Meet our lab

Principal Investigator

Katherine Duncan

Principal Investigator, PhD

Katherine competed her PhD at New York University, studying how hippocampal subfields contribute to memory formation and retrieval. She then moved uptown to Columbia University where she studied interactions between the hippocampus and dopaminergic system. In the summer of 2015, she returned to the University of Toronto, where she had studied as an undergraduate student. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the St. George campus.

Katherine’s CV

Contact information: duncan@psych.utoronto.ca


Xiaoping Fang

Postdoc, PhD

Xiaoping is a post-doc, working with both Katherine and Meg Schlichting. Her previous research focused on language learning, in particular, how people learn new meanings for words they already know. In both labs, she will be investigating the mechanisms underlying the integration of relevant memories and hoping to bridge the memory and language research areas. In her free time, she likes to go hiking, camping, climbing, and to explore the city.

Contact information: xpfang4@gmail.com

Personal website: https://sites.google.com/site/xpfang4/

Xiaoping’s CV

Graduate Students

Anuya Patil

3rd Year PhD Student

I am a graduate student in the psychology department at the St. George campus of University of Toronto. Before coming to UofT, I completed a Postbaccalaureate Psychology Certificate Program from Columbia University, after which I served as a lab manager in the Davachi Lab at New York University. Currently, I am using behavioural and neuroimaging techniques to investigate the effect of novelty and reward on episodic memory.

Anuya’s CV

Contact information: anuya.patil@mail.utoronto.ca

Alexandra Decker

3rd Year PhD Student

I am a PhD student in the psychology program at U of T, and am co-supervised by Katherine Duncan and Amy Finn. Before joining the lab, I received my BA in psychology from McGill University, and an MA in psychology in the Mabbott lab at the Hospital for Sick Children. My current research focuses on how fluctuations in sustained attention affects memory in both healthy adults and children.

Alexandra’s CV

Contact information: Alexandraleerdecker@gmail.com

Personal Website: https://www.alexandradecker.com/

Kyle Nealy

1st Year PhD Student

How is space and time represented in the brain, and how do these representations impact how we learn and remember? My research aims to find answers to these questions by analyzing brain and behaviour data across species using a variety of cutting edge collection and analysis techniques.

Before joining the Duncan lab, I received my BSc in Psychology, Economics, and Mathematics from the University of Toronto. If I’m not in the lab, you can find me training for my next triathlon, teaching band, or hiking the Ontario wilderness.

Kyle’s CV

Contact Information: kyle.nealy@mail.utoronto.ca

Ariana Youm

MA Student

I am a graduate student in the Psychology department at the University of Toronto co-supervised by Dr. Katherine Duncan and Dr. Melanie Cohn (Krembil Research Institute). Before joining the lab, I completed my BSc degree in the Psychology Research Specialist Program at U of T. I am interested in the interaction of memory and attention — specifically, how acetylcholine impacts memory, and what its role is in the dysfunction of memory in normal and pathological aging.

Ariana’s CV

Lab Managers

Zahra Abolghasem

Lab Manager

Hello! I recently graduated from the Psychology Research Specialist Program at the University of Toronto. I am also the lab manager in the Budding Minds Lab. I am passionate about understanding the psychological and neural basis of memory, with a particular fascination in understanding the factors that influence our memories. In my spare time, I enjoy cooking/baking, hiking, and painting.

Contact Information: duncanlabmanager@gmail.com

Research Students

Enri Boshti

Individual Project Student

I am currently a third year student at the University of Toronto studying neuroscience and biochemistry. I plan to pursue graduate studies that combine both fields in order to further contribute to our understanding of complex neurological mechanisms.

Victoriya Kozhemyakina

Individual Project Student

I am a third year student completing a double major in cell and molecular biology and psychology. I’m interested in cognitive psychology and how different factors influence memory encoding and retrieval. Currently I’m volunteering at Sunnybrook hospital in the physiotherapy clinic.

Magda Binczyk

Research Volunteer

I am in my third year pursuing a psychology and french language learning double major. After my undergraduate studies, I plan on applying to graduate school for clinical psychology. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with family and friends and being active outdoors.

Simran Dhir

Research Volunteer

I am a third year student specialising in Pharmacology and Biomedical Toxicology and minoring in Education and Society. I am interested in Child Development and Psychology and in seeing how my programs can be interconnected, be it by studying the biological development of memory in children or by seeing how diseases affect different parts of the body, especially the brain. The creativity and understanding that goes into creating complex tools like the fMRI machine greatly intrigues me and I am excited to see and learn more about how upcoming technology will shape the future of many scientific fields. In my free time, I can be found binging the latest Netflix show, doodling and playing online Scrabble.

Tia Kant

Work Study Student

Hi! My name is Tia and I am currently a fourth year undergraduate student at UofT, specializing in Psychology and majoring in Neuroscience. I am very passionate about developmental Neuropsychology and I hope to pursue graduate studies in Neuropsychology in the future. In my free time I love to run, read and travel!

Heather Lee

Research Volunteer

I’m currently in my second year at the University of Toronto, and I am interested in learning about cognitive neuroscience. I hope to pursue graduate studies in the future.

Polina Rybitska

Research Volunteer

Hi! My name is Polina and I am currently a third-year undergraduate student at UofT, majoring in Neuroscience and Psychology. I am particularly interested in cognition, health and abnormal psychology. I hope to pursue a career in research, teaching and clinical practice. In my spare time, I love learning new languages, watching documentaries and travelling as much as possible!

