Graduate Student Resources
The Biology Graduate Student Society connects students with each other, the campus, and the community, in order to enhance student research, learning, and experience. Follow the BGSS on social media to keep informed about upcoming events and activities.
For more information on the services provided by the BGSS, along with an events calendar, please visit the BGSS website.
Leah D’Aloisio, President
Leah is currently an MSc student in Dr. Deanna Gibson’s lab. Her research aims to characterize the human gut microbiome of Indian populations, along with exploring the effects of immigration on microbial communities in relation to inflammation in the intestinal tract. Originally from Niagara Ontario, Leah previously graduated from McMaster University, receiving her B.Sc. (Hons.) in Biology. When first introduced to the human microbiome in her undergrad, Leah knew she needed to pursue research in the field. She loves exploring effects of lifestyle factors on the gut microbiome and how that can influence human health. Outside of her academics, Leah enjoys engaging in the fine arts, reading, and hiking.
Leah’s job is to oversee all activity in the BGSS and ensure smooth and effective communication within the team. She acts as the primary contact between graduate students and the Department of Biology at UBCO. Her main roles involve curating events/activities, delegating responsibilities to other members, organizing elections, and running the membership list. An important part of her position is to ensure graduate students in Biology can enhance their experience by establishing a community with fellow peers to maintain a healthy balance of their social and academic lives.
Shirley Sijie Yang, Secretary and VP Academic
Shirley is currently an MSc student in Dr. Andis Klegeris’s lab studying the physiological roles of intercellular signalling molecules in neurodegenerative diseases. She completed her undergraduate degree in Biology at the University of British Columbia, during which she became interested in human physiology and fundamental mechanisms of human diseases. In her free time, she enjoys singing, cooking, art and yoga.
Shirley’s main responsibilities are helping organize academic events held by the department and by BGSS, organizing and running a seminar series or open discussions. Her role is to establish a platform for biology graduate students to connect with each other, share and enhance research experience. She also assists the president in executing schedules and activities throughout the year.
Darrek Kniffen, Treasurer
Darrek is currently a Masters student with Dr. Miranda Hart. His research focuses on the ecological impacts of commercially available arbuscular mycorrhizae bioinoculants and how they might be spreading from their area of application. The effects these fungi have on soil and plant biodiversity will be of particular focus during his research program. Darrek was born in Alliston Ontario, but grew up and lived many years of his life in Regina Saskatchewan. He completed a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Regina in 2020 with a concentration in Cellular and Molecular Biology. During his undergraduate program, he took on a research project looking into how heat shock response and virulence may be interconnected in Salmonella enterica Typhimurium. In his free time, Darrek loves to be outside and enjoy nature as much as he can by hiking, going on road trips, and keeping an eye out for interesting wildlife.
Darrek’s job in the BGSS is to ensure all funding needs and requirements the club may run into are addressed. Darrek will play an active role in helping to set up and run events by helping to calculate finical costs associated with the events the BGSS runs over the school year. Keep an eye out for some awesome science-related memes on our social media pages from him as well!
The PGSA is a group of Psychology graduate students who seek to improve the well-being and experience of undergraduate and graduate psychology students by hosting graduate school workshops, connecting incoming graduate students with mentors, and working with faculty members on the mentorship of undergraduate students. For more information on the services provided by the PGSA, please visit the PGSA website.
Ian Wellspring, President
Ian is currently completing his PhD in Clinical Psychology under the supervision of Dr. Woodworth. His research interests are in the field of Forensic Psychology and aim to address how emerging technologies impact psychological services (i.e., therapy, assessment), verbal cues to deceit, Computer-Mediated-Communication (CMC), and mental health within the legal system. Ian completed his Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) degree at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, which is where he is from. Growing up, he always had an interest in medicine/psychology and law, and was introduced to the combination of these two fields while completing his undergraduate degree, furthering his passion. Outside of academics, Ian enjoys hiking and trail running, reading, listening to music, and watching soccer.
Ian’s role is to oversee all activities in the PGSA and ensure effective communication and foster teamwork with its members. His main role is to curate events and activities for both graduate and undergraduate students, prioritize and manage tasks within the PGSA team, resource development, community outreach with the undergraduate and graduate community, as well as provide timely and effective communication with graduate students, faculty members, and undergraduate students. An important part of his position, and of the PGSA, is to enhance both undergraduate and graduate student experiences while at UBCO.
Kirthana Ganesh, Treasurer
Kirthana is pursuing her PhD in Clinical Psychology and is currently in her third year. She is working with research supervisor Dr. Liane Gabora, with her research focussing on conceptualising the impact of the therapeutic alliance on the therapist and client. Her broader research interests include the process of psychotherapy and the role of creativity in mental health. Originally from Bangalore, India, Kirthana is also passionate about integrating Indian philosophy and traditional knowledge with the field of psychology. She pursued her BA (Hons.) in Psychology, and her MSc. Clinical Psychology from India, entering Canada for the first time in 2019. Since her early teens, she was certain of her goal to work in mental health, focussing on understanding and functionally modifying the unique combination of biopsychosocial and cultural factors that shape every individual’s interaction with their environment. When not working, Kirthana can be found on beaches or hiking on various trails around Kelowna. She also enjoys cooking, knitting, and tending to the steadily increasing number of plants she owns.
Kirthana’s role at the PGSA is to ensure that adequate funding is available, and appropriately utilised for the various initiatives/events/workshops held throughout the year. In collaboration with the executive team, Kirthana helps conceptualise and organise different events, and facilitating workshops and panel discussions for undergraduate students. Ultimately, the PGSA’s goal is to offer concise, well-articulated, and relevant information to undergraduate students about the discipline of psychology, applying, getting into, and managing grad school, as well as various avenues of employment after school.
Maya Pilin, secretary
Maya is a PhD student in Psychological Science in Dr. Marvin Krank’s Cognition and Substance Use Lab (CASUL). Her research focuses on affective forecasting within the substance use context; in other words, she explores people’s emotions and expectations of alcohol and cannabis use. Maya received her M.A. in Psychological Science from UBCO and her Honours B.A. in Psychology from the University of Ottawa. Outside of the lab, Maya reads voraciously and loves watching musicals.
Maya is the secretary of the PGSA, which means that she works on the administrative aspects of PGSA events. Along with her colleagues, Maya helps plan the workshops that the association holds for undergraduates throughout the year. This year, she is excited to once again help run events that help psychology undergraduates learn more about the field and their career opportunities!