Aharoni, Jordan – Geospatial analysis of how opportunities influence user destination choice in the Hamilton bike share system (Dr. Darren Scott)
Urban policies are steadily shifting towards building sustainable cities in the transportation sector. There is a growing focus on developing infrastructure that supports active transportation with many cities, including Hamilton, introducing public bike share systems to increase cycling ridership. Understanding cycling trends and behaviours is an important step in implementing policies to reduce traffic congestion, improve public health, and mitigate pollution. However, destination choice behaviours have not yet been thoroughly examined in the available cycling literature. This project looks into trends of SoBi Hamilton bike share users when ending their trips. The major variable for this project is opportunity, a geographic term used to convey spatial instances of establishments such as businesses, shopping centres, and schools. The goal of this project was to partition the Hamilton bike share network based around generated service areas that define access within the network for a given distance or time from various points, in this case the bike docking hubs that make up the system. In order to accomplish this, Python scripts were developed to facilitate and automate the necessary tasks due to the volume of data being processed. The scripts generated six types of service areas and counted the number of trips ended at each hub for a given year. The project is still in the data analysis stage but a very important finding that has been made is that most trips end out of hub, which suggests that the spatial distribution of hubs is not optimally balanced.
Ahmed, Raisa – Reliability of Afferent Inhibition Measurements by Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (Dr. Aimee Nelson)
Electrophysiology techniques such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) are important tools for understanding brain function in both healthy individuals and those suffering from disease. Discrepancies continue to arise in scientific literature regarding the reliability of the measures obtained from this technique. It is therefore crucial to further investigate and gain a more comprehensive understanding of its reliability.
The use of TMS has become increasingly prevalent over the past few decades. However, without a clear understanding of reliability, confirmation of stable measurements may be difficult to determine. The goal of this study was to investigate sensorimotor control of the hand using TMS, a non-invasive form of brain stimulation, determining the reliability of this measurement tool.
Short-latency afferent inhibition (SAI) and long-latency afferent inhibition (LAI) was measured using TMS. These measurements were assessed across two sessions in a total of 24 participants, determining whether measurements of SAI and LAI using TMS were reliable and reproducible measures. Reliability was assessed using interclass correlation coefficients for absolute agreement.
It was expected that measurements of Short and Long Afferent Inhibition (SAI and LAI) using TMS would have moderate to high reliability. This study found that measurements of long-latency afferent inhibition had high reliability between sessions. Whereas, measures of short-latency afferent inhibition had low reliability.
Findings from this study are significant in developing an improved understanding of afferent inhibition as an electrophysiological measurement. The results assessed the accuracy for use of TMS in clinical investigations, such as those involving individuals suffering from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
Al-Atout, Rama – Mixed polymeric micelles based on hyaluronic acid-grafted PPG copolymer for ophthalmic delivery of dexamethasone (Dr. Heather Sheardown)
Topical drug delivery to the anterior segments of the eye, such as the iris and cornea, is limited and commonly ineffective. Conventional ophthalmic medications, such as eye drops, typically exhibit poor ocular bioavailability after administration due to the anatomical and physiological barriers of the eye. Additionally, eye drops have a short residence time in the anterior region, which results in frequent administration of drops to achieve the desired therapeutic effect. In this study, a novel polymeric mixed micelle system was developed to improve the residence time, enhance the ocular bioavailability, and allow for sustained release of dexamethasone (DEX) to treat anterior uveitis, which is an inflammation that effects the iris and ciliary body.
The mixed micelles were based off of hyaluronic acid (HA)-grafted-polypropylene glycol (PPG) copolymer (HA-g-PPG). Different amounts of either Pluronic F127 or D-alpha-tocopheryl polyethylene glycol 1000 succinate (TPGS) were added to the base copolymer to form mixed micelles, named HA-g-PPG/F127 and HA-g-PPG/TPGS micelles, respectively. The unloaded and DEX-loaded mixed micelles were prepared using a thin film hydration method, and their physicochemical properties were characterized and compared to HA-g-PPG single micelles.
The diameter of the HA-g-PPG/F127 mixed micelle formulation was 143.6 ± 5.618 nm, and 122.2 ± 7.032 nm for the HA-g-PPG/TPGS. The entrapment efficiency of DEX was 83% ± 6% for the HA-g-PPG/F127 system, and 84% ± 3% for HA-g-PPG/TPGS. The in vitro release studies showed that the HA-g-PPG/F127 and the HA-g-PPG/TPGS mixed micelles released 80% of DEX at 32 hours and 28 hours, respectively, compared to 14 hours for HA-g-PPG single micelles, and 5 hours for the DEX solution without micelles. These findings suggest that the HA-g-PPG/F127 and HA-g-PPG/TPGS mixed micelles could be used as nanocarriers for the sustainable delivery of DEX to treat anterior uveitis.
Anderson, Matt – Statistical Model of Short Carbohelicenes (Dr. An-Chang Shi)
Carbohelicenes are molecules composed of multiple benzene rings attached such that they form a helical structure. These molecules and their more general helicene derivatives have a wide range of potential applications such as molecular switches, chemosensors, and motors. These are a result of their unique electronic properties and molecular structure. To develop our understanding and predictive power about the properties of helicenes it is essential to construct a model of the molecule.
A structural model for helicene based upon a bending potential and an every sixth-ring interaction potential is proposed. The effectiveness of this model is tested by how well it predicts the two equilibrium states and the energy barrier between them for helicenes of different length. The predictions of the model are computed using an umbrella sampling Monte Carlo (MC) simulation. This is a technique that randomly samples from a biased Boltzmann distribution of the conformations of the molecule. The biased distribution allows for the improbable high energy states along the reaction pathway to be adequately sampled so that their frequency may be compared to the equilibrium state. The energy difference can be calculated using the relative probability between states.
This study found that the model adequately predicts the equilibrium states for helicenes of less than 7 rings. However, once the helix overlaps itself, i.e. 7 or more rings, the model fails to predict the correct equilibrium structure. The complete calculation of the energy barrier is unfinished.
Andres, Chimira – Investigating the sedimentology and architecture of Paleo-Lake Jircacocha and glacial valley infills of the Cordillera Blanca, Perú (Dr. Carolyn H. Eyles)
There is an unprecedented amount of evidence that suggests a rapid change in the world’s climatic system is impacting the extent of glaciers on a global scale. This impact is especially evident within mountainous regions where glaciers are rapidly receding and large glacial lakes are forming along their margins. These lakes are impounded by unstable moraine dams, which are prone to failure; this can have disastrous consequences for local communities. The Cordillera Blanca (CB) in Perú serves as an important freshwater reservoir that is used for irrigation, drinking water, and hydroelectric power by the surrounding communities. The threat of moraine failure and the subsequent occurrence of glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) are extremely serious for communities lying adjacent to the CB.
