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.

A riparian restoration plan for a construction site on the Brunette River

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-04-21
Abstract: 

Urbanization has altered riparian ecosystems, resulting in the decline of species that depend on them. The Brunette River in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia is no exception; though it currently supports a range of biotas, many of them are at-risk. These impacts are further accentuated by the expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, which will result in the removal of a portion of critical habitat for the endangered Nooksack Dace. In light of the cultural significance of the basin to Kwikwetlem First Nations, the goal of this plan is to improve conditions at the project site post-construction through the establishment of culturally and ecologically important species and the addition of habitat features. I completed soil, vegetation, and water quality surveys to inform my prescriptions. Recommendations include the management of non-native species using manual and mechanical control methods and the planting of a native riparian community that fits within the confines of human infrastructure. A robust monitoring plan is also provided.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Shawn Chartrand
Department: 
Environment: Ecological Restoration
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.Sc.

Nanostructure and ion dynamics of novel ionenes via scattering and simulation

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-04-08
Abstract: 

The creation of advanced solid polymer electrolytes is of critical importance for the development of many technologies, especially fuel cells and hydrogen electrolyzers. While hydrogen fuel cells are a top candidate to replace the internal combustion engine in many applications, they are currently too expensive for mainstream adoption due to the use of perfluorinated sulfonic acid-based (PFSA) polymer electrolytes, which are expensive, and require expensive platinum catalysts and titanium cell components. Utilizing hydrocarbon alkaline membranes can dramatically reduce costs, but such membranes that achieve chemical stability and ion conductivity comparable to PFSAs have proven elusive. It has been shown that polyatomic cations integrated into polymer backbones, when sterically protected, can provide high ion conductivity and excellent chemical stability. As these materials consist of cations directly integrated into rigid polymer backbones, the phase separation observed in high-performing polymers such as PFSA is not possible, and it is not clear how high conductivity is achieved. This thesis provides a comprehensive investigation into the nanostructure of such materials via a combination of X-ray scattering at controlled humidity and atomistic molecular dynamics simulations, which reveal a sponge-like nanostructure, near-complete percolation at low degrees of hydration, and no evidence of long-range phase separation. A preliminary analysis of the ion dynamics reveals an unexpectedly strong relationship between accessible volume and ion mobility, suggesting that ion mobility is almost completely defined by the accessible volume in these materials.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Barbara Frisken
Department: 
Science: Department of Physics
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

The Role of Informal Workers in Online Economic Crime

Date created: 
2021-08-30
Abstract: 

(Context) Online economic crime leverages information technologies (IT) for illegal wealth redistribution, such as banking theft. Such crime requires a series of actions, a scheme, to be successful. Informal workers, individuals whose economic activities escape regulations, can be leveraged to execute various tasks surrounding these schemes. However, what these workers represent for online economic crime organizations, and their impact on the reach and sophistication of the crime, has yet to be uncovered. This thesis focuses on understanding the contexts, motivations, and organizations of those behind online economic crime. While doing so, it assesses the role and availability of an informal IT workforce surrounding the crime organization and its likelihood to participate in such criminal schemes. (Methods and Data) This thesis builds on three data sources: (1) 21 semi-structured interviews with experts, (2) a private chat log containing discussions among individuals involved in online economic crime, and (3) two datasets on an informal IT workforce operating on a digital labor platform. A blend of qualitative and quantitative analyses is developed, including inductive thematic analysis, non-parametric statistical hypothesis tests, and group-based trajectory modeling. (Results) The findings illustrate three key contextual factors influencing those behind online economic crime: a lack of legal economic opportunities, a lack of deterrents and the availability of drifting means. Organizations behind online economic crime are found to take various forms, from organized, to enterprise-like, loose networks or communities. They are also characterized by a large sphere of influence given the indispensable workers hired to help with the crime orchestration. Among them, informal workers from the IT sector are found to be particularly important: they represent a pool of potential workers for all legal tasks surrounding online economic crime, and they can be leveraged easily due to digital labor platforms. However, further investigations illustrate that the benefits of hiring informal IT workers may be hindered by high transaction costs, including high hiring, switching, and monitoring costs. Moreover, the likelihood of informal IT workers to participate in crime-oriented spaces is found to be limited. (Conclusion) This study sheds light on the organization of online economic crime and the role of informal IT workers at the periphery. It provides both theoretical and empirical explanations as to why online economic crime is characterized by long reach, in terms of victims, and sophistication. It also offers nuanced concepts (e.g., drifters, informal workforce) to better grasp the organization of online economic crime and the degrees of involvement of those surrounding the crime.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Martin Bouchard
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

