Brain and Mind Institute

Western Cognitive Neuroscience Postdoctoral Fund Recipients

May 2017 Competition

  • Etay Hay (Pruszynki Lab)
    etay_hay.jpgI am interested in studying the computations of cortical networks and single neurons. I received my BSc in Biology/Computer Science from University of Toronto, and my PhD in Neuroscience from Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In my doctoral research, I have investigated spiking and computations in cortical sensory networks, and in my postdoctoral fellowship at Rotman Research Institute I have expanded my research to brain connectivity using machine learning and modeling of fMRI data. At the Brain and Mind Institute, Western University, I am investigating the computations of cortical motor networks in monkeys during arm reaching, and the encoding of tactile stimuli by neurons in human fingertips. I chose to do a postdoctoral fellowship at the Brain and Mind Institute because it is a strong interdisciplinary center for neuroscience research, with vibrant world-class neurophysiological research and enriching interactions between the different labs. I especially value the frequent discussions between people at the institute that research sensory-motor computations through a variety of approaches - electrophysiology, imaging, and behavior.
  • Justine Clery (Everling Lab)
  • Pan Lui (Hayden Lab)
  • Fakhri Shafai (Stevenson Lab)

September 2016 Competition

  • Cecilia Kramar (Saksida and Bussey Lab)
    Cecilia KramarI obtained my PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. During my graduate studies, I focused my research on how memories persist over time, and how certain drugs, such as cocaine or cannabinoids, can interfere with these processes and lead to possible addiction. I have always been interested in memory and cognition and when the opportunity to work with Drs. Saksida and Bussey arose, I was eager to collaborate with both of these top scientists, who have brought translational cognitive neuroscience to a whole new level.  The Brain and Mind Institute provides a stimulating environment for researchers and has become a tremendous asset to my scientific career. As a BMI postdoctoral fellow, I aim to uncover many unanswered questions regarding the importance of neurogenesis in cognition. By using animal models and cutting-edge molecular techniques, I will be able to study the functional role of newborn neurons in health and disease. I am thrilled to be part of the BMI team, because it allows me to interact with other trainees who have similar interests and with experts in memory studies on humans.

November 2015 Competition

  • Carlos Hernandez-Castillo (Diedrichsen Lab)
    Carlos CastilloMy interest is to understand the neurodegenerative diseases using multimodal MRI techniques. I obtained my PhD in Neuroethology at the University of Veracruz in Mexico. During that time, I visited the Biomedical Research Imaging Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to learn how to analyze resting state functional MRI data. I also spent time in the Centre for Neuroscience Studies at Queen’s University working on several projects, including human and animal imaging studies. As a BMI Postdoctoral Fellowship recipient, I joined Western University to work in Prof. Jörn Diedrichsen's lab. The BMI is one of the best places in the world to learn more about neuroscience, particularly for its state-of-art MRI facilities and prestigious group of researchers. With Prof. Diedrichsen's expertise, I will develop new computational tools to analyze degeneration patterns in patients with cerebellar diseases. These tools will help find the initial targets of different neurological diseases in order to better understand the evolution of degenerative processes over time.
  • David Schaeffer (Everling Lab)
    David SchaefferI earned a BS from Michigan Technological University and then completed a PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Georgia. My research employs neuroimaging techniques to study debilitating physical and mental health illnesses. Specifically, my PhD work made use of magnetic resonance imaging in two contexts: 1) to assess the effect of exercise on cognitive control related brain structure and function in overweight and obese children and 2) to map neural white matter networks related to deficits in cognitive control performance in people with schizophrenia. Though vastly different in observable behavior, these two conditions have the commonality of disruptions in cognitive control (i.e., the ability to adaptively change behavior), and thus I explore these clinically relevant hypotheses with a similar set of tool. As a BMI postdoctoral fellowship recipient, I will be applying this same tool-set to study cognitive control related circuity in non-human primates in Prof. Stefan Everling's lab. Since arriving at Western in fall of 2016, I’ve found the research environment at the Brain and Mind Institute to be cutting-edge and productive, with a lot of opportunity for collaboration. Additionally, the facilities are excellent, with access to neuroimaging equipment available at very few other institutions in the world. I am excited to have joined such a rich neuroimaging community and hope to enjoy the many opportunities that the BMI has to offer.
  • Christina Vanden Bosch (Joanisse & Grahn Labs)
    Christina Vanden BoschI earned my PhD in Experimental Psychology with a developmental emphasis from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. During my graduate studies, I focused on two lines of research that both examined how high-level (e.g., musical knowledge) and low-level factors (e.g., acoustic characteristics) contributed to the way listeners of all ages make sense of the sounds around them. I used behavioral paradigms to study how children and adults processed speech and song. To examine more general auditory object processing, I used change deafness paradigms (auditory analogue to change blindness) to understand how children perceive real-world sounds in complex acoustic scenes. As a BMI postdoctoral fellowship recipient at Western, I will be using EEG and fMRI techniques to further examine music and language processing in children and adults. Acquiring neuroimaging skills will help me to combine neural and behavioral measures to study how knowledge affects auditory processing in general, and music and language processing in particular, at different stages of development. Since arriving at the Brain and Mind Institute, I have been floored by the energy and excitement around doing cutting edge neuroscience. There are numerous opportunities to learn new methodologies and the researchers at BMI have fostered a real culture of collaboration at every level of the institute. In both Profs. Marc Joanisse’s and Jessica Grahn’s labs, I have found myself a part of a curious and motivated bunch of independent researchers and I am truly excited to be a part of one of Canada’s finest research groups.

