Cristian Zaelzer, Ph.D.
Founder & Director
Emma Jones, Ph.D.
English Edition, MGH in-site coordination
Sabrina Chierzi, Ph.D.
MGH in-site coordination
Ibrahim Kays, Ph.D. Student
Evaluation Panel 5 Minute Talks
Convergence Talks
MGH in-site coordination
Steve Beukema, Ph.D. Student
Convergence Talks
Emilie Peco, Ph.D.
French Edition, MGH in-site coordination
Marie Franquin, Ph.D. Student
French Edition, Convergence Talks
Dasha Sandra, Psychology Student
French Edition
Johannes Kacerovsky, Ph.D. Student
Sponsors & Funding
Hunter Shaw, Ph.D. Student
Convergence Talks
Kevin Jung-Hoo Park
Film Production
Film, Documentation, Photography
Sejal Davla, Ph.D. Student
Convergence Talks
Kristina Parker, Art History
Funding, Interviews, Catalogue
Valérie Hénault, Art History Major
Curator, Interviews, Catalogue 
Kimberly Glassman
Art History Major, Psychology Minor
Fine Arts Communications Manager
Alice Brassard, Art History Major
Research, Interviews, Catalogue
pk Langshaw
Professor & Chair Department of
Design & Computational Arts
Chris Salmon, Ph.D. Student.
General Organization, Sponsors, English Edition
 Andrée Lessard, Ph.D.
Interim BRaIN Program Manager 2016-2017
Sejal Devla
Johannes Kacerovsky
Dasha Sandra
Emilie Peco
Marie Franquin
Kimberly Glassman
Valérie Hénault
Kristina Parker
Alice Brassard
Kevin Jung-Hoo Park
Steve Beukema
Hunter Shaw
Ibrahim Kays
Convergence Talks Neuroscience
RI-MUHC
BRaIN Program
Fine Arts Communications
Emma Jones
Sabrina Chierzi
MGH in-site Coordination
Alex Tran
Photographer, Biologist
Photography, Documentation
Luc Valade
Coordinator & Events Planner
External Advisor
External
Advisors
Concordia University 
Faculty of Fine Arts
Christine Swintak
Instructor, ArtX
(Transdisciplinary Studio Practices)
Najmeh Khalili-Mahani, Ph.D.
Neuroscientist - Mentor
Concordia PERFORM Centre

3 years ago, I was in Panama completing my M.Sc. in biology, jumping from river to river in the search for electric fish. I’ve since put my net down and picked a camera up, and I’ve been doing portrait photography ever since. As you might expect, I was thrilled to discover Convergence and felt a deep connection to it, since that confluence of art and science is something experience in my own life. What led me to joining the initiative was serendipity—I was sent on assignment by my client to photograph one of the Convergence teams. The connections I made in the process led me to joining the initiative, albeit quite late, but I’m now here thrilled to contribute in a small way to this wonderful project.

Photographer, Biologist

Alex Tran

McGill University

External Collaborator

Before majoring in art history, I studied applied arts and learned painting, drawing, and sculpting. Surrounded by other artists, I also developed an interest in observing/analyzing their artworks. I was really impressed how they could speak to me. After two years, I started to notice that I was more into engaging in conversation with artworks, instead of making them. The year after, I decided to enrol in the Art History undergraduate program at Concordia and began to write about the arts. I always thought that what makes art history fascinating is the way it is taught. I see art history as a big mine site where millions of researchers are digging information to make their pathways and sometime they run into each other. However, compared to a natural site, its resources are infinite. My goal is to shed new light in art knowledge. Opening its horizon by making bridges with other fields study. Convergence Initiative is one way through it, using arts practise to share with the public the complexity of science.

BFA Art History, MA Art History student

Alice Brassard

Université de Montréal

Research, Interviews, Catalogue

The path to biomedical research in academia is quite demanding; not only in terms of new knowledge acquisition, but it also in terms of creativity, solving technical problems, exploring and testing mechanisms, embracing novelty and reaching out alternative expertise and ideas. It other words, it creates free minds. To me, Convergence, perceptions of neuroscience is an initiative that welcomes the encounter of two worlds sharing so many aptitudes. Art and Neuroscience; two disciplines so far from each other at first sight, yet so inclusive in their work ethics: rigor, excellence from start to completion, innovation, and communication.

