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.

Transnational education in China: Joint venture Sino-US universities and their impact

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-04-23
Abstract: 

In recent years US universities have been diving into the Chinese higher education field by partnering with Chinese universities to create new joint venture Sino-US universities in China. From my field research interviewing students and professors at the NYU Shanghai and Duke Kunshan University campuses, I drew my main research questions: 1) What is the practical purpose of having JV Sino-US universities from the perspectives of the stakeholders – the home universities, governments, and students involved? 2) When we consider the ideal role and purpose of a university within society, what do these new transnational universities add to the conversation? I informed my research with the literature of international education, Chinese higher education, and critique of the modern Western university. From my research, I found that recruiting international students is a practical and value-laden challenge, and that the finances to support financial aid incentives may be an issue in the future. Concerning academic freedom, JVs have special privileges to operate in China with full freedom, but subtle issues of self-censoring or visas may still cause friction. Overall, these JV schools seem to suffer from the same issues that affect Western higher education in general, but they may be pioneers in re-evaluating liberal arts and discovering better ways to teach a broad range of students from different backgrounds.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Alexander Dawson
Department: 
Arts and Social Sciences: School for International Studies
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Characterization of suppressors of fat-like cadherin CDH-4 in context of axon guidance during embryonic development

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-04-10
Abstract: 

Developing the nervous system requires axons to grow and connect to specific targets, forming neuronal circuits, through axon navigation. One of the genes controlling axon navigation is the fat-like cadherin CDH-4, a member of the cadherin superfamily. To identify genes acting together with cdh-4, mutants suppressing the axon guidance defects of cdh-4 mutants were isolated previously. The goal of this thesis was to characterize and identify these suppressor genes. Five suppressors were studied in detail. They partially suppressed axon guidance and movement defects observed in the cdh-4 mutants. Three suppressor genes were identified: math-48, a functionally uncharacterized gene, prp-6 and prp-8, both encoding components of the spliceosome. A previous study documented changes in expression of several hundred genes when prp-6 or prp-8 are partially inactivated. This suggests that the suppression effect might be mediated by upregulation of one or more genes, compensating for the loss of CDH-4.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Harald Hutter
Department: 
Science: Biological Sciences Department
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Planting the seed: Connecting Vancouver children with nature

Date created: 
2018-04-11
Abstract: 

Concern over the disconnection between children and nature has been growing in the last decade. Childhood outdoor play is declining, especially in urban areas. The disconnection puts both children and nature at risk. Experiencing natural environments through play and organized activities benefits children’s physical health, mental health, well-being, cognitive performance, and pro-environmental attitudes. Children engaging with nature have a strong sense of place, and greater sense of neighbourhood cohesion than those who do not, and tend to develop life-long environmental ethics and willingness to protect nature. This study explores the opportunities children across the City of Vancouver have to connect with nature; opportunities that vary geographically and face decline due to densification and development pressures. While all children in the city could benefit from more access to nature and nature programming in their schools, mapping shows that some of Vancouver’s lower income areas have significantly fewer natural areas in public parks. This study investigates current opportunities and potential public sector policies to promote a more equitable nature connection in elementary school-aged Vancouver children. Nature mapping, case study analyses of Austin, Texas and San Francisco, California, expert interviews, and an analysis of a Vancouver Park Board survey help identify and assess policies to address the gaps. I recommend that local officials undertake a collective impact approach to strengthen policy effectiveness through greater reach, capacity, and funding as a core first step. This should be followed by the development of co-managed green schoolyards by the Vancouver School Board and the Vancouver Park Board and as greater support to educators in pilot projects in high-priority schools.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Nancy Olewiler
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Public Policy
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.P.P.

Sequence analysis of ctDNA in NHL to monitor tumour progression and evolution

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-04-09
Abstract: 

NHL (non-Hodgkin lymphoma) is the fifth and sixth most prevalent cancer in Canada diagnosed annually among men and women respectively. With current conventional treatment, the five year survival rate is 67%. However, continued observations post-treatment are needed due to the risk of patient relapse. Liquid biopsies provide an effective, non-invasive means for such observations. Here, we evaluated the efficacy and utility of circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) in relapsed patients with NHL. We detected ctDNA in at least one plasma sample from 90.9% of patients tested. We showed a significant increase in ctDNA was associated with a lack of treatment response. We demonstrate the utility of ctDNA to facilitate genetic characterization and direct observation of tumour heterogeneity and evolution. These results support the utility of ctDNA as a biomarker for tumour progression and as a substrate to study the genetic dynamics of NHL tumours over the course of treatment.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Ryan Morin
Department: 
Science: Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Re-tracing erasures

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-04-25
Abstract: 

"Waves" is a short narrative film with a duration of 14 minutes, shot on 16mm film. It shows a child and her young mother struggling to take care of one another in the small bedroom they share. Years later, the daughter returns to find solace in the embrace of a childhood friend. The "Installation of film footage and recorded sound" is a response to some of the questions raised through the making of the short film. Through it, I am reinterpreting the material recorded during the production of "Waves" beyond the restrictions of montage. Using broad strokes, I am looking to see where narrative falls apart and what survives its shattered logic.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Video documentation of the Installation of film footage and recorded sound, edited to highlight viewing angles and different ima
Senior supervisor: 
Simone Rapisarda
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School for the Contemporary Arts
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.F.A.

