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.

Mind the gap: A case study of TransLink’s legislation and the non-implementation of the Vehicle Levy in 2001

Date created: 
2017-09-28
Abstract: 

The Greater Vancouver metropolitan region has developed a long history of regional collaboration among local municipalities. The 1990s marked a period of highly collaborative intergovernmental planning, which - with the support of the provincial government - resulted in the creation of TransLink, a regional transportation agency that manages major roads, bridges and public transit in the Greater Vancouver metropolitan area. This thesis investigates the provincial government’s decision to not allow TransLink to implement a vehicle levy in 2001. The research uses qualitative methods to examine this decision and the motivating factors that contributed to the provincial government’s approach to regional transportation in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The findings are that technical, organizational, and political factors influenced the provincial government’s vehicle levy decision. This thesis reveals how the provincial government’s political considerations were embedded within a series of events that framed the vehicle levy as a contentious issue. TransLink’s approach to the vehicle levy sparked public concern about fairness and equity, which led to cascading political problems and a lack of regional consensus, which thus resulted in the provincial government’s non-implementation of the levy.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Anthony Perl
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Urban Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Research Project) M.Urb.

Discerning Claim Making: Political Representation of Indo-Canadians by Canadian Political Parties

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-09-21
Abstract: 

The targeting of people of colour by political parties during election campaigns is often described in the media as “wooing” or “courting.” How parties engage or “woo” non-whites is not fully understood. Theories on representation provide a framework for the systematic analysis of the types of representation claims made by political actors. I expand on the political proximity approach—which suggests that public office seekers make more substantive than symbolic claims to their partisans than to non-aligned voters—by arguing that Canadian political parties view mainstream voters as their typical constituents and visible minorities, such as Indo-Canadians, as peripheral constituents. Consequently, campaign messages targeted at mainstream voters include more substantive claims than messages targeted at non-white voters. I conduct a content analysis of political advertisements placed during the 2004–2015 general election campaigns in Punjabi and mainstream Canadian newspapers. The analysis shows that political parties make more symbolic than substantive claims in both categories of newspapers; however, Punjabi newspapers contain slightly more symbolic claims than the mainstream ones. The Liberals and NDP make more substantive claims in Punjabi newspapers than the Conservatives.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Eline de Rooij
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Political Science
Thesis type: 
(Research Project) M.A.

Integrating regulatory mechanisms of Wnt signaling in development and tissue homeostasis

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-10-24
Abstract: 

Evolutionarily conserved signal transduction pathways mediate the ability of cells to respond to their environment and coordinate with each other for proper development and homeostasis of an organism. The Wnt/Wingless (Wg) pathway is required for proliferation, differentiation, stem-cell renewal and homeostasis, and when disrupted leads to disease. Wnt signaling does not control all these processes alone, its activity is extensively regulated by interaction with other signaling pathways and cellular mechanisms. This is mediated predominantly through phospho-regulation of the key pathway components by kinases and phosphatases. Our lab conducted an in vivo RNAi screen designed to identify novel kinase and phosphatase regulators of the Wnt pathway. In my PhD thesis research I further characterized three potential regulators: Downstream of Raf1 (Dsor1), Protein phosphatase 4 (PP4), and myosin phosphatase. Knockdown of Dsor1 reduced Wnt target gene expression and decreased stabilized β-catenin, the key effector protein of the Wnt pathway. Dsor1 and β-catenin had a close physical interaction, and catalytically inactive Dsor1 caused a reduction in active β-catenin, suggesting that Dsor1 counteracts destruction of β-catenin. Additionally, Ras-Dsor1 activity was independent of EGFR, and likely activated by the insulin-like receptor to promote Wnt. This work demonstrates novel crosstalk between Insulin and Wnt signaling via Dsor1. The reduction of PP4 inhibited Wg pathway activity, by reducing Notch-driven wg transcription. PP4 was found to promote Notch signaling within the nucleus of the receiving cell. Furthermore, PP4 regulates proliferation independently of its Notch interaction. This study identified a new role for PP4 in Notch signaling, and subsequently transcriptional regulation of wg. Reduced myosin phosphatase inhibited Wnt signaling by causing increased non-muscle myosin II (NMII) activation and cellular contraction. NMII activation stabilizes cortical F-actin resulting in accumulation of E-cadherin to the adherens junctions (AJ). E-cadherin titrates available β-catenin to the AJs in order to maintain cell-cell adhesion under contraction. The decreased cytoplasmic β-catenin results in insufficient nuclear translocation for full Wnt target gene transcription. This work elucidates that the dynamic activation of actomyosin contractility refines patterning of Wnt target gene expression. These studies identified three novel regulatory mechanisms for controlling Wnt signaling in development and homeostasis.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Esther Verheyen
Department: 
Science: Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Design and implementation of an image based portable ELISA analyzer using EIPA and 4PLR

