Graduate Theses & Dissertations


Using Fluorescent Carbon Dots for Biosensing Applications of Amino Acids
Amino acids make up proteins, which are the building blocks of life. A balance of amino acids is needed to maintain a healthy state. Tyrosine (Tyr) is synthesized from the metabolism of phenylalanine, which is an essential amino acid, meaning it can only be obtained from the diet. It is related to many metabolic and neurodegenerative diseases. Tyr can undergo post-translational modifications such as phosphorylation and nitration, which are implicated in cancer and nitrative stress, respectively. Although there are many methods to detect Tyr and its analogues, phosphotyrosine (pTyr) and nitrotyrosine (nTyr), these methods are time-consuming, involve expensive instruments and involve tedious process. This research proposes a new type of nanomaterials, carbon dots (CDs), to detect these amnio acids. Data indicate that CDs can be used to detect nTyr with a limit of detection of 34 μM in the linear range of 20 - 105 μM. The amenability of CD-nTyr assay was also tested in various biological matrices and biological molecules and was shown to be sensitive to nTyr. Nitration of Tyr was carried out in the presence of sodium nitrite and hydrogen peroxide catalyzed by either Cu(II) or Fe(III) to mimic biological reactions and CDs were tested as both inhibitors and indicators of Tyr nitration. Although CDs did not inhibit the nitration reaction of Tyr, they did not serve as indicators of Tyr nitration due to the quenching of CDs by the nitrating agents. This shows the importance of using CDs to detect nTyr and further use it for biological applications to detect diseased states. Author Keywords: amino acids, carbon dots, nanomaterials, sensor, spectroscopy, tyrosine
Determinants of Deviance
Background: Researchers have provided evidence that attachment may be independently linked to early adversity and criminal behaviour. In this study, I examined the combined associations among these variables in a student and community sample. Method: The first study consisted of undergraduate students (n = 590) who completed surveys to assess early adversity (Felitti, et al., 1988), attachment (Scharfe, 2016), and criminal behaviours. Participants were grouped based on their reports of adverse experiences and engagement in criminal behaviour. The second study was a replication of the first using a community sample (n = 294). Results: My hypotheses were partially supported, and my findings were consistent across Study 1 and Study 2. As I expected, there was a significant main effect for adversity when examining the mean scores of the attachment representations for attachment to mothers (Study 1 F (16, 1763.402) = 3.61, p < .001; Study 2 (F (16, 849.942) = 2.377, p = .002) and attachment to fathers (Study 1 F (16, 1763.402) = 4. 349, p < .001; Study 2 (F (16, 840.776) = 3.067 p < .001)). From examining the means, I concluded that participants who reported greater adversity reported higher insecure-avoidant and lower secure attachment to mothers and fathers. There were no significant main effects for criminal behaviour or significant interaction effects. Impact: To date, no study has explored all three variables explicitly. My findings are able to highlight the critical importance of secure attachment relationships and add further comprehension to exploring factors associated to criminal behaviour. Author Keywords: Attachment, Criminal Behaviour, Early Adversity
Retrograde Amnesia of Fear Memories Following Pentylenetetrazol Kindling
Memories pertaining to fearful events are some of the most salient and long-lasting memories, as they are critical to the survival of an organism. Seizures induce aberrant changes within temporal lobe and limbic brain structures that are critical for supporting fear memories. Seizures can occur at any time; therefore, it is imperative that research address how seizures impact previously learned information. The present series of experiments demonstrate that pentylenetetrazol-kindling induces retention deficits of previously acquired context fear memories in male rats. Kindling induced subsequent fear learning deficits but did not impact spatial learning. Additionally, following kindling, volumetric increase was observed within the hippocampal subfield CA3, as well as increased neural activation within the hippocampal subfield CA1. The results of this work suggests that chronic seizures can alter the function of neural networks important for supporting and retrieving previously acquired memories. Author Keywords: amygdala, anterograde amnesia, context fear conditioning, hippocampus, retrograde amnesia, seizures
Racism in Argentina and the Blackness Problem. The Change in Perception of Afro-Descendants in Buenos Aires and the New Dimensions of Blackness in Argentina (1880-1930)
This thesis examines racism in Argentina between 1880 and 1930. The governing elite's efforts to whiten the Argentine population at the end of the nineteenth century led to the erasure and discrimination of anyone who did not have Caucasian features: Afro-descendants, mulattos, mestizos, and creoles. However, in the 1930s, whitening policies proved to have limited success. On the one hand, Afro-descendants were praised by the middle and lower classes of Buenos Aires; on the other hand, the Great Depression's effects made it clear that the Argentine population was made up of an ethnic mixture that had much darker skin tones than the whitening elite preferred. This work will show how the impact of the 1930s global crisis, as well as the enthusiasm for Afro-descendants, reinforced the racism that still existed, and will demonstrate that blackness became more than a racial but also a class connotation. Author Keywords: Afro-descendants press, Blackness in Argentina, Buenos Aires Press, Cultural Constructions, Popular Blackness, Racial Identity
