Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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Time, Being, and the Image
The three projects that make up this dissertation try to articulate an ontological idea of art; which is to say, they all approach art, or the imagination (as in project two), from the standpoint of a philosophical question concerning the sense of being. The ontological question is elaborated in terms of a theory of the spatial-temporal structure of the aesthetic or sensible realm. This kind of ontology contrasts with a more traditional metaphysical one, where the sense of being is sought within the purely intelligible realm, a realm that transcends the sensible. In projects one and two, the contrast is developed in terms of the Nietzschean/Heideggerian critique of metaphysics, and through the work of Jean-Luc Nancy, who appropriates this critique. In project three, it is developed in terms of Bergson and Deleuze’s critique of objective time, or of any attempt to define being and time in terms of what is static and unchanging. Art is central for the ontology at stake here, and the ontology is one of art, because it is a matter of questioning the spatial-temporal being of the sensible, and not the being of the purely intelligible; and because art (as I try to show) is itself essentially concerned with revealing this ontological dimension of the sensible. Author Keywords: Aesthetics, Art, Being, Fragment, Image, Time
Time to adapt
To better understand species’ resilience to climate change and implement solutions, we must conserve environments that maintain standing adaptive genetic variation and the potential generation of new beneficial alleles. Coding trinucleotide repeats (cTNRs) providing high-pace adaptive capabilities via high rates of mutation are ideal targets for mitigating the decline of species at risk by characterizing adaptively significant populations. Ultimately, adaptive genetic information will inform the protection of biological diversity below the species level (i.e., “Evolutionarily Significant Units” or “ESUs”). This dissertation investigates cTNRs within candidate genes to determine their prevalence and influence under selection in North American mammals. First, I evaluated the potential for somatic mosaicism in Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis), and found that tissue-specific mosaicism does not confound cTNR genotyping success in lynx. Second, I assessed a selection of clock gene cTNRs across characterized mammals and found that these repeats are abundant and highly variable in length and purity. I also identified preliminary signatures of selection in 3 clock gene cTNRs in 3 pairs of congeneric North American mammal species, highlighting the importance of cTNRs for understanding the evolution and adaptation of wild populations. I further evaluated the influence of selection on the NR1D1 cTNR within Canada lynx sampled across Canada using environmental correlation, where I estimated the variation in NR1D1 cTNR alleles explained by environmental and spatial variables after removing the effects of neutral population structure. Although most variation was explained by neutral structure, environment and spatial patterns in eastern lynx populations significantly explained some of the variation in NR1D1 alleles. To examine the role of island populations in the generation and distribution of adaptive genetic variation, I used 14 neutral microsatellites and a dinucleotide repeat within a gene linked to mammalian body size, IGF-1, and found that both genetic drift and natural selection influence the observed genetic diversity of insular lynx. Finally, I estimated the divergence dates of peripheral lynx populations and made recommendations towards the conservation of Canada lynx; high levels of genetic differentiation coupled with post-glacial colonization histories and patterns of divergence at cTNR loci suggest at least 4 ESUs for Canada lynx across their range. Author Keywords: adaptation, Canada lynx, candidate genes, coding trinucleotide repeats, evolution, natural selection
Time Series Algorithms in Machine Learning - A Graph Approach to Multivariate Forecasting
Forecasting future values of time series has long been a field with many and varied applications, from climate and weather forecasting to stock prediction and economic planning to the control of industrial processes. Many of these problems involve not only a single time series but many simultaneous series which may influence each other. This thesis provides methods based on machine learning of handling such problems. We first consider single time series with both single and multiple features. We review the algorithms and unique challenges involved in applying machine learning to time series. Many machine learning algorithms when used for regression are designed to produce a single output value for each timestamp of interest with no measure of confidence; however, evaluating the uncertainty of the predictions is an important component for practical forecasting. We therefore discuss methods of constructing uncertainty estimates in the form of prediction intervals for each prediction. Stability over long time horizons is also a concern for these algorithms as recursion is a common method used to generate predictions over long time intervals. To address this, we present methods of maintaining stability in the forecast even over large time horizons. These methods are applied to an electricity forecasting problem where we demonstrate the effectiveness for support vector machines, neural networks and gradient boosted trees. We next consider spatiotemporal problems, which consist of multiple interlinked time series, each of which may contain multiple features. We represent these problems using graphs, allowing us to learn relationships using graph neural networks. Existing methods of doing this generally make use of separate time and spatial (graph) layers, or simply replace operations in temporal layers with graph operations. We show that these approaches have difficulty learning relationships that contain time lags of several time steps. To address this, we propose a new layer inspired by the long-short term memory (LSTM) recurrent neural network which adds a distinct memory state dedicated to learning graph relationships while keeping the original memory state. This allows the model to consider temporally distant events at other nodes without affecting its ability to model long-term relationships at a single node. We show that this model is capable of learning the long-term patterns that existing models struggle with. We then apply this model to a number of real-world bike-share and traffic datasets where we observe improved performance when compared to other models with similar numbers of parameters. Author Keywords: forecasting, graph neural network, LSTM, machine learning, neural network, time series
