SOMA Student Representatives

SOMA is made up of both Master's and PhD MiNDS students who have volunteered their time and energy to enhance the MiNDS student experience. SOMA is always looking for new volunteers, event ideas and input on how we can enhance student life. If you would like to volunteer with upcoming events, please e-mail the SOMA team at:

President: Gésine Alders

Gésine is in the third year of her Ph.D. under the supervision of Dr. Luciano Minuzzi and Dr. Geoffrey Hall. Her research focuses on utilizing neuroimaging techniques to identify biomarkers in major depressive disorder. She is also interested in the emerging field of neuroethics, and in evidence-based policy-making in the provincial children's mental health system.

Gésine mentors and coordinates activities for the young ladies in her church, and in her spare time, she enjoys being a group exercise instructor, cycling, and spoiling her nieces.

President-Elect: Gabriella Mattina

Gabriella is in the third year of her Ph.D. under the supervision of Dr. Meir Steiner and Dr. Geoffrey Hall. Her research focuses on investigating genetic risk factors that contribute to altered brain functioning in women with OCD during the perinatal period. In addition to her research, she is also interested in investigating predictors of treatment outcomes for mental health disorders in women.

Gabriella participates in the Out of Our MiNDS outreach group and enjoys teaching elementary and high-school students as a math and science tutor. Gabriella recently took her love of Zumba to the next level by becoming a certified instructor. She also enjoys finding new baking recipes to try that include Nutella.

Past President: Justin Balsor

Justin is in the fourth year of his Ph.D. under the supervision of Dr. Kathryn Murphy. His research focuses on the factors that influence synaptic plasticity in the visual cortex as humans age. His research spans multiple levels of analysis, from behavioural to molecular.

Justin also works with Brainwaves, Out of our MiNDS and is actively involved in a variety of MiNDS events. In his free time Justin enjoys camping, playing sports, reading a great book and watching his stories.

Director of Social Communications: Anastasiya Slyepchenko

Anastasiya is in the second year of her Ph.D. under the supervision of Dr. Benicio Frey. Her research is looking at the role of circadian rhythms in mood during pregnancy and the postpartum period.

In her spare time, she enjoys many things, such as reading for pleasure, painting people, flowers, and landscapes, and taking care of her plant friends.

Lead Organizer for the Jack Diamond Memorial Lecture: Crystal Mahadeo

Crystal is in the first year of her Ph.D. under the supervision of Dr. Margaret Fahnestock.

She is also a writer for the MiNDS program Newsletter and a member of the outreach volunteer program Out of Our MiNDS. In her free time Crystal enjoys traveling, running and cooking.


Shawna Thompson

Shawna is in the third year of her Ph.D. under the supervision of Dr. Jane Foster.

Her research focuses on the influence of microglia and T cells on neuroanatomy.

Shawna enjoys playing team sports, reading, baking, and paddle boarding on the lake.

SOMA was founded in 2011 by Bill Simpson, Ritesh Daya, Ahad Siddiqui, Thomas Sabljic, and Behrad Garmsiri.

During its first electoral year, 5 students were nominated by their peers as representatives: Jonathan Lai, Bill Simpson, Mark Tucci, Ritesh Daya and Eric Tatham.