Unfortunately, relatively little is known about the stability and sedimentology of these moraines or the nature of sediments infilling the previously glaciated valleys. These sediments exert a critical control on the movement of surface-groundwater through the valleys and on the stability of material that has accumulated along the valley walls. This project focuses on understanding the characteristics of sediments that have accumulated within the valleys draining the CB by conducting fieldwork, documenting sediment facies architecture and their lateral/vertical variability. As a result, this allows for a land system analysis to be conducted within the valley, integrating both sedimentological and landform data. Ultimately, this study allows for the enhanced understanding of the stability, hydrogeological significance, and depositional history of valley infill sedimentary successions formed in rapidly deglaciated regions.
Bandura, Julia – Effects of microbial products on enteric nervous system (ENS) development (Dr. Elyanne Ratcliffe)
Development of the enteric nervous system (ENS) begins early in embryonic development with the rostrocaudal migration of the neuronal precursors, enteric neural crest-derived cells (ENCDCs), to the gut. ENCDCs then differentiate into the myenteric and submucosal plexuses of the ENS. While genetic factors direct appropriate ENCDC migration and differentiation, recent evidence of disrupted function and architecture of the myenteric plexus in germ-free (GF) mice in comparison to control specific pathogen free (SPF) mice suggests that intestinal microbiota may also play an important role. This study aimed to establish an in vitro ENCDC model as a platform for assessing microbiota-ENS interactions. SPF fetal guts (n=48) were harvested at embryonic day 15. ENCDCs were selected using magnetically-activated cell sorting and were cultured in neuronal cell media. Staining with antibodies against ENCDC marker p75, neuronal marker HuC/D, and nuclear marker bisbenzimide showed 99.1% of cells to be p75 positive. Antibodies against serotonin, neuronal nitric oxide synthase, tyrosine hydroxylase, and proliferation marker phospho-histone H3 uncovered 1.57% serotonergic neurons, 5.72% nitrergic neurons, 0% dopaminergic neurons, and 4.33% proliferating cells. This suggested maintenance of ENCDCs in their undifferentiated state across subcultures. Future work will involve incubation of this established ENCDC cell line with varying concentrations of microbial products. Proportions of neurotransmitter subtypes will be compared to the established controls to determine the effects of microbial products on ENCDC differentiation. This research may have implications for the impact of disturbing perinatal microbiota, whether via antibiotic administration or maternal diet modification, on perinatal development of the ENS.
Basinski, Aurora – Second Generation Wavelet Transforms for an Adaptive Grid on the Dynamic Solution to Burgers’ Equation (Dr. Nicholas Kevlahan)
Partial differential equations (PDEs) are common in simulations of many physical phenomena. For example, the Navier-Stokes equations are used to describe the motion of fluids, while Burgers’ equation can act as a simpler model for some similar fluid dynamics. However, nonlinear PDEs tend to lack analytic solutions, which necessitates numerical techniques. Rather than utilize a computationally costly uniform high-resolution grid, efficient numerical methods for PDEs often use a grid which is adaptive based on the gradient of the solution function. Wavelet transforms, which can be broadly classified as first or second generation, are one effective way of implementing such a grid which is adaptive in both time and space. Of these two types, second generation wavelets are more useful for PDEs, as they handle boundary conditions more effectively. However, the construction of second generation wavelets is more difficult, as they cannot be defined as translates and dilates of an original wavelet like in the first generation case. Thus, second generation wavelets are created – and corresponding wavelet transforms are performed – through a process known as a lifting scheme. This project creates a lifting scheme which preserves the mean of the original function at each resolution level. A MATLAB function which implements this lifting scheme is created, and a variety of analyses are performed regarding the behaviour when we delete wavelets below a certain threshold (as we would to create an adaptive grid). Finally, an adaptive grid is implemented on the Runge-Kutta solution to the viscous Burgers’ equation utilizing this lifting scheme.
Bohn, Mary – Sexual Dimorphism in Diabetes: Investigating the estrogenic protection of unfolded protein response activation on pancreatic β cell health (Dr. Geoff Werstuck)
There is increasing evidence that biological sex contributes to the pathophysiological progression of diabetes and its associated complications. Specifically, males have a higher diabetic incidence, when compared to females of the same age and body mass index. The relative protection against diabetes corresponding to the female sex is ablated after menopause, suggesting a potential role for female sex hormones in preventing pancreatic dysfunction and subsequently, diabetes onset. Emerging in vivo and in vitro evidence showcases the potential for female sex hormone, 17β-Estradiol, to protect pancreatic β cells by regulating endoplasmic reticulum (ER) capacity. The ER plays a crucial role in the pancreatic cellular stress response to diabetes via the activation of the unfolded protein response (UPR). This study aims to delineate the mechanisms by which 17β-Estradiol promotes pancreatic health, by quantifying expression of adaptive and apoptotic UPR markers in both pancreatic β cell lines and pancreatic islets isolated from the ApoE-/-:Ins2+/Akita mouse model. Through the use of real-time PCR and immunofluorescence, we were able to characterize the potential of 17β-Estradiol to selectively mediate the UPR by differentially regulating its adaptive and apoptotic branches. The result of this study provides a better understanding of how sex plays a role in protecting pancreatic function in cell and murine models of diabetes. This is a crucial area in diabetes research that has vast potential applications, including the development of sex-dependent therapies to treat diabetes and its associated complications.
Bowman, David – Genesis, Evolution and Structure of the Lake Palcacocha Moraine Complex in the Cordillera Blanca, Peru (Dr. Carolyn Eyles)
The contemporary retreat of tropical glaciers in Peru’s Cordillera Blanca mountain range has resulted in the widespread genesis of moraine-dammed glacial lakes. As continued glacial melt causes these lakes grow in size, they pose the risk of unleashing glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs), mass-wasting events that involve rapid lake drainage facilitated by a breach in its moraine dam. In 1941, a breach in the moraine dam at Lake Palcacocha produced a GLOF that killed close to 2,000 people in the city of Huaraz. Current hazard assessment criteria for GLOF occurrence do not fully reflect the role of internal moraine structure in GLOF regulation. By combining field measurements with models in the existing literature, a sequence of events for the genesis and evolution of the moraine dam at Lake Palcacocha has been proposed. The unique depositional circumstances that developed the Lake Palcacocha moraine gave rise to specific structures within the breach that may have played a role in promoting internal instability prior to the 1941 flood, as estimated within the lens of the Kenney-Lau model. A thorough understanding of the processes governing moraine formation in the Cordillera Blanca is critical for modelling the development of both past and future moraines. These models can be applied as instrumental tools in understanding how Cordilleran glacial lakes develop, and assessing their likelihood for GLOF occurrence.
