PEOPLE

We are a multicultural lab composed of personnel at all stages of research training. 

DR RUTSUKO ITO

Associate Professor, Principal Investigator

 My love of neuroscience research began at the University of Oxford while I was completing my BA degree in Physiological Sciences. Subsequently, I obtained my PhD from the University of Cambridge, in which I examined the neural and neurochemical basis of cue-driven cocaine-seeking behaviour. After staying in the same lab for a post-doctoral fellowship to investigate the functions of the limbic-striatal system in reward cue and context learning,  I moved back to Oxford University as a Wellcome Trust Research Career Development Fellow to start my independent research program. In 2011, I took up a faculty position at the University of Toronto Scarborough. Outside of work, I love spending time with my family and friends, playing the piano, hiking, swimming, eating, cooking and traveling.

DR SANDEEP DHAWAN

Post-Doctoral Fellow

Following a BA in Psychology at York University, my passion for neuroscience led me to Scotland where I completed an M.Res and a PhD at the University of St Andrews. Working with Prof. Verity Brown, I explored the role of the rodent subthalamic nucleus in executive functioning – particularly how this region mediates the formation of ‘attentional set’. I am interested in both the learning and memory processes exercised during ‘problem solving’, and I am currently investigating the contribution of the rodent medial temporal lobe to approach-avoidance decision making as a member of both the Ito-LiMBiC (Dr Rutsuko Ito) and Lee-MTL (Dr Andy Lee) labs. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling to new places, reading about astronomy, and playing guitar, hockey, and video games.

DR ZHEMENG WU

Post-Doctoral Fellow

I completed my PhD in Experimental Psychology in University of Oxford, where I used a combined electrophysiology and neuroimaging approach to investigate the interaction between MTL and PFC in recognition memory in non-human primates. Currently, I’m working in both the Ito-Limbic and Lee-MTL  labs to continue my interests on memory. Using a cross-species approach, I aim to investigate the role of MTL in mediating temporal memory and approach-avoidance decision making. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling around the world, making coffee and spending time with my family and friends

BILGEHAN CAVDAROGLU

PhD Student

I completed my BA and MA in psychology at Koc University in Istanbul. During my MA, I studied optimal behavior in temporal and numerical decision making task with humans and mice under the supervision of Dr. Fuat Balci. I am currently investigating decision making under approach avoidance conflict using novel operant paradigms in Ito Lab. I am hoping to use the information gained from these novel paradigms for explaining problematic decision making processes in disorders such as drug addiction and anxiety and elucidate the brain pathways behind them. In my spare time I enjoy reading about history, politics, science fiction and spending time with friends.

SADIA RIAZ

PhD Student

I completed my B.Sc. (Neuroscience specialist) and MA (Psychology, with a specialization in behavioural neuroscience) at the University of Toronto, and am currently pursuing a PhD at the Ito Lab. I first joined lab as an undergraduate thesis student, interested in examining the role of the hippocampus in contextual memory processing. My undergraduate research experience helped me realize my passion for behavioural neuroscience research and paved the way for my graduate career at the Ito lab. Currently, I am investigating the role of the medial prefrontal cortex in contextual memory processing and, more broadly, I am interested in investigating and elucidating the neural circuitry underlying contextual versus cue memory processing. Besides research, I enjoy teaching, spending time with my cat, family and friends, watching movies, and being organized.

NISMA KHAN

PhD Student

I received my B.Sc. (Neuroscience and Human Biology double major) and MA (Psychology, specialization in behavioural neuroscience) from the University of Toronto and I am currently pursuing a PhD in Dr. Ito's lab. When I first joined the lab, I began by exploring the involvement of ventral hippocampal subfields, specifically the vCA1 and vCA3, in decision-making under a cued approach avoidance conflict (AAC). Currently, I am using this technique to further explore the role of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) in such conflict scenarios, with the intention to eventually elucidate the involvement of the vCA1-mPFC circuit in AAC. Outside of research, my interests include snowboarding, hiking, tennis, biking, and reading. 

