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From: Saskatchawan

Background: Biology & Psychology
Education: University of British Columbia 
Project: Striatal plasticity in neuronal cultures [more to be added]

When she is not science-ing, Naila enjoys organizing science outreach and advocacy events, particularly regarding neuroethics, and has been involved in a number of science/art collaborations. She has been known to spontaneously break into dance mid-experiment, and has been training to run away to the circus, should the opportunity ever arise...



From: Port Colborne, Ontario

Background: Life Sciences (BSc), Neuroscience (MSc)
Education: Queens University 
Project: Characterizing effects of LRRK2 silencing/kinase inhibition on cellular phenotypes in G2019S-KI and VPS35-KI mice

When she is not science-ing, Anusha loves live music, composing, nature walks, cooking, stand-up comedy and sitting.


From: Brazil

Background: Biochemistry
Project: hiPSC

When she is not science-ing,



From: Beijing

Background: Cognitive Science
Education: University of California, Berkeley
Project: 3D motion capture for behavioUral analysis and in vivo recordings of sleep alterations

When she is not science-ing, Yuting enjoys things, will update later (in addition to rest of site).



From: Campo Grande, Brazil

Background: Medicine (MD), Neuroscience (MPhil)
Education: Universidade Federal do Parana, Griffith University
Project: The influence of Parkinson’s disease gene mutations upon induced synucleinopathy in mouse and human neurons 

When he is not science-ing, Bruno enjoys listening to music from the 60s and watching Mafia movies. He grew up preferring John Lennon but currently leans toward Paul, and eventually brings chocolate cake to boost morale in the lab. 



From: Vancouver Island

Background: Biology & Psychology
Education: University of Victoria 
Project: how altered protein recycling in PD affects synaptic plasticity [more to bre added]

When she is not science-ing, Chelsie enjoys running, sliding, and rolling down mountains, being punched in the face by the ocean, testing the hypothesis that she is invicible, sprinkling glitter on things, and painting pretty pictures.

Naila studied Biology and Psychology as an undergraduate at the University of Saskatchewan, before starting her PhD in Neuroscience at the Centre for Applied Neurogenetics at UBC. With direct supervision from Dr. Milnerwood and co-supervision from Dr. Farrer, she spent the first few years studying the synaptic and structural plasticity of striatal neurons in cortico-striatal neuronal co-cultures, and the effects of the LRRK2 G2019S mutation on cortico-striatal glutamatergic transmission. Naila followed Dr. Milnerwood to McGill in January 2017, and is now focusing on synaptic plasticity at cortico-striatal and thalamo-striatal synapses in the G2019S knock-in mouse, by using optogenetics to selectively activate cortical or thalamic inputs and recording within acute striatal brain slices (more details in project summary).

Chelsie completed a combined Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Psychology at the University of Victoria. Following graduation, she worked as Interview Supervisor for the Alzheimer’s Drug Therapy Caregiver Study based at the Centre on Aging during which time she spoke with thousands of individuals across BC who provide care to family members with neurodegenerative diseases. Once the study wrapped up, she decided to pursue her passion for cellular and molecular neuroscience, with a focus on neurodegeneration, in hopes of helping find more effective treatments. She started her PhD in Neuroscience at the University of British Columbia, under the supervision of Dr. Austen Milnerwood and Dr. Matthew Farrer at the Centre for Applied Neurogenetics, where she began investigating how protein recycling pathways are altered in Parkinson’s disease and how that impacts synaptic transmission. She moved to Montreal in October 2016 to help Dr. Milnerwood start his new laboratory at McGill University, where she will continue her PhD studies at the Montreal Neurological Institute. In her spare time Chelsie enjoys running, sliding, and rolling down mountains, being punched in the face by the ocean, testing the hypothesis that she is invincible, sprinkling glitter on things, and painting pretty pictures.


VPS35 is part of the retromer complex – a protein complex involved in sorting and recycling transmembrane cargoes from maturing endosomes. Mutations in Vacuolar Protein Sorting 35 (VPS35) have been linked to late-onset, autosomal-dominant Parkinson’s disease (PD) that is clinically indistinguishable from idiopathic PD. This begs the question, what specific functions might VPS35 have in neurons that makes them more vulnerable to changes in protein recycling than other cell types? Recent work in neurons has shown that numerous neurotransmitter receptors are recycled by the retromer, including AMPA-type glutamate receptors and dopamine receptors. Chelsie’s project is to study AMPA and dopamine receptor trafficking and synaptic transmission in cultured neurons from a knock-in mouse model of the D620N mutation in VPS35, to describe how the mutation affects synapse maintenance and receptor recycling. She uses a combination of protein biochemistry, immunocytochemistry, live-cell imaging, and electrophysiology to achieve these research aims. Furthermore, she hopes to uncover the mechanism of this dysfunction, pointing to potential targets for therapeutic intervention. Studies of other PD-implicated proteins have also pointed to endosomal/vesicle trafficking mechanisms and synaptic dysfunction as a point of convergence for causal factors in PD.

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