OHBM Student and Postdoc SIG

The OHBM Student and Postdoc SIG provides a community of shared interests for OHBM trainees. We provide opportunities for professional, personal and career development and represent the needs of trainees to the OHBM Council and the wider organisation. We also promote the achievements of trainees within the organisation and to the wider neuroimaging community. The SIG organises the Monday Night Social and career development events at the annual meeting as well as running the online, international mentoring programme.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to keep up to date with our activities or visit our website. Email us on ohbmtrainees@gmail.com

OHBM Student and Postdoc SIG Executive Group

Chair: Michele Veldsman
Chair-Elect: Ayaka Ando
Secretary: Alex Barnett
Secretary-Elect: Marzia A. Scelsi
Treasurer: Lia Hocke
Treasurer-Elect: Meena M. Makary
Social Coordinator: Christian La
Social Coordinator- Elect: Chiara Caldinelli
Social Media and Communications Lead: Aki Nikolaidis
Career Development and Mentoring Lead: Natalia Bielczyk
OHBM Communications Liaisons: Shruti Vij, Shabnam Hakimi, AmanPreet Badhwar
OHBM Gender and Diversity Committee Liaison: AmanPreet Badhwar

Michele Veldsman, Chair

B.Sc. (Hons.) Experimental Psychology, University of Bristol; Ph.D. Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Cambridge; Senior Imaging analyst, The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Postdoctoral Research Scientist in Cognitive Neurology, University of Oxford

Dr. Michele Veldsman is a post-doctoral research scientist in Cognitive Neurology at the University of Oxford. She investigates the impact of stroke and dementia syndromes on functional and structural brain networks. Dr Veldsman was awarded a highly competitive postgraduate fellowship from the Medical Research Council to fund a PhD at the University of Cambridge. During her PhD she used novel methods to probe the precision of visual memory for complex, naturalistic objects, and the representation of recognisable objects in the brain. Dr Veldsman has also worked in labs in Singapore and Australia, where she has ongoing collaborations. She is a passionate advocate for equality in science and a public engagement ambassador for fMRIB and the Oxford Centre for Human Brain Activity.  

Contact: michele.veldsman@ndcn.ox.ac.uk; @micheleveldsman

Ayaka Ando, Chair-Elect

B.BSc. Neuroscience and Physiology, University of Melbourne; B.Sc. (Hons.) Neuroimaging Unit, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, University of Melbourne; Ph.D Neuroimaging Unit, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, University of Melbourne and Respiratory Neuroscience Laboratory, University of Queensland; Postdoctoral Research Scientist in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Heidelberg University

Dr Ayaka Ando is a postdoctoral research scientist at Heidelberg University, Germany, with a passion for personalised therapy in child and adolescent psychiatry. She is particularly interested in disorders of personality development and translational psychobiology for child and adolescent psychiatry. Her current work investigates alterations in the brain in adolescents engaging in non-suicidal self-injury using MRI. Her interest for child and adolescent psychiatry began during her work with adolescents, investigating mismatch negativity (EEG) in adolescents who are at ultra-high risk for psychosis at Orygen – The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, whose vision is to focus on early intervention with youth specific approaches. During her PhD, Dr Ando was awarded the Australian Postgraduate Fellowship to fund her studies at University of Queensland, where she investigated brain regions associated with respiratory control using fMRI. After moving to Germany, she has continued her collaborations with laboratories in Australia.

Contact: ayaka.ando@med.uni-heidelberg.de; @ayakando

Alex Barnett, Secretary

B.Sc., Psychology and Neuroscience (University of Toronto); M.A., Psychology, Collaborative Program in Neuroscience (University of Toronto); Ph.D., Psychology (University of Toronto)

Alex Barnett is a PhD student at the University of Toronto with Dr. Mary Pat McAndrews investigating the neural correlates of memory in people with temporal lobe epilepsy using fMRI, structural MRI and DTI. His research is informative for characterizing eloquent tissue prior to surgical treatment of epilepsy. Alex has a passion for understanding how experiences are stored in the brain and subsequently recalled. He will be pursuing this passion in a post-doctoral position at the University of California, Davis in September 2017.