Chong, Michael – Levelable Independence Complexes on Finite Simple Graphs (Dr. Adam Van Tuyl)
In graph theory, a graph consists of a network of nodes (called “vertices”), some of which are connected by lines (called “edges”). An independent set of a graph is a selection of vertices that are not connected by edges, and the independence complex of a graph is the collection of all independent sets of the graph. From the independence complex, we can construct a mathematical structure called an artinian ring.
Among artinian rings, a special subclass is that of level artinian rings. However, only the independence complexes of some graphs give rise to a level artinian ring. In these cases, we call the graph “levelable”. In this project, we investigate the open question of which graphs are levelable, that is, what graphs have an independence complex that can produce level rings? To address this question, we used a computer script in SageMath to generate graphs and check whether each one was levelable. This large data set then allowed us to identify patterns in graphs that produce level rings and form general hypotheses about what families of graphs have the levelable property. We then formally prove some of these hypotheses. These results give a partial characterization of how the level property of rings are related to the properties of a graph. This project thereby contributes to our understanding of the new and growing subject area at the intersection of abstract algebra, combinatorics, and graph theory.
Cooney, Jeremy – A study of Predator-Induced Morphological Plasticity in Drosophila melanogaster (Dr. Ian Dworkin)
Phenotypic plasticity is a well-studied phenomenon in the fields of ecology and evolutionary biology. It can be defined as an organism’s ability to change its phenotype in response to environmental conditions. In Drosophila melanogaster, it is well known that environmental cues have marked effects on body morphology, with individuals reared at warmer temperatures having a smaller body size overall. It is not known, however, whether melanogaster can exhibit plasticity in response to predation cues.
This study, therefore, seeks to determine whether predator-induced phenotypic plasticity exists in Drosophila melanogaster. In order to do this, flies were reared in the presence of Salticus scenicus. The predator was placed in a separate vial in order to prevent predation while still allowing for the reception of potential cues by the flies (i.e., visual cues, olfactory cues from deceased conspecifics, etc.). Controls were used to ensure that any response by the flies was indeed in response to the perception of predation risk. To do this, both a standard control (identical except no predator) and a neophobic control (identical but predator exchanged for a cricket).
Preliminary data suggests that no significant change in body size is observed in flies that have been raised in the presence of Salticus scenicus. It remains unknown whether this is caused by the flies’ inability to detect predator cues or by the perception of insufficient predator risk. Still, this study shows rather conclusively that Drosophila melanogaster does not respond plastically to predator cues in laboratory conditions and at low predator densities.
Darville-O’Quinn, Paige – Novel Proteomic Approach for the Identification of Novel mRNA-bound Splicing Factors (Dr. Yu Lu)
The removal of non-protein coding introns from the precursor messenger RNA (pre-mRNA) transcript, through the process known as splicing, is a necessary step in gene expression. Alternative splicing of a single pre-mRNA can result in multiple different protein isoforms, depending on the combination of exons and introns retained, thus contributing to the proteome diversity seen in eukaryotes. RNA binding proteins (RBPs) regulate this process and dysregulation can lead to a multitude of diseases, including Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). The alternatively spliced AML1-ETO9a protein is highly leukemogenic, leading to the development of AML, however the splicing factors involved in the production this isoform have yet to be identified. Identifying these proteins would improve our understanding AML disease progression, however current protocols for the isolation and identification of proteins associated with mRNA transcripts are limited. With modifications, the Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) and CRISPR-associated (Cas) proteins system has the potential to specifically enrich mRNA, as a novel method of isolating RBPs for proteomic analysis. In this project, components of the CRISPR-Cas system, modified for binding single stranded RNA, were produced for future mRNA enrichment and proteomic analysis. GAPDH mRNA-specific guide RNA (gRNA) was produced, and two deactivated Cas proteins, dCas9 and dCas13a, were both expressed in E. coli BL21 (DE3) cells. Following expression, these proteins can be made to target specific mRNA sequences based on the gRNA produced. These sequences can then be pulled down, and their associated proteins identified through mass spectrometry. If successful, this method has the potential for use in identifying targets for the prevention, detection and treatment of diseases such as cancer.
Edwards, Ross – A Spatial Analysis of Urban Green Space — Ecosystem Services, Socioeconomics, and Perceptions in Hamilton Ontario, Canada (Dr. Chad Harvey)
Public green spaces provide health and psychological benefits for urban residents called ecosystem services (ES). These services are derived from the effects of vegetation on the surrounding environment, most notably, through reducing air pollutants and supporting local ecosystems. Evidence suggests, however, that the spatial distribution of green spaces is often influenced by socioeconomics, which creates environmental justice issues associated with higher-income residents receiving a higher proportion of ES.
Using Hamilton as a case study this investigation examines the relationship between air quality, socioeconomics, vegetation, and green space using a combination of published and field gathered datasets. General observations from this analysis indicate a concentration of air pollutants in the Eastern region of Hamilton towards the downtown core.
Current field air quality metrics (PM 2.5 and VOC) were collected from seven green spaces randomly stratified across Hamilton, based on socioeconomic level as defined by the 2016 Census. To assess the social perception of green spaces and ES, survey data was collected from 80 undergraduate students at McMaster University. Data from each component of the investigation was analyzed independently in R 3.3 using general linearized models and chi-squared table analysis. Results were found to resemble trends observed in the preliminary analysis and the literature, supporting evidence of disparity regarding ES exposure for residents living in neighbourhoods of differing socioeconomic status. This research is important for understanding environmental justice issues in Hamilton, Ontario, and has implications for urban planning practices.
Green, Laura – Mathematical Model of the Auditory Nerve Fibre (Dr. Ian Bruce)
Auditory nerve fibres (ANFs) receive input from the inner hair cells (IHCs) and relay this information to the brain in the form of spikes. Because cochlear implants bypass the IHCs to stimulate ANFs directly, an understanding of spiking behavior of ANFs can help inform cochlear implant design. ANFs exhibit a characteristic spiking behaviour that includes a short refractory period, facilitation in response to the onset of pulse trains, accommodation, and adaptation. A variety of ion channels underlie this spiking behaviour. Previous models show that the low-threshold potassium channels and hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated channels may be responsible for a range of refractoriness, facilitation, and adaptation, but are unable to explain all behaviour observed in ANFs. Another potential ion channel that may contribute to ANF spiking behaviour is the potassium channel with subunits Kv7.2 and Kv7.3, recently found in the ANF. These channels mediate the M-current, which is active at the resting membrane potential and exhibits slower kinetics than the low-threshold potassium current. The current study aims to elucidate the role of the M-current and whether it can explain the observed spiking behaviour. A computational model of the ANF is used to observe the effects of the M current, and results are compared to whole-cell patch clamp data from the rat ANF. The model shows that the M current does contribute to a longer refractory period and reduces the spiking ability of the neuron.
