Weinberg Alumni Updates


Samantha Baglot, MSc

Work in the Weinberg Lab:

During her time in the lab, Sam completed a MSc degree under the co-supervision of Dr. Joanne Weinberg and Dr. Liisa Galea. Sam examined a possible role for oxytocin in attenuating the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) on adult stress functioning, hippocampal neurogenesis, and anxiety-like behaviour in males and females. Sam found that oxytocin administration reduced the hyperactivity seen following PAE. However, PAE also altered stress responsiveness, hippocampal neurogenesis, and anxiety-like behaviours, which oxytocin was not able to modulate. Prior to joining the lab as a graduate student, Sam volunteered in the Weinberg lab for 2 years. Her undergraduate research investigated the effects of PAE on adolescent social play behaviour, as well as the effects of PAE and early-life adversity on maternal behaviour, maternal and offspring stress functioning, and offspring anxiety-like behaviour.


Sam is a neuroscience PhD student at the University of Calgary in Dr. Matthew Hill’s laboratory. Her current research aims to examine the molecular, biochemical, and genetic links underlying the interaction between early-life adversity, endocannabinoid system functioning, and anxiety behaviour. 


Work in the Weinberg Lab:

In 2013, Lily joined the Weinberg lab as an undergraduate research assistant and continued with the lab throughout her degree eventually completing her fourth year thesis. During her time with the Weinberg Lab, Lily worked on a number of projects including investigating the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on social behaviour, anxiety and depressive-like symptoms, and the neuroimmune system.


Lily is currently a Masters student and NSERC CREATE trainee in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of British Columbia Centre for Blood Research. Lily is working on investigating organ-targeting of polymer therapeutics and interactions of nanoparticles with biological systems under Prof. Jayachandran Kizhakkedathu.


Phoebe started in the Weinberg lab in the summer of 2016 as a recipient of a Fisher Scientific Summer Studentship. She then completed an Honours thesis, studying the link between prenatal alcohol exposure, early-life adversity, and neuroinflammation. She currently works as a clinical research coordinator for the SAVE BC research program, which investigates premature cardiovascular disease. She still likes cooking and stories but is trying to cut back on Internet usage.


Undergraduate student: 2015-2017

Work in the Weinberg Lab:

Lisa started volunteering in the Weinberg Lab in January 2015. She continued as a Canada Summer Jobs student and Work Learn student working on analysis of depressive-like behaviour in rats as well as histology.


Lisa is currently a pharmacy student at UBC.


Undergraduate Student: 2014-2018

Work in the Weinberg Lab:

Kiran began working in the lab as a volunteer and later completed a work/learn position which focused on assessing behaviour for the Light/Dark Test, a measure of anxiety in rats. She also had the opportunity to complete a Directed Studies project which allowed her to investigate the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on neurogenesis in adolescent rats.


Kiran is currently a nursing student at UBC.

Jennifer Liu

Undergraduate student: 2016 – 2017

Work in the Weinberg Lab: Jennifer started volunteering in the Weinberg Lab in October 2016 and completed Directed Studies project during the spring of 2017 working with Dr. Ni Lan.

Riley Grewal

Undergraduate student: 2015 – 2017

Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 9.15.37 PM (2)Work in the Weinberg Lab: Riley began volunteering in the Weinberg Lab in November 2015, served as a Work/Learn student during the summer of 2016, and completed a Directed Studies during the 2016-17 academic year. His project focused on assessing social behaviour of male rats exposed to alcohol prenatally.

Melissa Chiu

Undergraduate student: 2014 – 2016

Melissa copyWork in the Weinberg lab: Melissa began working in the lab as a summer volunteer in 2014, and later completed her physiology honours thesis work in the lab. Her project examined the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on the fetal HPA axis.  Specifically, Melissa examined changes in the levels of mineralocorticoid and glucocorticoid receptors, both of which play a large role in the stress response, following prenatal alcohol exposure.  After graduating, Melissa remained in the lab for another year to continue working on this project.

Current: Melissa is currently a medical student at UBC.

Sepehr Haghighat

Undergraduate student: 2013 – 2015

SepehrWork in the Weinberg lab: Sepehr started in the lab as a volunteer in October 2013, during his first year at UBC, and he worked on quantitative analysis of social behaviour. From September 2014 he began working as a Work Learn student studying object recognition memory in adolescent rats following prenatal alcohol exposure and early-life adversity.

Current: Sepehr is currently a B.Sc student in microbiology and immunology.

David Mak

Undergraduate student: 2014 – 2015

David - HeadshotWork in the Weinberg lab: David completed a physiology honours thesis in the lab. He worked on understanding how prenatal alcohol exposure and adolescence stress affect the the cytokine response to immune challenge. His thesis was selected as a Highly Commended Entrant in The 2015 Undergraduate Awards. 

Current: David is currently a medical student at UBC.

Kristina Uban, PhD

Doctoral Student: 2006-2012

Work in the Weinberg lab: During her time in the lab, Kristina examined how prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) alters central stress-dopamine systems in males and females. Through a series of experiments, Kristina found that multiple components of stress and dopamine systems, and their interactions, are altered by PAE, and in a manner that is consistent with neurobiological vulnerability to subsequent mental health disorders. Further, the underlying mechanisms of enhanced vulnerability are highly sex-specific, suggesting that PAE alters the male and female brain differently.

Current: Kristina is a Post Doctoral Fellow at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in the Department of Pediatrics. Her research utilizes multi-modal neuroimaging methodologies to study the developing brain among children and adolescents with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

Katarzyna (Kasia) Stepien, MSc 

MSc Student: 2010-2013

Work in the Weinberg lab: Kasia studied the long-term effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on global gene expression in the brains of adult rats. In particular, she explored whether prenatal alcohol exposure changed the brain’s response to an inflammatory insult experienced in adulthood, at the level of gene expression.

Kim Hellemans, PhD

Post doctoral fellow: 2004 – 2006

Work in the Weinberg lab: During her time in the lab, Kim explored the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on vulnerability to depressive- and anxiety-like behaviours. Specifically, she asked whether male and female offspring of dams that consumed alcohol while pregnant were more likely to show depressive and anxious behaviours following the experience of chronic mild stress in early adulthood. Moreover, she also explored whether the prenatal-exposed males and females showed an altered neurobehavioural profile compared to pair-fed and control offspring.

Current: Kim is an Instructor III (teaching faculty) at Carleton University in the Department of Neuroscience. She is also a Provost’s Teaching Fellow (since 2014) and currently the Undergraduate Chair.

Current: Kasia is a science educator at Science World BC in Vancouver, where she helps the public tap into their scientific curiosity and inspires future generations of scientists.

Pamela Liao (Verma), MD

Undergraduate student: 2007 – 2009

Pam Verma

Work in the Weinberg lab: Pam was a CFRI Summer Research Student and completed an honours biology thesis in the lab.
Current: Pam is currently a resident in Family Medicine at the University of Toronto.

Joanna Sliwowska, PhD

Post doctoral fellow, Research associate: 2004 – 2010

Work in the Weinberg lab: While in the Weinberg lab, Joanne investigated the effects of prenatal
alcohol exposure on a number of different endocrinological and neuronal parameters. Her main research projects involved examining changes in hippocampal neurogenesis, the serotonergic system, and both the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis following in utero alcohol exposure.

Current: Joanna is an Associate Professor and Head of Laboratory of Neurobiology in the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Sciences at Poznan University of Life Sciences in Poland. (Click here to see Dr. Sliwowska’s publications on PubMed).