Lab Members

Professor
Core area: Behavioural Neuroscience

Kiran K. Soma is a Professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada and a member of the Psychology Department and Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health. Dr. Soma joined the faculty at UBC in 2004. He received his BA from Stanford University, his PhD from the University of Washington, and his postdoctoral training at UCLA. He has published over 130 papers on neural circuits, hormones, behaviour, and immune function, and these papers have received over 8000 citations.

He has received major grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, US National Institutes of Health, Canada Foundation for Innovation, BC Knowledge Development Fund, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research. He is a recipient of a Killam Faculty Research Prize, Cattell Fund Fellowship, CIHR New Investigator Award, and MSFHR Scholar Award. In recognition of his research contributions, he was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

He has employed and trained over 100 undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and technicians from diverse backgrounds in his laboratory. His trainees have gone on to successful careers in academia, medicine, law, business, government, engineering, and the biotech/pharmaceutical industry. In honour of this distinguished history of training, he received the 2020 Killam Award for Excellence in Mentoring.

In addition, he has instructed over 2500 undergraduates and graduate students in the classroom.

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Twitter account

Neurotree profile (list of trainees)

Cathy has a PhD in Chemistry and also has expertise in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
She worked as Lab Manager from 2009-2022 and focused on using ultrasensitive LC-MS/MS for steroid profiling in blood and microdissected brain and immune tissues.

Désirée completed her undergraduate and graduate studies at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. In her PhD research with Prof. Ana Martin-Villalba at the German Cancer Research Center, she focused on neural stem cells in the brain and their functions in learning and memory, aging and depressive-like behaviour. She was supported by a Helmholtz Graduate School Fellowship. At UBC, Désirée worked with Prof. Jason Snyder and was co-supervised by Prof. Stan Floresco from 2013-2019 to further understand the role of neurogenesis in pattern separation and complex behavioural traits associated with depression. During this time, she received a postdoctoral fellowship from the German Research Foundation and a NARSAD Young Investigator Grant from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. Désirée joined the Soma Lab in 2020 and is investigating the effects of maternal sucrose (table sugar) intake on offspring physiology and behaviour. She received the Clyde Hertzman Memorial Fellowship to support this project.

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ResearchGate profile

Twitter account

Asmita completed a Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy at Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences in India, where she received a full scholarship from the Ministry of External Affairs of the Government of India. For her Ph.D., she worked with Profs. Anas El-Aneed and Ildiko Badea at the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition, University of Saskatchewan. Her Ph.D. research focused on lipid-based drug delivery and analytical mass spectrometry. She received several awards such as the Dr. Roger Rimmer Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies, Pharmacy and Nutrition Graduate Research Fellowship, Pharmacy and Nutrition Graduate Student Scholarship, and the NATO Advanced Study Institute Travel Award during her Ph.D. program. Asmita joined the Soma Lab in 2022.

Cecilia is from Uruguay in South America, where she obtained her BSc and MSc degrees in Neuroscience from Universidad de la Republica, working with Prof. Ana Silva and Prof. Laura Quintana on neuroethology.

Her PhD research is focused on understanding local sex steroid synthesis in the brain and the regulation of social behaviour in a songbird model. She is also developing novel methods for ultra-sensitive quantification of multiple estrogens (including 17beta-estradiol, 17alpha-estradiol, estrone, estriol, methoxyestrogens, and catecholestrogens) using LC-MS/MS. Cecilia held an Uruguay Graduate Scholarship and a Zoology Graduate Fellowship.

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ResearchGate profile

Thierry was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Soma Lab (2005-2008) and collaborated with Prof. Geoff Hammond to investigate steroid-binding globulins and brain steroid levels. He received major Postdoctoral Fellowships from CIHR and IBRO.

Thierry is currently a Professor at the University of Rennes in France.

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ResearchGate profile

Twitter account

Michael is a BSc student who is interested in neuroscience and immunology. He is working with Melody Salehzadeh and examining regulation of immunosteroid synthesis using qPCR and LC-MS/MS.

Melody completed her BSc in Combined Major in Science at UBC in 2017. As an undergraduate, Melody received the Quinn Research Assistantship and the NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award. She received travel awards to present at the Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology conference.

As an MSc student in UBC Zoology, Melody focused on local glucocorticoid production in immune tissues, particularly the regulation of corticosterone production in the thymus. Melody earned an NSERC CGS-M and Endocrine Society Summer Research Fellowship to support this novel research.

Melody transferred to the PhD program and earned an NSERC CGS-D to continue her studies on the regulation of glucocorticoids in immune tissues across development.

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ResearchGate profile

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Sarah was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Soma Lab (2008-2012) and studied the rapid effects of estradiol on social behaviour and intracellular signaling pathways in the brain. She received major Postdoctoral Fellowships from CIHR and MSFHR.

Sarah is currently an Associate Professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, USA.

ResearchGate profile

Twitter account

Hitasha is pursuing her BSc in Behavioural Neuroscience, with a minor in Law and Society. She is currently examining the effects of stress on glucocorticoid production within lymphoid organs and multiple brain regions. In particular, she is investigating the ability of these tissues to locally synthesize corticosterone after an immune challenge, in both neonatal and adult mice.