Principal investigator

PhD candidates

Stephanie Cheung, B.Eng., M.A.Sc.
I received my B.Eng. in electrical and biomedical engineering and M.A.Sc. in electrical and computer engineering from McMaster University. My previous research experience includes projects at the McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and the Auditory Engineering Laboratory at McMaster University. My research interests in rehabilitation engineering and auditory neuroscience have led me to pursue doctoral studies at the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto. I am integrating principles in music-supported therapy and interactive computer play to develop interventions for improved motor control in children with cerebral palsy. My work is co-supervised by Dr. Elaine Biddiss (Bloorview Research Institute).

Faryn Starrs, B.Sc., M.Sc.
I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Western Ontario with honours specialization in kinesiology. During my time at Western, I worked on a research study focusing on visual and auditory saccade and anti-saccades in healthy populations. This stimulated my interest in motor control and neurosciences, which led to me pursuing an M.Sc. in kinesiology and motor control under the supervision of Dr. Caroline Paquette at McGill University. My research focused on the recruitment of cortical regions during locomotion using positron emission tomography and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to identify brain networks involved in locomotion in young healthy adults and stroke patients. With this, I developed a passion for working with stroke patients to enhance their motor recovery, which is why I decided to pursue my PhD at the University of Toronto in rehabilitation sciences and neuroscience in the PULSE lab with Dr. Joyce Chen. The aim of my doctoral work is to combine non-invasive brain stimulation using transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and MRI biomarkers of post-stroke motor function to predict the type of tDCS that will provide an individualized treatment to enhance motor recovery in stroke patients.

M.Sc. candidates

Nirsan Kunaratnam, B.Sc.
I received my honours B.Sc. kinesology degree from McMaster University. During my undergraduate degree, I had the opportunity to work on research projects that focused on motor function and learning using transcranial magnetic stimulation, a noninvasive brain stimulation technology, in healthy and clinical populations. This led to my research interests in the field of neuroscience, notably the use of noninvasive brain stimulation and neuroimaging to investigate recovery of motor function. For this reason, I am currently pursuing a M.Sc. degree at the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute, University of Toronto. My research project will focus on the use of transcranial direct current stimulation in enhancing motor skill acquisition.

Dana Swarbrick, B.Sc.
I completed my undergraduate degree at McMaster University in the department of psychology, neuroscience and behaviour specializing in music cognition. I was able to further pursue my passions of music and science when I became involved with the LIVELab. Under the supervision of Dr. Laurel Trainor and Dr. Dan Bosnyak, I conducted research examining the effects of groove and familiarity on physiology. My thesis project focused on audience behaviour in concerts. I also assisted with a project that evaluated the effectiveness of hearing aids’ processing of complex tones using computational modelling under the supervision of Dr. Ian Bruce. My experience as a teaching assistant for an Introduction to Music Therapy course with instructor and music therapist Rachael Finnerty fostered my interest in using music to help people. I hope that my research in the PULSE lab will contribute to evidence-based implementations of music in health care and in our everyday lives.

Research assistant

Timothy Lam, B.Sc.
I obtained my bachelor’s and master’s degrees both from the University of Toronto. My research interests in brain imaging, cognition and stroke recovery led me to complete my master’s degree in the PULSE lab. Specifically, my master’s thesis focused on the relationship between brain networks and motor outcome after stroke. My time in the PULSE lab has been a great experience. In addition to completing my thesis project, I have the opportunity to interact with many bright minds and develop my research and professional skills. I am excited to continue working in the PULSE lab as a research assistant. My role is to assist my colleagues in the PULSE lab with their research projects and to continue my work on brain imaging biomarkers for motor recovery after stroke.


  • Timothy Lab, M.Sc. student, University of Toronto
  • Shinya Fujii, postdoctoral research fellow. Currently project assistant professor, developmental brain science laboratory, department of physical and health education, graduate school of education, University of Tokyo
  • Ashley Schipani, undergraduate summer student, D+H SRI summer award, Wilfred Laurier University
  • Payal Gandhi, undergraduate co-op student, University of Waterloo
  • Alvina Siu, undergraduate summer student, McMaster University
  • Ayeesha Tasneem, undergraduate summer student, University of Toronto
  • Kanako Sugita, visiting student, Japan
  • Tea Lulic, research assistant