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 5 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 18 peer-reviewed publications in the field of zebrafish behavioral neuroscience resulting in an h-index of 8, 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 has worked at the Hospital for Sick Children as a Clinical Research Manager, performing the middle cerebral arterial occlusion surgery,

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's 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. 

For her PhD in Psychology, she will be continuing to investigate zebrafish discriminability as well as working with mice in the Martin Lab to determine the effects of long  term analgesia exposure on learning and memory.

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

Zahra has expertise in numerosity and behavior.

Zahra's ResearchGate:



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!

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 am a Biology Thesis student with a work study position working with Ben. My interests are in neuroscience and research. 

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 am pursuing my Biology thesis and am a work study student with Ben. 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. Omer is a Biology Thesis student with Ben examining the time-of-day dependent effects of caffeine on zebrafish behavior.

Hemali Patel 

Hi, my name is Hemali Patel. I am a fourth-year student double majoring in Biology for Health Science and Psychology. I will join the Gerlai lab as a volunteer, working with Amira. I am excited to help conduct studies exploring learning and memory in zebrafish. In my spare time, I enjoy swimming, binge-watching shows, and spending money I do not have.

Jenny Sung 

Hello~ My name is Jenny Sung, and I am a Psychology major at UTM. I am joining the Gerlai lab to work with Ben, and to pursue my research interests in behavioural neuroscience. In my spare time, I love to go for a walk carrying a good cup of latte.

Silas Liening

I am an aspiring psych student in 1st year from Germany who is working with Ben in the Gerlai Lab. I think that most things are cool, especially bananas and ramen. A particular interest of mine is studying hard, which I refer to as 'grinding'. Apart from education, I like thinking about the potential benefits of living a healthy lifestyle, being hot, overthinking, and sleeping 9 hours. 

Andrew Gnanapragasam  

My name is Andrew Gnanapragasam and I am a 3rd year student specializing in Psychology and minoring in Biology. I am currently a volunteer under Amira. I have always been interested in learning and memory, both the behavioural and biological aspects of it. I am looking forward to exploring these more in detail at the Gerlai Lab! 

Yashi Rawat 

My name is Yashi Rawat. My fascination in Behavioural Neuroscience developed through taking several Neuroscience courses in Biology and Psychology. This made me decide to take PSY397: Neuroplasticity and Behaviour. PSY397 led to my interest in research carried out in the Gerlai Lab. I am currently working on an Independent Research Project with Amira on Novel Object Recognition in Juvenile Zebrafish. I have other interests which include baking, swimming, and trying to learn martial arts. 

Alison Lai

Heyy, I'm a second year for neuroscience specialist and a psychology major. I like steve (the cat) and wasting time doing nothing. I maybe like fish but they're on thin ice. My future plans are to hopefully be a rich researcher. 

Rache Dass

I'm a 4th year Neuroscience Specialist Student at UTM. I joined the Gerlai Lab as a volunteer, and I am currently completing an independent research project. My project examines if shoaling preferences in zebrafish are affected by their housing densities, broadly examining if stress has an effect on group-formation. I am collaborating with Yuri for this project, and we are being supervised by Zahra and Stephanie as our project makes use of numerosity and shoaling. I am excited to continue researching and discovering social behaviour in zebrafish.

Patryk Kmiec 

My name is Patryk Kmiec and I am a 4th year student doing a double major in Psychology and Sociology. I am currently a volunteer, but would like to do my Undergrad work with the Gerlai lab. Some interesting facts about me are that I am in the aquarium hobby myself, and have experience raising and breeding various fish species. I also have 2 axolotls and 2 leopard geckos, as I am an animal lover at heart. I cannot wait to see where this opportunity takes me!