Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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This collection contains digitized SFU theses except for those theses submitted within the last 12 months. If you cannot find the thesis you are looking for please search Recently Submitted Theses as it may be a recently submitted thesis and thus not yet available in Summit.

Virtual friction: Networking sexuality and HIV prevention in the digital age

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-12-06
Abstract: 

From advances in HIV prevention science bringing us pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to the proliferation of hook-up apps like Grindr, the late 20th/early 21st centuries have introduced intense socio-technical transformations in gay men’s intimate lives. In particular, the networked decentralization and privatization of sexuality has generated a corresponding set of discourses within gay men’s communities and in the social world of HIV prevention. Community narratives either construct the Internet as a virtual community where acceptance, solidarity, friendship, romance, and sex become easily accessible in a largely hetero-normative world, or a virtual bathhouse accelerating the depoliticization and commodification of gay life (Kapp, 2011; Ward & Arsenault, 2012). In public health, accounts oscillate between exploring the Internet’s potential to revitalize HIV prevention efforts (Chiasson et al., 2009; Rhodes et al., 2011; Rosser et al., 2010), and debating its possible role in facilitating HIV risk and transmission (Berry et al., 2008; Bull & McFarlane, 2000; Wohlfeiler & Potterat, 2005). Intersecting perspectives from communication, Internet studies, and public health, this dissertation traces the erotic and epidemiological contours of a “network society” (Castells, 1996) where the Internet plays an ambivalent role in social life. Based on archival research, personal experience, and 31 interviews with gay men, public health actors, and Internet entrepreneurs in San Francisco and Vancouver, this project uses the concept of virtual friction to think through the tensions, contradictions, and paradoxes that characterize the networking of sexuality and HIV prevention in the digital age. Broadly speaking, I ask whether and how the Internet has transformed sexuality and HIV prevention by examining the discourses, subjectivities, and practices that have emerged, as well as the subsequent set of opportunities and challenges they generate for the various social worlds involved (Strauss, 1978). I argue that virtual friction is not only an inevitable but necessary part of the process because it renders visible the limits of imagining social problems and solutions in purely technological terms. Friction challenges us to acknowledge the competing epistemologies, interests, and perspectives that underpin life in the digital age, taking us out of our comfort zones by asking how we know and believe what we do about science, technology and society.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Peter Chow-White
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Hand Gesture Identification in Older Adults using Force-Myography

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-06-20
Abstract: 

The projected increase in the proportion of seniors in society has prompted the growth of senior-technologies that support aging-in-place. The aim of this thesis to explore the suitability of Force Myography (FMG) for hand gesture identification in aging populations to complement other technologies that promote aging-in-place and to investigate the practical considerations for implementation. Characteristics of using FMG with seniors (aged 60+ years old) was first determined with a protocol involving five seniors and five non-seniors. Participants were invited to don a custom FMG device and perform a series of stationary hand gestures while being guided by a virtual user interface. The interface provided online image instructions of the required gesture, as well as visual feedback of successful gesture identification. Participants also performed household activities based tasks in a self-selected manner. On average, seniors completed specified hand gestures within 1.4 seconds of online instruction, with inadvertent identification of control gestures during household tasks lasting at most 1.45 seconds. Although these times were comparable non-senior participants, seniors demonstrated increased variability. Lastly, online accuracies for gesture classification only reached 75% compared to the 91% of non-senior participants. Considering the results of the first study, a follow up study was performed with a larger recruitment pool focusing on intrinsic user features that influence the variability in FMG acquisition and modelling. The results demonstrate that age and gender associated differences in band tightness, grip strength and ratio of skinfold thickness to forearm circumference account for at most 30% of the variability in FMG responsiveness, translating to 7% to 30% of the variability of model test accuracy. Intrinsic user features also influenced the severity that functional noise (the affect of unintended movements) had on classification. Results also revealed that variables independent of the user, such as band removal, contribute significantly to declines in testing accuracy, where declines ranged from 28% to 96%. Finally, results also showed that methods of FMG modelling typically encountered in the literature shows limited effectiveness during non-static activity.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Carlo Menon
Department: 
Applied Sciences: School of Engineering Science
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.Sc.