Story is Medicine
This is a story within a story that spans over a hundred years and four generations. It takes the reader from war-torn Russia during a famine to the urban streets of Toronto and then to the Canadian North. The story is a memoirette, or a ‘not quite long enough, but almost a memoir’ of a mother’s journey navigating life after her son discloses his addiction to Fentanyl. The mother finds little if any support from family, friends or conventional support programs and instead turns to her oma’s harrowing stories of survival as a source of knowledge, strength and medicine. The analysis explores storytelling as a legitimate method of learning, pedagogy and research. It explores the concept of story as medicine through Etuaptmumk. A Two-Eyed Seeing framework created by Mi’kmaq elders in 2004 (Sylliboy, Latimer, Marshall & McLeod, 2009). The power of the narrative is discussed through ‘Western’ and ‘Indigenous’ lenses. Author Keywords: addiction, Etuaptmumk, Fentanyl, story as medicine, story as pedagogy, Two-Eyed Seeing
Interactome study of the Giardia intestinalis nuclear localized cytochrome b5
Giardia intestinalis is a waterborne enteric parasite that lacks mitochondria and the capacity for heme biosynthesis. Despite this, Giardia encodes several heme proteins, including four cytochrome b5 isotypes (gCYTB5-I – IV) of unknown function. The aim of this thesis is to gain insight into the function of the Giardia cytochrome b5 isotype III (gCYTB5-III) that is found in the nucleus, as first reported by our laboratory using immunofluorescence microscopy experiments with an isotype-III specific antibody. Nuclear localization of isotype-III is supported by two of my experiments: i) immunoblot analysis of crude cytoplasmic and nuclear enriched fractions of Giardia trophozoites; ii) association of gCYTB5-III with the insoluble fraction of Giardia lysates crosslinked with formaldehyde is reversed by DNase I treatment. To gain an understanding of the possible roles of gCYTB5-III, I performed immunoprecipitation (IP) experiments on lysates from Giardia trophozoites to identify its protein partners. Mass spectroscopy analysis of the immunoprecipitate identified proteins localized to the nucleus (RNA polymerase, DNA topoisomerase, histones, and histone modifying enzymes). Intriguingly, over 40% of the known mitosomal proteome, which functions in iron-sulfur (Fe-S) cluster assembly was also associated with gCYTB5-III. One of these proteins, the flavoenzyme GiOR-1, has been shown to mediate electron transfer from NADPH to recombinant gCYTB5-III. These IP results provide evidence that GiOR-1 and gCYTB5-III interact in vivo, and furthermore, suggest that some proteins in the mitosome could interact with those in the nucleus. I also found that DNA stress, caused by low concentrations of formaldehyde (0.1 – 0.2%) resulted in the increased expression of gCYTB5-III. Collectively these findings suggest a role of gCYTB5-III in Giardia's response to DNA stress and perhaps the formation of Fe/S clusters. Author Keywords: cluster, cytochrome, heme, iron, mitosome, nuclear
Food insecurity among racialized international students
The notion that food insecurity only occurs in the absence of food is prevalent in society. This perception is too narrow and insufficient to capture the diverse manifestations and experiences of food insecurity. In this thesis, I adopt a more expansive approach to examine food (in)security through the lenses of adequacy, quality, and availability of culturally relevant food. I look specifically at the experiences of racialized international students from diverse backgrounds, to empirically ground this approach to understanding food (in)security. Drawing on both quantitative and qualitative data, this study explores the perceptions and real-life experiences of racialized international students who study at Trent University and University of Toronto. These two institutions were selected based on cultural diversity and variation, proximity to culturally appropriate food and the cost involved in accessing culturally appropriate food. Beyond that, I examine structural and policy elements that may be exacerbating the challenge of food security among this category of students. Clearly, issues related to food insecurity and hunger within all spatial configurations are urgent, however, there is a scarcity of literature that zeroes in on the experiences of racialized international students specifically. In the wake of the dramatic internationalization of post-secondary Canadian schools, issues of foreign students’ welfare cannot be overlooked, hence, I narrowed my research lenses to study the character of racialized international students’ inadequate access to culturally appropriate food. Upon analyzing the survey data gathered from 107 racialized international students coupled with semi-structured