Gupta, Angela – The effects of Extracellular Tau on BDNF Expression in Human Neuroblastoma Cells (Margaret Fahnestock)
Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia, and understanding its progression may help identify key therapeutic targets. Tau is a microtubule-associated protein that when abnormally hyperphosphorylated, can change conformation, leading to the formation of toxic, soluble tau oligomers causing neuronal loss. It was previously shown that intracellular tau overexpression alone reduces brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) mRNA expression. BDNF is critical for neuronal function and for learning and memory, which are lost in AD. Tau is secreted from cells and propagates in a spatiotemporal fashion in AD, recruiting healthy tau protein to a pathological form that may disrupt BDNF transport and downregulate BDNF transcription in neighbouring cells. To determine if elevated levels of extracellular tau downregulate BDNF in human neuroblastoma (SH-SY5Y) cells in vitro, differentiated SH-SY5Y cells were treated with conditioned medium harvested from human tau-overexpressing SH-SY5Y cells and empty-vector transfected SH-SY5Y cells (negative control). Cells were treated for 24 hours with conditioned medium at either 0, ~0.18ng/mL (negative control medium), 3.5ng/mL, 5ng/mL or 7ng/mL of human tau. All cells were then harvested, and their RNA was extracted. BDNF mRNA levels were quantified using qRT-PCR and normalized to β-actin. Differences between groups were analyzed by one-way ANOVA. No significant differences were found in BDNF mRNA levels across all groups of SH-SY5Y cells. The data suggests that at these concentrations, tau does not have an effect on BDNF downregulation. Given the limitations of the study, further experiments utilizing higher concentrations of tau are required to determine whether reduced BDNF levels depend on tau propagation in healthy cells.
Hanson-Wright, Brynley – Enhanced learning through exercise breaks: Creating feasible protocols for implementation into classrooms (Dr. Jennifer Heisz)
Previous research has shown that taking five-minute high-intensity exercise breaks during an online university lecture facilitates on-task attention and long-term comprehension. However, many university students are sedentary and may be reluctant to participate in such strenuous exercise. The current project aimed to determine whether lower intensity exercise breaks could still enhance attention and learning while also providing more feasible activities for classroom implementation. Participants performed five-minute low, moderate, or high intensity exercise breaks at three points during an online Introductory Psychology lecture. Following the lecture, they were tested on their understanding of the lecture material both immediately after exposure and 48 hours later. Findings showed no significant group differences in attention or comprehension. However, other factors including motivation, mood, fitness background, and opinions towards exercise breaks were correlated with test performance in certain groups. A follow-up study surveyed 104 undergraduate students at McMaster University to assess student perceptions of exercise breaks. Low-intensity breaks were favoured by 64% of students while fewer than 5% considered high-intensity breaks to be most desirable. Interestingly, while literature suggests that exercise can help refocus attention and boost memory, nearly one quarter of students were worried that exercise breaks would disrupt their focus and interfere with learning. This research is an important first step towards ensuring instructional interventions are not only effective at promoting learning, but are also well received by students. By incorporating student perspectives, the alignment between efficacy and enjoyment will ultimately lead to optimal implementation, improving academic success and classroom experiences.
Hanuschak, Jennifer – Effects of MDD microbiota on mouse behaviour and neurotrophy (Dr. Premysl Bercik)
In 2010, 4.4% of the world’s population suffered from major depressive disorder (MDD). As a significant contributor to global disease burden, MDD accounts for 8.2% of global years lost due to disability and 2.5% of global disability-adjusted life years. Despite years of research, the mechanisms of MDD are still poorly defined and conventional treatments fail in roughly one-third of depression patients.
The gut-brain axis is the bidirectional communication between the gut and brain in which the microbial community residing in the gut, formally known as the intestinal microbiota, may play a regulatory role. Changes in the composition of this community have been associated with psychiatric disorders, such as MDD. Although some research has been done using humanized animal models to investigate the role of the intestinal microbiota in MDD, none have used fecal microbiota transplant to colonize germ-free (GF) mice with microbiota from a single, well characterized MDD patient. Here, GF mice were colonized with fecal microbiota from either a well characterized MDD patient or healthy control. Two weeks post-colonization, behavioural testing was completed to assess for depressive-like behaviour in the mice. Additionally, mouse brain tissue was analyzed for changes in brain-derived neurotrophic factor expression.
Research investigating the role of the intestinal microbiota in MDD contributes to the ongoing advancement of knowledge pertaining to the intestinal microbiota, MDD, and the gut-brain axis. A greater understanding may lead to the development of improved treatments, alleviating the suffering of many.
Koshyk, Oriana – The Effects of Sex and Ovarian Hormone Levels on Exercise-Induced Neuroplasticity (Dr. Aimee Nelson)
A prominent topic of research in neurophysiology is the role of physical activity in the enhancement of cognitive and motor function. Regaining cognitive and motor function following injury, or maintaining it with age, allows for an increased quality of life.
This research seeks to investigate how moderate-intensity exercise regimens can be implemented to induce motorcortical plasticity. The effects of sex and ovarian hormone levels on the degree of neuroplasticity will also be examined. Male and female participants each engaged in three experimental sessions. The first session involved a VO2 max cycling test to establish cardiorespiratory fitness levels. Sessions two and three were scheduled 14 days apart and followed an identical protocol, in which transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) procedures were applied before and after a 20-minute cycling session. TMS analyzes corticospinal excitability through the calculation of motor-evoked potential (MEP) recruitment curves. This facilitates an examination of how motorcortical responses differ before and after exercise.
As hypothesized, male subjects exhibited an increase in corticospinal excitability following exercise, with no difference in excitability between sessions two and three. Females experienced an increase in corticospinal excitability when estrogen levels significantly exceeded progesterone levels. This correlates with the excitatory function of estrogen, as opposed to the inhibitory properties of progesterone. This research may aid in the creation of aerobic exercise-based interventions that can be applied to a range of clinical populations, including those suffering from brain-related trauma, and in aging individuals to prevent the onset of neurodegenerative disorders.
Krynski, Joanna – Photon emission from beta-irradiation Petri dishes and relevance to radiobiological photon-counting experiments (Dr. Fiona McNeill)
All laboratory materials used in radiobiology experiments, such as polystyrene Petri dishes, interact with radiation in some manner. When conducting biophoton counting experiments, which quantify various wavelengths of photons emitted from dead or living cells, investigators must consider the interaction between the source radiation and materials being used. These materials can produce photons through radiation interactions, possibly skewing the reported photon counting results.