Through the eyes of the Ontario farmer
Dairy goat farming has become increasingly popular in recent years in Ontario. This qualitative study done by semi-structured interviews, examines the why and the wherefore of the opinions held by dairy goat farmers in Ontario in regards to sustainable agriculture. It was found that these farmers feel that sustainable agriculture is important. These farmers believed their farms to be sustainable and have implemented sustainable farming practices that reflect these interests. Their primary interest is to maintain their farmland for the use of future generations as well as maintaining the economic and environmental sustainability of their farms. There is currently a lack of scientific information available for dairy goat farmers in Ontario. Challenges presented by the participants should be researched so as to better serve this budding industry which may become one of the most sustainable livestock industries in Ontario. Author Keywords: agriculture, dairy goat, farmer opinion, farming, sustainability, sustainable agriculture
This Is It, I Guess
Queer youth are an at-risk group, with an incredibly high rate of harm and death as they grow into themselves. They are often advised to wait until they finish school to express their sexuality more openly, when they can leave to somewhere that is “better”, which in this context can mean safer, more accepting, or far away from friends and family who may reject them. Unfortunately, much of the media representation of queer people is regressive or stereotypical, usually involving the suffering or death of its queer-identified characters. It is telling that a recurring theme in queer stories is that empathy and understanding for queer people can only be attained through their suffering. Non-queer people do not have to suffer to be understood. In this thesis I discuss the potential of creativity in academic works, I examine queer stories that buck the trend of tragedy through queer and pop culture theory, and I write a queer young adult novel in response, featuring a self-actualized protagonist whose sexuality does not cause him pain or trauma. Author Keywords: creative writing, queer literature, queer protagonist, queer theory, queer youth, young adult literature
Thinking High When Feeling Shy
Social anxiety often co-occurs with substance use disorders – various psychological variables, contextual factors, and implicit cognitions may help explain their relationship. This thesis examined whether social anxiety and psychological variables (jointly and independently) helped predict substance use and related problems. It also explored whether social anxiety group membership helped predict implicit cannabis-sedation associations and substance use desirability. A sample of undergraduate student volunteers (N = 65) completed a computer task, questionnaires with anxiety-provoking vignettes, and online questionnaires. Results indicate that fear of negative evaluation and anxiety sensitivity are important predictors of alcohol and cannabis (respectively) use and problems. Social anxiety group was related to increased cannabis desirability in performance contexts. No significant implicit cannabis-sedation associations were identified. Our findings highlight the importance of certain variables in social anxiety and substance use relationships, and considering contextual factors when assessing substance desirability. It also provides preliminary evidence of a novel implicit cannabis-sedation measure. Author Keywords: Coping, Emotion, Implicit Cognition, Social Anxiety, Substance Use
Thinking Ahead
The present thesis entails a qualitative investigation of the unique notion to transition media change from the current paper-based system to the potential use of information technology innovation for communication between health care providers and employers during return to work. Stakeholder perspectives on relevant communication phenomena were gathered from workers, employers, and health care providers with experience in return to work. Methods for analysis involved critical realist grounded theory, as well as the use of a prototype innovation, named the Return to Work Expert App, as a platform for participant evaluation and discourse. The study’s findings provided comprehensive and in-depth understanding of return to work communication, beyond its empirical regularities. The generative mechanisms of common communication problems that were discovered included situated reasoning, media as information (“the medium is the message”), epistemological disjuncture, egoism-altruism-collectivism quandary, and perspective taking. A novel theoretical framework based on ecological psychology was also advanced to offer a coherent and systematic understanding of the situated nature of health care providers’ reasoning and information development. Media change via the Return to Work Expert App was argued to be limited in handling and resolving many of the communication problems that can occur. However, the app had perceptible value and benefits to prospective users that suggested a distinct advantage over current paper-based practices. Opportunities for further development and research exist to address relevant challenges, most notable of all being the need to address the app’s burden of proof. For the interested reader, this thesis advances research and knowledge of provider-employer communication to a state that is truly fitting of the importance acknowledged of it in the field of return to work. Author Keywords: critical realism, ecological psychology, media change, return to work, stakeholder communication, technological acceptance
Thin Line Between Hell and Here
