Gerlai Lab Personnel

                                                           Graduate Students 

Amira Abozaid, HBSc, PhD.c 

Amira joined the lab in 2017 and completed her Honors Bachelor of Science at the University of Toronto Mississauga. She has undertaken multiple research courses including a Biology Thesis program in the lab during her final year of undergraduate studies exploring the effects of embryonic alcohol exposure using the zebrafish as a model organism.

She is currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Cell & Systems Biology studying the effects of embryonic alcohol exposure on learning and memory outcomes in larval and adult zebrafish.

In the last few years, Amira has published 4 peer-reviewed papers, and has attended multiple conferences in which she has presented her work.

Amira has expertise in zebrafish behavior and learning & memory. She keeps the lab under control.

Amira's Google Scholar:



Ben Tsang, HBSc, MSc, PhD.c, FRSA

Ben joined the lab during his undergrad and completed his Honors Bachelor of Science at the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science from Kings College London.

He has worked in administrative, research, and managerial roles within University and Hospital settings, and has experience using zebrafish and mice in basic & preclinical research. 

Ben has produced over 16 peer-reviewed publications in the field of zebrafish behavioral neuroscience resulting in an h-index of 7, and is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and an American Association for Laboratory Animal Science Grant Co-Investigator for the effects of housing density and tank volume on the behavior, cortisol level and neurochemistry of zebrafish.

Apart from his PhD, Ben works at the Hospital for Sick Children as a Clinical Research Manager, performing the middle cerebral arterial occlusion surgery for the McKinnon Laboratory.

He is the resident fish whisperer for the Gerlai lab.

Ben's Website:

Stephanie Shishis, HBSc, MSc.c

Stephanie joined the lab in 2019 and completed her Honors Bachelor of Science at the University of Toronto Mississauga, with a double major in Biology for Health Science and Psychology. She will be pursuing a Master of Science at the University of Toronto in our lab as part of the Department of Cell & Systems Biology starting January 2022.

During her undergrad she was part of the Psychology Research Opportunity Program and Biology Thesis Program in our lab. She has been involved in many research projects and most recently has been interested in exploring what constitutes an optimal housing environment for zebrafish by measuring anxiety/stress-like behaviours. Stephanie also works as the Laboratory Coordinator for the Gerlai Lab. 

Stephanie has expertise is in zebrafish husbandry and behavior. She provides the lab energy.

Stephanie's ResearchGate:

Zahra Siddiqi, HBSc, PhD.c

Zahra joined the lab in 2019 and completed her Honors Bachelor of Science at the University of Toronto Mississauga, majoring in Psychology with double minors in Biology and Women & Gender Studies. 

She has done several research projects with the Gerlai Lab during her undergrad focused mainly on learning and memory and numerosity in zebrafish. For her PhD in Fall 2021, she will continue investigating zebrafish numerosity by determining the limits of quantity discrimination.

She is looking forward to collaborations to study aversive conditioning in zebrafish from a biological perspective. 

Zahra has expertise in numerosity and behavior. She watches everyone with a keen eye.

Zahra's ResearchGate:


                                                      Undergraduate Students

Mishel Bekteshi, HBSc

Mishel recently graduated from UTM with a specialist in neuroscience and a major in biology for health sciences. Currently completing an IRP exploring the interactive effects of embryonic ethanol exposure and handling on zebra fish behaviour

Jedavee Cialia Aranda, HBSc

My name is Jedavee Aranda, I'm a recent graduate from the Neuroscience Specialist program and I joined the Gerlai Lab in the fall of 2021 as an IRP student. I'm continuing my project on a literature-based review along with a few other lab members. The review is on Motivation in Zebrafish, and this idea came to life when we were discussing learning and memory paradigms and began talking about the challenges with motivating zebrafish in learning studies. 

Melissa Scaramuzzo

My name is Melissa and I am fifth year student at UTM. I'm doing a psychology specialist and a biology minor and I have been in the Gerlai lab since January 2022. I completed an IRP in the winter 2022 semester and will be completing another IRP in the fall 2022 semester. During my free time, I love to spend time with my family and friends, exercise, and sing!  

Sarah Asim

My name is Sarah and I am pursuing my fourth and final year of the HBSc Neuroscience Specialist with a minor in Biology. I am enrolled in the Undergraduate Honours Thesis under the supervision of Professor Gerlai. My interests include zebrafish genetics, exploring behavioural mechanisms and psychopharmacological effects. I've worked in several clinical administration, cognitive research and healthcare roles. Through research, I strive to serve the greater population and make meaningful contributions. 

Chuanyu Wu 

My name is Chuanyu Wu. You can also call me Yuri. I am a 4th-year UTM student specializing in neuroscience and majoring in bio for health sci. I will join the Gerlai lab for my biology thesis. I am currently helping Stephanie with her research on the effect of tank sizes on zebrafish behaviour. I have a strong passion for neuroscience and especially for using animal models to study their behavioural responses. I am looking forward to getting more involved in the lab and in this research field. During my free time, I love to spend time exploring nature and arts created by amazing artists!

Kirthana Aila, HBSc 

Hey there! This is Kirthana Aila and I have recently graduated with Honors Bachelor's of Science from UTM. I joined this lab in January 2022 and I am currently working on an literature review IRP focusing on motivation in Zebrafish. I have a huge interest in memory studies, preventative medicine, and the field of epigenetics, particularly aging and the onset of age related memory decline. Besides my academic interests, I love working out and spending time in the nature (if time and weather permits... of course). I really hope to dedicate more research in the future towards mental health issues, health of the minority groups, and shape the future healthcare towards preventative approaches, such as lifestyle changes. 

Celina Micaela Javier

My name is Celina Micaela, but most people call me Celma. I am a third year student pursuing a neuroscience specialist and a biology minor at UTM. I will be joining the Gerlai Lab for my biology thesis and will be working with Ben in the Fall 2022 term. I am very excited to explore my interests in neuroscience and research through this lab. I look forward to expanding my knowledge and making significant discoveries.

A fun fact about me is that I like to collect Japanese swords. 

Veronica Venditti

My name is Veronica Venditti, and I am a fourth-year student specializing in Neuroscience and minoring in Biology. I will be joining the Gerlai Lab in Fall 2022, working with Ben as I pursue my Biology thesis. I love learning about the brain and behaviour, as well as genetics and molecular biology. I am very excited to expand my knowledge and engage in meaningful research as a part of the Gerlai Lab!

Omer Syed 

Omer is a fourth year student at UTM, specializing in biology. He is joining the Gerlai Lab as a volunteer in summer 2022, assisting Zahra in her study on zebrafish numerosity. He will also be starting his biology thesis in the Fall term, examining the time-of-day dependent effects of caffeine on zebrafish behavior.