This project investigated the spectrum of photon wavelengths emitted from Petri dishes containing low-energy beta radiation source, tritiated water, of varying levels of radioactivity. The Petri dishes were placed at the base of a chamber; a photomultiplier tube, interchangeable wavelength filters and lens were placed above to detect emitted photons; the chamber was sealed with a rubber band and a black curtain was placed over to ensure no external light could reach the detector. The purpose of the filter was to target certain photon ranges that were possibly being emitted by the Petri dishes.
The results of the investigation showed that various wavelengths of photons were produced by the irradiated Petri dishes, with a significant difference between control and radioactive groups. However, there was no significant change in number of detected photons with varying sample radioactivity. Moreover, the number of detected photons is much smaller than the expected number of detected biophotons reported in current radiobiology literature. The conducted experiment shows that, for low-energy beta radiation experiments, photons produced by experimental materials are not likely contributors of measured biophoton signal.
Maddiboina, Dhanyasri – Assessing Tissue Macrophage Characteristics During Obesity (Dr. Dawn Bowdish)
Obesity is associated with a chronic state of local and systemic inflammation that contributes to insufficient insulin secretion, insulin resistance, and hyperglycemia. These factors can lead to type 2 diabetes. Examining the cellular immunological changes that occur during obesity can further our understanding of the link between inflammation and insulin regulation and may reveal markers for predicting diabetic risk. A main contributor to inflammation in obesity is the accumulation of macrophages in adipose tissue. The effects of diet induced obesity on the phenotype of macrophages in adipose and liver tissue will be explored by assessing monocyte/macrophage prevalence (F4/80 marker), infiltration into tissue (CCR2 marker), and cell division (Ki67 marker). Adipose tissue macrophages (ATMs) produce tumour necrosis factor (TNF-α), a proinflammatory cytokine that promotes insulin resistance. The role of TNF-α in mediating macrophage accumulation and phenotype during a high fat diet (HFD) will be examined by comparing metabolic tissues of TNF-/- mice with wildtype. Female mice were fed either chow or 60% HFD for 24 weeks, and fasting blood glucose and insulin levels were measured. Adipocyte size, which is an indicator of metabolic compromise, was quantified and shown to be increased in mice on a HFD, regardless of TNF-α expression. Immunohistochemistry will be used for F4/80 antigen detection in adipose and liver tissue, and immunofluorescence with triple staining (F4/80 + CCR2 + Ki67) will be used for CCR2 and Ki67 detection.
Maloney, Jamie – Invasive Herbivore Caused Changes in Forest Community Structure (Dr. Chad Harvey)
Over the past 10 years, evidence has shown an increase in the mortality rate of Fraxinus spp. in Canadian temperate forests. This raises an issue, as the conservation of forests is reliant on tree diversity and contributes to the biodiversity of local ecosystems. McMaster Forest (MF), a conservation area with a small size of 48 hectares, and inherent tree species diversity, provides a valuable opportunity to assess the importance of a forest ecosystem. With its location in Southern Ontario, MF is a great example of the highly diverse forest ecosystems common in the northern Carolinian forest. This study will focus upon analyzing and modeling the changes in the community structure resultant from effects of emerald ash borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis. Data was obtained from an ongoing tree census, which collected information on tree species, diameter at breast height, and a reference location within a 20m by 20m grid. Visual representations were created using parametric statistics (Detrended correspondence analysis) and ArcGIS, a geographic information system software. Additional visual representations were created after the removal of the infected ash species from the dataset, as a previous study of the MF indicated high incidence of EAB circa 60%. Results of this study will provide detailed insight into changing structures of Southern Ontario forests, as well as needs for conservation due to the impacts of non-indigenous species.
Marr, Adam – Applications of Molecular Electronic Devices (MEDs): Photovoltaic-Thermoelectric Models (Dr. Randall Dumont)
Molecular electronic devices (MEDs) are an emerging area of research in which a single molecule situated between two metal leads or “contacts” can be tuned to transmit current in a particular direction. By introducing a difference in electric potential or temperature, the flow of current from one contact to another can be enhanced or reduced. As a result, MEDs can provide small-scale, efficient applications in computers and other devices, using setups that exceed the limited capabilities of silicon-based chips. Ongoing theoretical work in this area has been used to describe the ability of these devices to also act as molecular refrigerators and/or heat pumps; this process is achieved via the flow of high-energy electrons from one contact situated on a cold reservoir towards another contact placed on top of a hot reservoir. A separate photovoltaic system can act as a source of the electrons for the thermoelectric setup; these electrons emerge from transitions that occur between the highest occupied molecular orbital (HOMO) to the lowest unoccupied molecular orbital (LUMO) of a molecule. For both the photovoltaic and thermoelectric systems, π molecular orbitals for various conjugated molecules were modeled using a quantum mechanics technique (self-consistent Hückel Molecular Orbital method) in Python. Preliminary results suggest the capability of this setup to successfully convert energy obtained from absorbed light into useable power on a molecular level. Additional theoretical and experimental models will be employed to test the success of this setup, with possible future applications including the large-scale cooling of electronic devices.
Martin, David – A comparison of 4 MV and 6 MV radiation therapy dose perturbation at air-tissue interfaces (Dr. Orest Ostapiak)
For decades, medical physicists have been aware that air-tissue interfaces in the human body often lack electronic equilibrium. When treating lesions in cavity-rich regions of the head and neck, clinicians are presented with a dosimetric problem: Lack of electronic equilibrium results in an uneven deposition of energy into patient tissue and can cause appreciable underdosing of lesions on the surface of mucosal cavities such as the trachea and nasopharynx.
In this study, a modifiable water phantom was used to estimate dose perturbation at air-tissue interfaces in two sizes of cavity, at two X-ray energies, and using two treatment modalities. 4MV and 6MV X-ray energies were compared in both one-dimensional slit-beam and volumetric modulated arc therapy treatment (VMAT). Irradiations were conducted with a Varian TrueBeam linear accelerator at Juravinski Cancer Centre in Hamilton. Dose was recorded using strips of radiochromic film inserted into the centre of the phantom cavity.
Preliminary results suggest that when a simple slit-beam geometry is used, dose decreases more noticeably in the pre-cavity region and recovers more slowly in the post-cavity region at 6MV than at 4MV. Early analysis of VMAT results indicates a similar pattern.
The results of this study may indicate a clinical advantage to treating nasopharyngeal lesions with 4MV VMAT rather than 6MV. This may help clinicians maximize the effectiveness of radiation therapy treatments for head and neck cancers.