Ph.D. Physiology, BRaIN Program Manager 2016-2017

Andrée Lessard

Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre

BRaIN Program Liaison

I think to a lot of people, science is just technology – expensive machines, microscopes, telescopes. But to me, science has always been about creativity first, and technology second. There is a rich and storied conversation that guides us in designing good, elegant experiments long before any techniques or tools enter the picture. Along the same lines, to some people, art is just a product – a painting, sculpture, music. But, before any physical “art” takes shape, there is, in kind, a rich conversation that leads the artist to create. It’s those often unseen conversations that make me excited about Convergence. Bringing our separate conversations together, and creating a new, shared conversation.

Ph.D. student in Neuroscience

Chris Salmon

McGill University

General Organization, Funding, English Editing

Dasha is currently pursuing her undergraduate studies as an Honours Psychology student at McGill University. Her research interests include neuroscience of perception and thought processes. She is currently working on determining the worth of cognitive effort and the consequences of its modulation; she previously studied animal models and mapping the neurocircuitry of motivation in feeding. "My research experiences in both psychology and neuroscience made me appreciate the value of science and its practical applications to make human life more fulfilling. Add to that my life-long fascination with visual arts and creative writing on top of my academic interests and you get someone firmly convinced that not only does the science need to be understandable to the general public, it also deserves to be represented in all its splendor. Convergence initiative does that and much more: it brings the science to the people and renders it truly beautiful through the eyes and skill of artists."

Psychology Student

Dasha Sandra

McGill University

Sponsors & Funding, French Edition

I am a researcher in developmental neurobiology: I study the mechanisms for the formation of the nervous system. Beyond my thirst to understand this complexity, I am enthusiastic about the visual and artistic part of life sciences: I observe, describe and interpret the art generated by nature. This might explains why I am passionate with embryology whose teaching and study is only well apprehended through the use of illustrations. Most of my research uses microscopy as a tool. The first time I used a fluorescent microscope was to visualize in real time the initial divisions of a micro-medusa fertilized egg; it was during my master degree and I was fascinated. Several years later, I visualized in real time again, divisions to give rise to astrocytes of the fruit fly nervous system. Research in biology is not considered as an art although our eyes can’t stop marvelling at nature beauty at all levels, macroscopic and microscopic and that’s why my involvement in the Convergence initiative felt obvious.

Ph.D. Gene, Cell and Development, Developmental

Emilie Peco

Université Paul Sabatier Toulouse III

French Edition, MGH in-site coordination

I initially started thinking about the role of art in science as a graduate student in the UK when I was involved with finding artwork to fill the blank walls of a new biomedical building. It was obvious that Art was needed to inspire and encourage creative scientific thinking! Since coming to work in the field of Neuroscience, I have been fascinated by the fact that many of the structures of the brain resemble the beautiful patterns we see in nature. Convergence is a fantastic opportunity for scientists like myself to learn about the art-making process and how we can communicate better what we do to the public at large.

Ph.D. in Molecular Cell Biology and Bicohemistry

Emma Jones

University of Manchester

English Edition, MGH in-site coordination

Growing up on an orchard in the Okanagan Valley, I was surrounded by fruit and where there is fruit, naturally, there are fruit flies. Perhaps this was the reason why I decided to focus my graduate studies on understanding the fruit fly nervous system. More likely though, I think the reason is my attraction to the elegant design and organization of the fruit fly brain and the genetic tools available to study how their synaptic connections are formed. My research is focused on identifying the genes that are responsible for the development and functionality of the fruit fly visual system. Understanding how a fly sees the world may seem like a trivial thing, but because of the striking similarities between the genome of humans and fruit flies, understanding how the fly nervous system works may provide us with insights on the underlying mechanism behind neurodevelopmental disorders that plague many individuals. Convergence is critical for me because I believe that the toughest hurdle in my field is trying to convince people how understanding the fruit fly will benefit society and can be related to things they encounter in their everyday life.

Ph.D. student in Physiology

Hunter Shaw

McGill University

Covergence Talks Neuroscience

I am a PhD student in Dr. Brian Chen’s lab. I am interested in creating tools to better observe the events and processes that occur in living cells. For my current project, I want to develop a way to look within neurons to know when and where proteins are made. I believe this program has tremendous promise in creating a meaningful collaboration that will truly benefit our entire community. Using the creativity of Concordia arts will bring another level of clarity to our science which will enable a new discourse between visual arts and science development.