in-depth interviews with 8 racialized students, I found evidence that culturally appropriate foodstuffs were not abundant in supply for racialized international students. Consequently, the low supply of this category of foodstuffs translates into higher levels of prices which deter racialized international students from making adequate purchases to meet their taste and preference. As part of the findings, the students mentioned that the high cost of tuition, as well as other school-related expenditures are structural policy barriers that leave them with meagre amounts of income to spend on culturally appropriate food items. Under such circumstances, racialized international students are left with the option of purchasing fewer quantities of culturally relevant foodstuffs that meet their daily nutritional requirements. The study further revealed that the challenge of food insecurity poses a threat to the academic achievement and psycho-social well-being of affected students. In addressing these challenges, I propose that the government as well as the school authorities should consider reducing the tuition fees to lessen the financial burden on students. Apart from that, stocking grocery stores and creating culturally appropriate food supply centers in and around school campuses may be helpful. Also, the international offices of universities should intensify welfare programs that entail periodic needs assessment of international students. This will offer the school authorities timely support services to students as and when it is needed. In conclusion, I wish to state that this study seeks to add to the recently growing strand of literature that examines the intersectionality between internationalization of post-secondary schools and food insecurity. The findings provide important and preliminary evidence underpinning the experiences of racialized international students with the phenomenon of food insecurity, thereby providing a point of departure for additional research on the broader nature of intersections between food insecurity and racialization. Author Keywords: Canada, Culture, Food insecurity, International Students, Race, Universities
Using the Same Language, but Meaning Different Things
Two dominant narratives emerging throughout the war were the national narrative––that is, the narrative of the war as articulated by the British nation via texts such as political speeches, recruitment posters, and popular music–– and the poetic narrative––that is, the narrative of the war emerging from poets, specifically battlefront poets for the sake of this thesis. One hundred years since World War One, these two narratives are often conceptualized as mutually exclusive, even antithetical to one another. This thesis brings these diverse narratives into conversation with one another by investigating how they both draw on the same rhetorics and yet use these rhetorics to differing ends. Interestingly, the rhetorics employed by both narratives throughout the war endure in contemporary remembrance practices in Britain today. By investigating how each narrative draws on and employs the same rhetorics, this thesis both contextualizes and complexifies contemporary interpretations of contemporary remembrance practices. Author Keywords: Battlefront Poetry , Britain, Narrative, Remembrance, Rhetoric, World War One
Expression of Giardia intestinalis flavoenzyme GiOR-1 and characterization of its electron transfer properties
Giardia intestinalis possesses four isotypes of cytochrome b5 (gCYTB-I-IV) that differ from their mammalian counterparts, suggesting different functions in this protozoan parasite. Although the recently discovered Giardia flavoenzyme, GiOR-1, reduces these cytochromes, its properties have not been thoroughly studied, owing to the difficulty in its expression. Here I describe successful conditions for expression of GiOR-1 using autoinduction. GiOR-1 is obtained with flavins bound as indicated by its UV-visible spectrum. Its ability to catalyze electron transfer from donors (NADH, NADPH) to acceptors (oxygen, ferricyanide, cytochrome c, gCYTB5-III) were studied in spectrophotometric rate assays. NADPH is the preferred electron donor, while cytochromes are the preferred electron acceptors. Interestingly, the His-tag used to purify gCYTB5-III decreases its reaction rate with GiOR-1, as an untagged version has slightly faster rates. These findings establish the appropriate conditions for further studies on GiOR-1, including the identification of endogenous electron acceptors. Author Keywords: Autoinduction, Cytochrome b5, Cytochrome P450 oxidoreductase, Giardia intestinalis, GiOR-1, Polyhistidine tag
Prescription Drugs
