CRBS Student Consortium

The CRBS is home to hundreds of talented graduate students, undergraduate students, and postdoctoral trainees.


The executive represents the trainees on the CRBS board, and organizes many events and activities.

The CRBS has several ongoing initiatives to help members, trainees and the broader scientific community potentiate their research with the power of structural biology and biophysics.


Shafqat Rasool: president

Shafqat Rasool is a PhD student in the department of biochemistry and is working on determining the molecular mechanism of action of proteins involved in Parkinson’s disease. He takes keen interest in science and scientific communication. In addition to his work in CRBS student council, he also serves as the VP News for Science & Policy Exchange.

irem ulku: vp-non academic

jia yin (sally) xiao: vp- academic

dushyant jahagirdar: vp communication

tian xiao (peter) yang: vp communication

Shafqat Rasool: president

irem ulku: vp-non academic

dushyant jahagirdar: vp communication

tian xiao (peter) yang: vp communication

Meet The Team

tian xiao (peter) yang


Peter was born in China, lived for a bit in Montreal, but grew up mostly in Seattle. After obtaining his undergraduate degree in biochemistry at UCLA, Peter returned to Montreal to continue studying biochemistry at McGill University. As a PhD student in the lab of Dr. Alba Guarné, he is focused on harnessing the therapeutic potential of defects in DNA repair pathways and DNA nanostructures. Outside of research, Peter loves basketball, art, comedy, and life in general.

gyana mahapatra

vp academic

Gyana received his master's degree in Marine Biotechnology from Annamalai University, India. He is a PhD Student in Dr. Natalie Zeytuni lab in the department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at McGill University. He is studying the structure and function of macromolecular machines involved in bacterial pathogenesis using high-resolution Cryo-EM techniques.

nuwani weerasinghe

vp academic

Nuwani was born and raised in Sri Lanka. She obtained her BSc special degree in chemistry from University of Colombo, Sri Lanka and completed her master’s at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. She then moved to Montreal and joined Thibodeaux lab for her PhD. Nuwani works on understanding the structure and protein-protein interactions involved in class I and II lanthipeptide biosynthetic systems using mass spectrometry techniques. When not doing chemistry, she spends her time cooking/baking, enjoying food, or watching movies.

jia yin (sally) xiao

vp- academic

Jia Yin Xiao (Sally) is born in Guyana, South America. She came to Canada in 2015 for her undergraduate studies. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree of Science (Honours in Pharmacology and Minor in Biotechnology) at McGill University, and she decided to stay for a Master’s degree in biology. She has a broad interests in biological research. She has participated in research in stem cell, cancer and HIV research. Currently, she is working on origin licensing of DNA replication using single molecule microscopy.

harry mcfarlane

vp communication

Kia ora, my name is Harry (He/They) and I am one of the VP Communications for CRBS this year. I am originally from New Zealand, and my love of structural biology and cryo-electron microscopy began during my time at the University of Otago. I am based in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology in the Strauss lab. My research is focused on virus and viral protein structures, and better understanding them through different cryo-EM techniques. We work with a number of international collaborators on many different viruses, focusing mostly on Picornaviruses such as Seneca Valley virus and Poliovirus.

madeline shred

vp communication

Madeline (They/Them) is a PhD student in Dr. Gary Brouhard’s cytoskeleton morphology lab. With a background in x-ray crystallography, they are now a cryo-EM convert studying the structure and dynamics of microtubules from diverse eukaryotic species. Outside of the lab, they are also co-president of the Queer Grad Club and enjoy spending time hiking and with animals.   

hedi zhou

vp social

Hedi (She/Her) is from Wuhan, China. Hedi came to Canada four years ago and have justcompleted her undergraduate studies in Life Sciences at Queen’s University, Kingston ON, where she focused primarily on gene therapy and molecular biology. Now Hedi is afirst year Neuroscience M.Sc student at McGill University, hoping to learn and potentially contribute to the research of neurodegenerative diseases. Outside of research life, Hedi is a caffeine addict who enjoys her life by cooking and sharing food, travelling, and working out.

florencia fungo

vp finance

Florencia Fungo_edited_edited.jpg

I grew up in Rio Cuarto, a city located in the center of Argentina. In 2013 I joined my hometown University (Universidad Nacional de Rio Cuarto) to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. I got my first hands-on experience in scientific research in my fourth year by working on new materials for sustainable energy production. I did studies in electro-catalysis with application in fuel cells under the supervision of Prof. Gabriel Planes. After graduating, I moved to Montreal to join the Cosa’s lab as a Ph.D. student where I have been working towards the development of fluorescence imaging methodologies to elucidate the role of antibiotic-induced lipid peroxidation for potential therapeutic opportunities. Outside the lab, I enjoy baking and camping. 