Ph.D. in Neuroscience

Ibrahim Kays

McGill University

Evaluation Panel 5 Minute Talks, Convergence Talks, MGH in-site coordination

I love pretty pictures. A big part of my research relies on taking microscopic images of cells in the brain, called astrocytes, and visualizing their activity as changing patterns of fluorescent light. It is completely fascinating how these minute parts that make up our brains, forming the building blocks of our consciousness, our identity appear almost alien, showing forms and patterns, which seem entirely different from the macroscopic world we experience daily. Microscopic images have a unique kind of beauty and fascination that has captivated me and drawn me to this research. It seems to me that both science and art are about understanding and experiencing our world, in different ways. In science we take things apart, study and analyze their components to learn their function while artists put new things together. New concepts arise and novel ideas are refined when we talk to other people. In science communication and the exchange of ideas are extremely important. They are the foundation of progress. Neither science nor art exists in a vacuum. We build on previous work, exchange ideas with our peers and try to push the boundaries. By stepping outside of our habitual circles, by collaborating across disciplines and learning to understand each other’s vantage point we will profit as artists and as scientists and work together to create something new and unique.

Ph.D. student in Neuroscience

Johannes Kacerovski

McGill University

Sponsors & Funding

The reason I took part of the Convergence Initiative goes back to a particular memory I had with my father. Few years ago, during October, I was walking with my father, a man of science. We were having a very awkward father-and-son moment. However, my dad suddenly looked at the fall foliage and said, “you know, the trees are releasing a toxic chemical to themselves to cut off the leaves, to survive the winter.” That moment, something resonated within me. I started see the pain and life within the trees, and I found beauty within it. Ever since that moment, I have been intrigued by the scientific and the technological, and this is the very exact reason why I got excited when I first heard about Convergence. For I want to be part of an opportunity to me and others to explore the potentials of the brain, the potentialities that lie within the container of our ration, our emotions, and our soul, within the spark between science and art.

BFA Film Maker

Kevin Jung-Hoo Park

Concordia University

Film, Documentation, Photography

I entered Concordia University with the intent of bridging the gap between the sciences and the arts, specifically in exploring the overlap in psychology and visual arts through psycho-historical analysis. For this reason, I enrolled at Concordia with a major in Art History (Co-op) and a minor in Psychology. As an art history and psychology undergraduate student I have experience writing both science-directed and art history-directed papers, as well as conducting research in the two respective fields. However, I have dedicated my academic career to pursuing their overlap and communicating my findings to the public through published papers and presentations at conferences in Canada and abroad, as well as through virtual exhibitions. As part of the Concordia Co-op Program, I have also developed a background in marketing communications and professional museum work. Thus, my main interest with this initiative stems from my love and passion for multidisciplinary research in the sciences and the arts and the importance, I believe, of making this information accessible to all.

MA Art History and Visual Culture

Kimberly Glassman

Oxford University

Fine Arts Communications Manager

Multidisciplinary interests led me to pursue a Baccalaureate at Concordia with a joint-major in Studio Arts and Art History, and a minor in Psychology. Scientific interest in ecology, conservation, behaviour and neurodiversity have informed my art historical research as well as my artistic practice. Committed to community building and seeking collaborations across disciplines, I am currently Education and Engagement Coordinator at Sustainable Concordia, as well as Board Facilitator for the Sustainability Action Fund. The Convergence initiative is another perfect example of the importance of dialogue and potential for rich explorations at the intersections of different fields. The elegance and complexity of neurological systems can be mirrored in conceptual artworks inspired by them, I am excited to contribute to this initiative offer new tools of communication and ways to showcase research and art together.

BFA Art History, Studio Arts. MA Art Therapy

Kristina Parker

Concordia University

Funding, Interviews, Catalogue

Coordinator and events planner for over 25 years I am specialized in logistics and organization of public events and private fundraising. I stand out by excellent knowledge of the environment of public events, logistics and operational mechanisms. In the early 1990s, I gained field of experience in a position of coordinator for logistics and recruitment of volunteers among VÉLO QUEBEC for different cycling events such as the LE TOUR DE L’ÎLE DE MONTREAL and LE GRAND TOUR. I continued my career by occupying the post of director of events at the FARHA FOUNDATION from 1997 to 2014, I had the opportunity to develop expertise in fundraising in several project financing and management of sponsorships. I had the opportunity to put on feet and directing several events to large sizes and popular as AU COEUR DE LA MODE and ÇA MARCHE. FROM 2011 to 2015 I was asked by the prestigious Institue of Tourism and Hospitality of Quebec (ITHQ) to provide courses in event organization in the AEC program in tourism and hospitality management. It was a great opportunity to put my skills trainer and facilitator ahead and pass my knowledge on the subject. In 2015 I held a position of Senior Project Manager in philanthropic development at the headquarters of Leucan in Montreal and once again my logistics expertise was put to the service of a humanitarian cause. I now hold administrative functions at Québec’s Rental Board and as a consultant, I am still active with the students organizing events ITHQ as mentor and course director for program graduates. It gives me great pleasure to offer my support for the Convergence Committee, Perception of Neuroscience in the realization of their event.

