GradLife Team 2018-2019

GradLife Bloggers

Fannie Dionne 


Joyeuse historienne montréalaise mère de deux jeunes garçons (et étant de ce fait abonnée au café).

J’ai entrepris un doctorat sur les relations entre Jésuites et autochtones en Nouvelle-France au XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles à partir de dictionnaires manuscrits.

Avant d’étudier en histoire à McGill, j’ai fais une maîtrise en Littérature de langue française, un bac en Études classiques et un programme court en communication.

J’aime le monde académique, enseigner, faire de la recherche… mais aussi le monde fou des médias sociaux. J’essaie de concilier ces passions de mon mieux!

Mon mantra: tout est une phase.

Fannie is also a GradLife McGill Instagrammer and blogger team lead

Alice DamianoAlice

Program: I am a PhD student in Renewable Resources, and a fellow of the Economics for the Anthropocene project (check out our blog at! 😊).

Research Interests: I am doing research on the human-Earth relationships, and in particular I am interested in the reasons of our behavior towards the environment, the idea of homo oeconomicus, climate change and natural catastrophes. Interdisciplinarity is one of my favourite keywords, indeed my background encompasses Environmental Studies, Social Sciences, Information Technology and Humanities, and I have put my soul in all of them over the years, letting these disciplines change and enrich my way of thinking.

In alphabetical order…

I am: Emotional, Italian, marching at the rhythm of a different drum.

I did: Attend a scout group, grow up in a village named Pinasca, play in a theatre company.

I do: Collect pens and pencils every time I visit a new place, overthink, write poems in Italian and English.

I try to be: Bearable, open-minded, respectful.

I wish to say: Have a nice day, Nice to meet you, Peace & Love.

GradLife community!

Sophie CousineauSophie

Hometown: I was born and raised in Ottawa, where I completed my B.Sc. at the University of Ottawa. During my undergraduate years, I had the opportunity to work in research labs that studied viruses or used them as research tools, and I quickly realized that viruses are fascinating. These minuscule pathogens are able to take over the molecular machinery of cells and repurpose it to make more viruses – how cool is that?!

Program/Research Interests: I am currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Microbiology and Immunology department, where I am working to figure out how the hepatitis C virus interacts with specific cellular RNA-binding proteins.

About me: Outside of the lab, I often spend my free time running up Mont Royal, reading for fun in cafés, or knitting while watching something on Netflix. I am always looking for new experiences or challenges!

Sophie is blog team lead


GradLife Instagrammers

Christina Katsari


Hometown: Athens, Greece

Current status: Newbie at McGill, I am starting my PhD in Mining and Materials Engineering Department.

Hobbies: I’m passionate about dance. I have tried many styles and since 2014 I am a licensed Zumba® Fitness Instructor. What I love most about Zumba® is that it is like a party, you don’t realize you are working out, you always have a big smile on your face. Also, I like reading novels that make my mind travel and cooking for my favorite people.

As it is my first year in Montreal, I will be sharing my experience of exploring this city through my Instagram posts with you!

 My inspirational motto: “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.”

Christina is also an Instagram team lead

Saima AhmedVersion 2

Program: Ph.D., Experimental Medicine

Research Interest: I am interested in the role of patient-centered care within the field of medicine.  My research is focused specifically on supporting individuals with cancer throughout their health care journey. I am the coordinator of a study that aims to examine the impact of eHealth and mobile health tools from the perspective of both health care providers and patients.

Hometown: Montreal, Canada

About me: I have a BSc in Exercise Science with a specialization in Clinical Exercise Physiology from Concordia University. In my last year as an undergrad, I worked as a teaching assistant. I took some time off before going to graduate school, working in a clinical hospital setting and that is where I gained an a interest in patient experience.

In my free time, I do free-lance photography. I think the power of a good photo is truly incredible, it can repeatedly connect, resonate and stay with an individual. The reason I love photography is the feeling of pure excitement and pleasure it gives me.

I try my best to keep an active lifestyle by participating in yoga, Pilates and jogging. My other interests include fashion, art, movies, music, food, travel and comedy, yes comedy! I can regularly be seen catching various comedy shows across the city, whether it be improv, stand-up or sketch.

Saima is also a GradLife Coordinator and blogger

Chrisanne Dsouza

Program : MSc Applied BiotechnologyChrisanne.JPG

Hometown: Mumbai, India

About me: I did my Bachelor’s of Science in Biotechnology from Mumbai. I am currently working at the Research Center at the Shriners Hospital for Children. My area of research is in musculoskeletal biology.

Outside the lab: I like playing the piano (not a professional though). I also love learning new languages.

Chrisanne is also an Instagrammer team lead

Sam LeeSam pic

Program: PhD, Biochemistry

Research Interests: I work on proteins called chaperones and co-chaperones, mainly DNAJB1. The network of chaperones maintains the protein balance in the cells, which is critical for the survival of the cell. I hope to elucidate the specific role of DNAJB1 in this chaperone network.

