Speakers 2021

Here you can find information about the workshop and panel speakers at the MINDS Conference 2021.

For information about the conference schedule, click here.
For more information about all sessions and topics click here.

Dr. Wendy Ingram

CEO/Dragonfly Mental Health/AWST workshop & PT workshop


Wendy Marie Ingram, PhD is the Co-Founder and CEO of Dragonfly Mental Health, a nonprofit dedicated to cultivating excellent mental health among academics worldwide. She is a research scientist at Geisinger Health working on biomedical informatics projects aimed at improving mental healthcare outcomes. She also enjoys consulting for businesses using technology to improve mental health care treatments, delivery, and prevention. Wendy received her doctoral training at the University of California Berkeley in Molecular and Cell Biology and her postdoctoral training at Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health in Psychiatric Epidemiology.


Dr. Olga Vvedenskaya

CAO/Dragonfly Mental Health/CEST workshop


Olga studied medicine specializing in medical biophysics in Moscow and worked on her MD thesis devoted to traumatic brain injury and mass spectrometry at the University of Pittsburgh, USA. She further did her PhD in Berlin, Germany working on multi-omics approach to research of liver cancer and pre-cancerous conditions. She continued her work in translational medicine and mass spectrometry in Dresden, working as a postdoc in MPI-CBG. Additionally, to her main job as a researcher, Olga devoted her spare to academic mental health advocacy.


Ms. Sarai Guerrero

Volunteer Ambassador-in-Training/Dragonfly Mental Health/EDT workshop


Sarai Guerrero obtained her Bachelor's and Master’s of Science at Western University. As she was helping to organize LOGC 2021, Sarai got in contact with Dragonfly Mental Health to get them to present their Mental Health Literacy workshop. While in contact with them, Sarai was interested in their mission and decided to look further into the group. She now volunteers with Dragonfly Mental Health as an Ambassador-in-Training where she learns to give workshops and lectures to audiences in hopes of increasing mental health awareness in academia.


Ms. Emily King

PhD Candidate/Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute/AWST panel


Emily is a part-time biomedical PhD Candidate and Mental Health First Aid (MHFA)-accredited Mental Health Advocate in Melbourne, Australia. Her PhD project investigates whether insulin resistance is caused by mitochondrial dysfunction in muscle. The projected impact is the management of Type 2 Diabetes with novel, muscle-specific therapy. Following personal experience during her PhD, Emily wrote a feature article for Lateral Magazine about starting a relationship with anti-depressants. In 2020, she was invited to join the global Voices of Academia team, providing a supportive platform for academics to discuss mental health. She developed and hosts their podcast. Emily loves meeting new people, dancing to live music, and outdoor activities.


Ms. Syma Ahmed

Founder, Principal Consultant/Awesome & Authentic/AWST panel


Syma is a human experience researcher and an advocate for mental health. Inspired to make a positive change, she decided to drop out of her PhD in the midst of the pandemic to launch Awesome & Authentic, a Sydney-based experience design consultancy. Her practice of curating words to inspire action is informed by a decade of research and teaching in Business Schools, whilst producing results for Fortune 500s and VC funded/ bootstrapped startups.


Miss Maysoon El-Ahmad

Independent Strategy and Insights Consultant/Spectrum Thinkers/AWST panel


A strategist and insights professional, Maysoon has spent the last 20 years working in corporate Australia across a range of companies and industry. She holds a degree in Economics and a Masters in Strategy and Innovation, both acquired from the University of Sydney. She is also a lecturer teaching strategy and consumer behaviour across undergraduate and postgraduate programs. A creative strategic problem solver, Maysoon has a unique approach to dissecting problems by taking a non-linear path to thinking and questioning the status quo. With deep skills anchored in consumer behaviour after spending 20 years uncovering how people think and behave, Maysoon provides practical strategy founded on understanding human behavior.


Dr. Tara Dennehy

Postdoctoral Researcher/University of British Columbia/AWST panel


Dr. Tara C. Dennehy is a social psychologist and Banting Postdoctoral Fellow currently on medical leave from the University of British Columbia. Dr. Dennehy has research expertise and lived experience relevant to inclusion in academia: One line of Dr. Dennehy’s research centers on understanding the causes + consequences of stereotypes and underrepresentation in academic disciplines. A second line of research focuses on developing and testing social-psychological interventions (e.g., mentoring, engaging majority-group members as allies) to promote inclusion. Dr. Dennehy can also speak to discrimination in academia as a queer and disabled scientist. [FYI: Dr. Dennehy uses a ventilator for breathing support due to severe autoimmune disease.]


