Graduate STudents

Puja Bagri, PhD. Candidate

Puja completed her Honours Bachelor of Science at McMaster University in 2013, majoring in Biochemistry. In 2014, Puja enrolled in the Medical Science Graduate Program at McMaster University to complete her Masters degree under the supervision of Dr. Kaushic and transferred into the PhD stream in 2016.


Puja's graduate project involves working with the mouse model of herpes-simplex type-2 (HSV-2) infection. The effect of female sex hormones during HSV-2 infection has been an important focus in the Kaushic lab over the past years. Puja's project aims to better understand the underlying mechanism behind enhanced protection observed in estradiol-treated mice, more specifically, by investigating the role of IL-17 and the establishment of tissue-resident memory cells in anti-viral immune responses to HSV-2.


Aside from spending all her time working with her mice, Puja is a die-hard sports fan and the biggest Toronto Maple Leafs supporter on the planet. In addition, Puja enjoys working with children and youth, reading mystery novels and travelling.

Haley Dupont, M.Sc. Candidate

Haley graduated from Mount Allison University in 2016 where she majored in biochemistry. During her studies she worked with Dr. Jeffrey Waller characterizing a methionine-specific dehydrogenase and with Dr. Steven Westcott synthesizing novel 3,4-hydroxypyrdinone compounds. Wanting to pursue research in infection and immunity, Haley joined the Kaushic lab in 2017 under the Medical Sciences Graduate program. Here she will be looking at the microbiome and sex hormones in relation to HIV susceptibility in the female reproductive tract.

In her spare time, Haley likes to travel whenever she can, hike, watch documentaries and try new foods!

Ramtin Ghasemi, M.Sc. Candidate

Ramtin Ghasemi, M.Sc. Candidate

Ramtin Ghasemi, M.Sc. Candidate

Ramtin graduated from McMaster University in 2017 with a major in Biology. During his undergraduate studies Ramtin worked with Dr. Denys deCatanzaro in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour where he studied the mechanisms of BPA and estradiol uptake in mice. Ramtin joined the Kaushic lab in 2017 in the Medical Sciences Graduate Program. His current research examines humoral immune responses against HSV-2 in the female genital tract of mice under the influence of estradiol. 

In his spare time Ramtin enjoys Lana Del Rey, white mustangs, his mom's cooking and spending time with his friends. 

Andrew Rempel, M.Sc. Candidate 

Andrew Rempel, M.Sc. Candidate 

Andrew graduated from Trent University in 2018 where he majored in biochemistry & molecular biology with a specialization in health sciences. During his undergraduate studies he worked with Dr. Carolyn Kapron, looking at the effects of glutathione in cadmium induced oxidative stress in zebrafish embryos. With a passion for infectious disease, Andrew completed a summer internship at VIDO-intervac in Saskatchewan where he worked on various zika virus related projects. Continuing his interest in infectious disease Andrew joined the Kaushic lab in 2019 under the Medical Sciences Graduate program. Andrew’s project currently investigates the role of two genes and how they influence susceptibility to HIV in the lower female reproductive tract.


In his spare time Andrew enjoys a nice glass of wine, spending time outdoors, and playing piano.

Tushar Dhawan, M.Sc. Candidate 

Tushar graduated from McMaster University with a Bachelor of Health Sciences degree from the Biochemistry  program.

Tushar was a project student in the Kaushic lab, and decided to stay on to work on his project as a Masters student. His project investigates the influence of TRIM26, an E3 ubiquitin ligase, in negatively regulating the antiviral responses and HSV-2 infection in the vaginal epithelium through innate immunity. Research in our lab has shown that TRIM26 inhibits IRF3 activation, consequently resulting in negative regulation of IFN-β production, and thus increased viral replication. It is hypothesized that over-expression of the TRIM26 gene will increase HSV-2 infectivity and knockout of the TRIM26 gene will reduce HSV-2 infectivity.

In his available time, Tushar enjoys swimming, going to the gym, playing soccer, basketball and badminton.