2020

Board of Directors

Cristian Zaelzer
Cristian Zaelzer
Ph.D. Molecular &
Cell Biology
Founder & President
Cecilia Kramar
Ph.D. in Neuroscience
University of Buenos Aires
Communications Director
Hanna Davies II.jpg
Hanna Davies
B.S. Cognitive Sciences / Visual Artist
McGill University
Academic Research Director
Bettina Forget
Bettina Forget
MA in Art Education 
Vice-President
Fine Arts Director
Andree Lessard.JPG
Andrée Lessard
Ph.D. in Physiology
Grants & Founding Director
 
Cristian Zaelzer
Ph.D. Molecular & Cell Biology
Founder & President

Born in Chile, Cristian pursued his graduate studies at the Universidad Austral of Valdivia, Chile. He obtained his Ph.D. with a thesis conducted at the University of Chicago in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology studying the structure and biophysics of ion channels. In 2009, he moved to Canada to work in brain circuitry and osmoregulation. His work and collaborations have been published in high impact journals including Cell Reports, PNAS, Science, and Nature. He has been the recipient of numerous recognitions including a CIHR Brain Star Award.

Parallel to his research, Cristian is also interested in science outreach and communication of the neurosciences with other areas of society. He is the Founder and President of Convergence, Perceptions of Neuroscience. This initiative brings the complexity and beauty of the mind and brain to the public through artwork inspired by cutting-edge neuroscience research. His work has brought together the Brain Repair and Integrative Neuroscience (BRaIN) Program of the McGill University Research Centre (MUHC), the Integrated Program in Neuroscience (IPN) of McGill University, Concordia University Faculty of Fine Arts (FoFA), the Canadian Association for Neuroscience (CAN/ACN), the Montreal General Hospital Foundation, and the Visual Voice Gallery.

Cristian is also a Graphic Designer, practicing since 1995 in difference advertising companies in Chile and as an independent since 2001, and a Stained Glass artist.

 
Bettina Forget
MA in Art Education
Vice-President 
Fine Arts Director

Bettina Forget is a visual artist, gallery owner, art educator, and researcher living and working in Montreal, Canada.
Bettina is the Director of the SETI Institute’s Artist-in-Residence (AIR) program, where she facilitates the collaboration between artists and SETI researchers. Bettina also owns and runs Visual Voice Gallery, which presents contemporary art exhibitions that create a dialogue between art and science.
Bettina’s creative work explores the subjects of astronomy, science fiction, and feminism. She has exhibited her artwork in the USA, Canada, Germany, Iceland, Singapore, and Nicaragua.
Born in Germany, Bettina has studied at Central St-Martins School of Art in London, England and at Curtin University in Perth, Australia and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in Singapore. She is currently a Public Scholar and doctoral candidate in Art Education at Concordia University, Canada. Her research examines the recontextualization of art and science, and how transdisciplinary education may disrupt gender stereotypes.

Hanna Davies II.jpg
 
Hanna Davies
B.S. Cognitive Sciences / Visual Artist
McGill University
Academic Research Director

Hanna Davies is an active visual and film artist. Although abstract, Hanna’s work often contains traces of neuroscience theory. Since 2016, Hanna has been a researcher in the Kennedy lab at the Montreal Neurological Institute. Her research uses optogenetic techniques to activate pathways linked to neuronal plasticity. Currently, Hanna is pursuing an honours degree in Cognitive Science at McGill, with the hopes of attending a graduate program that integrates Neuroscience and Education. Recently, Hanna has developed an interest in using her understanding of how the human brain works to create richer learning experiences. Specifically, she is interested in exploring how the creative process can be used to cultivate valuable cognitive capacities such as critical thinking, innovation, and the integration of diverse fields of knowledge. As a researcher and videographer at Convergence, Hanna is able to utilize her knowledge in both neuroscience and art. Further, she now has the opportunity to observe and record the implications of converging the artistic process with scientific inquiry and the effects this convergence might have on learning. 

 
Cecilia Kramar
Ph.D. in Neuroscience
University of Buenos Aires
Communications Director

I earned my Ph.D. from the University of Buenos Aires (Argentina) investigating the mechanisms involved in learning and memory. I've always been interested in how our brain decides what memories to keep and which ones to forget, and how that can shape our cognition and our entire self. During my Ph.D., I started using art as a way of expressing myself; not only making art, but also studying it, and understanding its importance in our mental health and well-being. During my scientific career, I've also been very interested in taking the science outside the lab to the community, making it more approachable and understandable. That's why, when I found out about the Convergence Initiative, I decided to get involved no matter what. It combines all my passions in one: art, science, and science communication. At the moment, I'm a Research Associate at Mcgill University, and I keep doing science and art every day of my life.

Andree Lessard.JPG
 
Andrée Lessard
Ph.D. in Physiology
Scientific Liaison

The scientific pathway in academia is quite challenging: it requires continuous knowledge acquisition for theory and practice, it forces us to embrace novelty to fix new technological problems and to develop creativity for new experimental designs or to test hypotheses to explain complex mechanisms. In other words, it creates free minds. 

I see Convergence, perceptions of Neuroscience as the encounter of two disciplines that have a lot in common. Arts and Neuroscience, two fields of research that seem so far from each other at first sight, yet so close in their work ethic: research process, rigor, excellence, innovation, and communication.

Andree holds a doctorate in physiology from the Université de Montréal. She pursued her training in neuroscience at Cornell University as a postdoc and instructor and was recruited by the University of Maryland School of Medicine as an assistant professor. Dr. Lessard has published several first- and corresponding-authored original manuscripts investigating brain circuitry involved in stress and mental diseases. From 2016 to 2018, she worked as a program manager for the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre. She is now manager of the network for Oral and Bone Health Research (RSBO network). 

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Address/Notre Adresse/Nuestra Dirección

265 Rue Laverendrye

Longueuil, J4G 2S1, QC, Canada.

info@convergenceinitiative.org

Tel: +1 438 838-8831

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