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-10-12
Abstract: 

This thesis presents an implementation of predictive analytics on ELISA Imaging Systems in the absence of the standard laboratory equipment for field diagnostics. To that aim I developed a custom built optical setup with image processing and machine learning techniques. Using the light absorbance and transmittance properties of chemical compounds involved in hormone assays, I was able to estimate the hormone levels across reproductive stages. This work would allow for the eventual development of compact and economical closed systems which can be used for diagnostic advisory purposes in remote areas. This line of applied research, is expected to yield data that can be used to monitor health related outcomes. To test this use I focus the development of this tool on the monitoring of women’s ovarian function. Experimental results demonstrate that our proposed model predicts hormone levels comparable to currently used commercial and laboratory methods.

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

Exploring the Process and Maintenance of Desistance from Offending

Date created: 
2017-11-08
Abstract: 

The purpose of the present study was to examine factors connected to periods of unsuccessful, successful, and maintained desistance. To facilitate this goal, the study was structured around a dynamic conceptualization of desistance and examined the subjective perceptions of 20 self-reported official and behavioural desisters (median and mode age of 30 years) who participated in semi-structured interviews based on a life history narrative approach. Interviews lasted an average of 72 minutes and produced a total of 469 single spaced pages of verified transcripts. Themes were generated through a five stage interpretative phenomenological analysis coding procedure, related to the five stages of the offending and desistance cycle. Overall, participants attributed offending to external factors within their environment, but incorporated the ramifications of their offending into their identities. Participants linked unsuccessful desistance periods to external factors such as experiencing external controls (e.g. physical ailments) or having others attempt to force behavioural change. Resurgence in criminal behaviour following unsuccessful desistance periods was often linked to a cascading breakdown of desistance factors after participants experienced an offending trigger, such as losing employment or relapsing into substance use. In contrast, participants linked successful desistance periods to their identity, and experiencing a desire to change that helped motivate them to attain a positive possible future and to positively overcome threats to their desistance. In addition to identity change, maintenance of desistance was attributed to a change in environment, gaining social capital, and a desire to maintain progress in a positive life direction. Notably, participants tended to report first experiencing identity changes, which led to cognitive transformations and the accumulation of social capital, which ultimately supported sustained desistance. However, there is likely no golden rule that can be applied to all offenders to help them desist. Rather it is important to understand and respect the multifaceted, dynamic, complex, and individual nature of desistance from offending.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Kathleen Slaney
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Forecasting Batting Averages in MLB

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-11-14
Abstract: 

We consider new baseball data from Statcast which includes launch angle, launch velocity, and hit distance for batted balls in Major League Baseball during the 2015, and 2016 seasons. Using logistic regression, we train two models on 2015 data to get the probability that a player will get a hit on each of their 2015 at-bats. For each player we sum these predictions and divide by their total at bats to predict their 2016 batting average. We then use linear regression, which expresses 2016 actual batting averages as a linear combination of 2016 Statcast predictions and 2016 PECOTA predictions. When using this procedure to obtain 2017 predictions, we find that the combined prediction performs better than PECOTA. This information may be used to make better predictions of batting averages for future seasons.