The end of the Cold War and the global triumph of neoliberalism were accompanied by the evolution of certain themes in dystopian fiction. According to some of its advocates, such as Francis Fukuyama, neoliberalism’s success signified the “end of history,” understood as ideological evolution, since the decline of communism left Western liberal democracies without any major opposition in terms of global governing and discursive practices. This thesis critically compares neoliberal rhetoric concerning invisible power, the end of history, technology, freedom of consumption and the commodification of human relationships with the ideologies represented in four neoliberal dystopian works of fiction, namely Black Mirror, Feed, The Circle, and The Fat Years. These examples create a “one-dimensional” dystopian subject who is rendered incapable of possessing the utopian imagination necessary to organize political resistance, precisely as a result of the governance and discourse of neoliberalism. Author Keywords: dystopia, dystopian fiction, dystopian subjectivity, neoliberalism, post cold war fiction, subjectivity
The Relations Between Identity Developmental Processes, Study Habits, and Academic Performance
Adolescence is a time when young people focus their attention on setting and pursuing long-term goals. Contemporary approaches of identity development focus on three pivotal processes underlying the identity formation process and the maintenance of one’s identity (e.g., core values, etc.). These processes are commitment (commitments to a goal), in-depth exploration (exploration of choices and options), and reconsideration of commitment (feelings of uncertainty about current commitments). The primary purpose of the current study was to examine the relations between identity processes, study habits, and academic performance in 45 female undergraduate students (M age = 21.00). Utilizing a self-report measure, findings suggested a significant positive relation between educational and relational commitment, as well as reconsideration of commitments in the educational domain and reconsideration of commitments in the relational domain. In terms of identity processes and grades, a regression analysis revealed that educational reconsideration of commitments predicted academic performance. Further, for those employing poor study habit skills, educational reconsideration of commitment predicted academic performance. The present study offers insight on the importance of assessing adolescent’s uncertainty of educational and relational commitments, while also highlighting the protective factor of maintaining good study habit strategies. Author Keywords: academic performance, adolescence, educational, identity, relational, study habits
The Desire to Be Authentic
Authenticity has been demonstrated as an important factor in relationships and sexual health (Impett et al., 2006; Impett, Breines, & Strachman, 2010). Although authentic behaviour is generally beneficial, sharing our true thoughts, feelings, and desires may be especially difficult in sexual contexts. Existing research has demonstrated that individuals find sexual communication awkward, uncomfortable, and embarrassing and may avoid such discussions overall (Shumlich & Fisher, 2020). Despite the evidence that behaving authentically in sexual contexts is uniquely challenging, research has yet to explore sexual authenticity. A primary objective of this study was to develop a measure to assess individuals’ level of sexual authenticity. Study 1 involved performing several exploratory factor analyses on the 23 proposed items, which yielded a 15-item scale that loaded onto three factors: 1) Honest Sexual Communication, 2) Sexual Placating, and 3) Sexual Self-Doubt. These subscales were statistically associated with related constructs such as relationship authenticity, honesty, and sexual deception. In Study 2, confirmatory factor analyses were conducted on two independent samples which provided additional support for the model and evidence for generalizability for the scale. The resulting Sexual Authenticity Scale was then leveraged to examine the relationships between sexual authenticity and its proposed benefits. Overall, sexual authenticity was found to be associated with enhanced sexual communication, sexual consent behaviours, and higher sexual and relationship satisfaction. Author Keywords: authenticity, relationship satisfaction, sexual authenticity, sexual communication, sexual consent, sexual satisfaction
That They Might Sing the Song of the Lamb
This thesis examines Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)'s theology of music, using as a starting place her letter to the Prelates of Mainz, which responds to an interdict prohibiting Hildegard's monastery from singing the liturgy. Using the twelfth-century context of female monasticism, liturgy, music theory and ideas about body and soul, the thesis argues that Hildegard considered the sung liturgy essential to monastic formation. Music provided instruction not only by informing the intellect but also by moving the affections to embrace a spiritual good. The experience of beauty as an educational tool reflected the doctrine of the Incarnation. Liturgical music helped nuns because it reminded them their final goal was heaven, helped them overcome sin and facilitated participation in the angelic choirs. Ultimately losing the ability to sing the liturgy was not a minor inconvenience, but the loss of a significant spiritual and educational tool fundamental to achieving union with God. Author Keywords: Hildegard of Bingen, Letter to the Prelates of Mainz, liturgy, monasticism, music
Tests of the Invasional Meltdown Hypothesis in invasive herbaceous plant species in southern Ontario
According to the Invasional Meltdown Hypothesis (IMH), invasive species may interact in their introduced range and facilitate future invasions. This study investigated the possibility that Alliaria petiolata, an invasive allelopathic herbaceous plant in Ontario, is facilitating invasions by additional alien species. Two allelopathic focal species were chosen for this study: the native Solidago canadensis and the invasive A. petiolata. Field surveys in southern Ontario that quantified plant biodiversity in plots that included one or both focal species revealed no support for the IMH, although fewer species co-existed with A. petiolata than with S. canadensis. A year-long recruitment experiment in Peterborough, Ontario, also produced results inconsistent with the IMH, although did provide some evidence that A. petiolata limited recruitment of other species. These results collectively show negative impacts on regional biodiversity by A. petiolata, even in the absence of an invasional meltdown. Author Keywords: allelopathy, Alliaria petiolata, co-occurrence surveys, invasional meltdown hypothesis, invasive species, Solidago canadensis

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Format: 2023/10/03