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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.


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

tian xiao (peter) yang: vp communication

Meet The Team

ali behvarmanesh


Ali is a fourth-year Ph.D. student at Dr. Gehring’s lab. He is studying the interactions of proteins using Deep Mutational Scanning (DMS) and next-generation sequencing. Ali graduated from the University of Birmingham, UK, with an M.Sc. degree in molecular biotechnology, where he did fragment-based drug discovery using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR). Ali is the co-president in the CRBS council, in which he works alongside other members to expand CRBS research to the broader scientific community. 

garvit bhatt


Garvit, born in Montreal but moved to Vancouver for his undergraduate degree in chemical biology at UBC. He later decided to move back to his hometown to continue his studies at McGill university in the pharmacology department. Co-supervised by Dr. Bhushan Nagar and Dr. Jean-Francois Trempe, he fast tracked into the PhD program to unravel the structural mechanisms involved in bacterial infections. As co-president, he is excited to contribute to the CRBS community by having more undergraduate outreach, setting up inter-departmental events and jump starting CRBS merchandise. Outside of lab, Garvit loves hiking, travelling, soccer and dancing!  

monika Kojic

vp communication


Monika is from Windsor, Ontario, where she completed her B.Sc. in Biochemistry at the University of Windsor. During her undergraduate studies, she worked in the Rondeau-Gagné lab on developing a conjugated lipid nanoparticle system for drug delivery and therapeutic use in glioblastoma multiforme treatment. She is currently a second-year M.Sc. student in the Department of Pharmacology, working in the McKeague lab, where she focuses on the development and in vitro screening of novel small activating RNA drugs for acute myeloid leukemia. Outside of the lab, she enjoys travelling, going to concerts, dancing, and spending time with friends and family.

sabrina romanelli

vp communication

Sabrina B&W_edited.jpg

Sabrina obtained her undergraduate degree from McGill University in Honours Pharmacology in spring 2022. During her undergraduate training, she participated in research projects in the domains of reproductive immunology and toxicology. In Fall 2022, she started her master’s degree in Pharmacology, excited to join the world of structural biology research. Her research will focus on better understanding proteins implicated in Early Onset Parkinson’s disease. When not in the lab, you can find her binge-watching Disney+ shows or spending time with her dog (Stella) and her friends!  

katherine morelli

vp academics


Katherine is from the United States and moved to Canada for her B.A. in Mathematics at McGill. She is now a third year PhD student in Dr. Vogel’s lab in the Biology Department. Katherine’s work in the Vogel lab seeks to understand how budding yeast position the metaphase spindle using specialized microtubules. Outside the lab, you can find her reading, playing frisbee, or skiing.

alexia piercey

vp academic


Alexia was born and raised in Montreal, Canada. She completed her undergraduate degree at McGill in Pharmacology in 2021. She is currently working on her MSc. in the department of Chemistry under the co-supervision of Dr. Karine Auclair and Dr. Christopher Thibodeaux, where she is studying the functional and structural features of enzymes involved in drug metabolism pathways. Outside of the lab, she enjoys spending time outside, cooking, and re-watching old sitcoms.

anirudh mantri

vp finance


Anirudh was born and raised in India. After completing his undergraduate in Biotechnology and Biochemical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, he joined McGill as a master's student in the fall of 2021 and continued for a Ph.D. thereafter. As a graduate student in Martin’s lab, he is working on biochemical and structural studies of NRPS-PKS hybrid enzymes. Outside the lab, he loves hiking, camping, cooking, and playing board games.

jingyu sun

vp academic


Jingyu was born and raised in China and obtained a bachelor's degree in veterinary medicine at Yanbian University. He joined Dr. Joaquin Ortega’s lab as a master student and now is a PhD student in the fourth year. His research focuses on understanding the ribosome biogenesis in bacteria and the stalling mechanism of neuronal ribosomes. Outside the lab, he loves swimming and Oriental philosophy.

danilo ide

vp external


Danilo was born and raised in Ottawa and later moved to Montreal to complete his B.Sc. in Biochemistry at McGill. During his Bachelor’s, Danilo completed a research project in the lab of Bhushan Nagar where he chose to complete his graduate studies. Danilo’s research focuses on how poxviruses evade the innate immune response. As VP External, he aims to promote CRBS’s research through undergraduate outreach events. Outside of the lab, Danilo enjoys being active by playing ultimate frisbee, cycling, and sport climbing. 

elias kalthoff

vp finance

Elias CRBS picture_edited_edited.jpg

Elias was born and raised in Cologne, Germany. He completed his Bachelor and Master studies at the FSU Jena studying natural products and their biosynthesis. Now he tries to elucidate the structures of the megaenzymes producing these fascinating molecules as a Ph.D. student in the Schmeing Lab. In his free time, he enjoys nature, traveling and martial arts. 

tara shomali

vp external

sahil nagpal

vp social

ashkan shahsavan

vp social


I am a PhD student in the Hendricks' lab at the Department of Bioengineering. I work on controlling the activity of motor proteins in cells using optogenetics and understanding the role of different motors in cargo transport. I earned my master's degree in Molecular Bioengineering at TU Dresden, Germany where I worked in different labs across multiple research institutes in the city. This multi-disciplinary program incentivized me to do my master's thesis-work at the University of Helsinki, where I studied the dynamics of endoplasmic reticulum using super-resolution microscopy. Outside the lab, I find solace in reading spiritual books and spending time in nature.  

tianxiao peter yang

advisor emeritus

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.

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 $12,000 and are non-renewable. The next competition will have a deadline in May 2024.   


Congratulation to the 2023-2024 awardees, and to Katherine Morelli, the winner of the third 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 in May 2024.

Congratulation to the 2023-2024 awardees.

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.

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