lokha boopathy

vp finance

Lokha Ranjani obtained her Master of Science from the University of Illinois College of Medicine. She then joined Dr. Vera Uglade’s laboratory at McGill University for Ph.D. in Biochemistry. She is interested in using single-molecule fluorescent imaging techniques to address fundamental questions on the gene expression regulation of Heat Shock Proteins.

isabel sarty

vp external

Isabel is from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and is a first year MSc student in the Integrated Program of Neuroscience (IPN). She is working in Dr. Multhaup’s lab, investigating amyloid precursor protein (APP) cleavage pathways involved in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s Disease. Isabel graduated from Dalhousie University with a BSc Honours in Neuroscience last spring, where her Honours thesis investigated neurophysiology associated with age-related changes in transient human brain activity. When she is not in the lab, you can find Isabel at the pool, as she is on McGill’s varsity swim team, or hanging out with friends.

annie shao

vp external

Annie was born in China and moved to Montreal when she was 10. After completing a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry at McGill University in 2020, she decided to join Prof. Thibodeaux’s team to pursue a Master’s degree in Chemistry. Her current research focuses on understanding the conformational dynamics of Pseudomonas cyclopropane fatty acid synthase. Outside of the lab, she loves to read all kinds of novels while drinking bubble tea.

corbin black

department representative
anatomy and cell biology

I am Corbin Black (, a PhD student in Khanh Huy Bui’s lab in the department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at McGill University. My PhD thesis is focused on the molecular assembly of cilia/flagella using cryogenic electron microscopy complemented by mass spectrometry. Before I joined Dr. Bui’s lab in 2019, I studied Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (BSc and MSc) at the University of Northern British Columbia in Stephen Rader’s lab. During my Master’s, I studied pre-mRNA splicing in the thermophilic alga C. merolae using Xray crystallography and biochemistry. The incredible spliceosomal structures
published by groups such as the Lührmann, Nagai, and Shi labs inspired me to do a PhD in structural biology.

tyler brown

department representative

Hailing from the small town of Lantzville, British Columbia; Tyler finished his undergraduate degree working in the Hof lab at the University of Victoria. Interested in the conjugation of small-molecule chemistry to biological systems he joined the Sleiman group at McGill in 2019. Interested in the photochemistry of nucleic acids and how they can be used synthetically; Tyler can be caught outside of the lab on the squash court, baking, or sailing.

The CRBS has several ongoing initiatives to help members, trainees and the broader scientific community potentiate their research with the power of structural biology and biophysics.

CRBS Studentship Awards

CRBS Studentship Awards provide stipend support for M.Sc. and Ph.D. students who are currently conducting research in the lab of a regular CRBS member. There is a separate category for students who are co-supervised between two CRBS members.


Awards are for 1 academic year (September 1 – August 31) in the amount of $10,000 and are non-renewable. The next competition will have a deadline in May 2022.   


Congratulation to the 2021-2022 awardees, and to Nuwani Weerasinghe, the winner of the first annual Maximilian Eivaskhani In Memoriam Graduate Scholarship.

CRBS Travel Awards

CRBS trainees will be supported for excellent international training & dissemination opportunities. CRBS Travel Awards will help defray the costs of attending specialized external training courses, conferences and workshops. Applications for awards will be evaluated by the Awards and Training Committee for the trainees’ potential to obtain maximal benefit from the course or conference, and to transfer benefit back to the local community. For conferences, trainees must present original research in the form of a talk or poster. CRBS will provide 15 travel awards of between $500 and $1000 each, annually. At an end-of-summer “conference / course debriefing” session, trainees will report on the most exciting aspects of research presented at the conference or some of the latest methodological developments discussed at the course. Thus the CRBS training community can all benefit from the trainee’s experience.


The next competition will have a deadline of October 1, 2021.

CRBS – GPS Graduate Mobility Awards

The CRBS – GPS Graduate Mobility Award encourages graduate students to study and conduct research abroad as part of their McGill degree program by defraying part of the cost of the international experience. The award, funded by the Government of Quebec, is available to all full-time thesis students enrolled in a graduate degree program at McGill, and several awards have been designated to allow CRBS students to take part in a mobility opportunity. The mobility award is meant to contribute towards the completion of the student’s thesis.


CRBS students can apply to the Graduate Mobility Awards following the procedure found on the GPS website.

Students should write CRBS in the Program section of the application. When seeking signatures for their Application Form, the Director or Associate Director from the CRBS will sign in lieu of a GPD and Associate Dean (and the Associate Dean signature space left blank).


It may take up to 4 weeks for awards to be processed and payments can be disbursed one month before the travel start date.