Aaron Phillips, CEP, MSc, PhD (Medicine)

Our research intersects integrated physiology and neuroscience in order to understand autonomic function. Currently, the laboratory has two primary foci. The first is to develop therapies for improving function for people with spinal cord injury. The second is to understand the mechanisms underlying neurovascular regulation in the human central nervous system.

We are dedicated to improving lives after spinal cord injury through new therapies.



Cecilia Badenhorst, BSc, MSc

Preclinical Research Coordinator

I lead the preclinical aspects of research within the Phillips Lab. I hold a master’s degree in neuroscience from the Canadian Centre for Behavioral Neurosciences at the University of Lethbridge. The focus of my thesis explored the effects of chronic unpredictable stress on decision making strategies in rodents and in particular, habit formation. Throughout my masters, undergraduate degree and working experience, I have gained a considerable amount of experience in preclinical research within a laboratory setting. I am well trained in studying various models of disease and utilizing histological and imaging methods to interrogate mechanisms. My education also allowed me to develop a deep understanding of the scientific method and ethical considerations. I am passionate about learning new concepts and ideas in the scientific field. Furthermore, I hope to utilize my knowledge and skills to aid Dr. Phillips and his lab in studying autonomic health issues after spinal cord injury.

Jordan Squair, PhD, MD Student

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

I am a translational neurophysiologist with specific interest in understanding sympathetic-cardiovascular control. I have gained experience and training using both preclinical and clinical models of research to translate my findings directly into the human reality. I also deploy a number of computational approaches to better understand data and harness large data-sets. Recipient of the Banting Fellowship, Killam Fellowship, and Alberta Innovates Fellowship.


Saqib Saleem, PhD (Engineering)

Research Fellow

My primary research interests surround using cardiovascular signal processing to understand cerebral and systemic regulation of hemodynamics. I have used this approach to understand brain and heart regulation in response to autonomic disruption in the context of pharmacological manipulation and spinal cord injury. I recently completed a fellowship with Dr. Shieak Tzeng at University of Otago that occurred after completing my PhD at Victoria University of Wellington. I have published more than 20 peer-reviewed publications and have an h-index of 9.

Bita Vaseghi, BSc, MSc (PT), PhD (Neuroscience)

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

I am a postdoctoral neuroscientist with physical therapy training background. I obtained my PhD in Monash University- Australia. I am experienced in investigating neuroplasticity induced by non-invasive brain stimulation techniques, including transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) as well as looking at pain-induced neuroplasticity. I also have extensive experience with clinical trials in patients suffering from pain and other neurological disorders. I am passionate about implementing new treatment strategies to induce neuroplasticity and stabilize autonomic and cardiovascular function for people with spinal cord injury. My current research involves transcutaneous electrical stimulation of spinal cord to evaluate autonomic responses in people with spinal cord injury.

Elaine Soriano, BSc

MD-NS Program, PhD Student

My immediate research interest is to develop neurotechnological solutions for autonomic dysfunction following spinal cord injury. I am currently involved in international collaborative clinical projects taking place in the USA and the UK. In addition to my involvement in clinical studies, I also execute preclinical experiments that involve understanding the mechanisms of epidural stimulation and harnessing this knowledge to develop next-generation neuroprosthetic. HBI BRAIN CREATE Graduate Trainee. Recipient of the Libin Scholarship, Mitacs Globalink and Alberta Graduate Excellence Scholarship.


Ryan Rosentreter, BSc

MD-NS Program, MSc Candidate

I completed my undergraduate studies at the University of Waterloo, and am excited to be joining the Phillips Lab as a graduate student in the Neuroscience program in Fall 2018. During my undergraduate career, through various avenues of volunteering, I developed a passion for working with vulnerable populations and exploring physiology with a more clinical focus; specifically, neuro/cardiovascular function. My research will focus on understanding the role of nitric oxide synthase to further delineate the neurovascular coupling mechanism in humans. Recipient of the Libin Scholarship.

Berkeley Scott, BSc

MD-CV Program, MSc Candidate

In the spring of 2018, I completed my BScH with a major in Life Sciences at Queen’s University. With this degree and my past cardiac MRI research experience at the Stephenson Cardiac Imaging Centre, I have developed a passion for the field of cardiology and am driven to pursue a career in Medicine with active involvement in research. I am thrilled to start my Master’s in the Cardiovascular and Respiratory program at the Phillips Lab. My project will be a human-based 4D Flow and Strain investigation of cardiac function in patients with cervical spinal cord injuries. I hope to gain a further understanding of translational research practices working alongside the other talented professionals in the Phillips Lab. Recipient of the Libin Scholarship.

Michael Potemkin

Undergraduate Student (BHSc)

I am currently a first-year Biomedical Sciences student at the University of Calgary. Through my volunteering experience with spinal cord injury patients and my studies for the National Brain Bee, I have developed an interest for neuroscience, and applying my knowledge to help others. Currently, I will be helping Dr. Vaseghi with her project that aims to examine the effects of transcutaneous electrical stimulation on orthostatic hypotension in patients with spinal cord injuries. Recipient of the Alberta Innovates Summer Studentship Award.