Feeding our future: Options for expanding school meal programs in BC

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-04-12
Abstract: 

This study investigates the potential for expanding school meal programs to improve the diets of children in British Columbia (BC). A jurisdictional scan reveals a patchwork of existing programs across the province, but the majority are supplemented by charitable donations and volunteers, and many children do not have access to healthy foods during school hours. Case studies of 3 large-scale meal programs (England, Sweden, and Alberta) are analyzed using Comprehensive School Health as a lens to determine characteristics of successful programs and assess their applicability to the BC context. Expert interviews complement and verify the findings. Drawing on these findings, policy options are developed and evaluated on their performance on six criteria: effectiveness, equity, child development, cost, administrative complexity, and stakeholder acceptance. Based on this analysis, this study recommends funding a single non-profit partner to distribute funding to school districts and provide centralized support.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Marina Adshade
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Public Policy
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.P.P.

Developing methodologies for First Nations community surveys: Considerations for the external researcher

Date created: 
2018-04-19
Abstract: 

Indigenous communities require good data for the advancement of self-determination, planning and development. Unfortunately, there is a lack of disaggregated data available for Indigenous peoples in Canada, especially at the community level. First Nations community surveys provide a tool to address this data gap by collecting culturally relevant community-specific data. However, although survey research methods are well documented in the literature, there is little information specific to survey methods in the Indigenous context. This research provides considerations and guidelines for methodologies specific to First Nations community surveys based on four case studies and a literature review of the general survey research methods. Findings illustrate that the survey guidelines from the literature cannot be applied directly to First Nations community surveys without modification. Recommended modifications include community involvement and modifying methods to incorporate and reflect the specific characteristics and interests of the First Nations community.

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

Embedding Indigenous cultural safety and cultural humility as a culture of practice in health research institutions

Date created: 
2018-04-10
Abstract: 

Health inequities between Indigenous people and other Canadians are rooted in colonization and perpetuated by racist and discriminatory health systems and practices. The lack of cultural safety in health care settings is known to block Indigenous people from critical health care and supports. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (2015a) Calls to Action #23 and #24 reflect the importance of advancing Indigenous cultural safety and cultural humility in health care systems including research institutions. Through adopting an Indigenous public health perspective centred on an Indigenous historical perspective of health, this capstone project examines the issue of Indigenous cultural safety and humility in a health research institution in British Columbia. Drawing on existing literature and six qualitative interviews, nine strategies to increase Indigenous cultural safety and cultural humility are analyzed against seven evaluative criteria. With the lens that advancing Indigenous self-determination over health and wellbeing including within the health research process is a necessary step for reconciliation and addressing health inequities, recommendations for individual health research institutions are provided along with considerations for policy implementation and next steps.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Kora DeBeck
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Public Policy
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.P.P.

Valuation and management of mudflats in the Yellow River Delta, China

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-04-13
Abstract: 

While many coastal wetland valuation studies have been conducted across China, and at different scales, only a few have been conducted in the Yellow River Delta National Nature Reserve (YRDNNR). Furthermore, these studies have been dominated by the use of the static valuation method, which does not fully reflect value trade-offs among ecosystem services and land use types when these change over time. Since deltas are characterized by naturally changing ecosystem conditions, a more complete valuation of the coastal wetland ecosystem in the YRDNNR is desirable. Using the Benefit Value Transfer (BVT) method, I take a dynamic approach that will fill the gap in previous research by reflecting the full range of economic trade-offs among land use types and ecosystem services across varying spatial-temporal scales in the YRDNNR. In addition, my study further considers the impacts of water-sediment regulation, where coordinated annual water and sediment flushing events were initiated behind upper river dams in the early 2000s. Together, I consider these influence on the total economic value (TEV) of the YRDNNR from 2000 to 2015. The study suggests that the water-sediment regulation had a positive impact on the TEV of the YRDNNR. Such information will help the local government and resource managers to understand how this dynamic delta system is changing over time and in response to management intervention. Ultimately, it is hoped this research will lead to solutions to enhance ecosystem services.

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

Predictive models for chromatin folding: connecting sequence to structure

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-04-13
Abstract: 

The DNA packaged inside a nucleus shows complex structures stabilized by a host of DNA-bound factors. This combination of DNA and bound factors is known as chromatin. Both the distribution of bound factors and the contacts between different locations of the DNA can be now measured on a genome-wide scale. Nevertheless, to what extent is the likelihood of contact between sites in the genome encoded by the spatial sequence of bound factors? Current approaches at addressing this question primarily use simulations of heterogeneous polymers to generate structures using the locations of bound factors. In contrast, here we develop novel predictive models for connecting chromatin sequence to structure using statistical physics, information theory and machine learning. Since our methods do not require costly polymer simulations they can quickly predict the effect on structure due to changes in the distribution of bound factors. In addition, our methods are formulated in a manner that allows us to solve the inverse problem: namely, given just structural data, predict the likely sequence of bound factors. We show that the models developed can make biologically meaningful predictions, highlighting key features of the mechanisms through which the three-dimensional conformation of DNA is coordinated by the interactions between DNA-bound factors.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Eldon Emberly
Department: 
Science: Department of Physics
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.