About me: I am an international student from South Korea. Before coming to Montreal, I use to live in Toronto. I love reading, eating, chatting, listening to the music, and traveling. And I love to take pictures of what I do and what I see. I enjoy sharing my photos on Instagram and I am excited to share my life as a grad student at McGill through GradLife. My personal Instagram accounts are: @kipunsam.daily @spring_of_joy


Vinko Culjak MathieuProfilePic_CBay_VinkoCM

Program: M.Sc. in Entomology

Research interests: I am interested in the properties of plant-pollinator networks in the Canadian High Arctic and how those networks change through time. I hope to describe such a network to create a baseline dataset we can compare to as the Canadian Arctic continues to undergo change.

Home town: Born in La Falda, Argentina, but grew up in Ottawa, Canada.

About me: Nature and entomology have been big parts of my life for a very long time and today they motivate many of the things I do: my research interests, my social activities, my hobbies, my social media use, and even the food I eat. I spend a great deal of time thinking about how better to tell stories in the science with a general audience and how to excite young people to explore nature and get into STEM fields. I am lucky that my work on insects and plants has let me travel throughout North America and beyond: Colorado, Nunavut, British Columbia, and various places in Ontario and Quebec, and Argentina to collect and study insects as well as teach about plants and pollinators.

Beyond the lab: If the weather is favourable, you will probably find me at the Botanic Gardens documenting the plant and insect life with my camera or out in a forest exploring the landscape. If not, I enjoy attending a good opera or other classical music concert, visiting the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, or discovering another awesome restaurant in Montreal.

Come follow me on my adventures through Instagram: @vinko.culjak

Madhura Chatterjee


Hey, I’m a newbie graduate student at the Masters in Architectural History and Theoryprogram at the Peter Guo-Hua Fu School of Architecture. Just arrived in Montréal from the city of joy- Kolkata, India. My research hopes to establish the connections between experiences, architecture and comfort. My obsession with heritage buildings and a passion for traveling got me into photography. When not slogging on assignments , I hope to be found at a cozy nook with a book or on the streets with my camera, exploring new places.

Falling in love with McGill and Montréal one photo at a time.  Come follow my journey on Instagram @blueskybeyond_.

Elias Jabbour

Program: M.Sc, Experimental Medicine, Child Health and Human Development.

Research Interest: My project focuses on unraveling the role of the epigenome in pediatric high-grade glioblastomas. With the ultimate aim of generating a better characterization of the high-mortality-rate gliomas and providing a clearer mechanistic insight that will lead to more precise therapies, my goal is to study the process of altered histone methylation pattern which is characteristic of glioblastomas.

Hometown: Beirut, LebanonElias

About me: I graduated from the American University of Beirut with a bachelor’s in general biology. Throughout my academic years, I served as a representative for my faculty, dedicated my time to many clubs and tutored multiple courses. I spent most of my time volunteering both in and outside of hospital settings. Patient interaction has brought me closer to medicine and further invigorated my passion for the field.In my free time, I like to explore cities, travel and spoil my taste buds. I also like to read, debate and practice martial arts. I grew a fascination for photography and sharing on social media when I started to explore the world. I believe every city has its own mini-culture and I always strive to share its vibrancy by capturing its best moments.

Ainur Artay

I am an international graduate student from Kazakhstan, starting my MA in Economics here at McGill (which I am really excited about!). My specific fields of research interest are Development Economics, Game Theory and Behavioural Economics. I received my BA degree in Economics at UBC in beautiful Van city, after which I returned to Astana, Kazakhstan, and started working at EY as an auditor andIMG_20180621_202833_2.jpg switched to management consulting later.

List of the things I am passionate about (besides Economics) include travelling, practicing yoga, experimenting bio-hacks, reading and photography.Languages I speak – Kazakh, Russian, English and German. Languages I (desperately) want to learn – French and Python.

One of my favorite quotes is by Naval Ravikant, a brilliant mind of our time: “The most important trick to be happy is to realize that happiness is a choice that you make and a skill that you develop. You choose to be happy, and then you work at it. It’s just like building muscles.”I really enjoyed the chill and vibrant summer of 2018 in Montreal, now looking forward to a warm and colourful fall 2018, followed by snowy and fun winter.

David Touchette

Program: M.Sc, Microbiology, Natural Resource Sciences.

Research Interests: My thesis is focus on microbial life detection in extreme environments, especially on Axel Heiberg Island, Nunavut. As a member of the McGill Space Institute, my projet is strongly related to possible life detection space mission, on Mars, Europa and Enceladus.

Hometown: I’ve been raised in Sainte-Thérèse, but now living in Montréal!

About me: Even though I’m passionate by science, you will not find me in the lab on weekends. I’m probably somewhere in the wild, hiking, canoeing or exploring Quebec province while taking some nice photos! It’s only while facing an untouched environment that it’s possible to understand the importance of the nature and the beauty of the biology. With my interests for the outdoors and exobiology don’t be surprised that I always have my head in the clouds.


