The Committee

Jasper Hunt, Co-President:

Jasper is a 1st-year student on the Wellcome Trust Doctoral Training Programme in Neuroscience. At the University of Wyoming, where Jasper received his BSc in Psychology and Philosophy, Jasper worked with Dr. Robin Barry to study psycholinguistics, then with Dr. Kara Pratt to study synapse formation and the neural processing of color vision in Xenopus laevis tadpoles. Now, Jasper is enthusiastically exploring the research programmes at Oxford through his lab rotations. Jasper has many and varied interests within neuroscience, with neuroethology being a particular interest. Outside neuroscience, he is passionate about both LGBTQ+ and disability rights.

Email: jasper.hunt [at] lincoln.ox.ac.uk

Tara Diviney, Co-President:

Tara is a first year DPhil student on the Welcome Trust Doctoral Programme in Neuroscience at the University of Oxford. She is working in the Wade-Martins lab at the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics investigating pathology in a novel BAC-transgenic mouse model of GBA-associated Parkinson’s disease. Tara completed a BSc in Biomedical Science with Pharmacology at National University of Ireland, Galway. During her Bachelor’s degree, Tara undertook a research placement at the University of Cambridge on the Amgen Scholars Programme and obtained a studentship to study abroad at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Tara was the Graduate Freshers representative on the committee last year whilst pursuing her MSc degree in Neuroscience at Oxford. She enjoyed the experience so much that she decided to return to the committee as Co-President. She is looking forward to overseeing the organisation of Cortex club events this year and hopes that these events will help to connect Oxford’s diverse neuroscience community.

Email: tara.diviney [at] sjc.ox.ac.uk

Sofija Paneva, Treasurer:

Check back for updates!

Email: soon

Naroa Ibarra-Aizpurua, Secretary:

Naroa is a first year DPhil student in Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics. She is working in the Wade-Martins lab, studying the role of astrocytes in Parkinson’s disease pathogenesis using iPSC-derived dopaminergic neuron and midbrain astrocyte co-cultures. Naroa obtained her BSc degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of the Basque Country, graduating in 2019. She did her BSc thesis in Achucarro: Basque Centre for Neuroscience, studying how GABAB receptors affect oligodendrocyte development. Afterwards, she moved to Oxford to study the MSc in Neuroscience, during which she was the Secretary of the Cortex Club. After the enriching and wonderful experience she had last year, Naroa has decided to continue with her role as Secretary this year. She describes herself as an organizer (and a bit bossy sometimes), and truly enjoys being part of this multidisciplinary Neuroscience community and helping bring everything together with her role as Secretary.

Email: naroa.ibarraaizpurua [at] univ.ox.ac.uk

Aislin Sheldon, Communications Officer:

Aislin is a DPhil student in Clinical Neuroscience at the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging (WIN) and matriculated in 2017 at St John’s College. Her project investigates how vision loss from inherited retinal degeneration affects the visual cortex, supervised by Professor Holly Bridge and Professor Susan Downes. She uses clinical tests at the Oxford Eye Hospital and MRI to measure across the visual system in patients with Stargardt disease. Aislin enjoys science communication and was the WIN Public Engagement Ambassador last year. She is looking forward to communicating the amazing events at the Cortex Club and loves being part of the vibrant neuroscience community here at Oxford.

Email: aislin.sheldon [at] ndcn.ox.ac.uk

Dalia Gala, Communications Officer:

Dalia started her DPhil in Oxford in 2019. She is working on the involvement of glia in synapse development at the neuromuscular junction. Before, she completed her MSci in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Glasgow. During her degree, she completed many internships (at University of Oslo, Monash University in Melbourne, University of Queensland and in Neogen, a company in Nebraska, USA), and she even completed the second year of her degree on an abroad exchange to the University of Melbourne. She also worked in the Francis Crick Institute in London for her Master’s project. She loves travelling as you can tell, and singing soprano, both solo and in a choir. In terms of neuroscience, her biggest interest is how the molecules at the synapses and in the nervous system translate into things like consciousness and specific neural signalling. She is also enthusiastic about access to higher education, science communication, and gender equality.