Martin, Vivian – Invasive rose control in the McMaster Forest (Susan Dudley)
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose) and Rosa rubiginosa (sweetbriar rose) are two woody non-native invasive shrubs found in the McMaster Forest (MF), among other areas in North America, with vigorous root systems and a tolerance for a wide variety of conditions. Based on data from a dozen bushes of each species (15 to 20 rosehips per bush) collected winter 2017, it was found that in local populations, the average multiflora rosehip contains an average of 6.31 seeds, while the average sweetbriar rosehip contains an average of 16.79 seeds, with no evident correlation to plant size. This study sought to create and test a viable control strategy for both species. Analyzing available research from the past six decades on multiflora rose control while considering the scale of the local problem, it was determined that girdling bushes, that is to remove strips of bark, and apply a herbicide (glyphosate), was the most viable solution. Forty rose bushes, twenty of each species, were included in the study. Half of the bushes of each species were girdled and treated with a 1.5% concentration solution of glyphosate during the winter season. Due to the passing of less than one growing season, results are not yet available indicating the efficacy. However, it has been determined that, from a practical standpoint, this technique is highly executable and could be considered for other invasive species crowding out and using the resources of native species in the MF.
Mathialagan, Aarani – Maternal use of venlafaxine for the treatment of depression during pregnancy and its effects on fetal growth and development (Dr. Alison Holloway)
Women have a lifetime rate of major depression 1.7 to 2.7 times greater than that for men, with increased risk for the first onset of major depression during childbearing years. Recently, there has been increased use of serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) as an alternative to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) higher relative success rates in the treatment of depression. This project aims to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying an observation of reduced growth in offspring exposed to venlafaxine, an SNRI antidepressant. The HTR-8/SVneo cell line is a transformed extravillous trophoblast cell line used to study trophoblast functions including cell proliferation, migration, invasion, and angiogenesis. Angiogenesis is a key factor in the placentation process, involving several growth factors such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and angiopoietin-like protein 4 (ANGPTL4). A tube formation assay was performed on matrigel in order to evaluate the angiogenic response of HTR-8/SVneo cells in the presence of venlafaxine (0.05, 0.25, or 1.0 mM). The results demonstrate that venlafaxine has an inhibitory effect on tube length, segment length, and number of junctions formed by HTR-8/SVneo cells. In addition, the study investigated the effects of venlafaxine on the levels of gene involved in angiogenesis in these cells. Gene expression was determined after incubating these cells with different concentrations of venlafaxine for 24 h using real-time qRT-PCR. A VEGF receptor, VEGFR2, was induced and may be associated with decreased levels of bioavailable VEGF. Altogether these data indicate that venlafaxine may potently influence the placentation process by decreasing tube formation.
McGlynn, Bridget – Analysis of Nitrogen in relation to Microcystis blooms in the Western Basin of Lake Erie (Dr. Gail Krantzberg)
Decades of dumping industrial, agricultural, and household wastes into the Great Lakes resulted in severe eutrophication and hypoxic conditions in Lake Erie by the 1960s. The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, signed in 1972 by both the United States and Canada, was influential in limiting the phosphorous load and overall water quality of the lakes such that, by the 1990s, the magnitude and severity of algal blooms in Lake Erie had decreased. Harmful algal blooms re-emerged in the mid-2000s, and have since caused ecological, environmental, and health consequences. Modern blooms are comprised of Microcystis aeruginosa, a cyanobacteria species capable of producing microcystins (MCs), a hepatotoxin, thereby creating a public health risk. Data was gathered from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (NOAA GLERL) to statistically analyze the relationship between the limnological variables and MC in the western basin of Lake Erie; samples were collected from 2009 to 2015. A linear mixed model was performed considering the effect of environmental factors and calendar year on the MC concentration including the interaction. Sampling station and year were considered the random effects. The relationship between ammonium and log MC produced a significant (P<0.05) but non-linear relationship. Both log nitrate and log dissolved reactive phosphorous (DRP) in relation to log MC displayed significant (P<0.05) and linearly decaying relationship. The significant MC-ammonium relationship confirms the role of nitrogen in toxin production, further confirming the need for nitrogen mitigation strategies in preventing future toxic blooms.
Nelson, Connor – Oviposition Behaviour of Acheta domesticus Crickets in Response to the Presence of “Necromone” Signals of Mortality Risk (Dr. C. David Rollo)
Predation and disease are powerful forces mediating the evolution of risk aversion and detection of conspecific mortality. Although there are a variety of methods through which animals can recognize mortality risk, many terrestrial invertebrates mediate these behaviors using chemical cues. More specifically, in insects such as Acheta domesticus, the cricket, environmental risk is assessed via volatile, fatty acid chemicals known as necromones. These compounds consist of oleic and linoleic acids, which are present throughout a range of terrestrial invertebrates, in addition to markers of conspecificity. These chemicals have been shown to cause drastic avoidance responses in crickets, among other species, but there is a paucity of literature investigating the effects of these chemicals on reproduction. In this study, we attempt to identify the impacts of necromones on oviposition behaviors of A. domesticus by using a combination of oviposition site selection, fecundity, and chronic exposure experiments. Cardboard shelters were treated with full body ethanol extracts of deceased conspecifics and used as a proxy for ecologically relevant necromone exposure in a variety of experiments designed to measure reproductive effort and choice. The results of these experiments suggest that necromones can cause measurable shifts in the oviposition behavior of A. domesticus, and that females may even trade-off perceived environmental risk with other cues of predation risk, such as availability of shelter. Further studies on this topic should seek to quantify these responses and investigate changes in other aspects of A. domesticus reproduction behavior in response to necromones.
Nikel, Kirsten – Fish behaviour and physiology across two wastewater effluent gradients in Cootes Paradise and Hamilton Harbour (Dr. Sigal Balshine)
When we flush our sewage away down the drain
It goes to a treatment plant, sometimes with rain.
Here it is filtered, treated, and screened,
But some pharmaceuticals cannot be cleaned.
Hamilton Harbour was our site of interest
To see which fish were most harrowed and listless,
At Dundas and Woodward wastewater facilities,
Downstream we measured pH and salinities.
In our study, we collected three species of fish,
And measured their behaviour in a water-filled dish.
Back in the lab we weighed and dissected,
Measured red blood cells and organs collected.
We also measured acute tolerance of heat
And found that green sunfish were hardest to beat.
Fish close to wastewater were large with big livers,
And had more red blood cells than those caught down river.
Behaviour between sites was not much changed,
Perhaps more testing should thus be arranged.
This work provides insights to policy and conservation,
As Hamilton Harbour undergoes revitalization.
Nugent, Matthew – Pressure Analysis of Superconductor BeAu (Dr. Graeme Luke)
Since its discovery in 1911 by Heike Kamerlingh Onnes, superconductivity has intrigued physicists and inspired vast amounts of research. Superconductivity is characterized by the conduction of electrons without resistance and the expulsion of small magnetic fields below a certain critical temperature (Tc). The mechanisms for these properties are not fully understood, so this thesis attempts to contribute to the understanding of these properties through analysis of the superconductor beryllium gold (BeAu).