Gulsah Kacmaz

I am PhD student in the Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology (ECP), 45551146_2242110159404111_246972306126012416_n Learning Sciences program at McGill University. My research interest is to explore the impact of teaching strategies using educational games on student’s learning outcomes. Specifically, my goal is to investigate if educational computer games improve achievement and engagement when they are augmented by teacher-provided scaffolding support in classroom.  As a member of Technology, Learning and Cognition lab, we are currently conducting studies about video games and how these games augments learning and cognitive process using eye tracking technologies.

Home country: Turkey

About me: I have a passionate about games and technologies. I believe that we easily forget what we learn with pleasure. That`s why games and learning should be fun and engaged us. I also love to travel and eat different culture’s foods, especially Asian cuisine. My favorite dish is to eat a Chinese hot pot with my close friends in a snowy winter day. I also would like to see and live in Copenhagen city in Denmark to get familiar with the Danish concept of “Hygge”. I am looking forward to being active member of Grad Life team to create a digital community and reach other people and be influencer for them.

Martina D’Antonio

MartinaI’m a first year PhD student in Neuroscience, trying to unravel the mystery of the cerebellum circuitry. I moved from the warm Sicily (Italy) to the cold Montreal in January 2017, so I’m relatively new to the city and McGill, but I already love them both so much.
I use electrophysiology to study the role of certain ion channels in the circuits of the cerebellum, and how they are disrupted in the context of the Fragile-X syndrome.

If I’m not in the lab, you will probably find me outdoors taking photos or in some place trying the trendiest brunch recommended by MTL Blog for the week. Yes, brunch crawl is definitely my favourite activity!

I’m looking forward to be an active member of the McGill community as a Gradlife Instagrammer and hopefully I will inspire you with some cool photos

Claudia Chan

Program: I am a first year Master of Educational Psychology student in the Inclusive Education stream.


My research interest involves people with disabilities, particularly to people with autism and down syndrome.

Hometown: Born and raised in Vancouver, Canada

About me: I originally moved to Montreal for my Bachelor’s in Art Education but ended up mistakenly residing here for the past six years. When I am not studying, I enjoy painting, doing ceramics, hiking, traveling, going to local markets, and unfortunately, binge watching Netflix. My personal Instagram handle is @claudiaachann. I’m excited to be part of this year Gradlife McGill! I hope to show you all my favourite places.

Dalia Jane Saldanha

Program: MScA Biotechnology

Research Interests: With a triple major Undergraduate degree in Biotechnology, Chemistry and Zoology from Christ University (India) she is now channeling her diverse research interests into de

Dalia Jane Saldanha

veloping genetically engineered and chemically conjugated biosensors with bacterial proteins. She is interested in modifying the properties of these optical sensors to meet a wide range of potential biomedical , environmental and food safety needs.

About me: Having lived in Kuwait, Dubai, India and now Montreal, she considers herself to be almost as cosmopolitan as the E. coli she works with and hopes that one day her future career as a research scientist (and part-time science journalist ) will help her see more of the world than she already has. When she is not holding a pipette or typing furiously into a laptop, she enjoys writing poetry, creating scientific comics and reading contemporary YA novels.


Genevieve Lambert

Program : Surgical Innovation (Experimental Surgery), MSc

If I have to present myself, I would say I am a bubbly extrovert who loves new experiences and could talk about travelling for hours. I am always excited to try new activities, specially if it involves adrenaline! I am creative, dynamic and simply cheerfull! Further, I am part of McGill Cheerleading team and I think life is all about people so you should always try to be kind.  My moto is : people should aim for greatness; and yet, the definition of such greatness should be evolving as we do. (*reflective pose)


Research interest : I’m doing my first year of my Master’s in Surgical Innovation, after transfering from Université de Montreal, where I oriented my endeavor toward the effect of physical activity in the context of peadiatric cancers. My researchs projects evolves around the subjects of : physiological effects of rehab/prehab, peadiatric cancers and lung cancer & Telehealth. Moreover, I am really interested in the immune responses associated with physical activity and its interactions with medications.

Hometown : I’m from a small city called Campbellton (New-Brunswick), but I have been in Montreal for over 10 years now.

Alexandra Webb

Program: MSc – Integrated Water Resource Management Research Interest: too many to count!

Hometown: Mississauga, Ontario 50992487_2265894170403703_6956079631887761408_n

About me: I am a master’s student in the Integrated Water Resource Management Program. I am a runner, pizza lover, (wannabe) beer-connoisseur, and avid traveller. I have been lucky enough to have lived in 5 cities over 4 provinces and one foreign country through professional opportunities, and visited many cities both within Canada, and internationally. However, despite all of that travel, Montreal’s unique vibe has stolen my heart. I love sharing everything that makes the city great with pretty much anyone who will listen!


Meet Instagrammers from previous years

Meet bloggers from previous years

Meet Community Engagement Leaders from previous years

Meet Vloggers from previous years

Meet admin team members from previous years


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