TANNER MCNAMARA

MSc Student

I rWhile attempting a double major in Russian and Psychology at Carleton College in beautiful Northfield, MN, I landed in Dr. Sarah Meerts’ lab studying female rat mating behaviour, and thus my interest in neuroscience was born. After working a couple lab tech jobs following completion of my degree, I am very happy to be with Dr. Ito at the University of Toronto, where I am excited to combine her interest in approach-avoidance conflict with my interest in providing alcohol to underage rats. Outside the lab, I can usually be found playing chess, frisbee, or soccer. Or cooking and eating. Inside the lab, I can usually be found alone early in the morning drinking lots of coffee while everyone else is still asleep. 

JEFFREY KATES

MSc Student

Hailing from Kelowna, B.C., I received my B.Sc. (Hons.) in Neuroscience from the University of Calgary and am currently working towards an M.Sc. in Cell & Systems Biology in Dr. Ito’s lab. I have a keen interest in the neural circuitry underlying motivated behaviour, with my research focused on using chemogenetics to explore the role of ventral hippocampal projections in approach-avoidance conflict. In the future, I hope to expand my research to include topics such as mental health/addiction, machine learning, and neuroeconomics. My interests outside of research include hockey (huge Canucks fan), reading, playing guitar, and astronomy.

DYLAN YEATES

PhD Student

I am PhD student co-supervised by Drs Ito and Andy Lee. I completed my BA in Psychology at the University of British Columbia, under the supervision of Dr Stan Floresco. My current research involves looking at how the hippocampus processes and resolves approach-avoidance conflicts in animals and humans. Outside of the lab I enjoy reading about science and history, cooking, and exploring the city!

UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS

ALYSSA HO

Thesis Student

Hobbies: Soccer, Reading and Eating  

CARL PINTER

Thesis Student

Hobbies: Reading Classic Literature, Studying Latin, Playing board games and Swimming

HEALA MAUDOODI

Thesis Student

Hobbies: Reading novels, Writing, Cycling, and Spending time with family/friends

NISHI PATEL

Thesis Student

Hobbies: Reading psychological thrillers, Swimming & Going on scenic runs

TINA WENG

Thesis Student

Hobbies: Reading, Cooking, Traveling, Playing cards.

DALLAS LEAVITT

Thesis Student

Hobbies: Basketball, Listening to music, and Reading books.

REGAN CAMPBELL

Volunteer

Hobbies: Horseback riding, Reading and Embroidery. 

MADGEN LIAO

Volunteer

Hobbies: Dancing, Figure skating, Reading, Snacking on sweets, Cooking, and Late night walks

PICTURES of LIFE in the LAB & OUTSIDE 

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ALUMNI

POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWS

Anett Schumacher

Yuan Fang Zhao

GRADUATE STUDENTS

Anja Hayen (MSc)

George Wallis (MSc)

Katya Vlassov (MSc)

Laurie Hamel (MA)

Denada Alushaj (MA)

Dylan Patterson (MSc)

David Nguyen (PhD)

UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS

Dean Thirwell

Helen Browncross

Rachel Ashwell

Maryam Sharif-Razi

Reema Patel 

Peter Rizk

Katrina Bogus

Zahraa Chorghay

Larissa Ferguson

Filippo Raso 

Edgor Cole Tolledo

Andrew Mackrell

Matthew McPhee

Abdullah Mosabbir

Lindsay Raoufi

Varia Sajeniouk

Seyon Sivagurunathan

Brindan Sivanandan

Jacob Woldegabriel

Sharon Yoon

Christina Gizzo

Franz Villaruel

Victoria Fugariu

Serena Soleimani

Tharshika Thaangarasa

Vignash Tharmaratnam

Gabriel Carvalho Rodrigues

Mihilkumar Patel

RESEARCH ASSISTANTS

Amy Gates

Melissa Canseliet

DinatKhan

Osai Samadi

Yasika Nesarajah

Faith Gallant

Jeffrey Toy

Erind Alushaj

Pugaliya Puveendrakumaran

Katherine Roper 

Katherine Riding 

Meera-Nirusha Mahendiran

Alicia Ussling

Isabel Bourgault
Nardin Kirolos

Olivia Rennie

Raza Syed 

Saranya Naraentheraraja

Elton Yeung 

Sajeevan Sujanathan

Kian Sassaninejad

Danzell Lopez 

Sally Wu 

Yu-Qing Shi

Ann Li 

ITOLiMBiC LAB

Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Toronto Scarborough, 1265 Military Trail, Toronto, ON,
M1C 1A4

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