Layan Elfaki

Research Volunteer

I’m currently going into fourth year at UofT, double majoring in Psychology and Health and Disease. I’m passionate about the study of the mind and uncovering mechanisms through which it operates to potentially develop early diagnosis methods for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease. My current research involves uncovering the effects of novelty on proactive interference using an eye-tracking paradigm.

Zainah Azam

Research Volunteer

I am currently an undergraduate student at UBC Okanagan pursuing a holistic understanding of the human brain, behavior, research methods and application.  I enjoy delving deeper into memory because it is an integral part of who we are. I’ve joined the Duncan Lab to expand my understanding of memory and cognition. My main interests are in neuroscience, cognitive psychology and forensics. Being in various projects and having worked with people of different age groups has opened my eyes to my true niche: developing research to make a meaningful impact in society.

Jacqueline Yeh

Research Volunteer

Hello! I am currently a fourth-year undergraduate student, majoring in Neuroscience and Psychology. I am particularly interested in cognitive psychology, particularly with respect to memory, and developmental psychology, more specifically relating to the effects of childhood stress on their development and mental health. Aside from that, my interest also lies in Middle Eastern history and Environmental studies. If you don’t catch me in the lab or in the library, I will be out exploring new cultures & experiences.

Padideh Hassanpour

Research Volunteer

Before joining Professor Duncan’s lab, I completed my undergraduate studies here at the University of Toronto, double majoring in Women and Gender Studies and Equity Studies. With hopes of pursuing a career in the criminal justice system, I went on to complete my MPhil in Criminology at the University of Cambridge. Now, a year later, I find myself deeply intrigued by various psychological areas of study, including memory and motivation. With a little luck and some grit, I plan on applying my interdisciplinary background to a career in clinical psychology.

Dorothy Sun

Research Volunteer

My name is Dorothy, and I am currently in my third year of studying at the University of Toronto with double majors in biology and psychology as well as a statistics minor. My research interest primarily lies in the human memory and emotions, and I hope to continue my study on these subjects in graduate school. In my free time, I enjoy reading detective fictions and jogging.

Megan Vaziri

Research Volunteer

I am currently a third year undergraduate student at the University of Toronto studying psychology and French linguistics. The field of neuropsychology greatly interests me and I hope to pursue this subdiscipline in graduate school in studying how disease or damage to the brain might impact an individual’s cognition. Outside of my studies, I enjoy learning new languages and I also work on fighting the environmental crisis through divestment campaigns and promoting sustainability.

Stella Mo

Research Volunteer

I’m currently a third-year undergraduate student, majoring in neuroscience and minoring in physiology and immunology. I’m particularly interested in learning and behavior, along with health and disease. In the future, I hope to shift towards clinical research. In my free time, I enjoy exploring the foods and experiences of the city and hitting the gym.


Alexander Gordienko

Lab Programmer/Individual Project Student

I am a first year Computer Science and Neuroscience double major at the University of Toronto. Both fields interest me greatly and I aim to pursue a career that integrates them well. My current work involves building virtual 3D environments to facilitate relevant research in the hippocampus.

Yiqi Shen

Lab Programmer

I’m a 4th-year Computer Science specialist & Math minor student. I love coding and discovering disciplines that are new to me. In my spare time, I enjoy photographing, sketching, hiking, and building stuff in Minecraft. I’m currently considering doing a grad degree in either Computer Science or Education (or maybe a degree in architecture too if I had time in the future).

Lab Alumni

Postdoctoral Fellows
Andrew Bauer, Data Scientist at Feedzai

Undergraduate Thesis Students
  • Sara Pishdadian, PhD — Clinical Neuropsychology, York University
  • Dylan Tucker, Medical School, McMaster University
  • Shafquat Arefeen, Financial Data Analyst, Ontario Securities Commission
  • Eugenia Barkova, Software Engineer
  • Azara Lalla, M.Sc — Experimental Psychology, McGill University
  • Hannah Tarder-Stoll, PhD, Columbia University
  • Helen Liu, MHSc, Healthcare Analyst at the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB)

Individual Project Students
  • Yaxin Liu, Graduate Student, Emory University
  • Freda Jian, Graduate Student, Queen's University

Research Opportunity Project Students
  • Isis So
  • Nastasia Kujbid
  • Nika Zahedi Neysiani

Lab Managers/Research Volunteers
  • Louisa Man, Masters - Clinical Psychology, Queen's University
  • Rachel Downey, PhD - Clinical Psychology at Concordia University
  • Freha Mian, Masters - Counselling Psychology at Yorkville University
  • Samin Khan
  • Shijing Wang, MSc - Institute of Medical Science
  • Wangjing Yu, PhD - Psychology at Columbia University
  • Danielle Lim, MA/PhD - Clinical Psychology at Ryerson University
  • Dongyan Lin, MSc - Neuroscience, McGill University
  • Mohammad Ali, MSc - MINDS Program, McMaster University
  • Monique Sousa
  • Sukhman Sandhu
  • Arushi Katyal
  • Denise Bu
  • Roxanne Choy
  • Ellen Puhalovich
  • Enri Boshti
  • Sarah Berger, MSc - Psychology at Western University
  • Hannah Cho

Lab Programmers
  • Jihad El Sheikh, Software Developer Intern, CaseBank Technologies
  • Aatina Munir
  • Sneha Dasgupta