Principal Investigator

Photo of Dr. Chai

Xiaoqian Chai, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery

McGill University

Email: xiaoqian.chai [at] (xiaoqian.chai@mcgill)xiaoqian.chai [at] (.ca)



Postdoctoral Researchers 

Photo of EliseElise Barbeau, Ph.D.

Elise did a PhD in Biomedical Sciences at UdeM on the neural differences in the autistic brain, more specifically on visuo-motor processing and interhemispheric connectivity. She then did two Postdocs at the MNI on Language and the brain where she studied the cerebral language networks at structural and functional levels and the effect of learning a second language on those networks.



Photo of ZeusZeus Gracia-Tabuenca, Ph.D. 

I did my bachelor's degree in Statistics (University of Zaragoza) and Psychology (Complutense University of Madrid), and my master's and Ph.D. in biomedical science at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. I have been working on longitudinal brain development in childhood and adolescence, particularly, network methods applied to functional connectivity. I am super enthusiastic to join Chai Lab, ready to learn and contribute to the research of brain and cognitive development.



Graduate Students

Photo of RomkeRomke Hannema

Email: romke.hannema [at]

Though I have lived in multiple countries throughout my life, I am originally Dutch. I did my Undergraduate’s Degree in the Netherlands with a double major in Biomedical Sciences and Behavioural & Cognitive Neurosciences. I remember the first time I had a class on the Brain, in my first year of Undergrad, and we talked about how the hippocampus encodes memory, and I thought to myself: “Wow, that is so cool!”. Ever since then, I was hooked. Four years later, here I am at McGill, and I haven’t looked back.


Photo of PascalePascale Patenaude

Email: pascale.patenaude [at]

I’m originally from Ottawa and I went to Queen’s University for my undergraduate degree in Life Sciences. Luckily, I had the opportunity to join Dr. Chai’s lab for my Master’s degree where I’m investigating the structural and functional development of the hippocampus and amygdala in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder.



Photo of HilaryHilary Sweatman

Email: hilary.sweatman [at]

I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of Toronto and am now pursuing a PhD in the Integrated Program in Neuroscience. My research interests include cognitive development, memory, and education. I am passionate about science outreach and hope to encourage active learning, curiosity, and enthusiasm about the brain with students young and old. In my free time, I enjoy baking, kayaking, and exploring Montreal!


Photo of HongxiuHongxiu Jiang

Email: hongxiu.jiang [at]

I am currently a first-year Ph.D. student in the Integrated Program in Neuroscience. I come from China and obtained my master's degree in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China. It is a pretty precious opportunity for me to study at McGill University and join the Chai Lab. I’m very excited for the coming days in Montreal.


Research Assistants

Photo of ElsieXu Elsie Yan

Email: xu.yan [at]

I recently graduated from McGill’s Honours Psychology program where I developed interests in cognitive neuroscience and developmental psychopathology. I am grateful for the opportunity of being part of the Chai Lab, learning about the time-sensitive course of brain development and how this process is shaped by experience and can vary across populations. 


Undergraduate Students

Photo of ShirleyShirley Zhang

Email: wenlan.zhang [at]

I am a current undergraduate student studying Neuroscience at McGill University. I am very interested in mental illnesses, brain disorders, and healthy neurodevelopment in children and adolescents! I am excited to be working on a project involving hippocampal brain development at the Chai Lab. In my spare time, I love hiking, reading books, and playing the piano.




Alejandra Martinez

Ross Lawrence 

Jessica Cheng

Melissa Eustache





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