Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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Mfsd8 regulates growth and multicellular development in Dictyostelium discoideum
The neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses (NCLs), commonly known as Batten disease, are a family of inherited neurodegenerative lysosomal storage disorders. CLN7 disease is a subtype of NCL that is caused by mutations in the MFSD8 gene. MFSD8 encodes a lysosomal transmembrane protein that is predicted to play a role in transporting small substrates across membranes. However, little is known about its role and substrate specificity. Previous work identified an ortholog of human MFSD8 in the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum and reported its localization to endocytic compartments. In this study, the effects of mfsd8 loss during Dictyostelium growth and multicellular development were further characterized. Dictyostelium mfsd8- cells displayed increased rates of proliferation and pinocytosis in liquid media. During growth, loss of mfsd8 altered lysosomal enzymatic activities and reduced the intracellular and extracellular levels of autocrine proliferation repressor A. mfsd8- cells grown on a lawn of bacteria formed plaques in a shorter period of time compared to WT cells, providing additional support for the enhanced growth of mfsd8- cells. Upon starvation, the aggregation of mfsd8- cells was delayed, and mfsd8- cells formed more mounds that were smaller in size, which may be attributed to the reduced cell-substrate adhesion and altered lysosomal enzymatic activities observed for mfsd8- cells. Following aggregation, tipped mound formation was delayed, however, loss of mfsd8 did not affect the timing of slug/finger and fruiting body formation. Additionally, slug migration was reduced in mfsd8- cells. These aberrant phenotypes, excluding fruiting body formation, were effectively or partially rescued when Mfsd8-GFP was introduced into mfsd8- cells. Overall, these results show that Mfsd8 plays a role in regulating growth and developmental processes in Dictyostelium via lysosomal-associated functions. Author Keywords: CLN7, Dictyostelium discoideum, Lysosomes, MFSD8, Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinoses
Social Anxiety, Theory of Mind, and Executive Function in Late Adolescence and Early Adulthood
Studies that have investigated the relation between social anxiety and theory of mind or executive function have shown that individuals with deficits in these cognitive processes have high levels of social anxiety. However, methodological problems make past findings questionable and difficult to interpret. The current study investigated whether deficits in theory of mind and executive function predicted symptoms of social anxiety in 99 older adolescents and young adults (18-29). On average, participants had moderate levels of social anxiety. Performance on measures of theory of mind and executive function did not predict symptoms of social anxiety. This lack of associations could be due to characteristics of the current sample, methodological differences in the current study compared to past studies, or the type of social anxiety and theory of mind measure used. Implications and directions for future research are discussed. Author Keywords: Early Adulthood, Executive Function, Late Adolescence, Social Anxiety, Theory of Mind
Smile and a Neutral Attitude
This thesis examines the ways in which body image is discussed in online settings. There are three different communities discussed: body positivity, proED (pro-eating disorder), and body neutrality. Both body positivity and proED content are fairly popular online, and both have found significant support and followers on various social medias. In this thesis, I argue that both of these types of content cause significant harm to those who engage with them, primarily because both communities (though different in their approaches to body image) work to uphold the thin ideal. I then bring up the third type of content: body neutrality. Body neutrality has not been given the same academic attention as body positivity and proED content, likely due to its relative infancy. In this thesis, I propose body neutrality as a much healthier way to frame body image online because of its completely neutral stance on fat, thinness, and general body image. Though any work relating to social media is quickly out of date, I hope that this thesis provides an overview of body neutrality and how, in its current form, it provides a more balanced approach to online body image discussions. Author Keywords: body image, body neutrality, body positivity, eating disorders, social media
Reconceptualizing a Post-Secondary Program for Students with Intellectual Disabilities
The number of post-secondary programs for students with intellectual disabilities has been on the rise since the early 1990’s (Plotner & Marshall, 2015). However, research focused on student experiences within these programs has been predominantly from faculty, mainstream students and parent’s perspectives without accounting for what the students themselves are experiencing. This thesis however utilizes critical narrative inquiry as a methodology to listen the stories of students with disabilities, in conjunction with the researcher’s personal and professional experiences to reconceptualize the CICE program at Fleming College in Peterborough Ontario in order to provide students with more responsive and inclusive educational experiences. Six themes emerged from interviews conducted in the research: friendship/social opportunities, career/goals, supports, barriers/challenges, independence/freedom and finally identity/inclusion. A critical exploration of these themes is provided to develop programmatic, college and community level changes that forward a reconceptualized view of post-secondary education for adults with disabilities. Author Keywords: Critical disability theory, Critical narrative inquiry, Post-secondary programs for students with disabilities, Student voice
Isotopes of the Caribbean
