People

Current Members




Dr. Susanne Schmid

Dr. Susanne Schmid


Email: susanne.schmidATschulich.uwo.ca
Associate Professor of Neurobiology
Associate Chair for Research (Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology)
Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Susanne Schmid studied Biology in Tübingen (Germany) and São Paulo (Brazil). She was trained as an electrophysiologist (patch-clamp recordings in brain slices) during her PhD working at the University Eye Hospital in Tübingen under Dr. Guenther and Professor Zrenner. Dr. Schmid started her own independent group in 2000 in the Animal Physiology Department (Professor Schnitzler) at the University of Tübingen, Germany. In 2006, she spent a year at the University of Toronto as a Heisenberg Fellow working with John Yeomans, before she moved to Western in 2007.
Dr. Schmid was always interested in synaptic plasticity, first during retinal development, and later, when she founded her own group, in relation to behavioural plasticity and learning. Habituation of startle is an excellent model to explore cellular and molecular mechanisms of learning in mammals. Habituation is also a sensory filtering mechanism, therefore she started to study other sensory filtering mechanisms as well, most importantly prepulse inhibition. Both habituation and prepulse inhibition are also measured in humans and are clinically highly relevant.

 

 

Lab Technicians




Cleusa De Oliveira

Cleusa De Oliveira


Email: Cleusa.deoliveiraATschulich.uwo.ca

Cleusa is the lab technician/manager. She is responsible for all the ordering in the Lab and she also helps all the students with their projects. Cleusa works with the animals, doing surgeries and behavioral tests. She also works with immunohistochemistry experiments and PCR tests. Cleusa just loves her work!
Outside of the lab, she loves to spend time with her family and her shih-tzu dog, Dodo.

 

 

Research Assistants




Renée Phillips

Renée Phillips


Email: rphill8ATuwo.ca

Renée was born and raised in London, Ontario. She received her undergraduate degree from Western with a double major in Physiology and Psychology. Continuing her studies in the department of Neuroscience seemed like the next logical step. Like others in the Schmid lab, Renée studies the startle reflex. Instead of examining this response in animal models of autism, her subjects are human children with autism (with the help of Dr. Rob Nicolson at LHSC). This not only reduces her risk of bites, but also allows us to determine the relevance of the rat autism models. Children with autism spectrum disorder are often reported to have difficulty filtering out the enormous amount of sensory information their brains receive every day. The physiologic deficits in sensory filtering are thought to underlie many of the social symptoms of this disease spectrum. So far though these reports are only anecdotal. No quantitative physiological methods of assessment have been robustly studied. Renée hopes that by better understanding the sensory gating deficits in children with autism, clinical interventions could be developed to assist with the underlying problem that causes the host of symptoms experienced by children with autism.
Outside the lab, Renée spends her time caring for her own brood of children, knitting, singing, and engaged in social justice initiatives. She is a foster-parent and small-business owner. One day she hopes to be Miss. Frizzle and have a magic school bus.

 

 

Postdoctoral Fellows

 

Graduate Students




Simon Benoit

Simon Benoit


Email: sbenoiATuwo.ca
PhD Candidate

Simon is a PhD candidate in the Schmid lab. His work under the supervision of Dr. Schmid and Dr. Matthew Hebb looks at developing a personalized autologous cell-based therapy for Parkinson's disease (PD) using brain-derived progenitor cells obtained from cortical biopsies taken from patients living with PD. The same brain samples also yield a unique source of DNA/RNA that is being examined using next-generation sequencing techniques, such as RNAseq, to examine pathophysiological changes in the Parkinsonism brain which could lead to discovering new mechanisms, biomarkers and potential therapeutic targets for PD.
When not hard at work, Simon mostly enjoys spending time with his family and doing outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, running and gardening.

 




Andrew Deweyert

Andrew Deweyert


Email: adeweyerATuwo.ca
PhD Candidate

Andrew began as a MSc candidate in the Schmid lab and has since transferred into a Ph.D. Andrew completed his undergraduate degree in biomedical sciences with an honors specialization in anatomy and cell biology at the University of Western Ontario in 2016. Prior to this Andrew completed two years of a medical doctorate program at Ross University School of Medicine. He left medicine to pursue a research career and started his research in the Lala Lab working with breast cancer. For his master and now his doctorate he has undertaken a new project that investigates novel experimental therapies to treat the brain tumour glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Furthermore, Andrew is co-supervised by Dr. Matthew Hebb - a neurosurgeon with a focus on glial biology and neuro-oncology. Andrew has a keen interest in cancer biology and wishes to continue to work on translational research.
Outside of the Lab Andrew enjoys cooking, hiking, and reading.