In this thesis, we seek to identify the pressure dependence of the Tc of BeAu. Applying pressure to a superconducting crystal can potentially alter its critical temperature, but whether it increases or decreases the Tc depends on the superconductor. As such, the superconducting range of the sample was characterized and analyzed under the variables of temperature, pressure, and applied magnetic field. This was done using a pressure cell, allowing for pressure testing up to 700MPa, which was placed in a Superconducting Quantum Interference Device (SQUID) for precisely controlled applied magnetic field and sample temperature down to 2.0K.
The results of testing revealed that an increase in pressure decreased the superconducting range of the crystal, decreasing Tc and the maximum magnetic field that can be expelled. This data can be used to help understand the details of superconductivity and why the phenomenon occurs.
Or, Tyler – Fabrication and Application of Cellulose-Based Aerogel Films
Aerogels are networks of physically or chemically linked polymers or nanomaterials that are cast at low concentrations, followed by a delicate solvent removal process that preserves the network’s internal morphology. Desired for their high porosity and surface area, ultralow density, and superabsorbent properties, aerogels have attracted widespread interest for applications in high-surface-area electrodes, catalysts, scaffolds, and filtering. However, an ongoing challenge is producing patterned aerogel films with controlled thickness, shape, and internal morphology. Aerogel films that retain these properties after deposition are particularly promising for incorporation into the aforementioned applications due to their tailorability. While the fabrication of traditional silica-based aerogel films has been extensively explored using methods such as dip, spin, spray, and surface tension coating with sol precursors, none of these provide precise control over both thickness and shape. In this study, a simple bench-top protocol for controlling the dimensions of organic aerogel films based on cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) with and without poly(oligoethylene glycol methacrylate) (POEGMA) was developed based on a stencil lift-off approach. CNCs are rigid rod-shaped nanoparticles extracted from natural cellulose, and in this case they have been chemically modified to crosslink between themselves or with the flexible POEGMA polymer. These aerogel films were studied as 1) 3D scaffolds for fibroblasts, 2) gel polymer electrolytes in dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs), 3) organic templates to form mesoporous TiO2 via atomic layer deposition, and 4) as a model system for the study of diffusion in crowded environments.
Pantaleo, Julia – Exploring the Strain-Promoted Alkyne-Azide Cycloaddition as a Novel Polymerization Method (Dr. Alex Adronov)
Polymer synthesis is an integral part of materials science, and thus there exists a rich area of chemistry surrounding polymerization reactions. However, many of these methods have inherent drawbacks, including long reaction times, the need for heat and initiators, and by-product formation. Therefore, new techniques that can overcome these drawbacks are of great interest. Click reactions are attractive alternatives as they are rapid, efficient, use simple reagents, and yield a single product. One such reaction is the Strain-Promoted Alkyne-Azide Cycloaddition (SPAAC) reaction, which involves the rapid and highly selective linking of a strained cycloalkyne and an azide. SPAAC can be carried out at room temperature without catalysts and does not form any by-products. Herein, we report the use of SPAAC as a novel polymerization method. A novel dicyclooctyne monomer and three diazide monomers were synthesized using standard organic synthetic techniques. The dicyclooctyne monomer was polymerized separately with each diazide monomer via SPAAC to yield three unique linear polymers with high molecular weights (27-52 kDa). Polymerizations were completed in minutes at room temperature by mixing together stock solutions of the dicyclooctyne and diazide monomers and evaporating the solvent. Cross-linked polymers were synthesized by modifying the linear polymer synthesis such that a given mole percent of the diazide monomer was replaced with an equivalent mole percent of a triazide monomer. Cross-linking was found to be concentration dependent, where dilute conditions allowed for intramolecular cyclization of the polymer chain, causing chain termination and preventing cross-linking. Given SPAAC’s ability to yield high molecular weight polymers while avoiding the drawbacks of current polymerization methods, SPAAC can be considered an attractive alternative polymerization method.
Panuelos, Jonathan – Central Schemes and Shearing Diffusion in Particle Methods (Dr. James Wadsley, Dr. Nicholas Kevlahan)
Computational hydrodynamics is significant in the study of physical phenomena in astronomy, with the bulk of the universe’s matter being low-density gas.The Kurganov-Tadmor (KT) central scheme is a robust numerical flux scheme that performs well in simulating compressible fluids. It performs admirably at the supersonic regime, but is found to cause excessive diffusion, especially in the case of shearing problems. Diffusion is required to maintain stability and prevent formation of spurious structures, but too much suppresses even physically relevant structures.
A new method of controlling the diffusion in the KT scheme is proposed, based on determining whether the local flow is shearing or not. This is shown to be effective at reducing diffusion while retaining stability through an implementation in the GIZMO hydrodynamics code, which uses an unstructured geometry where fluid is simulated by representing it as a collection of particles whose movement represents the flow.
The method was tested using a range of problems, focusing on its behaviour in both shearing flows as well as in the supersonic regime. Results show that diffusion is noticeably reduced in shearing cases, while stability is not impacted in the supersonic regime. Additionally, it was shown to perform on-par with, or better than, other methods in a difficult test containing both shearing and supersonic components. Thus, the new method achieves the desired reduction of diffusion while maintaining the robustness of the KT scheme.
Rawlins, Madelin – Paternal response to sneaking in the Plainfin midshipman, Porichthys notates (Dr. Sigal Balshine, Dr. Aneesh Bose)
Providing parental care for offspring has been shown to benefit parents if it increases offspring survival, growth and quality of offspring, however, caring for offspring is energetically expensive, and effort spent on raising unrelated offspring can be costly and wasteful. Theory dictates parents should reduce their level of investment when they have low or uncertain relatedness to the young under their care in favour of alternative broods that provide greater reproductive success. We tested these ideas using Plainfin midshipman fish, Porichthys notatus, a species that exhibits polymorphism with two male morphs, a high level of cuckoldry, and an extended period of male-only parental care. We investigate parental care cost theory to test whether paternal investment is reduced as perceived paternity decreases given indirect cues for paternity assessment. We show that males with eggs demonstrate a greater level of parental care, including defensive behaviours, than males without eggs. However, no significant difference was determined between levels of parental care provided by males with reduced levels of paternity. Despite the theoretically established relationship between parental certainty and parental care, experimental manipulations of perceived paternity continue to generate mixed results. The apparent lack of effect of paternal certainty on paternal care presents a challenge to the current understanding of the relationship between the costs and benefits of parental care in males with uncertain paternity.