“Grey matter”: The challenge of maintaining harmonic consistency and thematic ambiguity in the age of artificial intelligence

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-05-28
Abstract: 

“Grey Matter”, a forty-two minute, 4-movement suite for string quartet and Disklavier (Yamaha’s automated piano), ambiguously explores themes of aging (and the body’s attendant neural/psychic deterioration and social alienation) in the age of automation, digital technology and artificial intelligence. Another thematic layer implies the following questions: will the roles of creative and performing artists become obsolete, like so many other professions are feared to become, with accelerating automation and artificial intelligence? Is technology bestowing upon us a utopian or dystopian future? Conceived with symmetrical harmonic processes, the work layers and juxtaposes sequentially diminishing harmonies (and diminishing performance personnel) with contrapuntal procedures. Alluding to a wide range of historical sources as disparate as Joseph Haydn, Robert Schumann, Béla Bartók, Charlie Chaplin, Kurt Vonnegut, Lee “Scratch” Perry and Spike Jonze, “Grey Matter” culminates with a collage of Bachian and Lisztian materials feeding back and reverberating through circular 4-channel electroacoustic diffusion.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Arne Eigenfeldt
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School for the Contemporary Arts
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.F.A.

Generating natural language summary for image sets

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-05-31
Abstract: 

We address the problem of summarizing an image set with a natural language caption. We present PlacesCap, a new dataset for image set summarization. Our dataset consists of 11,661 image sets with a total of 116,113 images, where each set is summarized by a 3 sentence caption. We propose novel pooling operators for permutation invariant sets of feature maps, and empirically evaluate image set summarization models based on those operators. We also conduct experiments of image set classification and show competitive performance for the proposed set pooling operators.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Greg Mori
Department: 
Applied Sciences: School of Computing Science
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Experiencing mathematics through problem solving tasks

Date created: 
2018-05-07
Abstract: 

Learning through problem solving is an old concept that has been redeveloped as a valuable strategy to teach mathematics. Many teachers feel a tension between the value of teaching through problem solving and the necessity of teaching a prescribed curriculum , often resulting in minimizing the time students spend on genuine problem solving. The purpose of this thesis was to investigate the extent that a mathematics student encounters curriculum while working freely on problem solving tasks. A student in a Pre Calculus and Foundations Math 10 course, which already had a culture of thinking and problem solving, was observed for a 1-month period to see what mathematical content they engaged with through problem solving. Observations, photographs, and notes were taken about the tasks and the mathematics that the student encountered during problem solving each day. The variety of tasks was very broad to prevent students from assuming a problem solving strategy based a current unit of study. Through analysis of the content one student engaged with, it was found that almost the entirety of the Pre Calculus and Foundations 10 prescribed learning outcomes was encountered in addition to both a review of some curricular content from Math 6 through Math 9, as well as exposure to curricular content from Math 11 and 12.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Peter Liljedahl
Department: 
Education: Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Towards the development of a sub 500 micron thermally actuated scanning fiber endoscope for detection of lung cancer

Date created: 
2018-05-30
Abstract: 

Medical professionals increasingly rely on endoscopes to carry out many minimally-invasive procedures on patients in order to safely examine, diagnose and treat a myriad of conditions. However, their distal tip size dictates which passages of the body they can be inserted into and consequently what organs they can access. For inaccessible areas and organs, patients are often subjected to intrusive, risky and uncomfortable procedures; diagnosis of lung cancer is one of these cases. Hence, this study sets out to design an endoscope head that has an outer diameter of less than 500 microns, small enough to be inserted into the lungs. To attain this goal, a novel approach based on resonance thermal excitation of a dual clad single mode optical fiber at a location close to its base is proposed. The previously obtained analytical models for describing the lateral vibratory motion of the fixed-free micro-cantilever are used to validate the corresponding physical prototypes. Parameters such as choice of materials, resonance frequency, bonding methods, shape and dimensions of the actuator bridge, structural rigidity, assembly are considered in the physical design of the device. Lateral free-end deflection of the center fiber is used as a benchmark for evaluating performance. The results show that this novel proposal can be used to satisfy the project requirements.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Carlo Menon
Department: 
Applied Sciences: School of Engineering Science
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.Sc.

