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 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!


Hongxiu 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 about the coming days in Montreal.




Lianne van Schaik

I’m from the Netherlands and am currently finishing up a Master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences with a focus on Cognitive Neurobiology and Clinical Neurophysiology. I’m very excited to be working with the Chai lab on the functional connectivity of the hippocampus and brain networks in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Additionally, I’m looking forward to exploring Montreal and Canada in my free time.





Jonah Kember

Email: jonah.kember [at]

 I'm originally from Sarnia, Ontario, although I've recently moved to Montreal to pursue my PhD in the Integrated Program in Neuroscience. I obtained my Master's degree from Brock University, where I researched: how functional networks derived from EEG dynamically change during various cognitive processes (i.e., response inhibition, word reading), how these task-related changes develop in children, and how these changes are altered in neurodevelopmental disorders (ADHD, dyslexia). In Dr. Chai's lab, I plan on researching the dynamic interactions between neocortical areas and the hippocampus that support episodic memory encoding/retrieval using MEG. In my free time, I enjoy racing sailboats and spending time with my wife and puppy!


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.



Dominique Lumley

Email: dominique.lumley [at]

Hello there! My name is Dominique, but most people just call me Nikki. I am an undergraduate student studying Neuroscience at Mcgill University, with a passion for learning and working with children. In my spare time, I enjoy running, reading and baking– on top of volunteering for the Chai Lab, that is. I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to work with Dr. Chai and her incredible team of students and researchers, from whom I have already learned so much. 


Alan Yin

Email: haoran.yin [at]

I am a current undergraduate psychology major at McGill, aspiring cognitive/behavioral neuroscience as research for future graduate studies. I’m originally from China and moved to Canada in 2016. After that, I have lived in various places in Canada and explored different interests of mine. Luckily, I have finally found my calling after joining the Chai Lab. For my project in the Chai Lab specifically, I am investigating functional brain connectivity differences between monolingual and bilingual children and between early and late bilingual children in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study.



Kristen Chang

Email: kristen.chang [at]

I am currently studying Honours Neuroscience at McGill University. I am interested in developmental cognitive neuroscience, and I am excited to be assisting with the participant study sessions for the Chai Lab. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, baking/cooking, traveling, and exploring Montreal with my friends!





Shangyi Gao

Email: shangyi.gao [at]

I am a current undergraduate U3 student studying Neuroscience at McGill University. I am very interested in computational neuroscience and development of memory. I am grateful that I can participate in the GABA project and investigate the age effect of GABA and Glx concentration. In my free time, I love traveling, watching shows and skiing.






Alejandra Martinez

Ross Lawrence

Jessica Cheng

Melissa Eustache

Elsie Yan

Wendy Wang






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