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

A high-throughput dependency parser

Date created: 
2017-10-17
Abstract: 

Dependency parsing is an important task in NLP, and it is used in many downstream tasks for analyzing the semantic structure of sentences. Analyzing very large corpora in a reasonable amount of time, however, requires a fast parser. In this thesis we develop a transition-based dependency parser with a neural-network decision function which outperforms spaCy, Stanford CoreNLP, and MALTParser in terms of speed while having a comparable, and in some cases better, accuracy. We also develop several variations of our model to investigate the trade-off between accuracy and speed. This leads to a model with a greatly reduced feature set which is much faster but less accurate, as well as a more complex model involving a BiLSTM simultaneously trained to produce POS tags which is more accurate, but much slower. We compare the accuracy and speed of our different parser models against the three mentioned parsers on the Penn Treebank, Universal Dependencies English, and Ontonotes datasets using two different dependency tree representations to show how our parser competes on data from very different domains. Our experimental results reveal that our main model is much faster than the 3 external parsers while also being more accurate in some cases; our reduced feature set model is significantly faster while remaining competitive in terms of accuracy; and our BiLSTM-using model is somewhat faster than CoreNLP and is significantly more accurate.

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

Assessing Canada-British Columbia climate policy design and interaction

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-10-04
Abstract: 

This study tests alternative climate policy scenarios to provide useful information to decision-makers. The first component of this project evaluates how Canada, when viewed from a national perspective, can best achieve a greenhouse gas target. This was done by using the hybrid energy-economy model CIMS to simulate and compare policy approaches. For the second component, I modeled British Columbia to explore policy designs for integrating provincial climate policy with the broader national targets and efforts. Special emphasis was placed on designing policies that could gradually align initiatives by all regions and all levels of government in Canada with a similar, nation-wide marginal cost of emissions reduction. To account for the uncertainty of future natural gas production, I incorporate a sensitivity analysis by modeling each scenario in British Columbia twice, either under the assumption that liquefied natural gas is developed or absent in the province.

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

Exploring human cognition through multivariate data visualization

Date created: 
2017-11-03
Abstract: 

Entire disciplines are dedicated to separately exploring the relationship between sensation and perception; attention and learning; and information access and decision making. This work aims to bridge these fields though studies of data visualizations and decision making. A data visualization communicates information about synthesized data points for an observer. For graphical communication to work, all parties involved must understand regularities in the representations that are being used. Extracting regularities from observations is in the category learning wheelhouse, and so methods and findings from categorization literature are used to inform this work. Through the following experiments, the perception of multivariate data via visualization is explored. The framework for this exploration is an extension of existing proposals for a science of data visualization. The present work extends existing proposals by adding decision making as a critical element for a science of visualization. It’s great to understand how people can read a graph, but it’s even more informative to understand how that reading influences their actions.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Mark Blair
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Psychology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

An examination of the bedroom rapist

Date created: 
2017-09-22
Abstract: 

Research has found that sexual offenders are rational and consistent in their crime site selection strategies. However, one crime site location that has been largely understudied in sexual offending research is the ‘bedroom rape’ attack. Bedroom rapes are described as sexual assaults that occur within a victim’s own residence. This study uses Generalized Estimating Equations to examine data from a sample of 347 sexual assault events to determine which offender modus operandi and temporal variables are significant predictors of bedroom rape events. Findings indicate that a number of modus operandi and temporal variables are significant predictors. For instance, bedroom rape events are more likely to involve premeditation, coercion and an offender who commits a burglary in addition to the sexual offence. Conclusions on why offenders may choose this type of crime attack location are drawn and implications for situational crime prevention measures are discussed.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Eric Beauregard
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.