Dr. Malle Jurima-Romet Award

The Dr. Malle Jurima-Romet Award was created to honour the memory of Dr. Malle Jurima-Romet, an outstanding Ph.D. graduate of our Department who balanced her scientific training with a passion for music and the arts.

Following her Ph.D. training in drug metabolism and pharmacogenetics, Malle enjoyed a successful career in research and executive positions with Health Canada, Phoenix International, MDS Pharma Services, and Celerion. She was also a talented administrator, devoting her time and expertise to the Society of Toxicology of Canada for many years. 

The award is meant to offset costs associated with extracurricular pursuits in the arts by a graduate student in our Department and may be renewable for up to three years. Those who would like to renew their awards are required to reapply.

To qualify, applicants must be a full-time graduate student enrolled in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. Both domestic and international students may apply. Applicants will be considered on the basis of academic excellence and extracurricular pursuits in the arts, described and documented in a short essay (maximum length 3 pages double-spaced) submitted to Dr. Peter McPherson. Applicants should indicate how the award money will facilitate their endeavor. Links to art portfolios, dossiers, performances, etc. are encouraged.

The deadline to apply is Friday, April 12, 2024 by 5 PM. The award will be presented at the annual Visions in Pharmacology Research Day on Friday, May 24, 2024.

Current Recipients

2024: Ruobing Chen (Recipient); Tianze Shi (Honourable Mention)

RuobingRuobing Chen is a first-year master’s student conducting a multimodal imaging research study under the supervision of Dr. Isabelle Boileau at the CAMH. She is assessing the effects of short-term withdrawal in alcohol use individuals on the brain’s endocannabinoid system and resting state connectivity. Aside from her dedications in research, she spends her free time handling textiles and threads. Starting from being self-taught in machine sewing nearly a decade ago, she has also picked up on multiple different fiber arts mediums. Presently, she splits her passions between embroidery, knitting, and crochet, and has begun an anonymous Instagram account to share her works and connect with others with similar interests. Ruobing is appreciative of receiving the Romet award, as it will aid in her eventual goal to devise knitting/crochet patterns and share them with the crafting community. It is fortunate that the pharmacology department houses an award encouraging the well-roundedness of students with creative passions, and she hopes the award will benefit many more future graduate students.

TianzeTianze is a Ph.D. candidate at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) under the supervision of Dr. Etienne Sibille and Dr. Toshifumi Tomoda, where his research focuses on the mechanistic and therapeutic explorations of BDNF/TrkB signaling to advance the understanding of neuropsychiatric disorders. His academic journey has been paralleled by a lifelong passion for music, which began with the Erhu and evolved to include the guitar and songwriting. He aims to have his own album ‘published’ someday and share his compositions with those who like his Music. Getting the Dr. Malle Jurima-Romet Award would enable him to purchase a digital piano, essential for his ongoing musical endeavors. He is grateful to be part of the University of Toronto's Pharmacology Department, which values student achievement and fosters an environment where diverse interests are encouraged and supported.

Past Recipients

2023: Sierra Codeluppi (Recipient); Vivian Feng (Honourable Mention)

Photo of Sierra

Sierra Codeluppi is a fourth year PhD student in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology under the supervision of Dr. Mounira Banasr in the Neurobiology of Depression and Aging Lab at CAMH. Sierra also holds a Bachelor of Arts and Science in Neuroscience and Philosophy. Currently, her research focuses on astroglial dysfunction in the behavioural and cellular changes associated with chronic stress. When she is not working in the lab, she spends much of her time reading, a long-time passion of hers. Sierra has read over 200 books in the last 3 years and writes reviews for each book on her GoodReads account. She also actively posts current reads and book recommendations on her Instagram: @freddieandoliveread. Sierra’s ultimate goal has always been looking to write her own novel and she hopes that this award will help her start that process.


Vivian Feng PhotoVivian Feng is a fourth year PhD student under the supervision of Dr. Krista Lanctot. Her work focuses on the interactions between gut barrier permeability and cognition in patients with mild cognitive impairment. Outside of school, she has a deep passion for the performing arts and has dedicated 14 years to training in classical ballet. She has completed all levels of the RAD (Royal Academy of Dance) and Beijing Dance Academy (BDA) examinations. Dance has engrained in her a multitude of principles, such as perseverance and discipline, that have shaped her identity.  In her free time, she enjoys branching out and learning different genres of dance. She is currently specializing in Bachata and Latin ballroom.