PERSPECTIVALS

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-08-25
Abstract: 

Perspectivals is an interior wall installation and an immersive environment comprised of eight freestanding wooden-framed translucent fabric panels immersed in geometric light projections. The choreographed light patterns, integrated with surround soundscape, allow geometric forms to completely recede from perspective as the visitor walks around the work. When the visitor’s perspective shifts or is distorted, a new perception becomes possible. The layers of perception involved in such a space explore the ways that we experience and understand space, and how that understanding shapes our sense of what was once two-dimensional and architectural. This artwork is designed not to be looked at, but looked through. This calls upon viewers’ intuitive perception of the space to experience, beyond simple comprehension, the phenomenal and poetic nature of the work. Perspectivals takes us on a journey from one perceptual state of mind to another, where art lies in perception, and where we open ourselves to the present moment.

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

Movement matters: The power of dance within an affective public sphere

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-08-05
Abstract: 

As a result of the COVID – 19 pandemic, physical places were removed as an option for gathering for the arts, and thus virtual encounters have increased, and new dynamic exchanges would have emerged. The public sphere can be expanded beyond the linguistic to include non-linguistic communication within a contemporary affective public sphere. Affect and emotion can be critical resources for nurturing publics. Affective modes of discourse and non-linguistic forms of communication through dance, can support communicative exchange, which can lead to social connection, action, and experiences of belonging, all features of an affective public sphere. Affective public spheres embrace an embodied experience that includes non-linguistic forms of affective communicative exchange. Dance can be seen as a medium of engagement that nourishes an affective public sphere. Through a case study of the 2021 Vancouver International Dance Festival (VIDF), I seek to examine how dance can function as a modality of nonverbal communication within a mediated affective public sphere. I use a mixed methods approach, drawing on critical visual and sonic semiotic analysis and autoethnography to examine the expressive work of dance and the way it contributes to local public life. The analysis found that VIDF brought together the elements of dance movement, mise en scene and sonic features to bring together citizen - audiences into a relationship with key matters of common concern. It is in this way that dance can be understood to operate as a medium of engagement that nourishes an affective public sphere.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Stuart Poyntz
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Communication
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essay) M.A.

“Is it just me?”: A phenomenological exploration of maternal ambivalence In breastfeeding

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-08-05
Abstract: 

Breastfeeding is considered the baby-feeding ‘gold-standard’ with the World Health Organization recommending exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first six months of life. Yet very low breastfeeding rates are reported worldwide. In this phenomenological exploration of breastfeeding, which is inspired by my own experiences as a long-term breastfeeding mother, I suggest that to account for this gap, breastfeeding should be explored holistically, from the nursing mother’s perspective, as an embodied and relational commitment which can trigger ambivalence. I address this ambivalence through seven research questions. The first and overarching question asks: 1) What is the embodied experience of breastfeeding? This question is approached by asking 2) What are women’s breastfeeding-related attitudes and expectations? 3) How does breastfeeding impact women’s social lives? 4) Does breastfeeding require particular logistical or organizational considerations? 5) Do women feel support and inclusion in breastfeeding? 6) Do women find breastfeeding limiting and challenging? and 7) How do social, cultural, and political contexts affect breastfeeding? To answer these questions, I conducted six open-ended interviews with Israeli breastfeeding women whose life circumstances align with my own. Interview transcripts were analyzed phenomenologically to provide an emerging conceptualization of breastfeeding which I have categorized in terms of positive, negative and in-between experiences. This analysis revealed breastfeeding to have extensive impacts on women’s lives, including bodily changes and attitudinal shifts, as well as having significant social, professional, and financial consequences. Given these implications, I propose that breastfeeding is an inherently complex, relational practice which can trigger ambivalence. This ambivalence is felt in conflicting sensations and emotions, thoughts and attitudes. Furthermore, while this ambivalence is influenced by external forces, it is felt subjectively and physically in how women come to see themselves. What is relationally and ecologically understood about breastfeeding is that the care for another can generate a complexly lived experience for the caregiver, yet this complexity is often unacknowledged. Thus the public promotion of breastfeeding as being ‘best’ in terms of baby-feeding is misaligned with women’s lived experiences and therefore counterproductive in encouraging women to breastfeed.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Stephen Smith
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Combinatorial methods for integer partitions