This research represents the first stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis of human bone collagen (n = 29) from the Escape Site (AD 300 - 1000), Saint Vincent. As a two-pronged investigation, this research had the following goals: (1) determining the ideal pretreatment for poorly preserved bones and (2) reconstructing the Escape Site sample population diet. By incorporating powdered specimens, shorter demineralizations and increased acid:sample exposure, higher collagen yields were produced, thereby expanding the sample size for isotopic analysis. Notably, the elemental data suggests that not all isolated collagen was biogenic and was perhaps contaminated by non-collagenous proteins. This highlighted the importance of using multiple criteria to rigorously evaluate collagen based on the full quality indicator profile. In the end, 5 individuals yielded useable isotope data which was consistent with a broad spectrum diet relying primarily on C3 plants as well as terrestrial, reef, nearshore and freshwater fauna. Within the broad region, the Escape Site data was comparable to other islands from the Lesser Antilles and Cuba emphasizing the influence of regional biodiversity as well as the likelihood that the studied population contributed and benefitted from the extensive Saladoid trade networks which existed at the time. Author Keywords: Caribbean, Collagen, Escape Site, Human diet, Saladoid, Stable isotope analysis
Modelling Request Access Patterns for Information on the World Wide Web
In this thesis, we present a framework to model user object-level request patterns in the World Wide Web.This framework consists of three sub-models: one for file access, one for Web pages, and one for storage sites. Web Pages are modelled to be made up of different types and sizes of objects, which are characterized by way of categories. We developed a discrete event simulation to investigate the performance of systems that utilize our model.Using this simulation, we established parameters that produce a wide range of conditions that serve as a basis for generating a variety of user request patterns. We demonstrated that with our framework, we can affect the mean response time (our performance metric of choice) by varying the composition of Web pages using our categories. To further test our framework, it was applied to a Web caching system, for which our results showed improved mean response time and server load. Author Keywords: discrete event simulation (DES), Internet, performance modelling, Web caching, World Wide Web
Food Practices in Transition
The onset of the Natufian sees the unfolding of a lasting dietary shift: the transition from foraging to farming. To understand this transition, we have to identify the exploited plants and explain why they were chosen. To that end, I used use-wear and residue analysis to isolate wear patterns distinctive of specific plants. I conducted a series of six grinding experiments on wheat, barley, fenugreek, lentils, roasted wheat, and rinsed/soaked fenugreek. I then examined the tools under multiple levels of magnification using established protocols and descriptive criteria. To ensure that my descriptive criteria are reproducible, a blind test was performed. The experimental data are then compared to previous studies and residue analysis on the tools used to process wheat and lentils was performed. My results have expanded the experimental database and support the idea that there are distinctions between cereals and legumes and differences between types of cereals and legumes. Author Keywords: Blind test, Cereals, Groundstone tools, Legumes, Starch analysis, Use-wear analysis
Clonal structure and mating patterns in a natural population of Sagittaria latifolia
Increased plant size is expected to have negative consequences for mating by increasing pollen transfer among the same plant. However, recent theoretical studies have demonstrated that this may not be true for clonal plants. Instead, clonal expansion could enhance outcrossing opportunities without increasing selfing by reducing distances to potential mates. I investigated how the spatial structure of clones influences patterns of pollen dispersal, selfing rates and siring success in a natural population of Sagittaria latifolia. I found that pollen dispersal distances typically exceeded the spatial extent of clones and there was a positive association between clone size and the likelihood that clones were intermingled. Together, this resulted in a weak positive association between clone size and selfing rates, and a strong positive association between clone size and outcross siring success. This is the first empirical support for the theoretical expectation that any negative effects of selfing in large clones might be offset by increased siring success. Author Keywords: clonal growth, fitness gain curve, geitonogamy, plant mating, plant reproductive ecology, sex allocation theory
Family Experiences in Nature
Children may be spending less time outdoors in nature than in previous generations, with one potential reason being parents in their role as ‘gatekeepers’ to the outdoors. This study investigated how families are spending their time during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how parents may influence children’s outdoor nature experiences. Parents (N = 121) from across Canada completed measures related to their family’s activities as well as their own connection with nature, attitudes about nature, and childhood nature contact. Results suggest that having easy access to nature, a greater connection with nature, believing in the importance of outdoor experiences, and doing outdoor activities in childhood may be associated with more current family time outside in nature. By understanding the reasons behind parental decisions regarding where and how families spend time outside, strategies can be developed to help parents increase their children’s nature time in the future. Author Keywords: children, family, nature, nature-relatedness, outdoors, parents
Assessing habitat suitability and connectivity for an endangered salamander complex