 




Niveen Fulcher

Niveen Fulcher


Email: nfulcherATuwo.ca
PhD Candidate

Niveen began as a M.Sc. candidate in Neuroscience in September 2016, and is still thoroughly enjoying long days at the Schmid Lab as a Ph.D. candidate! Niveen completed her H.B.Sc. degree at the University of Toronto where she worked primarily in Dr. Robert Gerlai’s Behavioural Genetics Lab studying a variety of social, anxiety, and neurochemical phenomena in zebrafish. At the Schmid Lab, the stars delightfully shifted her towards the rat model, where the goal is to uncover underlying mechanisms of sensory filtering and sensorimotor gating. Specifically, Niveen examines the tegmental areas of the mid-brain on a cellular level. By inhibiting particular cell types within these areas, Niveen hopes to uncover why patients with particular psychiatric illnesses, like Schizophrenia and Autism Spectrum Disorder, show deficits in sensory filtering.
Outside of the lab, Niveen enjoys running, reading, socializing, and snowboarding in the wintertime. Visiting family abroad – and travel in general – is on Niveen’s priority life-list, as well.

 




Faraj Haddad

Faraj Haddad


Email: fhaddad2ATuwo.ca
PhD Candidate

Faraj is a PhD candidate at the Schmid lab. He started at the Schmid Lab as part of a summer work study program, which introduced him to the field of rodent behavioral neuroscience. Enjoying this newfound passion, he opted into an undergraduate thesis and eventually decided to pursue graduate studies at the Schmid lab. His project centers around investigating environmental causes of neurodevelopmental disorders. More specifically, he is interested in the contribution of maternal infection —and the ensuing immune response—during pregnancy to abnormal brain development, which is implicated in disorders like schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorder. To model immune activation during pregnancy, he utilizes the polyinosinic-polycytidylic (poly I:C) model and investigates sensory filtering and sensory processing phenotypes in offspring that were exposed to poly I:C-induced immune activation in utero. In addition to his main project, Faraj is interested in designing novel behaviors in the Bussey-Saksida touch screen systems.
Outside of the lab (or sometimes even inside the lab while waiting for dreadfully long experiments), Faraj loves to play computer games and follow eSports. In order to keep his health from deteriorating because of long and emotionally intense gaming or streaming hours, he decided to take up swimming and loves going to the university pool for some exercise. In his free time, Faraj is an avid baker and plans to casually take over the world through the powers of delicious cakes and desserts!

 




Kaela Scott

Kaela Scott


Email: kscot26ATuwo.ca
PhD Candidate

Kaela is a PhD candidate in the Schmid Lab, co-supervised by Dr. Brian Allman. She completed her undergraduate degree in Honors Biology with thesis at the University of Windsor in 2015 where she researched the mechanisms underlying olfactory processing in the sea lamprey. Her research here at the Schmid Lab is now geared towards understanding auditory processing deficits in neurodevelopmental disorders. She studies this both at the pre-attentive and perceptual levels using behaviours relying on reflexive responses to sounds and operant conditioning in conjunction with in vivo electrophysiology from key areas along the auditory pathway.
Outside of lab, Kaela enjoys writing, reading, and playing board games.

 

 

Scholar's Electives and Honors Thesis Students




Linda Wang

Linda Wang


Email: wwang456ATuwo.ca
4th Year Undergraduate
Honors Thesis Student

Linda is in her fourth year of the Medical Science program doing an Honours Specialization in Physiology. She began in the lab doing work study, assisting in projects investigating mechanisms of sensory filtering through both behavioural and cellular experiments. She is happy to continue her love for research in the Schmid lab through her own project developing a model to examine temporal order judgement of auditory and visual stimuli in rats using Bussey touchscreen boxes.
Outside of the lab, Linda is often found in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu classes on campus, at the Cronyn observatory with her club (Space Society of London), and enjoying the Spoke bagels.

 




Kyra Moura

Kyra Moura


Email: kmoura2ATuwo.ca
3rd Year Undergraduate
Scholar's Electives Student

Kyra is a Scholar's Electives student in her third year of the Medical Science program, doing an Honours Specialization in Physiology and Pharmacology. She began her research pursuits working next door in the Laviolette lab, learning in vivo electrophysiology; since then, she has been immersed in neuroscience research utilizing both in vivo and in vitro electrophysiology techniques. She enjoyed her (extremely) long days of electrophysiology so much, that she looked to continue this endeavour in the Schmid lab. Here, she is working directly with PhD candidate Kaela Scott on examining her novel ASD rat model of autism, and the associated auditory cortex abnormalities it exhibits.
Outside of the lab, Kyra is a synchronized swimming coach and swims on a university team herself. Swimming throughout high school and her undergrad has given her the opportunity to travel - her other passion - across both North America and Europe.

