Lab Personnel

Current lab members:

Morgan Robinson, PhD Candidate

Morgan began with the Beazely lab in the fall of 2017. He holds a BSc in Physics/Biophysics, as well as a MSc in Biology from the University of Waterloo. Morgan’s MSc thesis involved biophysical and neurophysiological study of amyloid-β inhibitor drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease; this interdisciplinary project was supervised by Zoya Leonenko (Physics & Astronomy, Biology) in collaboration with the Beazely lab. For his PhD thesis, Morgan continues to work collaboratively on Alzheimer’s disease (co-supervised by Zoya Leonenko) through an interdisciplinary approach using neurophysiology and biophysics, this time focusing on disease mechanisms pertaining to the neuronal plasma membrane. Morgan will be studying the combined effects of membrane lipid composition and amyloid-β on neuronal receptor signaling through a systems biology approach. In the first part, he will be characterizing the effects of cholesterol and amyloid on neurophysiological signaling pathways (GPCR, RTK and NMDA receptor signaling) and ion channel function using patch clamping. In parallel, he will be characterizing neuronal plasma membrane structure with biophysical techniques to be correlated with neurotransmitter and neurotrophin receptor function in the first part. Morgan recently received the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) for 2018-2019.Contact Morgan,

James Livingstone, PhD Candidate

James joined the Beazely lab in the fall of 2018 during his MSc program which was a collaborative project with supervisor Zoya Leonenko (Physics & Astronomy, Biology) and collaborator Michel Gingras (Physics & Astronomy). James’ MSc thesis focused on the possibility of differential isotopic effects of lithium on neurophysiology. His PhD thesis (also co-supervised by Zoya Leonenko with collaborator Michel Gingras) has expanded that research to include isotopic differences of xenon and lithium on various neuronal processes and targets involved in consciousness and mental illness in humans. Contact James,

Marzi Khavandi, Master’s Student

Marzi joined the lab in May 2020. She is evaluating the ability of endogenous cannabinoids to interact with and inhibit beta-amyloid aggregation as well as to protect neuronal-like cells against amyloid toxicity. Due to the lipid nature of endogenous cannabinoids, she will evaluate how these interactions change as the lipid content of the cell membrane is altered.

Sean Newbury, Master’s Student

Sean started his MSc in the lab in Spring 2020 after completing a BSc in Biology from the University of Waterloo. His thesis involves characterizing which families of GPCRs and RTKs are involved in the process of RTK transactivation to determine patterns of specificity. Contact Sean,

Kartar Singh, Master’s Student

Kartar obtained his Bachelor of Science from the University of Waterloo. As an undergraduate he completed his Senior Honours Project in the Beazely lab, and later continued his research in the lab as an NSERC undergraduate student. His undergraduate research focused on investigating the neuroprotective mechanisms of melatonin against amyloid-β neurotoxicity.In the fall of 2020, Kartar began his MSc in Biology in the Beazely lab co-supervised by Dr. Zoya Leonenko (Physics and Astronomy, Biology). His current project focuses ondeveloping an Alzheimer's Disease model using human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs), and then combining this model with the high-throughput capabilities of multielectrode arrays (MEAs) to investigate the network level effects of various neurophysiological compounds (melatonin, serotonin, etc.).

Former lab members:

Nyasha Gondora, PhD

Nyasha joined the lab in the fall of 2013 after completing her undergraduate degree at Trinity University in San Antionio, TX. During her studies she received several awards for research/poster presentations. Nyasha is co-supervised byJohn Mielkefrom the School of Public Health. She is taking two different approaches to investigate RTK signaling in neurons. First, she is investigating the mechanism(s) of the recently discovered ability of RTK transactivation pathways to be transiently desensitized. Second, she is investigating the expression of key RTKs, NMDA receptor subunits, and 5-HT receptors after chronic early social isolation in rats. Nyasha recently completed the Drug Safety and Effectiveness Cross-Disciplinary Training (DSECT) program. Nyasha is currently a postdoctoral fellow withProf. Feng Chang.

Nawaz Ahmed, Master's

Nawaz completed his Master’s degree in September of 2015 after completing his undergraduate degree at the University of Waterloo and gaining a valuable clinical perspective working at the KW Travel Clinic. Nawaz demonstrated that short term (minutes to hours) activation of 5-HT7 receptors regulated the expression of TrkB andPDGFβ receptor expression in Ht-22 cells andex vivo hippocampal tissue. He has demonstrated significant and rapid (1-6 h) changes in RTK and NMDA receptor subunit expression. In 2014 Nawaz received an Ontario Graduate Fellowship. He continued his graduate training in the laboratory of Prof. Paul Spagnuoloand is currently the Director of Research at SP Nutraceuticals.

Seyedeh Maryam Vasefi, PhD

Maryam joined the lab in 2009 after completing a Master’s degree in microbiology. She defended her PhD in 2014. She published 3 first-author manuscripts during her studies describing the short- and long-term regulation of PDGF and NMDA receptors by the 5-HT7 receptor. Maryam also made several key contributions to the research of her colleagues within the lab and with collaborators at the School of Pharmacy and the University of Waterloo. In 2012 Maryam won the AFPC Rx & D Pharmacy Student Research Poster Award. Maryam continued her research with Dr. Stephen Ferguson. Maryam is currently a Faculty Member at Lamar University in Texas.

Michael Beazely 2016