Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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On Forests, Witness Trees, and Bears
This dissertation is about Forests, their loss and the grieving that arises from their loss. The loss of ancient and old-growth forests by way of clearcutting and or anthropogenically driven disturbances, including climate change, presents the quandary of loss of both biological and cultural diversity. Following Umeek’s/E. Richard Atleo’s term, I suggest that “dis-ease” in the dominant relationship to forests in parts of the Western world significantly rests within inherited cultural and political pasts at play in the present, carried in much of the language and lifeways of modern Anglophone societies today. I do so by a critical topographical exploration of thematic patterns that go back to the Epic of Gilgamesh, the oldest written account of deforestation in the history of Western civilization. I offer at the center of my inquiry a collection of witness trees as North American case studies. Each tree is a witness object, a station from which I confront and explore social-ecological grief as it has accumulated over time from English colonization, with one focusing on Indigenous cultural reclamation and place-based ecological co-management. Lastly, I turn to a multispecies exploration of social-ecological grief, using bears in North America as a face for reflection and consider who and what more is lost when old forests are degraded and gone. By asking the place question—“what place is this?”—of forests, or the Forest Question, my dissertation is thus an exploration of the connection and responsibilities to other place-based human and other-than-human communities in a rapidly changing climate. Author Keywords: critical topography, environmental grief, forests, multispecies, social-ecological relations, witness trees
Great Liberation (or Standing Up, Laying Down)
This thesis presents a critical history of stand-up comedy alongside rhetorical analyses of specific stand-up routines and performances to argue for stand-up’s efficacy as a therapeutic artform. Through analysis of the history, function, and content of satire, this thesis presents stand-up comedy as an artform utilized for more than just simple laughter. Stand-up comedy, as a form and genre, provides the unique ability to engage with difficult subject matter, traumatic experiences, and offense for the benefit of both listener and audience in a way that subverts, therapizes, and equalizes instances of discrimination, trauma, and denigration. Author Keywords: Abjection, Offense, Satire, Stand-up Comedy, Therapy
Speaking of Being
The central question of this research is “What is poetry?” The ambiguity and unintelligibility of the question itself forces the writing to take two different approaches to it. The first approach is to define poetry not by what it is but by how it is related to the human being and to the world. Seeing poetry as its relation to Being allows a definition of poetry based on its function. This approach draws on philosophical discussions how poetry is related to the human and how Being can be extended into poetic creation. Martin Heidegger’s move from seeing poetry as the possibility of worldmaking to seeing it as a place of dwelling, and, in his later works, as unconcealment and the extension of Being as the House of Being, marks the direction of philosophical discussions in this paper. In this sense, poetry is defined as a creative possibility, where the speaking being comes in close contact with the speaking things and speaks of being.The second approach is to define poetry not as a whole but as some of its essential parts, as “poetic imagination” for instance. This attempt to define the poetic imagination draws on long-running discussions of imagination, metaphor, metaphorical thinking, image and imaging. It also relies on Freud’s discussions of how dreams function as textual phenomena: the poetic imagination, this approach argues, is similar to dreaming. The poet’s conscious and unconscious engagements with language create an uncanny experience where the relation between object and its poetic image is simultaneously known and unknowable. The third part of this study focuses on Lacan’s move from the symbolic unconscious to the real unconscious, in order to shed light on how the real is related to its linguistic reality. This brings the discussion to a point where language is replaced by lalangue in order to knot the real directly to the symbolic. Author Keywords: poetic creation, poetic imagination, poetry
Oil is Thicker than Justice
This thesis provides a comprehensive overview of the extractive industry operating out of the Alberta tar sands region to determine how environmental violence is enacted against Indigenous women, girls, and queer or Two-Spirit peoples in the Lubicon Lake Cree Nation and beyond. Through an analysis of existing literature in the field, a case study on the Lubicon Lake Nation and a policy analysis of the Calls for Justice from the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, this thesis draws links between industrialization, capitalism, the heteropatriarchy, and colonialism. Finally, this thesis offers a pathway to resurgence, through the subversion of colonial gender and sexual norms, and collective action to reclaim Indigenous territory as an alternative to state-sponsored solutions and policies. Author Keywords: Colonial heteropatriarchy, Environmental violence, Land Back, Lubicon Lake, Tar sands, Violence against Indigenous women
Land Cover Effects on Hydrologic Regime within Mixed Land Use Watersheds of East-Central Ontario