Email: dalia.gala [at] bioch.ox.ac.uk

Monica Taing, IT Officer:

Monica is a MSc in Clinical and Therapeutic Neuroscience student. She is deeply interested in clinical neuroscience and psychiatry, especially with clinical paediatric populations. She graduated from McGill University in June 2019, where she completed two research projects: (1) how reward affects the task analgesic properties of distraction (in the context of pain perception) in Dr. Roy’s lab and (2) the effects of a brief mindfulness intervention on cardiovascular activity in Dr. Ditto’s lab. Outside of neuroscience, she is deeply interested in promoting access to higher education and welfare.

Email: monica.taing [at] psych.ox.ac.uk

Nicola Sharp, Undergraduate Rep:

Nicola is a second-year undergraduate reading Biomedical Sciences. Her interests in neuroscience range from the process of neurodegeneration to the science of sleep. At the age of sixteen, she was the first secondary school student to intern and work at the State Key Laboratory of Molecular Neuroscience, led by Professor Nancy Ip, at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. There, she spent a year assisting with various projects that studied the genetics and progression of Alzheimer disease. Within the club, she is the founder of the CortexFamilies initiative, which matches postgraduates and undergraduates based on their neuroscience interests, bridging the gap between the two student communities. Her goal is to make Cortex Club and the field of neuroscience accessible for all.!

Email: soon

Aeron Lafferre, Social Secretary:

Aeron is a student on the DPhil in Neuroscience (1+3) programme. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of London in 2017, followed by graduate studies in Bioinformatics and Systems Biology. He matriculated as a member of New College in 2019 and graduated with a master’s degree in Neuroscience a year later. He now pursues doctoral studies in Neuroscience focusing on appetite and motivation as part of the Lak Group. As Social Secretary, Aeron is responsible for organising and running the Club’s social events.

Email: aeron.lafferre [at] new.ox.ac.uk

Gemma Gothard, Social Secretary:

Gemma is a second year DPhil Student on the Wellcome Trust Doctoral Training Programme in Neuroscience, supervised by Colin Akerman. Her research focuses on the development and plasticity of synaptic circuits. Gemma completed her master’s in Neuroscience here at Oxford in 2019 and her bachelor’s at the University of Leeds in 2018. Gemma is excited to organise social events for Cortex Club with the other Social Secretaries to help create a supportive community of neuroscientists at Oxford.

Email: gemma.gothard [at] sjc.ox.ac.uk

Antara Majumdar, Graduate Freshers’ Rep:

Antara is a 1st year DPhil candidate in Neuroscience supervised by Dr. Armin Lak and Dr. Simon Butt. She graduated from the University at Buffalo in 2017 where she completed a BSc with Honors in Biomedical Sciences and completed an Honors thesis that involved analyzing the effects of chronic stress on non-auditory regions such as the hippocampus. Following her undergraduate years, Antara joined the lab of Dr. Jessica Cardin at Yale University as a Postgraduate Research Associate to study the role that interneurons play in visual cortical circuit function and development. Now, Antara has started her PhD journey in the lab of Dr. Armin Lak and is studying the role of prefrontal cortical circuits in risky decision-making. Outside of university, she enjoys dancing, street photography and travelling. Antara is excited to be part of the committee during this unique year and is hoping to make it an enriching and inclusive one for all.

Email: antara.majumdar [at] kellogg.ox.ac.uk

Gaby FitzGerald, Undergraduate Freshers’ Rep:

Gaby is a second year undergraduate studying Experimental Psychology at Corpus Christi. Her interests post degree lie in forensic and clinical neuroscience. She is a member of the Undergraduate Joint Consultative Committee for Psychology, and has undergone research experience with Sir Paul Nurse at the Crick Institute assisting in the cell cycle laboratory with a variety of projects. Additionally, she has explored her passion for forensics at the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science in Dundee where she both learned biochemical evidence gathering techniques and observed cutting edge research into methods of brain preservation post-mortem to allow better study. As the Undergraduate fresher’s rep she aims to increase access to psychology and neuroscience by “translating” the incredible research going on at Oxford for a more public undergraduate and high school audience as well as promoting the exciting new Cortex Families Scheme.

Email: gabriella.fitzgerald [at] ccc.ox.ac.uk