2022: Erin Williams (Recipient); William Lin (Honourable Mention)

Photo of Erin WilliamsErin is a fourth year PhD student co-supervised by Dr. Ali Salahpour and Dr. Matthieu Shapira. Her research focuses on modeling the human dopamine transporter with the intention of identifying treatment for Dopamine Transporter Deficiency Syndrome (DTDS). Outside of the lab, Erin is an avid and enthusiastic knitter. She rediscovered this hobby during the COVID lockdown and has been knitting non-stop ever since. She has even started a small business: @thelocalknitwit on Instagram or Etsy. Erin would like to thank the Romet family for their generosity and support for students' creative passions outside of science. 

2021: Xinyang Zhou (Recipient); Claire McDonald (Honourable Mention)

Xinyang ZhouXinyang is a fourth year PhD student whose research focuses on inflammation and mitochondrial dysfunction in adolescent mood disorder patients. There is a pressing need for biological diagnostic tools in psychiatric disorders, and Xinyang’s project addresses this need through the development of a novel assay to detect targets in the periphery. Outside of the lab, Xinyang is a pianist who has been playing for more than 15 years. He has completed the Royal Conservatory of Music for piano performance and music theory, and won multiple awards at regional and provincial music festivals. Xinyang continues to engage with theatre, attending and accompanying operas and musicals in the community.

More recently, Xinyang has pivoted towards improvisatory piano and exploring music composition. Using modern software and recording equipment to build a portable music studio, he is leveraging digital media to create and share his performances and compositions. Xinyang is honored and thankful to receive the Romet Award, which will be instrumental for funding equipment costs and enable further expansion of his personal music projects. The Romet Award fills a tremendous need to support the arts and encourage creative expression as we all navigate through this challenging time.

Claire McDonald sketchClaire is a second-year PhD student in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, studying brain metabolism and neurotoxicology. Outside of school, Claire is a part-time comic artist, and hopes to use comics to educate, communicate science, and inspire interest in STEM. The Romet award will help support Claire’s passion in the arts alongside her academic achievements.

2020: Kassandra Zachos (Recipient); Claire McDonald (Honourable Mention)

Kassandra ZachosKassandra Zachos is in her first year of the thesis-based M.Sc. program, but intends to transfer into the Ph.D. stream in the near future.  Her research focuses on better understanding the cross-talk between the mitochondria and the microbiome and how different diets affect mitochondrial disease. While it is not the most traditional project within the department, Kassandra appreciates the diversity of ongoing research within the divison of Pharmacology and Toxicology. She also chose to pursue her graduate studies in PharmTox because of the community and support from many knowledgeable mentors and peers.

Outside of PharmTox, Kassandra is passionate about dance ranging in styles from jazz, tap to hip hop, contemporary and ballet. She has been dancing for over 20 years, 10 of which she performed competitively and she has also completed all examinations with the Royal Academy of Dance . During her undergrad at U of T, she danced with Silhouettes Dance Company, which allows experienced dancers to maintain their abilities with a flexible, student-friendly schedule. Currently, Kassandra is also a member of Duet Dance Company, a charity that provides pro bono entertainment at fundraising events throughout Toronto. The Romet Award will go a long way to help offset the many costs that come with dance, especially company membership fees and costumes for performances. It will also allow Kassandra to build on her skills even further and take more freelance dance classes throughout the city (COVID permitting, of course). In addition to this, some of the proceeds from this Award will be donated on behalf of Duet Dance Company. 

Claire McDonaldBy day (and night), Claire McDonald is a first year PhD student in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, studying the effect of brain metabolism on the neurotoxicology of Methamphetamine. By even-later night, Claire is a comic artist and illustrator that creates stories focusing on personal experience and interpersonal relationships. She is passionate about harm reduction in drug abuse, and pursuing further knowledge in the field of neurotoxicology. In the future, Claire aims to use comics and illustration as an approachable medium to communicate science, and inspire interest in STEM. The Romet award will help support Claire's passion in the arts alongside her academic achievements. You can check out her work at @cmcdonaldart on instagram and twitter.


2019: Sophie Wong
2018: Erin Sellars
2017: Justin Matheson
2016: Kangbin Zhou
2015: Kangbin Zhou