Contact: alexander.barnett@mail.utoronto.ca

Marzia Antonella Scelsi, Secretary - Elect

B.Sc. Physics (University of Bari, Italy); M.Sc. Applied Physics (University of Bari, Italy); Ph.D. student, Medical imaging (University College London)

Marzia discovered her passion for brain imaging during her Master’s degree in Physics in Italy, when she worked on machine learning applied to classification of DTI scans for Alzheimer’s patients. She is now working towards her PhD in Medical Imaging at University College London under the supervision of Dr Andre Altmann. Her research aims at deepening the understanding of the genetic determinants of Alzheimer’s disease, and to this end she is developing approaches to translate methods from the disease progression modelling and network analysis fields and integrate them into the genetic association framework. Her work identifying a novel genetic variant associated with Alzheimer’s disease progression was presented with a merit abstract award and featured among the blog highlights at the 2017 OHBM meeting. She also holds a Master’s degree in piano performance.

Contact: marzia.scelsi.15@ucl.ac.uk

Lia Hocke,Treasurer

B.Sc. (Honors) Psychology, Maastricht University (The Netherlands); M.Sc. Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience Maastricht University (The Netherlands); Ph.D. Biomedical Engineering, Tufts University (USA); Research Assistant, McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School (USA); Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Calgary (Canada) & McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School (USA)

Lia is a post-doctoral research fellow investigating method development in functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) with a clinical interest in mild traumatic brain injury and stroke. For her Ph.D., Lia has worked on novel methods to optimize NIRS acquisition alone and with concurrent imaging measurements as well as denoising techniques for simultaneously acquired NIRS and BOLD fMRI data. In addition Lia has focused on developing both modalities as diagnostic tools for health assessment. Her work has been featured in the online Journal of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine Highlights. Lia is a great proponent of public software development and data sharing and has enjoyed collaborations during Hackathons and between labs.


Meena M. Makary, Treasurer-Elect

B.Sc. (Hons.), Biomedical Engineering, Cairo University; M.Sc., Biomedical Engineering, Cairo University; Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering (Neuroscience), Kyung Hee University; Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering Department, Cairo University; Postdoctoral Fellow, Yale School of Medicine; Postdoctoral Associate, John B. Pierce Laboratory.

Dr. Meena M. Makary is an Assistant Professor in the Biomedical Engineering Department at Cairo University. Currently, he holds a joint appointment as a Postdoctoral Associate at the John B. Pierce Laboratory and a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine. He investigates the interrelation between chronic pain and obesity using structural and functional brain imaging.  During his PhD, he used real-time fMRI neurofeedback to investigate the brain plasticity after self-regulation of motor brain areas during motor imagery tasks. Dr. Makary has honored with the 2017 Best Ph.D. Thesis Award in Engineering among Kyung Hee University graduates. He also received several merit conference paper awards including the Best Oral Presentation Award, ICCMR’15; Merit Abstract Travel Stipend Award, OHBM’17; and Geographic Finalist, IEEE EMBC’17.

Contact: mmakary@yale.edu; mmakary@cu.edu.eg, @MeenaMagharious     

Christian La, Social Coordinator

B.A., Molecular Cell Biology (University of California, Berkeley); Ph.D., Neuroscience (University of Wisconsin, Madison); Postdoctoral Fellow (Stanford University)

Christian received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, department of Radiology and Medical Physics for his work in network oscillation in stroke and stroke recovery. Now a postdoctoral research fellow at Stanford University, he is interested in the dynamics of network organization in Parkinson’s disease population, with emphasis to cognitive impairments. To that end, Christian is also involved in whole-brain multi-band imaging as well as high-field imaging of the hippocampus. On the personal side, Christian is a native of the southern French city of Marseille (home of the Pastis and the Bouillabaisse). Christian has also lived in three different continents and is looking forward to more traveling and exploring, adding to his personal diversity.