February 2015 Competition

  • Karen Campbell (Cusack Lab)
    Did not attend Western

  • Kaitlin Laidlaw (Goodale & Culham Labs)
    laidlawNSERC Postdoc Recipient
    I completed my MA and PhD at the University of British Columbia, working in Dr. Alan Kingstone’s Brain and Attention Research Lab. My graduate work focused on social attention, which encompassed both how we pay attention to other people and how our visual attention is influenced by others. I often used eye tracking to study social attentional effects in both traditional lab-based tasks and within more naturalistic (i.e. real life) environments, with the goal of better understanding how people behave in everyday social situations. As a Western postdoctoral fellow, I will train in additional techniques (e.g. motion-tracking, fMRI) that will enable me to ask questions about the ways in which social interactions impact not only how we pay attention to our environment, but also how we act within it.
The Brain and Mind Institute has the reputation for being the best cognitive neuroscience training and research center in Canada. In Dr. Culham’s and Dr. Goodale’s labs, I am surrounded by creative and motivated researchers who study the neuroscience of perception and action. I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to probe how the brain incorporates social information in order to effectively attend and act within shared spaces.

July 2014 Competition

  • Molly Henry (Grahn Lab)
    henryI have a PhD in Experimental Psychology from Bowling Green State University (BGSU) in Ohio. My training at BGSU was in auditory perception (mainly, rhythm and music perception) and psychophysics. While at BGSU, I had the fantastic fortune to spend a summer as a visiting scientist at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge learning about fMRI. I also had the opportunity to spend 1.5 years as a visiting scholar at Michigan State University after my PhD supervisor took a faculty position there. I then moved to Leipzig, Germany in 2011, where I spent 4 years as a postdoc in the Max Planck Research Group “Auditory Cognition”. There, I learned as much as I possibly could about EEG and continued my interests in auditory rhythm perception. By January 2015, I began my postdoctoral fellowship in the Music and Neuroscience Lab at Western University. The Brain and Mind Institute was an easy choice for me. Dr. Jessica Grahn had supervised my summer fMRI crash course at the MRC-CBU and encouraged me to apply for the postdoctoral fellowship position at Western.

    After four years in Europe, I wasn’t aware off all the exciting things going on at Western. But once I started investigating, it was clear that Western was home to some of the brightest scientists, most productive labs, and best state-of-the-art facilities in North America. It would have been crazy to pass up this opportunity. Hands down, my favorite things about the BMI are the people and the great spirit of collaboration and community. I believe by having this many smart people in one place, who genuinely enjoy working together, awesome things are going to happen. That’s definitely the best part of working here.
  • Björn Herrmann (Johnsrude Lab)
    hermannI have been interested in human behaviour and psychology for a long time. I studied Communication Psychology in Görlitz (a small town in Germany), before working my PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences and at the University of Leipzig in Germany. During this time, I studied the interrelation between perceptual and grammatical processes in speech, using mainly magnetoencephalography (MEG) and functional imaging (fMRI). I remained at the Max Planck Institute in a postdoctoral position and often visited Purdue University in the US, where I became increasingly interested in the basic auditory neural functions supporting hearing abilities in younger and older people. More specifically, I investigated how our auditory system dynamically adapts to acoustic environments that greatly vary. To answer this, I utilized electroencephalography (EEG), MEG, fMRI, and psychophysics. 

    I joined the BMI and Dr. Ingrid Johnsrude’s lab in 2015, after receiving the prestigious BMI postdoctoral fellowship award. During my postdoc time at the Max Planck Institute, I had developed a desire to expand my research experience internationally, preferably in North America. Western University offered great facilities and rich expertise in cognitive neuroscience. As well, Dr. Johnsrude's new Cognitive Neuroscience of Communication and Hearing lab at Western's Brain and Mind Institute was near completion. The BMI exceeded my expectations with its myriad of opportunities, promising facilities and conditions to do great research. Western and the BMI are strongly committed to neuroscience and the diversity of research skills and expertise, which make the BMI a great place to do science.  Another excellent aspect about the BMI is its commitment to share equipment, making it possible to explore additional ways to target my research interests which would, without sharing, not be possible. Finally, the financial support offered by the BMI postdoctoral award helps me to independently explore my research interests and further develop my research program. My experience at the BMI has been rewarding, both in my field of research and my career development as a scientist.

  • Tali Leibovich (Ansari Lab)
    leibovichI have a masters in Molecular Biology and Genetics and a PhD in cognitive sciences, both from Ben-Gurion University in Israel. For my PhD, I studied how humans are able to understand the concept of size and number. I became familiar with Western's Brain and Mind Institute when visiting Dr. Daniel Ansari's lab as a PhD student.  My visit to Daniel Ansari’s lab was one of the most enjoyable and productive periods of my PhD and the driving force behind why I chose to come back as a postdoctoral fellow. Being surrounded by world-leading scientists, who are dedicated both to their research and their research students, has been my favorite part of the BMI experience.

  • Joana Vieira (Mitchell Lab)
    vieiraI graduated in Psychology at the University of Porto (in Portugal) and then proceeded to work on my PhD in Neuroscience at both the University of Porto and Georgetown University (Washington DC, USA). By 2014, I successfully applied to a BMI postdoctoral fellowship at Western's Brain and Mind Institute. In Dr. Derek Mitchell's lab, I have been investigating the neural mechanisms implicated in fear and empathy, using psychophysiology and brain imaging techniques. I chose the BMI because it houses a number of Cognitive Neuroscience experts and offers multiple technological resources, making it a highly productive and competitive research setting. My work experience as a postdoctoral fellow has been greatly enriched by the highly collaborative environment and excellent interpersonal dynamics within the institute.