Speakers 2024

Here you can find information about the workshop and panel speakers at the MINDS Conference 2024.

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

Workshop Facilitators

Thursday, April 25: Power Abuse in Academia

Dr. Olga Vvedenskaya

Scientific communications officer at Lipotype, Co-Founder and Global Strategic Development Lead at Dragonfly Mental Health

Olya studied medicine specializing in medical biophysics in Moscow and worked on her MD thesis devoted to traumatic brain injury at the University of Pittsburgh, USA. She further did her PhD in Berlin, Germany working on a multi-omics approach to research of liver cancer and pre-cancerous conditions. She continued her work in translational medicine and mass spectrometry in Dresden, Germany. Currently, she works as a Scientific communications officer in the biotech industry. Additionally, to her main job, Olya devotes her spare time to academic mental health advocacy. She is a co-founder of Dragonfly Mental Health, the Max Planck Mental Health Initiative, and the sci.STEPS mentoring program.


Thursday, May 2: Neurodiversity in Academia

Ms. Kate Ahl

Psychotherapist in Private Practice


Kate Ahl is a UKCP registered psychotherapist in Cambridge, UK, with over 20 years' experience working with academics, researchers and writers - first during her career as a book editor in academic publishing, and later as a therapist for staff and faculty at Cambridge University, and in private practice. She has a particular interest in neurodivergent experience and runs regular workshops on Compassionate Productivity for knowledge workers who face challenges in regulating attention, energy and emotion.



Thursday, April 25: Mentoring in Academia

Dr. Melanie-Anne Atkins

Associate Director, Student Experience at the University of Guelph

Dr. Melanie-Anne Atkins is the Associate Director, Student Experience at the University of Guelph and a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach. A visionary leader, educational developer, and public speaker, Dr. Atkins has delivered over 300 presentations and works with organizations to develop training and assessment tools that build individual and institutional capacity in the areas of mental health literacy, anti-racism, EDI, and intercultural communication. Dr. Atkins has a special interest in engaging students with traditionally marginalized identities in the academy, peer mentorship and education, holistic student development, anti-oppressive practices in education, and students as partners in teaching and learning.


Dr. Andrea Boggild

Medical Director, Tropical Disease Unit, TGH at the University of Toronto and UHN


Dr. Andrea Boggild is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto and the Medical Director of the Tropical Disease Unit in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Toronto General Hospital. In addition, she has graduate supervisory privileges through the University of Toronto's Institute of Medical Science. She is a licensed Medical Microbiologist and Infectious Diseases physician with additional certifications in Tropical Medicine and Lifestyle Medicine who provides care to patients with travel-acquired infectious diseases in her medical practice. As a Clinician Scientist in the Department of Medicine, she leads ongoing international research and clinical collaborations in neglected tropical diseases.


Dr. Anny Reyes

Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, San Diego

Anny Reyes, Ph.D. is a neuropsychology postdoctoral fellow at UCSD. Dr. Reyes’ research interests include promoting brain health equity via the development and implementation of lifestyle, behavioral, and cognitive interventions to help prevent dementia or slow the progression in diverse and underserved populations. Clinically, she is interested in cultural neuropsychology and offering clinical services to Spanish-speaking patients. At the leadership level, Dr. Reyes has focused on increasing diversity within neuropsychology and neuroscience via mentorship and recruitment initiatives.


Dr. Haley Vecchiarelli

Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Victoria


Dr. Haley Vecchiarelli (she/her) is an international postdoctoral fellow (from the United States) working with Dr. Marie-Ève Tremblay at the Division of Medical Sciences, University of Victoria in Victoria, BC, Canada. Broadly her research interests are to understand how the immune system affects the central nervous system to influence behaviour. Her current work looks at how chronic stress influences microglia to produce cognitive deficits, as well as the regulation of microglia by environmental impacts, including infection (SARS-CoV-2) and substance exposure (cannabis). She is passionate about mentorship and EDI.


Dr. Evgeniya Vorobyeva

Technical Lead at Neology Hydrogen


Evgeniya serves as a Technology Lead at a Swiss startup focused on green energy. Additionally, she co-founded the Sci.STEPS mentorship program, supporting early career researchers in academia and industry. Within the program, she coordinates activities, leads events, and offers career coaching sessions. Committed to empowering future female leaders, Evgeniya mentors in the "Women in Green Hydrogen" program and serves as a role model in the "Inspiring Girls Switzerland" initiative. Previously, Evgeniya completed her doctoral thesis at ETH Zurich in heterogeneous catalysis and pursued an academic career in electrochemistry and electrocatalysis as a postdoc.


Thursday, May 2: Diversity in Academia

Dr. Caitlin Aamodt

Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of California, San Diego


Caitlin Aamodt is a Schmidt AI in Science Postdoc in the lab of Nathan Lewis at UC San Diego. This research focuses on using computational tools to integrate data from induced pluripotent stem cell-derived neurons and organoids and donor phenotypes to better understand the mechanistic basis of neuropsychiatric disorders. Previously Caitlin earned a PhD in neuroscience from UCLA in 2021 and a BS in neuroscience and BA in anthropology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Caitlin is also a chronic illness advocate and science writer who has published with Nature, Science, Discover, and others. For more information check out https://caitlinaamodt.wordpress.com/science-writing/


Mr. Zaky Hassan

PhD Candidate at the University of Toronto

Zaky is a fourth year PhD candidate in the Biochemistry department at the University of Toronto. He previously completed an HBSc in Biochemistry also from the University of Toronto. Outside of the lab, Zaky works with Visions of Science as a community coordinator, creating and facilitating programming focused on improving STEM accessibility for Black students in highschool and postsecondary.  

Ms. Maureen Pytlik

Autistic Self-Advocate, affiliated with the Azrieli Adult Neurodevelopmental Centre

Maureen attended Carleton University from 2007-2016, completing a B.Mus (Hons) along the way in 2015 and walking away from a B.Math (Hons) upon burning out in 2016. Throughout this time, Maureen became increasingly active as an autistic self-advocate, leading to the co-authoring of an interview-style book chapter with an ethnomusicologist on autism. Within months of finishing at Carleton, she began a new chapter in Toronto. She now works as an autistic self-advocate advisor at Azrieli Adult Neurodevelopmental Centre, allowing her lived experience to inform the various research projects she is involved in. Maureen enjoys socializing with the Blind community in Toronto, along with her partner, a blind DJ, whom she met in 2019.


Ms. Modupe Olufemi

Business Development Specialist and University of Toronto Alum


Modupe is a recent Master of Science graduate with over 7 years of experience in preclinical & basic neuroscience research. She is very passionate about developments within psychiatric and neurological conditions. Outside of academics, she has consistently served communities by connecting different stakeholders to achieve desired goals -- whether in the realm of diversity and inclusion or in helping people with career development. She hopes to apply her diverse experiences in research, community leadership, and business strategy to help individuals and organizations achieve their objectives in a healthy and productive manner.

Dr. Michael Wallace

Associate Professor, Biostatistics at the University of Waterloo


Michael Wallace is an Associate Professor of Biostatistics in the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science at the University of Waterloo. Their research focuses on the development of statistical methodology for causal inference, personalized medicine, and complex data such as those measured with error and those arising within networks. They also work on numerous collaborative projects, especially within nutrition, oncology, and ophthalmology. Outside research, Michael - who is legally blind - has been actively involved in the promotion of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) causes for several years, including serving on multiple EDI committees both within the university and in professional societies.