Executive Committee

The Society of Neuroscience Graduate Students (SONGS) is an organization run by graduate students in the neuroscience program at Western University. Each of our committee members is elected through a voting process. Below you will find some information about our current members and their roles within the Executive Committee.

If you are interested in becoming part of this committee we are always looking to recruit new members. Please get in touch to receive more information about becoming involved with the society.


Krys Wieczerzak
Krys is a 3rd year Ph.D. student in Neuroscience in Dr. Allman's lab. She is interested in how noise exposure affects higher-order cortical areas, and how top-down modulation of sensory processing is altered in psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia. If not a scientist, she would be a movie director, philosopher or Time Lord. In her free time, she loves to go to concerts, read books and travel. As an ex-swimmer, she is trying to go back to a gym and is looking for a swimming buddy.

Contact: kwieczer@uwo.ca

Twitter: @Krys_brain
Vice President

Niveen Fulcher
Niveen is the current Neuroscience Graduate Student Representative and is a 3rd year PhD student working in Dr. Susanne Schmid’s lab. In SONGS, Niveen played a key role in the initial organization of the Committee in 2017, is still the student liaison at the Program Executive Committee Meetings, and is the chief project manager of SONGS’ Neuroscience Research Day (NRD) taking place May 2019.
Outside of the lab and volunteering, Niveen enjoys playing volleyball, Monopoly Deal and hanging out with friends/family/cats.

Contact: nfulcher@uwo.ca

Twitter: @nivful

Maggie Prenger
Maggie is a 2nd year Masters student studying the emotional and social symptoms of Parkinson’s disease under the co-supervision of Dr. Penny MacDonald and Dr. Adrian Owen. Using fMRI and EMG, she studies the abilities of patients to recognize and display facial expressions. In addition, she is exploring the effect of Parkinson’s medication (levodopa) on the comprehension and appreciation of humor. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, movies, spending time with her cat and friends, and the occasional 15-hour drive back home to visit family in Thunder Bay.

Julia Sunstrum
Julia is a PhD student cosupervised by Dr. Wataru Inoue and Dr. Julio Martinez-Trujillo. She completed her MSc with Dr. Inoue studying the neurobiology of chronic stress using patch clamp electrophysiology. Her current project investigates the role of social interaction in reducing stress using in vivo electrophysiology, optogenetics and behaviour. Outside of the lab, she enjoys playing sports, travelling and watching The Office.
Media Coordinator

Simon Benoit
Simon is a 4th year PhD candidate co-supervised by Drs. Susanne Schmid and Matthew Hebb. Coming from a lab at the University of Ottawa which focused on stroke, he is now using brain biopsies from living patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) to expand our knowledge of the pathophysiology of the disease and to develop new treatment strategies. This includes interrogating gene expression in the PD brain using RNA sequencing and generating patient-derived progenitor cells to investigate their utility as a cell-based therapy. When not hard at work, Simon primarily enjoys spending time with his wife and two kids, as well as living an active lifestyle comprising of hiking, biking, running, volleyball and whatever else he can fit into his busy schedule.

Contact: sbenoi@uwo.ca

Interview on GradCast: Episode #138: The Latest Scoop on Parkinson’s Disease
Academic Coordinator

Faraj Haddad
Faraj is a PhD student in the Schmid lab. His work focuses on environmental influences on fetal brain development. More specifically, he studies the effects of maternal infection and the ensuing immune response during pregnancy on brain development and how it can increase the risk of autism and schizophrenia in offspring. His work involves a lot of rat behavioural work and some molecular techniques, but the thing he most enjoys his PhD is teaching and mentoring undergraduate students. Outside the lab, Faraj enjoys watching video game tournaments and baking.

Lab website: http://www.theschmidlab.com/
Social Coordinator

Joyla Furlano
Joyla completed her Honors B.Sc. at University of Toronto with a Specialization in Psychology, and is currently a 3rd year Ph.D. candidate in Neuroscience at Western University. Her research interests include exercise, aging, brain health, and cognition. Her doctoral research uses fMRI to examine the effects of resistance exercise on memory and brain function in sedentary, overweight older adults. Outside of the lab, her hobbies include volunteering, outdoor activities, cycling, and quality time with her cats.

Contact: jfurlano@uwo.ca

Past Executives

Abdullah Al-Jaja

Ariel Frame

Chloe Carter

Brendon Samuels