Land cover change has the potential to alter the hydrologic regime from its natural state. Southern Ontario contains the largest and fastest growing urban population in Canada as well as the majority of prime (Class I) agricultural land. Expansions in urban cover at the expense of agricultural land and resultant ‘agricultural intensification’, including expansion of tile drainage, have unknown effects on watershed hydrology. To investigate this, several streams with a range of landcovers and physiographic characteristics were monitored for two years to compare differences of flashiness and variability of streamflow using several hydrologic metrics. Urban watersheds were usually the flashiest while agriculture had moderate flashiness and natural watersheds were the least flashy across all seasons, signifying that landcover effects were consistent across seasons. Tile drainage increased stream flashiness during wet periods, but minimized the stream response to an extreme rain event in the summer, perhaps due to increases in soil moisture storage. A sixty-year flow analysis showed that flashiness and streamflow increased (p < 0.05) above a development threshold of ~10% of watershed area. Flashiness was also greater in wetter years suggesting that climate shifts may enhance stream variability in developed watersheds. Author Keywords: Agriculture, Flashiness, Hydrologic Metrics, Hydrologic Regime, Landcover Change, Urban
SARS-CoV-2 Protein-based Detection Using Localized Surface Plasmon Resonance
During the COVID-19 pandemic, nucleic acid and antibody-based testing methods were heavily relied upon, but can be costly, time-consuming and exhibit high false -negative and -positive rates. Thus, alternative strategies are needed. Viral antigens such as the SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) glycoprotein are critical in the function of the virus and useful as diagnostic biomarkers for viral infections. For biosensing applications, aptamers are suitable high-affinity and cost-effective binding partners for their specific targets. Using localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR), real-time, rapid acquisition of results can be achieved, essential for improving the efficacy of a sensor. Herein, LSPR aptamer sensors were fabricated for the detection of the SARS-CoV-2 protein. Data indicate that the best performing aptasensor was the streptavidin-biotin sensor, while the current gold aptasensor exhibited lower sensitivity and the fabrication of the carboxyl aptasensor was unsuccessful. The S1 aptamer selectively bound the S1 protein with high binding affinity. Excellent shelf-life stability, reusability, and high recovery in complex matrices was also maintained. Additionally, a receptor binding domain (RBD) functionalized sensor was fabricated to examine the interactions with angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), for future assessment of inhibitors used in drug therapies. Overall, LSPR has been demonstrated as a viable tool for measuring SARS-CoV-2 related aptamer-protein and protein-protein interactions, and this strategy may be applied to other viral or non-viral antigen targets. Author Keywords: Antigen-based Detection, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Inhibition, Localized Surface Plasmon Resonance, SARS-CoV-2
Exploring the Role of Natural Antisense Transcripts in the Stress Response of Ustilago maydis
Fungal pathogens adapt to environmental changes faster than their hosts, due in part to their adaptive mechanisms exhibited in response to stress. Ustilago maydis was used to investigate potential natural antisense transcript (NAT) RNA-mediated mechanisms that enhance fungal adaptation to stress. Of the 349 NATs conserved amongst U. maydis and two related smut fungi, five NATs were identified as having altered transcript levels in response to multiple stress conditions. Subsequently, antisense transcript expression vectors were created for select NATs and transformed into U. maydis haploid cells. When exposed to stress conditions, two antisense expressing mutant strains exhibited alterations in growth. RT-qPCR analysis of mRNA complementary to expressed NATs revealed no significant change in mRNA levels, which suggests NAT expression may influence stress response through dsRNA formation or other RNA mediated mechanisms. These results establish a basis for further investigations into the connection between NATs and the stress response of fungi. Author Keywords: natural antisense transcripts, non-coding RNAs, stress response, Ustilago maydis
Ê-NITONAHK MIYO-PIMÂTISIWIN (SEEKING THE GOOD LIFE) THROUGH INDIGENOUS DANCE
This thesis is about the ways in which Indigenous dance serves as a social determinant of Indigenous health and well-being. Utilizing both contemporary and traditional versions of the Medicine Wheel for the framework, analysis and organization of the thesis allows for a holistic perspective which includes the spiritual, physical, emotional and mental aspects. The importance of Indigenous dance for Indigenous health and well-being is confirmed through: existing literature; interviews with Indigenous choreographers, dancers, theatre artists, and performers; Indigenous exponents of the forms; and Indigenous Elders. In order to contextualize current practices of Indigenous dance, the history of Indigenous dance in relation to colonization is presented. The research and experiences of co-researchers show the need for Indigenous dance and culture to be supported as a social determinant of health and well-being. Author Keywords:
Gene flow directionality and functional genetic variation among Ontario, Canada Ursus americanus populations.
