is a Masters Student in the Cognitive and Neural Science programme, a research assistant in both the Translational Neuroscience Lab and Mistlberger Rhythms Lab. 

Alice completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Edinburgh, UK, producing a behavioural protocol to investigate everyday memory and distinguish between spatial learning systems in rats while performing gap-junction knock-out studies in c.elegans. Preferring rodents to worms, she worked on Parkinsons' rat gait-analysis in Dunedin, NZ, before becoming interested in sleep neuroscience.

In the TNL, Alice works primarily on the basic science team, using touchscreen technology to assess the relationship between sleep, circadian rhythms and cognition, specifically interested in learning and memory.  

Twitter: @Alice_I_Ayres

Victoria Carriquiriborde (September 2022 - Present)

Victoria joined the lab as a Master's student in September of 2022. She is currently working on the traumatic brain injury (TBI) project together with Michael Kelly and Sean Tok, looking at how TBIs affect seizure activity in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease and testing a possible drug treatment for it.

Victoria is a returning SFU student since she completed her undergraduate degree and conducted her honors project at SFU too. She is excited to continue learning and developing skills in the area of neuroscience, and to be working with such talented and experienced researchers. She is passionate about understanding how the brain operates and how different neurological conditions can affect functioning.

In her free time, she enjoys playing rugby, outdoor activities, dancing, and traveling. 

 

Linkedin: Victoria Carriquiriborde

 

Research Assistants

Taha Yildirim (February 2021 - Present)

Taha Yildirim is a Behavioral Neuroscience Undergraduate student at Simon Fraser University. He joined the Translational Neuroscience Lab in February 2021 where he holds an appointment as a Research Assistant supporting both the TBI and the Touchscreen projects.

Taha studied Medicine in Gazi University, Turkey where he was the Vice President of ‘Gazi University Neuroscience, Genetics and Medical Technology Community’. He completed a summer internship in the Lindberg Lab at The University of Maryland in 2019.

Taha is fascinated by the brain and its capabilities. His research interests include brain function and how neurological diseases occur and their potential cures. His interest in neuroscience and novel approaches within the field facilitated his transition into the TNL. Currently, he is working on the ways modulate sleep in mouse models of Alzheimer’s Disease using Optogenetic and Chemogenetic techniques.

In his free time, Taha enjoys shooting arrows and learning horseback archery.

Taha is also managing the TNL website. 

Samantha Saw (February 2021 - Present)

Samantha is an undergraduate student majoring in Psychology and a research assistant at the Translational Neuroscience Lab. Her research interests are investigating the effects of neurological disorders or brain injuries on cognition and behaviour. This lab perfectly suits her as she loves conducting experiments in a laboratory and having first-hand experience on how research is conducted.

 

LinkedIn: Samantha Saw

Devan Gill (May 2021 - Present) 

Devan Gill recently graduated with a B.A. (Honours with Distinction) degree in Psychology at Simon Fraser University (SFU) and was awarded with the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) Certificate of Academic Excellence. She first joined the Translational Neuroscience Lab as a directed studies student in May 2021 and recently completed her Honours project examining the associations between sleep, mental health (depression and anxiety), and cognitive performance of young adults under Dr. Brianne Kent’s supervision. Devan was also involved in research investigating prosociality and mental well-being during her time spent as a research assistant in the Helping and Happiness Lab at SFU, directed by Dr. Lara Aknin. Devan plans to pursue graduate studies in Clinical Psychology to further examine the pathology and treatment of mental health disorders and work with clients to support their mental health and well-being.

LinkedIn: Devan Gill

Kashish Mehta (January 2022 - Present)

Kashish is currently pursuing her major in Biomedical Physiology while minoring in Psychology. She joined the Translational Neuroscience Lab as a research assistant in January 2022 to get involved with the Human Research project. She has always been interested in the workings of the Central Nervous System. Throughout her university career, she has narrowed her interests to neurophysiology as well as the effects of neuropathology on human cognition. 

As she is passionate about research and learning more about ethics and methodology, The TNL lab provides her with the platform to not only explore her interests but also contribute to the growing field of neuroscience.

 

Japneet Kaur (January 2022 - Present)

Japneet is an undergraduate student in the Behavioural Neuroscience program and a Research Assistant in the Translational Neuroscience Lab. Her research engagement course emphasizes on the role of sleep deprivation on cognition. She’s also a Research Assistant in the Behavioural Neuroendocrinology Lab, assisting in data collection and understanding the neuroendocrinological implications of social behaviour. She is fascinated by hidden repertoires and the potential of neural coding in treatment of neurodegenerative disorders. Japneet is obsessed with neuroscience and spends her free time looking at brain scans, hoping to be a neurosurgeon in the distant future.