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-08-20
Abstract: 

Integer partitions, while simply defined, are associated with some of the most celebrated results in mathematics. Despite their simple definition, many results on integer partitions can be shockingly difficult to obtain. In this thesis, we use elementary and combinatorial methods to make progress on some fundamental problems related to linear Diophantine equations and integer partitions. We find an efficient method for finding the number of nonnegative integer solutions (x,y,z) of the equation ax+by+cz=n for given positive integers a, b, c, and n. Our formula involves summations of floor functions of fractions. To quickly evaluate these sums, we find a reciprocity relation that generalizes a well-known reciprocity relation of Gauss related to the law of quadratic reciprocity. Furthermore, we use our result for the number of solutions to a particular equation to prove that the above result of Gauss is equivalent to a well-known result of Sylvester related to the Frobenius Coin Problem. Moreover, using this equivalence and our generalization of the reciprocity relation of Gauss, we obtain a nice generalization of Sylvester's result. In a different problem, we prove four conjectures of Berkovich and Uncu regarding some inequalities about relative sizes of two closely related sets consisting of integer partitions whose parts lie in the interval {s,...,L+s}. Further restrictions are placed on the sets by specifying impermissible parts as well as a minimum part. Our methods consist of constructing injective maps between the relevant sets of partitions. We obtain a very natural combinatorial proof of Euler's recurrence for integer partitions using the principle of inclusion and exclusion. Using our approach, we are able to generalize Euler's recurrence in the sense that for sufficiently large n, we can express p(n) explicitly as an integer linear combination of p(n-k), p(n-k-1),... etc. Using such recurrences, we obtain results related to Ramanujan's congruences. For example, if p_m(n) denotes the number of partitions of n that have largest part at most m, we show that for m > 5, the numbers p_m(5n+4) are not divisible by 5 for infinitely many values of n.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Amarpreet Rattan
Department: 
Science: Department of Mathematics
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Multi-omics characterization of pancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-08-18
Abstract: 

Pancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms (PNENs) are biologically and clinically heterogeneous neoplasms in which pathogenic alterations are often indiscernible. Treatments for PNENs are insufficient in part due to lack of alternatives once current options are exhausted. Despite previous efforts to characterize PNENs at the molecular level, there remains a lack of molecular subgroups and molecular features with clinical utility for PNENs. In this work, I describe the identification and characterization of four molecularly distinct subgroups from primary PNEN specimens using whole-exome sequencing, RNA-sequencing and global proteome profiling. A Proliferative subgroup with molecular features of proliferating cells was associated with an inferior overall survival probability. A PDX1-high subgroup consisted of PNENs demonstrating genetic and transcriptomic indications of NRAS or HRAS activation. An Alpha cell-like subgroup, enriched in PNENs with deleterious MEN1 and DAXX mutations, bore transcriptomic similarity to pancreatic α-cells and harbored proteomic cues of dysregulated metabolism involving glutamine and arginine. Lastly, a Stromal/Mesenchymal subgroup exhibited increased expression and activation of the Hippo signaling pathway effectors YAP1 and WWTR1 that are of emerging interest as potentially actionable targets in other cancer types. Whole-genome and whole-transcriptome analysis of PNEN metastases identified novel molecular events likely contributing to pathogenesis, including one case presumably driven by MYCN amplification. In agreement with the findings in primary PNENs, four of the metastatic PNENs displayed a substantial Alpha cell-like subgroup signature and all harboured concurrent mutations in MEN1 and DAXX. Collectively, the identified subgroups present a potential stratification scheme that facilitates the identification of therapeutic vulnerabilities amidst PNEN heterogeneity to improve the effective management of PNENs.