Dr. Andrew Timming

Professor, Deputy Dean Research & Innovation/RMIT University/CEST panel


Andrew R. Timming is Professor of Human Resource Management, Head of Department of Management, International Business, and Entrepreneurship, and Deputy Dean of Research and Innovation in the School of Management at RMIT University. He researches tattoos, evolutionary psychology, and mental health.


Mx. Linda Corcoran

Accessibility Director & Grad Chat Lead/Dragonfly Mental Health & PhD Balance/CEST panel


Linda Corcoran (they/she) is completing a research MSc in Food Science in Ireland. Being a first-gen, disabled LGBTQ+ grad student, Linda is passionate about equality, diversity and inclusion, science communication, and mental health and disability advocacy. In their spare time, Linda volunteers with several groups, including PhD Balance, Dragonfly Mental Health, and Disabled in Higher Ed. She is also the producer and one of the hosts for Grad Chat by PhD Balance.


Dr. Isabel Torres

Science editor and co-founder, CEO/Mothers in Science/CEST panel


Isabel Torres is co-founder and CEO of Mothers in Science, an international non-profit organization that aims to increase the retention of women in STEMM careers by advocating for workplace equity and inclusion of parents and caregivers. After completing a PhD degree in genetics at the University of Cambridge, UK, and a postdoc at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Isabel moved away from the bench and established a scientific editing and consultancy business. More recently, she founded Pretty Smart Science, a science communication platform that combines science and art to promote scientific literacy and increase the visibility of women in science. Isabel is passionate about science communication and about promoting women in STEMM and advocating for gender equality.


Dr. Stefano Zucca

Post doctoral researcher/University of Turin/CEST panel


Dr. Stefano Zucca is a neuroscientist interested in understanding how our brain processes sensory information to guide instinctive and innate behaviours. He obtained my PhD in Italy at the Italian Institute of Technology, after which he pursued postdoctoral fellowships at the University College London and later at the University of Turin. During his postdoc in London, he became interested in mental Health in academia. He became a Mental Health First Aider and established a peer-supporting group at UCL. Since 2019, he has been giving talks and workshops across several countries to raise awareness about mental health in academia for building a better future for next generations of scientists.


Ms. Olivia Ghosh-Swaby

PhD Student/Western University/EDT panel


Olivia Ghosh-Swaby is a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar and Ph.D. student in Neuroscience at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Western University. She is an advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in STEM and university athletics, speaking on the topic in over 15 news articles and 4 major speaking events. She is an executive member of the BrainsCAN and Schulich EDI Committees and is a graduate representative for the Neuroscience Graduate Program and the Robarts Association of Trainees. She manages and operates the Ontario Women’s Intercollegiate Football Association and sits on Football Canada’s Diversity Task Force for women and BIPOC athletes.


Ms. Karen Tang

PhD Clinical Psychology student/Dalhousie University/EDT panel


Karen Tang (she/her) completed her BA (Hons.) at the University of Calgary and is currently a PhD student in the Clinical Psychology program at Dalhousie University in Canada. Her research examines addictive disorders (e.g., video gaming, gambling), mental health, and the interplay of sociocultural factors such as stigma and culture. Karen is also a passionate advocate for mental health and diversity (including those who are disabled) in higher education. When she is not busy being a graduate student, she enjoys painting, hiking, and traveling as forms of self-care. 


Miss Sophie Okolo

Researcher and Science Writer, Forbes Contributor/Global Health Aging, Forbes/EDT panel


Sophie Okolo is a Forbes Contributor, a TEDMED 2020 Research Scholar, and the founder of Global Health Aging, a creative consultancy and award-nominated website featuring a broad range of news stories, diverse opinions, and research regarding longevity and healthy aging. Her writing has also appeared in Salon, Thrive Global, and MarketWatch, among others. As a Columbia University 2021 Journalism fellow, she focused on fighting loneliness in old age. Early in her career, Sophie performed biomedical research in academia and healthcare. She has been elected to the New York Academy of Medicine and Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society. Sophie has an MPH in Gerontology and Healthcare Research and a BS in Bioinformatics with Research Honors.