 

 

Visiting Students

 

Work Study Students




Salonee Patel

Salonee Patel


Email: spate382ATuwo.ca
3rd Year Undergraduate

Salonee is currently in her third year of the Medical Sciences program, doing an Honours Specialization in Physiology. She is a work-study student in the Schmid lab and helps with projects related to mechanisms by which the mammalian brain processes sensory information and outputs a behavioural response. This includes rat handling, immunohistochemistry, and behavioural experiments.
Outside of the lab, Salonee enjoys hiking, travelling and can often be found playing any free piano in the Music Building.

 




Salonee Patel

Suweatha Sanmuganathan


Email: ssanmug3ATuwo.ca
2nd Year Undergraduate

Suweatha is currently in her second year of the Medical Sciences program. She is a work-study student in the Schmid lab. She assists Niveen and Faraj with many aspects of their research projects, including immunohistochemistry and brain tissue collection using the Microtome.
Outside of the lab, Suweatha enjoys playing piano, reading, catching up on TV shows, and spending time with family and friends. She is also passionate about dancing, and has choreographed for several cultural shows performed at the university.

 

 

Volunteers




Karnig Kazazian

Karnig Kazazian


Email: kkazaziaATuwo.ca
3rd Year Undergraduate

Karnig is doing his third year as an undergraduate student at the University of Western Ontario. He is currently completing his degree in the undergraduate Neuroscience program, intending to graduate with an honors specialization in Neuroscience. At the lab, he primarily assists Niveen with many aspects of her research, which include rat handling, tissue collection, PCR, immunohistochemistry, and behavioral testing.
Outside the lab, Karnig enjoys being involved with many extracurricular activities at Western, running, cooking, and playing Settlers of Catan.

 




Josephine Lau

Josephine Lau


Email: jlau248ATuwo.ca

Josephine is a volunteer website developer at the Schmid Lab. She graduated from Western University with an Honors Double Major in Medical Sciences and Biology in 2014 and a Bachelors of Nursing Science in 2016. She started working as Dr. Schmid's work study student in 2013 and continued on as a volunteer after graduation. Using WordPress, Google, and CSS programming, she created Dr. Schmid's website and regularly keeps it updated.
Outside of volunteering, Josephine likes working in well-resourced fast-paced hospital units, participating in bedside patient care, advocating for patients, keeping up with the latest public health initiatives, and taking post-graduate nursing courses to keep her knowledge updated. Hobby-wise, she enjoys singing, playing piano, listening to music, reading, keeping up with current events, traveling, cooking up a storm, riding her bicycle, spending time with friends and family, and relaxing until her next set of hospital shifts.

 




Nikita Thakkar

Nikita Thakkar


Email: nthakkaATuwo.ca
3rd Year Undergraduate

Nikita is in her third year at University of Western Ontario doing an Honors Specialization in Biology. She is a research enthusiast, always eager to learn and decided to learn more about the fascinating brain. Nikita began working in the lab as a volunteer and often assists in projects examining pre-impulse dispositions through audio stimuli.
Outside of the lab, Nikita is often found hiking, socializing, spending time with family, travelling and eating her favorite type of salad-chickpea salad! She is also an avid flutist and continues to play whenever she can.

 

 

Former Students and Postdoctoral Fellows

Erin AzzopardiErin Azzopardi

Graduate Student

Tyler BrownTyler Brown

Graduate Student

Mitchell CooperMitchell Cooper

Graduate Student

Justine CzajkaJustine Czajka

Work Study Student

Amalka De SilvaAmalka De Silva

Graduate Student

Jason GopaulJason Gopaul

Graduate Student

Jeremy KwokJeremy Kwok

Work Study Student

Andrea LouttitAndrea Louttit

Graduate Student

Lu LuLu Lu

Visiting Student

Magdalena MirkowskiMagdalena Mirkowski

Graduate Student

Farena PinnockFarena Pinnock

Graduate Student

Grace QiGrace Qi

Honors Thesis Student

Jordan RobinsonJordan Robinson

Graduate Student

Komal ShaikhKomal Shaikh

Graduate Student

Nadine SimonsNadine Simons

Postdoctoral Fellow

Mahabba SmokaMahabba Smoka

Graduate Student

Marei TypltMarei Typlt

Postdoctoral Fellow

Bridget ValsamisBridget Valsamis

Graduate Student

Charles WalewskiCharles Walewski

Honors Thesis Student

Alvin YangAlvin Yang

Honors Thesis Student
Scholar's Electives Student

Tariq ZamanTariq Zaman

Postdoctoral Fellow