Schneider, Jason – Computational Modelling of Carbon Nanotube Photovoltaics (Dr. Randy Dumont)
Molecular electronic devices are single molecules with wires attached to them capable of performing the tasks of typically much larger devices. One theorized use is a molecular photovoltaic, capable of taking in light and outputting electricity. Molecular electronic devices are notoriously difficult to build, so until technology catches up, they are studied primarily by computer simulation. Using carbon nanotubes as the molecules between the wires, three major research themes were explored. The charging effect is I phenomenon where the wires cause atoms in the molecule to pick up charges. As the molecule grows in size, the charge should spread out across more atoms and eventually hit a limit where modelling the charges on individual atoms no longer matters. Since carbon nanotubes can be grown without changing their structure, they were used to investigate this limit. In addition, power output of a molecular photovoltaic depends on the energy of the wires. A mathematical scheme to find the optimal power level of the wires was also investigated. Finally, the actual efficacy of carbon nanotubes as molecular photovoltaics was investigated, particularly in how size relates to power output.
Smith, Erin – The impact of a light disturbance on a model freshwater ecosystem (Dr. Jurek Kolasa)
As human populations grow there are increasing pressures placed on natural environments, which can create ecological disturbances. Alternative stable states can occur when a disturbance irreversibly alters feedback loops within an ecosystem. The influence of specific changes in feedback loops on the transition of ecosystems to alternative stable states are critical to our understanding of disturbed environments. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of a light disturbance on a model freshwater ecosystem relating to feedback loops and regime shifts. This experiment was conducted on a model ecosystem consisting of algae, zooplankton, and fish in separate tanks with water flow between each component. A light disturbance was introduced on a treatment ecosystem by eliminating 70% of light in the algae tank for 15 days, while a control ecosystem was maintained with no light reduction. Water quality measurements were taken throughout the disturbance and during ecosystem recovery. The light-disturbed ecosystem had reduced algae growth, but was able to fully recover following the disturbance. This indicates that the model ecosystem was resilient, and a stronger disturbance is required to affect its feedback loops such that it enters an alternative stable state. Our results suggest the possibility that light disturbances might have reversible effects in natural settings. These findings help to illuminate the effects of light-disturbances on feedback loops and ecological steady state transitions in aquatic environments.
Tian, Sunny – A comparison of science literature to government policies and action plans regarding aquatic invasive species (AIS) in the Laurentian Great Lakes (Dr. Chad Harvey)
The Laurentian Great Lakes are an extremely important resource in Canada: they provide Canadians with freshwater, host a vast network of shipping and commercial routes for trade and economy, and provide multitudes of ecosystem services to nearby communities. However, the Great Lakes are also under constant threat of degradation due to anthropogenic causes. The introduction of aquatic invasive species (AIS) into the Great Lakes is one such prevalent problem. When non-indigenous species are introduced and establish in a new area, they cause both widespread ecological and economic damage, which can translate into risks to both human and environment health, as well as millions of dollars spent in repair costs to infrastructure and equipment annually. Furthermore, once a species has established, it often becomes impossible to eradicate.
To further explore this topic, a literature review was conducted on different pathways of AIS introduction, management techniques, and recent advances in technology that help improve the effectiveness of AIS management and surveillance. In tandem, different policies and action plans published by the Government of Canada and internationally were examined to perceive if the suggestions being made in science literature are being effectively translated into policy. Ultimately, while improvements in both policy and how science literature is communicated is necessary, in general AIS policy and action strategies in Canada are well informed given the current literature on the topic.
Van Der Vliet, Veronica – Pre-emptive Contingencies for Underused Spaces – Case Study St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church in Hamilton
As many places of worship have begun to lose their congregations over the past decade, external organizations have pre-emptively begun working with these institutions to preserve their existence through connecting community needs with the assets that such institutions possess. This both means that the architecture and history of the building is preserved, and the community gains an ally and partner in tackling socioeconomic needs.
The goal of this project is to provide a greater understanding to both the congregation of St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church and its surrounding community of what is available to be utilized, and match this to what is needed. There is also the necessity of ensuring that the course of action that is recommended is conducive to the economic needs of the church and covers the cost of operations.
Although this study is not complete, the process of community based participatory research is detailed, as well as preliminary results from an asset-mapping event. Networks have been created between the church and the surrounding community to best utilize what is available. This work can help to guide other religious institutions in Hamilton.
Wilson, Alex – Hard to Swallow: a critical exploration of meta-analysis as a tool in determining antipsychotic efficacy (Ameil Joseph)
With the rapid rate of publications, meta-analysis is quickly being seen as a gold standard in determining the efficacy of pyschopharmaceutical drugs, such as antipsychotics. With the use of pyschopharmaceuticals only increasing, the objective of this investigation was to assess the validity of meta-analysis as a technique. Acting as an exploratory interdisciplinary investigation, social justice informed approaches were integrated with clinical psychiatric methodology. In this investigation, a small scale sample meta-analysis was conducted on the efficacy of haloperidol from 1990-2015. This exploratory meta-analysis was used to demonstrate how practical, theoretical, and epistemological critiques affect every stage of a meta-analytic investigation. Additionally, a correlation between clinical efficacy and time was calculated to demonstrate how a similar technique could be scaled up to allow for the longitudinal assessment of meta-analytic techniques and their role in masking the influence of social and other subjective factors on efficacy. Ultimately, the validity of meta-analysis and more broadly positivist methods in determining antipsychotic efficacy are brought into question through this exploration. This leaves important unanswered questions surrounding the validity and safety of several commonplace psychiatric interventions.
Zhang, Simon – Quality of Online Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology Curriculum Resources for Canadian Medical Students (Dr. Anne Holbrook)
In medicine, every physician must know how to prescribe safely, effectively, and within regulatory parameters. However, safe prescribing is complex and a common source of medical errors. Thus, it is important that graduating medical students are adequately trained once they enter residency and are expected to prescribe independently. A previous study showed that 73.3% of final year medical students found their training in Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology (CPT) was poor. Since there is tremendous pressure on medical schools to add modules, class time, and training, without increasing costs, they seek novel and efficient methods of increasing competency. e-Learning offers new avenues for learning which are on par with traditional learning. This project’s objectives are to create and evaluate a relevant inventory of online resources for Canadian medical students.
To find relevant resources, literature searches of Medline, EMBASE, and Eric articles was performed as well as a survey sent to 619 individuals in 219 medical schools in Canada, USA, UK, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia. To date, we have received responses from 224 responses from faculty with a total of 80 suggested resources. Those resources were screened for accessibility and English language, and eight resources have been evaluated.
The CPT e-Curriculum Quality Evaluation Questionnaire uses a 5-point Likert scale to evaluate comprehensiveness (coverage of McMaster Core Drugs List), usability (eg, easy to navigate, etc), application of e-Learning principles (eg, structure, feedback, etc), and appropriateness of content. This evaluation remains in progress but has already identified one comprehensive, high quality resource.