Rapidly changing landscapes introduce challenges for wildlife management, particularly for large mammal populations with long generation times and extensive spatial requirements. Understanding how these populations interact with heterogeneous landscapes aids in predicting responses to further environmental change. In this thesis, I profile American black bears using microsatellite loci and pooled whole-genome sequencing. These data characterize gene flow directionality and functional genetic variation to understand patterns of dispersal and local adaptation; processes key to understanding vulnerability to environmental change. I show dispersal is positively density-dependent, male biased, and influenced by food productivity gradients suggestive of source-sink dynamics. Genomic comparison of bears inhabiting different climate and forest zones identified variation in genes related to the cellular response to starvation and cold. My thesis demonstrates source-sink dynamics and local adaption in black bears. Population management must balance dispersal to sustain declining populations against the risk of maladaptation under future scenarios of environmental change. Author Keywords: American black bear, Dispersal, Functional Genetic Variation, Gene Flow Directionality, Genomics, Local Adaptation
Functional Variation within Middle Paleolithic Ground Stone Tools
In the southern Levant, ground stone tools (GST) provide insight into early plant food exploitation, butchery, and cognition. Outside of these examples, GST evidence is scarce, particularly for the Middle Paleolithic. An extensive assemblage of GST recovered from Nesher Ramla, an open-air hunting camp in Israel, presents the unique opportunity to study the role of GST within Middle Paleolithic behaviour. Use-wear and residue analysis, together with replication experiments are employed to investigate GST function within a specific period of site use by focusing on GST from the Upper Sequence (Units I-II) which reflects a trend of decreasing site-use intensity. The results indicate that GST were employed for bone breaking and knapping during the final phases of occupation while comparison with Unit V suggests longer occupations involved more diverse and extensive use of GST. GST at open-air sites are also proposed to represent a strategy for intensive exploitation of location-specific resources. Author Keywords: Ground Stone Tools, Hammerstones, Middle Paleolithic, Residue Analysis, southern Levant, Use-Wear Analysis
Heteronormativity in Virtual World Design
The purpose of this research is to highlight the limitations and opportunities for playful expression of gender identity in character creation systems of virtual worlds, and how these might work to reinforce, or disrupt, the heteronormative imperative. The primary sites considered in this analysis are the video game World of Warcraft and the live action role-playing game Amtgard. I provide evidence that while the World of Warcraft’s character creation system is sexist and works to reinforce heteronormative ideology, Amtgard’s relatively ambiguous design provides opportunity for disruption of these norms. Participant research with Amtgard players demonstrates actual instances of Amtgard’s more flexible character creation system being utilized in expression and exploration of gender identity which resists the heteronormative imperative. Based on this, I call on game developers to reject designs which necessitate selection of gender from within the traditional binary and embrace more ambiguous design in development of character creation systems. Author Keywords: Avatars, Game Design, Games, Gender, Identity, Virtual Worlds
Influence of nitrogen and sulfur on cadmium tolerance in Euglena gracilis
Heavy metal pollution threatens human and ecosystem health. E. gracilis was investigated for its potential use in bioremediation due to its tolerance for heavy metals and ability to sequester them from the environment. E. gracilis can remove metals by producing metal binding compounds enriched in sulfur and nitrogen. In this thesis, E. gracilis cultures that were pretreated with elevated levels of sulfur or nitrogen had increased tolerance to CdCl2 compared to non-pretreated cultures. RNA-sequencing revealed that both pretreatments led to transcript level changes and that exposure to CdCl2 led to further transcript level changes. Gene ontology (GO) enrichment analysis reflected changes in nitrogen and sulfur metabolism as well as physiological processes related to metal binding. The data from this thesis revealed important transcription level changes that occur when E. gracilis is challenged with CdCl2 and helps us understand how organisms adapt to heavy metal pollution in the environment. Author Keywords: bioremediation, Cadmium, Euglena gracilis, GO-enrichment, metal-binding, RNA-Sequencing

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Format: 2024/04/12