Medication used to treat human illness is one of the greatest developments in human history. In Canada, prescription drugs have been developed and made available to treat a wide variety of illnesses, from infections to heart disease and so on. Records of prescription drug fulfillment at coarse Canadian geographic scales were obtained from Health Canada in order to track the use of these drugs by the Canadian population. The obtained prescription drug fulfillment records were in a variety of inconsistent formats, including a large selection of years for which only paper tabular records were available (hard copies). In this work, we organize, digitize, proof and synthesize the full available data set of prescription drug records, from paper to final database. Extensive quality control was performed on the data before use. This data was then analyzed for temporal and spatial changes in prescription drug use across Canada from 1990-2013. In addition, one of major research areas in environmental epidemiological studies is the study of population health risk associated with exposure to ambient air pollution. Prescription drugs can moderate public health risk, by reducing the drug user's physiological symptoms and preventing acute health effects (e.g., strokes, heart attacks, etc.). The cleaned prescription drug data was considered in the context of a common model to examine its influence on the association between air pollution exposure and various health outcomes. Since, prescription drug data were available only at the provincial level, a Bayesian hierarchical model was employed to include the prescription drugs as a covariate at regional level, which were then combined to estimate the association at national level. Although further investigations are required, the study results suggest that the prescription drugs influenced the air pollution related public health risk. Author Keywords: Data, Error checking, Population health, Prescriptions
Developing Social-Emotional Competencies in Youth
Trait Emotional Intelligence (TEI) plays an important role in the health and wellness of children and adolescents. Not surprisingly, the literature on TEI and youth has expanded dramatically. Although the quality of this work continues to be uneven due to the continued proliferation of TEI-related measures with questionable psychometric features. One over-looked TEI measure in the field is the short form developed for the Emotional Quotient Inventory Youth Version (EQ-i:YV-S). The core goal of Study 1 was to examine the overall reliability and validity of the EQ-i:YV-S. The aim of Study 2 was to evaluate the utility of the EQ-i:YV-S as a measure of the effectiveness of a new school-based social and emotional learning program for elementary school students. Results from Study 1 demonstrated that the EQ-i:YV-S had good internal reliability, 6-month test-retest reliability, and convergent validity. Study 2 found that Total EI and most key EI-related dimensions had significant improvement from pretest to post test on the EQ-i:YV-S. These findings have important implications for TEI measurement in youth and the effectiveness of school-based psychoeducational programming for TEI, with the EQ-i:YV-S as a viable option for research in this area. Author Keywords: emotional intelligence, psychoeducational programming, social-emotional competencies
Prey abundance and habitat during the breeding season for Piping Plovers in the Ontario Great Lakes region
Similar to other shorebird trends around the world, the Piping Plover population (Charadrius melodus circumcinctus) is projected to decline if concerted conservation efforts are relaxed. To date, there is insufficient understanding of the connection between habitat type, prey abundance, and chick behaviour of the Piping Plover breeding population in Ontario. The aim of my thesis was to gain knowledge about prey abundance at recent and historic breeding locations, understanding how habitat influences prey abundance and chick behaviour across the Piping Plover breeding range in Ontario’s Great Lakes. The objective of my first study was to understand prey abundance across the breeding region Great Lakes of Ontario from 2018-2019, including occupied and unoccupied sites, and to quantify variation among habitats and periods of reproduction. To evaluate resources, I sampled 17 locations to compare prey abundance using invertebrate traps (n= 3,507). Sampling took place over the reproductive periods of nest initiation, post-hatch, and fledging and in four habitat types of shoreline, wrack, berm, and back dune. Occupied breeding sites had higher prey abundances, and different assemblages of invertebrate prey than unoccupied sites. Additionally, breeding sites had higher prey abundance during nest initiation and supported higher amounts of prey in shoreline and wrack habitat. The objective of my second study was to understand how habitat types influence chick behaviour. To evaluate behaviour-habitat trends, instantaneous chick observations were recorded at the four nest sites from the post-hatch to fledging stages. In total there were 23 fledged chicks that we observed across the two years. Chicks in this study spent 60.9% of their time foraging, 11.9% of the time displaying alert behaviour, 21.4% of their time resting or being brooded, and 5.9% of their time preening. Chicks spent a large proportion of time foraging in the shoreline, resting in the back dune, and alert in berm habitat. The frequency of these alert, defensive behaviours differed among sites, with Sauble Beach chicks spending more time in defensive behaviours compared to other sites. I concluded that in both nesting and brood-rearing periods, habitat is selected non-randomly by adult and young Piping Plovers to maximize access to invertebrate prey for growth and survival. Access by chicks to the most productive habitats should be considered in local management decisions. Author Keywords: chick behaviour, endangered, Great Lakes Region, habitat, Piping Plovers, prey abundance


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