Dr. Sophie Prosolek

Postdoctoral scientist & science communicator/University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine/EDT panel


Sophie recently transitioned from her role as a postdoc into her new, full-time role as a science communicator at The Cambridge University School of Clinical Medicine. Sophie’s mental health advocacy began after being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder (Type 2) during her PhD studies, after which she learned to manage her health alongside an academic career. Outside of her working life, Sophie enjoys music, podcasts, and long walks with her family dogs.


Dr. Ashley Perkins

Pharmacist, Adjunct Professor & Mental Health Advocate/Florida State College at Jacksonville/PT Panel


Ashley Perkins, Pharm.D., is a mental health advocate with a background as a pharmacist and educator. She graduated from Butler University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in 2008 and is currently in the Ed.D. program at Marshall University, with a focus on curriculum and instruction. At the beginning of 2020, she started the process of forming We Matter Too, Inc. which focuses on helping those with mental health issues and mental diseases through first-person narratives of experience. We Matter Too, Inc. is an organization with the idea that those experiences can be the best support for others who are struggling with their own mental health and are seeking information. By removing the biggest barrier of seeking help or treatment, stigma or fear of judgement, we can possibly help more people find help or seek treatment, if they so desire.


Ms. Ifeoluwa Adedipe

Master's Student/Université de Montréal/PT panel


Ifeoluwa (Ife) Adedipe is a rising behavioural neuroscientist and is pursuing her Masters at the Université de Montréal where she is investigating the role of astrocytes in fear learning and memory in the Murphy-Royal lab. Ife is also an avid advocate for the Black community inside and outside of STEM and volunteers as the Incoming Secretary of Black In Neuro and has founded a budding organization called the Black Women Support Network.


Dr. Danielle De La Mare

Career Wellness Coach/Self-Compassionate Professor, Inc./PT panel


Danielle De La Mare works as a career wellness coach in private practice. She helps overwhelmed and burned-out academics (mostly mid-career women) to loosen their grip on perfectionism, people-pleasing, self-pressure, and shame so that they may find the clarity and courage to pave creative and meaningful career paths, both within and outside academia. Danielle is also the creator of the weekly podcast, Self-Compassionate Professor, which features guests who have found creative ways to re-build their careers after struggle. Find Danielle here.


Mr. Chris Pankewich

Psychotherapist, Research & Knowledge Translation Professional/Men Therapy Toronto, CMHA Ontario/PT panel


Chris Pankewich is the Research & Knowledge Lead at the CICMH and a Therapist at a private therapy clinic in Toronto. The focus of his work through the CICMH is to study and identify key intersections of individual and systemic factors that contribute to the mental health of our campus communities. Chris has worked in the post-secondary system as both an administrator and more recently as a faculty member. This included managing faculty led research initiatives focused on improving student and faculty engagement in the classroom. Chris looks forward to continuing his work via knowledge sharing and a growing private therapeutic practice.


Dr. Shane Huntington

CEO/Little Big Steps/AWST roundtable


Shane is the Chief Executive Officer of Little Big Steps; a kids cancer charity. Shane is also a speaker, trainer, and facilitator. He has been providing consulting services in communication and strategy for over 20 years. He is the host and producer of 3RRR’s science radio program Einstein A Go Go. Over the last 29 years, he has interviewed thousands of scientists and explained hundreds of scientific concepts to the public. In 2020 he was awarded an Order of Australia in recognition of his science communication work. Shane was an academic until 2008 with a PhD in Physics. His specialty was in Photonics and Imaging and he has published more than 70 refereed journal papers.


Dr. Marissa Edwards

Lecturer and Researcher/University of Queensland/CEST roundtable


Marissa is a lecturer at the UQ Business School at the University of Queensland, Australia. She completed a Bachelor of Psychological Science (Hons) in 2003 and a PhD in 2012. Her research interests include mental health and mental illness in academia, PhD student well-being, and voice in organizations. She is Co-Editor of the Journal of Management Education and recently co-edited a Special Issue about mental health and psychological well-being. She is a strong advocate for academic mental health and co-founded Voices of Academia in 2020. In her spare time, Marissa loves travelling and spending time with her rescue dog Ziggy.