Contact: chla@stanford.edu

Chiara Caldinelli, Social Coordinator- Elect

B.Sc., Cognitive Psychology and Psychobiology, University of Padua; M.Sc., Cognitive

Neuroscience, University of Padua; Research Assistant, Cardiff University; Ph.D., Cognitive Neuroscience, Trinity College Dublin;

Chiara Caldinelli received a MSc and a BSc from University of Padua, Italy. During her studies, she spent periods in London and Oxford to train in neuroimaging, with an interest in mechanisms of development both in the healthy and pathological brain. In London, she studied the long-term consequences of a perinatal brain lesions, and in Oxford the immediate and delayed consequences of a stroke. She became a qualified psychologist in Italy, with the aim to bridge neuroscience and developmental psychology. Chiara worked as a research assistant at the Cardiff University brain research imaging centre (CUBRIC), where she had experience with magnetic resonance imaging in 3T, 7T and Connectom. She is now a PhD student at Trinity College Dublin, studying the emergence of cognition in infants and how the development of brain functions is disrupted by early lesions.

Contact: chiaracaldinelli@gmail.com, @chiara_cee

Aki Nikolaidis, Social Media and Communications Lead

B.A., Psychology (Yale University); Ph.D., Neuroscience (University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign); Postdoctoral Fellow (Center for the Developing Brain, Child Mind Institute)

Dr. Nikolaidis holds a PhD from the University of Illinois, where he investigated how brain networks, metabolism, and structure contribute to individual differences in executive function, intelligence, and learning. His work has also focused on understanding how cognitive training drives brain plasticity and improvements in cognition. He was awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (https://www.nsfgrfp.org/), which recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in science, technology, and engineering. Dr. Nikolaidis is now a postdoctoral fellow at the Child Mind Institute (https://childmind.org/), where his current research focus is mapping the brain networks connecting the cortex, basal ganglia, and thalamus and examining how they change over childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. His work also focuses on understanding how patterns of large-scale brain plasticity in these networks drive the development of generalized higher cognitive skills.

Contact: aki.nikolaidis@childmind.org @akinikolaidis for Twitter

Natalia Bielczyk, Career Development and Mentoring Lead

M.Sc., Medical Physics (University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland), M.Sc., Applied Mathematics (University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland) M.Sc., Psychology (University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland), young MBA (Warsaw School of Economics, Warsaw, Poland), PhD candidate (Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, the Netherlands)

Natalia received a triple MSc title - in Physics, Mathematics and Psychology - from the College of Individual Interfaculty Studies in Mathematics and Natural Sciences at University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland. Next to this, she also obtained a degree in economy, a young MBA certificate title obtained from Warsaw School of Economics. In scientific terms, Natalia has an interest in causal inference; at the moment, she is pursuing research on methods for causal inference and signal detection in functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging at the Radboud University Medical Centre in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. She has a strong belief in a decentralization, and in a world of equal chances: a public access to good quality datasets, computing power, information and mentorship. She believes that a good mentorship should be a state of mind rather than a public function. She joined the new OHBM career development and mentorship program, and she has a deep belief that this initiative can substantially advance careers for young, talented researchers from all around the world. On the personal side, Natalia has a range of hobbies, including dance, hiking, as well as investing in the real estate and in the cryptocurrency markets.

Contact: natalia.bielczyk@gmail.com @nbielczyk_neuro

Shruti Vij, OHBM Communications Liaison

B.E., Biomedical Engineering (Manipal Institute of Technology, India); Ph.D., Imaging Science(Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester and The Mind Research Network, Albuquerque); Postdoctoral Fellow (BCCL, University of Miami)

Shruti Gopal Vij is a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Lucina Uddin’s Brain Connectivity and Cognition Laboratory at the University of Miami working on characterizing variability in human brain development using multimodal neuroimaging. This comes as an extension of her thesis research on analyzing inter-subject variability in fMRI data in spatial and temporal dimensions at Rochester Institute of Technology’s Chester F. Carlson Center of Imaging Science. In the long term, she intends to extend her understanding of inter-subject variability in functional activation patterns and multivariate analyses techniques to identify neural markers of behavioral variability. She envisions that knowledge of such behavioral variability at the neural level will help discern how developmental changes in autism and associated disorders differ from typical development. Her research multi-dimensional research projects span the breadth of neuropsychological illnesses and have been featured in Schizophrenia Bulletin, Frontiers and Neuroimage. In her current position, she has also been involved in data organization and implementation of a pre-processing pipeline at BCCL. In her spare time, she is an avid artist attempting to rejuvenate the neuroscientist by igniting creativity through art.