Document type: 
Thesis
Supervisor(s): 
Sharon Gorski
Department: 
Science: Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Discovery and characterization of novel non-coding 3′ UTR mutations in NFKBIZ and their functional implications in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-08-16
Abstract: 

Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is a very heterogenous disease that has historically been divided into two subtypes driven by distinct molecular mechanisms. The activated B-cell (ABC) subtype of DLBCL has the worst overall survival and is characterized by activation of the NF-κB signaling pathway. Although many genetic alterations have been identified in DLBCL, there remain cases with few or no known genetic drivers. This suggests that there are still novel drivers of DLBCL yet to be discovered. In this thesis I aimed to leverage whole genome sequencing data to identify novel regions of the genome that were recurrently mutated, with a specific focus on non-coding regions. Through this analysis we identified numerous novel putative driver mutations within the non-coding genome. One of the most highly recurrently mutated regions was in the 3′ untranslated region (UTR) of the NFKBIZ gene. Amplifications of this gene have been previously discovered in ABC DLBCL and this gene is known to activate NF-κB signaling. Therefore, we hypothesized that these 3′ UTR mutations were acting as drivers in DLBCL. The remaining portion of this thesis is focused on the functional characterization of NFKBIZ 3′ UTR mutations and how they drive DLBCL and contribute to treatment resistance. To this end, I induced NFKBIZ 3′ UTR mutations into DLBCL cell lines and determined that they cause both elevated mRNA and protein expression. These mutations conferred a selective growth advantage to DLBCL cell lines both in vitro and in vivo and overexpression of NFKBIZ in primary germinal center B-cells also provided cells a growth advantage. Lastly, I found that NFKBIZ-mutant cell lines were more resistant to a selection of targeted therapeutics (ibrutinib, idelalisib and masitinib). Taken together, this thesis highlights the importance of surveying the entire cancer genome, including non-coding regions, when searching for novel drivers. I demonstrated that mutations in the 3′ UTR of a gene can act as driver mutations conferring cell growth advantages and treatment resistance. This work also implicates NFKBIZ 3′ UTR mutations as potentially useful biomarkers for predicting treatment response and informing on the most effective treatment options for patients.

Document type: 
Thesis
Supervisor(s): 
Ryan Morin
Department: 
Science: Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Profiling the University of British Columbia Doctor of Medicine undergraduate students’ physical activity knowledge, attitudes, and health behaviours

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-07-29
Abstract: 

The growing Exercise is Medicine (EIM) initiative recommends that physicians assess and prescribe physical activity as part of their patient care to tackle the physical inactivity public health crisis (Sallis, 2009). The purpose of this study was to investigate whether University of British Columbia (UBC) Doctor of Medicine (MD) students have the physical activity related knowledge, attitudes, and health behaviours to include physical activity when prescribing treatment plans for their patients and whether the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours differ between years of the medical program. In a cross-sectional design, an online survey was administered to profile the UBC MD student population and investigate variables addressing the research questions. Statistics were used to examine frequency distributions, measures of central tendency, and any significant (P < 0.05) differences between years of the medical program. The response rate was 18.9% (217/1150). Mean age (SD) of participants was 25.5 (3.9) years and the majority were female (60.7%), white (58.1%), single (72.9%), first year (41.6%), and from Vancouver Fraser (61.1%). The main findings were: 90.3% were aware of the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults, but their understanding was poor; 78.8% recalled seven hours or less time spent discussing physical activity, and 74.4% would like to see more time dedicated to learning how to talk to their patients about physical activity; 98.0% strongly agreed or agreed that physical activity counselling is important, only 57.0% felt they have sufficient knowledge, and only 36.6% felt confident in suggesting specific physical activity programs; 96.0% felt medical schools should encourage healthy lifestyles, but only 49.0% felt they do; 89.8% reported their health as excellent or good, but 29.5% identified as having mental health concerns; 76.8% were meeting Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, and the mean (SD) Godin Leisure Time Exercise Score was 55.6 (25.4) which is a classification of Active. Participants were receptive to an EIM approach to increase physical activity levels and health outcomes of the population. Given the lack of necessary knowledge, training, and confidence to support EIM in clinical practice, recommendations for medical education, policy, and practice are provided to better equip medical students to positively impact global health.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Scott Lear
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ed.D.