Habitat loss and fragmentation have significantly contributed to amphibian population declines, globally. Evaluating the state of remaining habitat patches can prove to be beneficial in identifying areas to prioritize in conservation efforts. Pelee Island, Ontario is home to a complex of salamanders including small-mouthed salamanders (Ambystoma texanum), blue-spotted salamanders (A. laterale) and unisexual Ambystoma (small-mouthed salamander dependent population). These populations have declined from intense landscape changes since the late 1800s, particularly from the historical drainage of wetlands. In this thesis, I evaluated the suitability and connectivity of habitat patches occupied by these salamanders to assess the size of, and dispersal capabilities between, remaining habitat patches. I found that there was a low amount of suitable terrestrial habitat available for this complex of salamanders, and existing habitat patches were small and isolated. Forested areas and non-breeding wetlands were considered to be suitable habitat when adjacent to existing breeding locations, suggesting that these habitats should be a focus for conservation efforts. Notably, intervention may be necessary to maintain this amphibian complex as many assemblages are isolated from one another and potential corridors currently consist of primarily unsuitable habitat. Given that much of the salamander complex is reliant on one species for reproduction, the long-term viability of this population of Ambystoma salamanders may rely on the enhancement of suitable habitat near current breeding sites by conservation organizations and local stakeholders. Ultimately, the approach used in this thesis emphasizes the value of evaluating habitat within a fragmented landscape to focus conservation efforts on imperilled species. Author Keywords: amphibians, connectivity, habitat suitability, landscape fragmentation, landscape resistance, unisexual
Application of Data Science to Paramedic Data
Paramedic data has significant potential for research. Paramedics see many patients every year and collect a wide variety of crucial data at each encounter. This data is rarely used for good reason: it’s messy and hard to work with. But like theunderdog character in a classic movie, with a little bit of work and a lot of understanding, paramedic data has significant potential to change the world of medical research. Paramedics throughout the world are involved in research every day, but most of this research uses purpose-built data structures and never takes advantage of the existing data that paramedics create as part of their everyday work. Through a project-based approach grounded in developing a better understanding of the opioid crisis, this thesis will examine the quantity and structure of the existing paramedic data, the complexities of its current design, the steps necessary to access it, and the processes necessary to clean existing data to a point where it can be easily modelled. Once we have our dataset, we will explore the challenges of choosing key metrics by examining the effectiveness of metrics currently employed to monitor the opioid crisis and the influences public health programs and changing policies have had on these metrics. Next, we will explore the temporal distributions of opioid and other intoxicant use with an eye to providing data to support public health in their harm reduction efforts. And lastly, we will look at the effect of fixed- and floating-point temporal influences on intoxicant-related calls with an eye to how these temporal points can affect call volumes. By using this exploration of the opioid crisis, this thesis will show that with a more thorough understanding of what paramedic data is, what data points are available, and the processes needed to transform it, paramedic data has the potential to greatly expand the limits of health care data science into a more precise and more all-encompassing discipline. Author Keywords: Ambulance, Data Science, Opioid, Overdose, Paramedic, Pre-hospital
Differences and similarities in exploration and risk-taking behaviours of two Myotis bat species.
AbstractDifferences and similarities in exploration and risk-taking behaviours of two Myotis bat species. Laura Michele Scott Behaviours that are repeatable across circumstances and time determine an individual’s personality. Personality and behavioural variation are subject to selective pressures, including risks related to the use of different habitat types. I explored the ecological and evolutionary consequences of habitat selection by comparing the behaviour of two sympatric bat species, Myotis leibii and M. lucifugus. These species display overlap in roosting preferences, however, M. leibii tend to roost in crevices on the ground, while M. lucifugus tend to roost in crevices or cavities that are raised off the ground. I hypothesized that the habitat selection patterns of these two species create behavioural reaction norms at the species level. I predicted that ground roosting behaviour favours bolder personality and more exploratory and active traits when compared with bats that do not ground roost. I examined inter- and intra-specific variation in behaviour using a modified, three-dimensional open-field test and quantified the frequency and duration of behaviours such as flying, landing, and crawling. Bats were continuously video-recorded over 1-hour nocturnal and diurnal trials. I used a priori mixed models with combinations of individual characteristics and life-history traits to select the models that best describe each species. We found that M. leibii (n = 15) displayed more exploratory and bolder behaviours than M. lucifugus while on the ground (n = 21) and higher overall activity during the trial. I also found that M. leibii displayed crawling behaviours and movements consistent with foraging while on the ground which is a rare behaviour in bats and only observed in a few species (Desmodus rotundus and Mystacina tuberculate to my knowledge). Future research should explore biomechanical adaptations associated with ground-foraging in M. leibii. Author Keywords: Bats, Behaviour, Exploration, Myotis leibii, Myotis lucifugus, Roosting

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Format: 2023/01/31