Arman Virk (January 2022 - Present)

Arman is an undergraduate student majoring in Behavioural Neuroscience. He joined the Translational Neuroscience Lab in January 2022 through a co-op opportunity to work on the Motor Learning Project. He has always been fascinated with the brain and how it controls so many important and complex processes. His interest areas in research include neurorehabilitation, circadian rhythms, as well as sleep. Arman is excited to be a part of the TNL team and to have the opportunity to further his neuroscience knowledge while playing a role in the research process.

Robert Gibson (January 2022 - Present)

 

Robert is an undergraduate student in the Psychology program and a Research Assistant in the Translational Neuroscience Lab where he has mainly been involved with the touchscreen projects and animal research but also has assisted with the human projects. Robert was previously a Research Assistant in various Psychology labs at SFU, most recently with the Behavioural Neuroendocrinology Lab, where he has assisted in data collection and furthered his passion for the biological aspects of Psychology. He is interested topics such as learning and memory, sleep and circadian rhythms, as well as neurodegenerative diseases and how these concepts are modelled in animal research. He chose the TNL because of how well his interests align with the ongoing research projects and interests of Dr. Kent. The TNL has allowed him to take a hands on approach to running animal research which he is extremely thankful for. Robert hopes to soon pursue the honours program in Psychology and graduate school with a focus on the interactions between cognition, sleep, and Alzheimer's Disease and their biological mechanisms.

Mayuko Arai (April 2022 - Present)

Mayuko is an undergraduate student majoring in Psychology. She is currently involved in a project led by Sean Tok that examines optogenetic and chemogenetic modulation of sleep in mouse models of Alzheimer’s Disease. She has also worked on touchscreen projects, investigating the effects of sleep fragmentation on touchscreen task performance and hippocampal neurogenesis. Mayuko’s research interests include translational neuroscience, optogenetics, drug development, immunohistochemistry, neural oscillations, EEG, sleep, memory, and circadian rhythms. Previously, as a volunteer, she has worked with drug-addicted individuals and people experiencing homelessness in several countries. She has also worked for an organization that supports people with disabilities. Through these experiences, she became interested in research that can support people who are struggling with cognitive impairments. Thus, she hopes to gain more research experience and pursue graduate studies. She loves spending time in the lab with other supportive and intelligent TNL members, learning something new every day.

Vanessa Salzano (August 2022 - Present)

Vanessa is an undergraduate student majoring in Behavioural Neuroscience. She joined the lab in August 2022 as a research assistant. Vanessa is fascinated by the intricacies of the brain. She is interested in learning more about the effect of neurological disorders on behaviour. Her research interests include mental health, cognition, and language control. Vanessa is excited to further her education in the TNL and be a part of something impactful!

 

Honorary Members

Jefferey Yue (Jan 2022 – Present)

Jefferey is currently pursuing his graduate studies in Prof. David Vocadlo’s chemical biology lab in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry (MBB), he is collaborating with the TNL to study the chronic pathologies induced by repetitive mild traumatic brain injury (rmTBI). His research interest focuses on characterizing molecular biomarkers of neurodegenerative diseases using cultured cells and animal models, which then allows him to pursue novel drug discovery. In his home lab, he explores the use of glycosylation via pharmacological mean to slow pathologies in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Gaucher’s diseases. He is working closely with Dr. Michael Kelly in the TBI project, where he leads the CHIMERA TBI operation, immunohistochemistry and biochemical analysis of biomarkers related to TBI, Alzheimer’s disease and sleep.

Outside of lab, he invests his time in audio mixing, and wishes to one day produce original songs.

He is humbly grateful for working with a group of diverse and talented TNL members in his adventure in neuroscience.

Twitter: @jyuesciencetune

LinkedIn: Jefferey Yue

Publication: https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=s4SAJ5EAAAAJ&hl=en

Scooter and Harley 

Scooter is one of the oldest member of the TNL since September 2021 and Harley joined us in November 2022. They are helping the lab by reminding us how much sleep is important by sleeping in the middle of meetings. Other interests of Scooter and Harley include asking for treats, playing with each other, and barking at the garbage truck in their free time.


 

Former Lab Members

Stephanie U

   RA and USRA:  September 2021 - August 2022

    Currently a graduate student in Public Health at UBC

Gelareh Modara 

    Directed Study and RA: January 2022 - August 2022

    Currently a graduate student in neuroscience at UBC

Alex Nash 

     Directed Study and RA September 2021 - April 2022