Coordinator and Events Planner. External Advisor.

Luc Valade

Independent

External Collaborator

As a scientist, I have always learned to consider science and art as two separate disciplines. Science is about understanding things as they are whereas Art reaches out to human feelings and perceptions about the world. Neuroscience teaches us however that everything we observe is biased by our brain itself, we do not see, we do not hear, but we compute information to paint our very personal portrait of our surroundings in our mind. Does that make an artist out of our brain? It definitely invalidates the concept that art and science are two separate entities, they have worked together for centuries in the minds of incredible geniuses and human beings to create wonders. Convergence is about breaking the barriers between these two pillars of our society and I am thrilled and excited to be part of this amazing project that brings together art and science for a new challenge.

Ph.D. student in Neuroscience

Marie Franquin

McGill University

French Edition, Convergence Talks Neuroscience

One of the hardest decisions I have ever made was my choice of university degree. Throughout my primary and secondary education, I was exposed equally to science and liberal arts. I studied physics, chemistry, biology to understand the mechanisms behind natural phenomena. I learned how to formulate and test hypotheses following the scientific method. At the same time, I studied literature and art history. I was fascinated by the different ways artists have captured and created beauty throughout history. I realized how powerfully a painting can express the wonder we experience in the presence of nature. When the time came to choose between science and arts, I had to give up one of my two souls. I chose a degree in Biology, and today I am glad to work in a Neurobiology laboratory. For me, the Convergence initiative is a wonderful way to recreate the balance between the two souls.

Ph.D. in Neuroscience

Sabrina Chierzi

Scuola Normale Superiore

MGH in-site coordination

I am Sejal Davla. I am a graduate student in Dr. Don van Meyel's laboratory studying neuron-glia communications in sleep behavior using fruit flies as a model organism. I grew up in India and finished my master's degree in my hometown. I chose to come to Montreal to pursue a Ph.D. in neuroscience. During this training, I have been instilled with a deeper appreciation for neuroscience research and have learned to communicate that knowledge with non-science audience. I am passionate about science outreach and volunteer as a neuroscience mentor and educator for high school students. In my spare time, I either learn different dance forms or indulge in books related to science, politics, and history. I am very excited to work with the Convergence team and help bridge the gap between science and the arts.

Ph.D. in Neuroscience

Sejal Davla

McGill University

Covergence Talks Neuroscience

I've always been an adventurous person, and I think most of my pursuits reflect that. Science is an adventure. It is a mental exploration; a clever pursuit for knowledge about the unknown. As a scientist working towards my PhD, my adventure involves a fascination with schizophrenia and the way the visual system deals with seemingly impossible perceptions. Convergence is important to me because science can be uncompromising, and art can help to solve this crisis. As a pianist and a magician, I know that expression through art is a liberating way to stimulate discussion, and science would benefit from this treatment.

Ph.D. student in Neuroscience

Steve Beukema

McGill University

Covergence Talks Neuroscience

I have always believed that differences make people evolve: evolve intellectually through differences of opinion, and evolve culturally through different backgrounds. Personally, I find fulfillment in collaborating with a variety of people. I am in my last year as an Art History undergraduate student, and throughout my involvement in a variety of groups and institutions I have developed a special interest in the benefits of exchanging ideas with people from multiple disciplines and backgrounds. My work at the Museum of Jewish Montreal, an alternative museum focussed on connecting with the community through different means such as food and oral history, has shown me the results of innovative collaborations. I strongly believe that better projects emerge from interdisciplinary initiatives, and Convergence is the very embodiment of this belief. As I am interested in museum practices and the special status and mystery surrounding them, I strive to help this initiative break down barriers – between science, art, and the public.

Major in Art History, Gestion d'organisme à but non lucratif

Valérie Hénault

Concordia University, HEC Montreal

Fine Arts Communications Manager, Curator, Interviews, Catalogue

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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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