Volunteers

2020

Nate Klett
Ph.D. in Neurosciences
Communications, Media,
Funding
Alberto Osa García
MD. Ph.D. student in Neuroimaging
Université de Montréal
Academic Research
Catherine (Cat) Lau
M.Sc. Exp.Psychology / Science Communication
Memorial / Laurentian Universities
Communications,
Academic Research
Kimberly Glassman
MSt History of Art & Visual Culture
University of Oxford
UK Representative
Mia Cardenas
High School Senior
Dubai UAE Representative
Communications, Blog contributor
Kathryn Vaillancourt
Ph.D. student in Neurosciences
Media, PodCasts,
Academic Research
Marielle McCrum
Speech Pathologist
McGill University
Academic Research
Jihane Mossalim
Painter & Art Educator
Concordia University
Communications, Blog Contributor
Srinjoyi Lahiri
High School Senior
USA Representative
Communications, 
Blog Contributor
Ciaran Murphy-Royal
Ph.D. in Neuroscience
Université de Montréal
Organization, Funding, Liaison
Eva Sabrina Nkurunziza
BSc. Neuroscience
Concordia University
Social Media, Blog Contributor
Nicole Avakyan
Ph.D. in Chemistry
McGill University
Communications, Editing,
Blog Contributor
Sean Zhang
M.Sc. Experimental Medicine
McGill University
Research Marketing,
Communications
Nicolas Simpson
Ph.D. student in Neuroscience
McGill University
Communications, Founding,
Blog Contributor
Liam O'Leary
Ph.D. student in Neurosciences
McGill University
Communications,
Scientific Liaison

Alberto Osa García

MD. Ph.D. student in Neuroimaging

Academic Research.

Université de Montréal

Since his medical training in the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Spain), Alberto felt fascinated by how the brain breaks down and how that can change perception, memory or language. Being himself a fan of linguistics, he wanted to merge both sides together in his research. He is currently doing his PhD at University of Montreal on neuroimaging of language disorders (such as aphasia) after stroke. He is supported by grants from the University of Montreal and La Fondation J.A de Sève. At the same time, he collaborates with Le Théâtre Aphasique, a non-lucrative organism that offers theatre workshops for people with aphasia. He is an advocate of how language(s) can help in the social (re)integration of different populations, as well as a boost for creative thinking and a means to achieve open-access knowledge for everybody. He joined Convergence to help in the fantastic project where art, science and research with social impact gather together to show how they can improve society. In his free time, Alberto likes to play music and sing in choirs, lose himself among the artistic events around Montreal or look for a new language to be explored. 

Catherine (Cat) Lau

M.Sc. Experimental Psychology / Graduate Diploma in Science Communication

Communications, Blog Contributor, Media, Academic Research

Memorial University of Newfoundland / Laurentian University

Formerly trained in the field of psychology and neuroscience, followed by science communication, Cat is passionate about making research and science accessible through creative mediums. Art and science have always been a part of her life and she is deeply interested in how the integration of both these disciplines can provide a means to communicate and mobilize knowledge that will engage different audiences and promote conversations towards a better future. Currently, she is the Knowledge Translation & Communications coordinator for ACCESS Open Minds, where she co-develops materials with diverse stakeholders on improving youth mental health in Canada.

Ciaran Murphy-Royal

Ph.D. in Neuroscience

Organization, Funding, Liaison

Université de Bordeaux

Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Ciaran Murphy-Royal is an assistant professor at the Université de Montréal carrying out his research activities at the Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CRCHUM). Ciaran’s work has taken him from his home to France where he carried out his PhD at the Université de Bordeaux. There he became interested in how the different types of cells the brain communicated with one another, diverting his attention to focus on a specific family of brain cells called astrocytes. Arriving in Calgary in 2014 for postdoctoral research, Ciaran began his work investigating how stress affects synapses in the brain, revealing a role for his beloved astrocytes. He joined the CRCHUM in June 2020 to start his own lab where he investigates how experiences early in life shape our behaviour as adults.
During this time, Ciaran has always been interested in ways to democratise science, making it available and accessible to the general public. This journey began as a writer and editor for an Irish online magazine HeadSpace (2014-2015). Now based in Montréal Ciaran is an active member of the Convergence Initiative, using his research platform to make scientific ideas more accessible collaborating with artists to achieve this goal in new and inventive ways.

Eva Sabrina Nkurunziza

BSc. Neuroscience

Communications, Blog Contributor, Media.