Factors associated with angling license purchase frequency and fishing site choice for BC anglers

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-05-28
Abstract: 

A substantial proportion of anglers in British Columbia (BC) are infrequent, meaning that they do not purchase a license every year. Maintaining fishing license sales is an important objective of fisheries management and leads to stable revenue for conservation and management. To sustain participation, we must better understand the characteristics, license-purchasing habits and fishing site preferences of infrequent anglers, as well as differences between infrequent and frequent anglers. We employed a survey distributed to random BC anglers stratified by participation; a follow-up survey was used to assess non-response bias. The results showed that age, fishing skills and centrality of fishing to lifestyle, number of other anglers in household and usual time of license-purchasing influenced the anglers’ likelihood to be frequent license-purchasers. Choice modeling identified the differences in fishing site preferences (e.g., expected fish size, amenities) between the two angler groups and revealed what management actions would increase overall angler satisfaction.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Sean Cox
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M. (Planning)

Atoms for Annan: The Chapelcross Works nuclear station, technopolitics, and British nuclear culture in the Dumfriesshire region of Scotland between 1955-1979

Date created: 
2018-05-01
Abstract: 

This thesis examines the history of the Chapelcross Works nuclear station and the local, regional, and national politics around the plant from 1955 to 1979. It looks outward from the plant's history to view the convergence of technopolitics and nuclear culture in Scotland during the Cold War. The thesis argues that the problem of autonomy from versus integration within the British Nuclear State often shaped how Scottish institutions, civil society groups, and individuals dealt with Chapelcross station and crafted strategies around their differing agendas. It also shows how some people in Dumfriesshire challenged official UK nuclear policy and official narratives.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Aaron Windel
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of History
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Enhancing post-secondary student support and retention: Lessons learned from the storied lives of former first year BDSc students

Date created: 
2018-05-23
Abstract: 

Student retention remains one the most widely researched areas in higher education. However, there exists a paucity of research that has examined student retention through the lens of first-year students who have been dismissed from their institution, particularly within Canadian health-related undergraduate programs. Using a qualitative narrative inquiry, this study explored the lived experiences of 10 former first-year students in the University of British Columbia’s Bachelor of Dental Science (BDSc) program. Informed by Braxton and Hirschy’s (2005) model of student departure for commuter students, goals of the study included investigating students’ experiences as they transitioned into their first year in the program, the influencing factors that contributed to students’ academic performance and subsequent dismissal in their first year of study, and the support mechanisms and resources needed for entering students. Individual interviews were conducted at two separate times with each participant to better understand their challenges and needs as they entered and transitioned through their first year of university. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim to facilitate the thematic coding of emergent themes. Narrative analysis involved an examination of participants’ experiences related to temporality, place, and sociality accomplished through coding, member checking, and researcher memos. Academic under-preparedness, large university class sizes, challenges connecting with faculty, and external influences were identified as factors that contributed to participants’ unsuccessful academic outcome. The social environment for participants was strongly tied to classroom life. Academic learning communities successfully facilitated the establishment of close friendships and feelings of social integration. Disconnection with many faculty members resulted in participants feeling academically not integrated and contributed to lower levels of perceived institutional commitment to student welfare which negatively impacted students’ ability to progress. The existing university student services departments and support resources were under-utilized. Lessons learned from this research have resulted in a greater appreciation for the role that an institution has in supporting its students. Participants’ lived experiences and suggestions have informed recommendations for policy and practice that may assist the BDSc program, the university, and other institutions of higher education in developing more robust, accessible, and visible programming to support student success.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Michelle Pidgeon
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ed.D.

Multivariate CACE analysis with an application to Arthritis Health Journal Study

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-05-07
Abstract: 

Treatment noncompliance is a common issue in randomized controlled trials that may plague the randomization settings and bias the treatment effect estimation. The complier-average causal effect (CACE) model has become popular in estimating the method effectiveness under noncompliance. Performing multiple univariate CACE analysis separately fails to capture the potential correlations among multivariate outcomes, which will lead to biased estimates and significant loss of power in detecting actual treatment effect. Motivated by the Arthritis Health Journal Study, we propose a multivariate CACE model to better account for the correlations among outcomes. In our simulation study, the global likelihood ratio test is conducted to evaluate the treatment effect which fails to control the type I error for moderate sample sizes. So, we further perform a parametric bootstrap test to address this issue. Our simulation results suggest that the Multivariate CACE model outperforms multiple Univariate CACE models in the precision of estimation and statistical power in the case of correlated multivariate outcomes.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Hui Xie
Department: 
Science: Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.Sc.