Jin Cho

Undergraduate Student (Pharmacy)

I am currently studying pharmacology under the Faculty of Science at UBC’s Vancouver campus. I will be entering my third year this upcoming September. Over the past two years I have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge through my studies, and I am excited to apply my knowledge to a real laboratory while working with professionals. This summer, I have the incredible opportunity of working with Dr. Phillips to understand the role of alpha-1 receptors in neurovascular coupling. My curiosity towards natural sciences has driven my passion towards research, and I am thrilled to be a part of the Phillips lab to gain practical laboratory skills while contributing to a novel project. Recipient of the NSERC Summer Studentship Award.

Niloofar Mirzadzare

Undergraduate Student (BHSc)

I am currently in my 3rd of Health Sciences at the University of Calgary, majoring in Biomedical Science. I am passionate about clinical research in the fields of cardiovascular and neurophysiology. This is the main reason that I wanted to get into the Phillips Lab. I have gained exceptional knowledge in these two areas by taking many introductory and higher-level courses. Besides, taking other courses specific to my program has made me acquainted with various research methods and the environment. In this lab, I will be helping with a research project examining the effects of transcutaneous electrical stimulation of spinal cord on autonomic responses and cardiovascular system in patients with spinal cord injury. At the same time, I am involved in writing two review papers as well as a journal club. Recipient of the Libin Summer Studentship Award.

Marcus Tso, BHSc

Undergraduate Student

I completed my Bachelor of Health Sciences degree at the University of Calgary in Fall 2019. My research thesis involved an investigation of physiological changes during skin inflammation, with a focus on the lymphatics system. My research during my undergraduate degree was focused on immunology, and through this I recognized the importance of the autonomic nervous system. As such became interested in the cutting-edge research conducted here at the Phillips Lab. I am driven to pursue a career in medicine and excited to work in a multidisciplinary team on biomedical research that could one day change the way patients are managed.

Tyler Lam

Undergraduate Student (BSc)

I began my third year of studies at the University of Calgary in September 2019. I'm majoring in Software Engineering with a specialization in Biomedical Engineering. Through my studies, I've been granted the unique opportunity of learning about the interdisciplinary connections between software development and biomedical research, and I look forward to further pursuing opportunities in these fields in the future. Throughout my time in the Phillips Lab, I've been able to learn about and develop neurovascular coupling data analysis tools using MATLAB and R. I am truly thrilled to have the chance to work on these projects alongside other highly qualified mentors and students in the Phillips Lab.

Rafael Sanguinetti

Undergraduate Student (BHSc)

I am currently entering my second year of undergraduate studies in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Calgary. Since October 2019, I have been working in the Phillips Lab as a volunteer research assistant, where I have gained a strong passion for neuroscience and clinical research studies through their work on orthostatic hypertension and neurovascular coupling. This summer, I have the great opportunity of undergoing my own research project with the Phillips Lab to understand the population-level odds of secondary health outcomes between individuals with and without spinal cord injuries. I am grateful for the chance to develop key research skills and to learn from multidisciplinary perspectives through the Phillips Lab team. Recipient of the O’Brien Centre Summer Studentship Award.

Saad Malik

Undergraduate Student (BSc)

I have completed my third year of studies at University of Calgary in June 2020. I am majoring in Biological Sciences focusing on Plant Biology. Throughout my schooling I gained an appreciation for rehabilitative health research, and Phillips Lab presented me with an opportunity to be part of an amazing team, to learn new skills and techniques, and assist in research that could revolutionize neuro vascular treatment. During my time at the lab, I participated in projects involving data-analytical research of healthy and spinal cord injury models, as well as testings using neural stimulation therapy. I am currently working on developing an application for the Phillips Lab, to be used as a resource for the team and potential patients looking to be involved in the studies.

Emma Spence

Medical Student

In June of 2018 I will have completed my first year in the Queen’s School of Medicine. My passions for people and medicine paired with my interest in research has me truly excited to be engaged in the translational research conducted by the Phillips lab. My studies in human anatomy, physiology, pharmacology and medicine will serve me well as I work on two projects during the summer of 2018. The first project will examine the neurovascular coupling responses of spinal cord injured patients compared to uninjured participants. The second project will use an animal model to investigate the effects of orthostatic hypotension on individuals with spinal cord injury. Recipient of the Alberta Innovates Summer Studentship Award.

Sarah Hodge

Medical Student

In September of 2018, I will be entering my final year of undergraduate studies at Queen’s University, obtaining a degree in Life Sciences with a specialization in biomedicine. In my introductory and upper-year level coursework I have developed a passion for the medical world and am extremely excited to pursue research within the Philips Lab. Within the past three years, I have acquired an extensive background in mammalian physiology, human anatomy and pharmacology, all of which will complement my summer project involving the neurovascular coupling response in both healthy participants and those with spinal cord injuries. Recipient of the HBI Summer Studentship Program.