Dr. Amrit Venkatesh

Postdoctoral scientist/EPFL/CEST roundtable


Dr. Amrit Venkatesh received his MSc in Chemistry from the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, India in 2013. After working as a research fellow for two years, he moved to the U.S. to pursue his PhD with Prof. Aaron Rossini at Iowa State University (ISU). At ISU, he raised awareness and brought attention to the importance of mental health in the graduate student community. Amrit is currently a Marie Skłodowska-Curie postdoctoral fellow in Prof. Lyndon Emsley’s group at EPFL, Switzerland. Amrit is passionate about self-care, work-life balance and happiness, inclusion, and equal opportunity.


Mr. Timothy Samuel

PhD Candidate/University of Toronto/EDT roundtable


Timothy Samuel is currently pursuing his PhD in the Department of Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto. His research focuses on using advanced optical techniques to improve our understanding of pancreatic cancer biology. He is a former President of the Medical Biophysics Graduate Student Association (MBPGSA) and Director of the Faculty of Medicine Graduate Representation Committee (GRC). Tim has a passion for driving initiatives to address the growing crisis in graduate student mental health and inequities in graduate education. In 2020, Tim helped lead the GRC to negotiate a 10% increase in stipends for all (1800+) graduate students within the Faculty of Medicine.


Dr. Emily Roberts

Financial Educator/Personal Finance for PhDs/EDT roundtable


Dr. Emily Roberts is a personal finance educator specializing in early-career PhDs. Through her business, Personal Finance for PhDs, she equips graduate students, postdocs, and PhDs with Real Jobs to make the most of their money. She gives seminars at universities and for associations; interviews graduate students and PhDs on her podcast; serves as a money coach; and creates courses and workshops on taxes, investing, and more. Emily holds a PhD in biomedical engineering from Duke University and lives in southern California with her husband and two children.


Mr. Martino Gabra

PhD Student/University of Toronto/PT roundtable


Martino is a PhD student from the Pharmacology & Toxicology Department at the University of Toronto. During his studies, he strived to improve the student experience. The graduate school experience is a major stressor because of its poor work culture, inadequate compensation, and vague guidelines. Many incoming students are unaware of stressors that could negatively impact them, and PIs are unequipped to discuss challenges that each student faces. To facilitate these difficult conversations within the student-supervisor relationship, he co-penned a document that focuses on the many aspects of grad school that shape a student’s experience. This document empowers students by doubling as an educational tool.


Ms. Aleksandra Marakhovskaia

PhD candidate/University of Toronto/PT roundtable


Aleksandra Marakhovskaia is an international PhD candidate in the Pharmacology & Toxicology Department at the University of Toronto. Her research interests include molecular biology of schizophrenia, RNA regulation, and mitochondrial dysfunction. She is an advocate for mental health discussions in academia, where in her university department, she leads several initiatives to promote mental health awareness and creates tools to support trainees. She is the Director of Mental Health and Wellbeing and a former Director of Philanthropy for the Pharmacology Graduate Students Association (PGSA). She is one of the Co-Founders of the MINDS Conference 2021, as she strives for building a community of academics to create a collaborative environment.


Ms. Andrea Hayward

Senior Associate, Global Community Engagement/Cactus Communications/AWST discussion


Coming from an educational background in Psychology, Andrea has always been a passionate mental health advocate. As part of her current role at CACTUS, she has been managing the CACTUS Mental Health Survey and related activities dealing with mental health and wellbeing in academia for close to 2 years. Andrea hopes that findings and insights from this survey and related initiatives will spark more open discussions around mental health in academia, and trigger a much-needed change towards a more positive academic culture. She is also one of the hosts of R Voice - a community that empowers researchers to connect, share, support, and grow.


Dr. Mary McMillan

Senior Lecturer/The University of New England/AWST discussion


Mental illnesses are one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. As many as 1 in every 5 people experience depression in their lifetimes – however, why some people are more susceptible is not well understood. Dr. Mary McMillan is one researcher working on this challenge. Mary is a senior lecturer in Biomedical Science at the University of New England working with the Brain-Behaviour Research Group on investigating the use of biological and genetic markers in the diagnosis and treatment of depression. Mary is an alumnus of the Homeward Bound leadership program for women in STEM, was named as one of 12 STEM Changemakers by the Australian Academy of Science in 2020, and is a current Science and Technology Australia “Superstar of STEM”.