Contact: sxv353@miami.edu; @GopalVij_Neuro

Shabnam Hakimi, OHBM Communications Liaison

B.A., Psychology (Stanford University); Ph.D., Computation and Neural Systems (California Institute of Technology); Director of Behavioral Labs, Welltok (Denver, CO); Postdoctoral Research Associate, Institute of Cognitive Science (University of Colorado, Boulder); Postdoctoral Scholar, Center for Cognitive Neuroscience (Duke University)

Shabnam is interested in the neuroscience of behavior change and how computational neuroimaging methods may be used to identify novel, neurally informed targets for personalized behavior change intervention. Her translational research applies an interdisciplinary, multimodal approach (e.g., structural and functional MRI, eye tracking) to modeling the neural basis of individual differences in learning and decision-making. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Duke University, where she is using real-time fMRI neurofeedback to target motivational circuits in ADHD and investigating whether attention-motivation interactions can predict individual outcomes. Shabnam was a 2016-2017 Duke Initiative for Science and Society SciComm Fellow and is passionate about enhancing the dialogue between academic scientists and the many constituencies for their research, including the general public, policymakers, and industry. She also has experience tackling data-driven health behavior change from an industry perspective, having previously served as Director of Behavioral Labs at Welltok.

Contact: shabnam.hakimi@duke.edu; @shabnamhakimi

AmanPreet Badhwar, OHBM Gender and Diversity Committee and OHBM Communications Committee Liaison

B.Sc., Human Genetics/Neuroscience (McGill University); M.Sc., Cross-species genomics (Génome Québec Innovation Centre, McGill University); Ph.D., Neuroscience/Proteomics (Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University); Postdoctoral Fellow (Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal, University of Montreal)

Dr. AmanPreet Badhwar is a postdoctoral fellow at the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal (IUGM), University of Montreal, where her research focus is to understand the mechanisms underlying age-related dementias (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease) and develop biomarkers of disease progression by integrating observations from multi-modal, large-scale datasets such as in-vivo brain imaging and ‘omics’ (genomics, proteomics, metabolomics). She holds a PhD from McGill University, where she integrated brain imaging, quantitative proteomics and measures of neurovascular coupling to study the interaction of neuronal and neurovascular damage in Alzheimer’s disease models, and the impact of therapeutics on these two components.  Dr. Badhwar was awarded the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Age+ Prize, which recognizes excellence in research on aging, for one of the publications arising from her thesis work. Her scientific vision is to cut across intellectual silos and integrate multiple streams of data to answer big questions in age-related dementias. She is a Canadian Institutes of Health Research and an Alzheimer Society of Canada postdoctoral fellowship awardee, and is a member of the Biomarker team of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging. Dr. Badhwar has published in high-impact journals (including Lancet, Annals of Neurology, Brain, and Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism). She is also engaged in public outreach through her involvement with the OHBM Communications Committee, as well as her artistic works, where the topics of brain organization, plasticity, and memory are recurrent. She has held a number of expositions of her work integrating science and art, and has been a winner in The Neuro Bureau Brain-Art Competition in multiple years.

Contact: amanpreet.badhwar@mail.mcgill.ca; @Aman_Badhwar; www.amanbadhwar.com

Immediate Past Chair: AmanPreet Badhwar, Post Doctoral Fellow, Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal (IUGM), University of Montreal

Immediate Past Secretary: Kirstie Whitaker, University of Cambridge & Turing Institute for Data Science

Immediate Past Social Coordinator: Julio Yanes, Auburn University


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