Concordia University

I recently graduated from Concordia University with a BSc. in Neuroscience. I am currently working as a research technician at the Lady Davis Institute (Jewish General Hospital). I am waiting at least a year before I apply for my masters. In the meantime, I will be completing a diploma in Data Analysis. I will also be working on growing my Concordia-based statistics tutoring company called Rent-A-Geek. Being interested in sciences and math was my greatest secret for a long time. I kept it for myself for fear of getting picked on for being a nerd. I was more comfortable being the class clown. I grew out of that phase, but the fear has not totally disappeared. Now my fear is to become a productive scientist without a voice. The type of scientists that can only communicate with people in their specific field. I think that reaching others goes beyond being able to simplify scientific concepts. I am currently figuring out what it takes to have an audible voice as a scientist. Seeking the key to that problem drew me to Convergence. I believe that arts can contribute to bridging the gap between scientists and artists. It is a learning experience and it takes away part of my fear.

Jihane Mossalim

Painter & Art Educator

Communications, Blog Contributor, Media

Concordia University

As a painter and art educator, Jihane’s work often plays with the concepts of childhood, memories and institutions. She is particularly fascinated with birthday traditions and children’s memories. Jihane is also very curious as to what makes a student remember certain lessons and completely disregard others. She is currently completing the Bachelor of Fine Arts programme at Concordia University with a specialization in Art Education. She loves teaching both children and adults. She always had an interest for science and particularly for the human brain and psyche which led her to modify her entire schedule to be able to take the 2019/2020 Convergence class. The class gave her the opportunity to work on collaborative projects with science students which opened conversations and ideas regarding her own art education studies through a scientific perspective. She couldn’t just end the class and move on to other things; she wanted to contribute in any ways she could to the initiative and promote the idea of SciArt collaborations in educational institutions and in her own art teaching.

Kathryn Vaillancourt

Ph.D. student in Neuroscience

PodCasts, Academic Research.

McGill University

Kathryn Vaillancourt is finishing her PhD in Neuroscience at McGill University where she uses post-mortem human brain tissue to try and understand the molecular consequences of cocaine addiction.  After earning a BSc in Biology and Psychology in her hometown of Edmonton, Alberta, she followed her passion across the country and has called Montreal home since 2012.  Early in her grad school adventure, Kathryn drew on the diverse backgrounds and experiences around her and developed a budding interest in science communication.  She co-founded and co-hosted the On Your Mind Neuroscience Podcast that brought scientific commentary to the airwaves for 3 years, and continues to flex her storytelling muscles as a freelance science writer and editor.  As an alumna of the second Convergence Sci-Art course at Concordia, Kathryn is inspired by the common experiences, challenges and questions that are faced by artists and scientists.

Kimberly Glassman

M.St. History of Art & Visual Culture

Communications, Blog Contributor, Media, Editing, Podcasts.

University of Oxford

Kimberly Glassman is an art historian, curator, and digital communicator who seeks to bridge interdisciplinary divides through inclusive and diverse programming. Kim is the UK representative of The Convergence Initiative, though she began working with the team back in Montreal in 2016. Kim obtained her BFA at Concordia University in the Art History Co-op Program, with a minor in Psychology and went on to complete her MSt in History of Art and Visual Culture at the University of Oxford. Under the supervision of Dr. John Blakinger, Kim’s dissertation research investigated science as a form of artistic medium, specifically looking into the work of Impressionist Camille Pissarro and contemporary artist Robert Pepperell. Kim has curated interdisciplinary exhibitions in Montreal (Synsocium: A Dialogue Between Art & Design, 2017; (dis)CONNECT, 2018; Diversifying Academia at Concordia, 2019) and in Oxford (Interrogating the Art-Science Relationship, 2019). She has been published in The Oxford Student (2019), SciArt Magazine (2019), The Oxford Mail (2020), The Oxford Times (2020) and continues to contribute articles to The Convergence Initiative and The North Wall Arts Centre. Kim’s research interests include: the history of sciart collaborations (specifically colour theory), post-colonial floricultural history in Britain and Canada, infrared photography, political activist art in the digital age, dance adaptation studies, and ethnocultural art histories. She has presented her research at international conferences in Canada, the UK, Russia, and Austria. Kim is currently the Front of House Manager of the North Wall Arts Centre in Oxford, England.

Liam O'Leary

Ph.D. student in Neuroscience

Communications, Blog Contributor, Scientific Liaison.

McGill University

Liam is a Neuroscience PhD Candidate at McGill University studying the neuroanatomy of depression. Liam has taken his science out of the lab, by being a high-school biology tutor in Sweden, an embryological witness in England, and a senior editor for Canada’s largest science graduate student journal, Health Science Inquiry (HSI). Liam is particularly interested in scientific illustration, and since completing Convergence 2018-2019, is slowly emerging as a bioartist. Liam is interested in how bioart can communicate the personal impact of science research for scientists and society.