Dr. Marta Bastos de Oliveira

Academia transformation consultant & speaker/Dragonfly Mental Health/CEST discussion


Marta Oliveira is a molecular biologist with a passion for working culture and student well-being. She studied Biology in Lisbon, Paris, and Uppsala. In her PhD at the Max Delbrück Center in Berlin, she explored the role of microtubule dynamics in angiogenesis. During the PhD, Marta engaged in mental health advocacy and organizational culture/design, with the overall goal of improving the lives of graduate students. Currently, she works with Dragonfly Mental health, delivers talks, and consults Universities and scientific institutes to help them improve their culture.


Dr. H. Jaishree Subrahmaniam

Scientist/Aarhus University, Denmark/CEST discussion


Jaishree is a plant evolutionary ecologist, and an Incoming Marie Curie Fellow at Aarhus University, Denmark. She is a science communicator, a science policy advisor and a mental right advocate. Her PhD was to understand if altruism and cooperation, the ability to help one another exist in plants, which gave support that nature shaped all organisms to be of help to one another. This made her believe that the biggest benefit that comes from evolution may also be to help each other and to be kind to each other. To help create a positive nurturing environment for researchers to do the science they love, she founded Paksh, a mental health support initiative for researchers all over the world to help them in their journeys in STEM careers.


Dr. Fiona Roberts

Post Doctoral Research Fellow/Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research, University of Copenhagen/CEST discussion


Dr. Fiona Roberts is currently working as a postdoc at the University of Copenhagen. She previously completed my PhD at the University of Edinburgh. Throughout her studies and time as a postdoc, she has had many conversations with friends and colleagues about mental health in academia. Having had her own difficulties, her aim is to continue a dialogue with as many people as possible to decrease stigma in academia (and beyond!) and to hopefully make things easier for fellow academics. Let's continue to build each other up and continue such important discussions.


Dr. Bill Ju

Associate Professor, Teaching Stream/University of Toronto/EDT discussion


Bill is an Associate Professor in the Teaching Stream where he teaches in the Neuroscience, Health and Disease platforms within the Human Biology Program at the University of Toronto. His teaching focus and interests are on educational equity, EDI in the classroom, building equity, and social justice issues for students in courses and in co-curricular spaces. 


Dr. Ruth Ross

Professor and Chair/University of Toronto/EDT discussion


Ruth A. Ross obtained a PhD in Pharmacology from The University of Edinburgh in 1990. She has held graduate and postdoctoral research positions in Discovery Biology at Pfizer in Kent and at Allergan Inc. California. In 2008, she became Professor of Molecular Pharmacology at The University of Aberdeen in Scotland. In 2012, she relocated to The University of Toronto, where she is Professor and Chair of the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology and Senior Scientist at the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

Dr. Evelyne Deplazes

Senior Lecturer/University of Queensland/PT discussion


Evelyne is a biophysical and computational chemist, and her research and teaching are driven by her innate curiosity and her fascination with the molecular world. She obtained her PhD in Computational Biophysics from the University of Western in 2012. After a few years of postdoc-ing, she is now a Senior Lecturer at the University of Queensland. The research in her lab combines computer simulations and biophysical chemistry to understand how small molecules interact with biological membranes. She is passionate about supporting diversity and equity in STEM and teaching the next generation of scientists to be 'critical thinkers'. She is also passionate about integrating her yoga practice of kindness and gratitude into how she leads her research team.


Dr. Neda Rashidi-Ranjbar

PhD candidate (5th year)/CAMH/PT discussion


Neda is a 5th year PhD candidate at IMS, and her research focus is on investigating structural and functional MRI scans in the population at risk of Alzheimer’s dementia. She has received the Alzheimer Society Research Program (ASRP) Doctoral Award for her studies. Neda holds a medical doctorate (MD) from Tehran University of Medical Science and an MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience from Trento University, Italy, and the Donders Institute, the Netherlands. Neda’s rich international experience has helped her in identifying the need for creating an international community for IMS graduate students. Neda is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the IMS-International Community group.


Dr. Petra Boynton

Research Consultant/The Research Companion/EDT special session


Hello! My name is Petra. I’m a Social Psychologist who advises universities, NGOs, broadcasters, charities and government departments on safety, mental health and wellbeing for staff and students on and offline.