Marielle McCrum

Speech-Language Pathologist

Academic Research

McGill University

Marielle McCrum is a graduate of McGill’s School of Communication Sciences and Disorders. As a speech-language pathologist working in acute care settings, Marielle helps patients who have experienced changes in their communication following stroke, brain cancer, and head and neck cancer. She also provides voice therapy. Her lifelong interest in visual arts and theatre drew her to Convergence 2018/2019. Marielle witnesses the value of interdisciplinary work in health care on a daily basis, and believes that increasing collaboration between Art and Science will lead to creative problem-solving and improved public engagement.

Mia Cardenas

High School Senior

Communications, Blog Contributor, Media

Mia Cardenas is a highschool senior from the Philippines living in Dubai, UAE. She attended Convergence's Symposium and has been an avid supporter of the organization and what it stands for ever since. As a BioArtist and aspiring bioengineer, she hopes to help bridge the engagement disparity between the public and their understanding of science through the creation of art installations inspired by scientific concepts and made from biological materials. Currently, she is working on a research project about Bioluminescence and its possible applications in design. A love for literature complements her interest in STEM–– resulting in her creating The Lilac Blog, an organization for poets, writers, and artists promoting interdisciplinary collaboration.

Nate Klett

Ph.D. in Neuroscience

Communications, Blog Contributor, Media, Editing, Funding, Academic Research.

Oregon Health and Science University

As a young man, Nate became fascinated with the potential of neuroscience to explain the complexities of human emotion. Born near Philadelphia, Nate ventured out west to Portland, Oregon for his PhD, where he studied circadian rhythms in the suprachiasmatic nucleus, the brain’s daily clock. During his years in Portland, he had the opportunity to collaborate with projects such as The Steam Radio Syndicate and Xhurch. Recently, Nate moved to Montreal to study the electrical properties of the neurons involved in regulating the body’s salt-water balance. When not glaring into the microscope, you can find him bicycling all over Montreal to catch the amazing arts and culture that the city has to offer.

Nicolas Simpson

M.Sc. Ph.D. student in Neuroscience

Communications, Blog Contributor, Funding.

McGill University

Born and raised in Vancouver, Nick is currently a PhD student at McGill University. He initially completed an MSc in Neuroscience at Queen’s University, and his current studies are focused on how traumatic brain injury impacts our neuroendocrine and autonomic systems. Nick is fascinated with both fundamental Neuroscience research, as well as how we as humans perceive the world in such a personal way. Since attending his first Convergence event in 2017, Nick has become passionate about the importance of science communication in our society. The media is filled with inaccurately reported research findings that serve to misinform and create distrust between scientists and the public. Nick believes art can be transformative for bridging this gap and is such a powerful and revealing media to express scientific research. He is proud to be involved with Convergence and is looking forward to playing a role in advancing its initiatives to support science communication.

Sean Zang

M.Sc. Experimental Medicine

Communications, Blog Contributor.

McGill University

I graduated from McGill with a Bachelor's in Neuroscience and am currently a Master’s Candidate in Experimental Medicine with a specialization in Biomedical Ethics. From a young age, I've been immersed in both the arts and the sciences - whether it was being awed at exhibits in science museums, playing the piano for hours on end (partially forced by my parents), or even digging up bugs in my own backyard and trying to classify them. Now in my graduate studies, I'm once again at a crossroads between the two disciplines: how do ethical principles in philosophy and empirical medical research inform one another? The melding of arts, science, in addition to public outreach is an exciting and creative venture. In the past, I played piano in Montreal hospitals in the Cedars CanSupport program and was a stage manager for the McGill Students' Chinese Music Society. Currently, my hobbies include playing chess and playing on Montreal's public pianos.

Srinjoyi Lahiri

High School Senior

Communications, Blog Contributor, Media

As an art and neuroscience enthusiast, I do not think these fields are mutually exclusive. Through service learning, I have discovered how photography distracted a cancer patient from pain. Art gallery tours for adults with Alzheimer’s disease have shown me that dementia patients are engaged museum visitors with insights to offer. In today’s increasingly diverse world, I believe we can not afford to live a life untranslated. This is why I am fascinated by the work the Convergence Initiative is doing, bridging gaps between distinct communities and ideas, neuroscience and art. The world possesses so many layers and nuances, and it demands that we give attention to intersections. Because, in the end, an inclusive world is not formed by the eradication of differences, but by its affirmation.

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