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.

The combinatorial RNA design problem for binary trees

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-04-13
Abstract: 

The nucleotides adenine, uracil, guanine, and cytosine are the building blocks of ribonucleic acid (RNA). Certain nucleotides can pair, creating folds in the RNA sequence known as the secondary structure. The stability of the secondary structure increases with the number of pairings, but there are typically many foldings that achieve the maximum number of pairings. The combinatorial RNA design problem is to find a design for a target secondary structure (a sequence which can achieve its maximum number of pairings only by folding into this structure), or else to show that no design exists for this structure. A design is known for a class of secondary structures in which all nucleotides are paired, but a structure in which even one nucleotide is unpaired need not admit a design. We prove constructively that there is an infinite class of secondary structures containing unpaired nucleotides and admitting a design.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Jonathan Jedwab
Department: 
Science: Department of Mathematics
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Graph Invariants with Connections to the Feynman Period in phi-4 Theory.

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-04-07
Abstract: 

Feynman diagrams in scalar phi-4 theory have as their underlying structure 4-regular graphs. In particular, any 4-point phi-4 graph can be uniquely derived from a 4-regular graph by deleting a single vertex. The Feynman integral is encoded by the structure of the graph and is used to determine amplitudes of particle interactions. The Feynman period is a simplified version of the Feynman integral. The period is of special interest, as it maintains much of the important number theoretic information from the Feynman integral. It is also of structural interest, as it is known to be preserved by a number of graph theoretic operations. In particular, the vertex deleted in constructing the 4-point graph does not affect the Feynman period, and it is invariant under planar duality and the Schnetz twist, an operation that redirects edges incident to a 4-vertex cut. Further, a 4-regular graph may be produced by identifying triangles in two 4-regular graphs and then deleting these edges. The Feynman period of this graph with a vertex deleted is equal to the product of the Feynman periods of the two smaller graphs with one vertex deleted each. These operations currently explain all known instances of non-isomorphic 4-point phi-4 graphs with equal periods.With this in mind, other graph invariants that are preserved by these operations for 4-point phi-4 graphs are of interest, as they may provide insight into the Feynman period and potentially the integral. In this thesis the extended graph permanent is introduced; an infinite sequence of residues from prime order finite fields. It is shown that this sequence is preserved by these three operations, and has a product property. Additionally, computational techniques will be established, and an alternate interpretation will be presented as the point count of a novel graph polynomial.Further, the previously existing c2 invariant and Hepp bound are examined, two graph invariants that are conjectured to be preserved by these graph operations. A combinatorial approach to the c2 invariant is introduced.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Karen Yeats
Department: 
Science: Department of Mathematics
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Reflecting the mosaic: An investigation of diversity at academic institutions

Date created: 
2017-03-22
Abstract: 

This study aims to identify barriers to diversity in academic institutions and recommend policies to reduce these barriers, using Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Burnaby, British Columbia, as a case study. SFU is lagging compared to similar Western Canadian Universities regarding policies that support diversity on a broader intersectional scale, despite recommendations put forth by an SFU committee on gender salary equity in the fall of 2016. This study aims to provide direction to SFU on how to support diversity through an intersectional lens. Using qualitative interviews from subject matter experts, this Capstone analyzes fifteen short, medium, and long-term policy options and recommends seven to the SFU senior leadership. The core of this recommendation is the development of a strategic plan for diversity that reinforces commitment of the senior leadership and provides guidelines for future development of policies and programs that support diversity.

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

Modelling and prediction of neurodevelopment in preterm infants using structural connectome data

Date created: 
2017-04-04
Abstract: 

Each year worldwide, millions of babies are born very preterm (before 32 weeks postmenstral age). Very preterm birth puts infants at higher risk for delayed or altered neurodevelopment. While the mechanisms causing these alterations are not fully understood, it has been shown that image-based biomarkers of the fragile connective white matter brain tissue are correlated with neurodevelopmental outcomes. Diffusion MRI (dMRI) is a non-invasive imaging modality that allows in-vivo analysis of an infant's white matter brain network (known as a structural connectome) and can be used to better understand neurodevelopment. The purpose of this thesis is to study how the structural connectome can be used for analysis of development and early prediction of outcomes for better informed care. The thesis begins with a thorough examination of the literature on studies that have applied machine learning to brain network data from MRI. It proceeds with a connectome based analysis of the early neurodevelopment of normative preterm infants. Finally, this thesis tackles the problem of early prediction of cognitive and motor neurodevelopmental outcomes using machine learning on connectome data. Three novel prediction methods are proposed for this task, which are found to be able to accurately predict the 18-month neurodevelopmental outcomes of a cohort of preterm infants from the BC Childrens' Hospital. The thesis concludes with a discussion of how the proposed models may be applicable to a broader set prediction problems and of important future directions for research.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Ghassan Hamarneh
Department: 
Applied Sciences: School of Computing Science
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Beyond Je m'appelle: Perceptions of competence and Francophone identity among French as a Second Language speakers

Date created: 
2017-04-13
Abstract: 

While many studies have examined the perception of second language (L2) learner competence by native speakers, few consider the perspectives of L2 learners themselves. This study seeks to explore the question of whether French L2 (FL2) speakers’ self-perceived communicative competence (SPCC) influences their sense of belonging with the Francophone community. To do this, I interviewed six FL2 speakers attending university in British Columbia, Canada. Their responses, along with my own self-reflections, offer firsthand accounts of FL2 learning experiences and identity formation as French speakers in a minority French context. These narratives illustrate that the relationship between SPCC and identity is complex, multifaceted and ever-changing, and that even though participants had varying perspectives of their L2 competence, all of them ultimately felt unable to fully claim membership in the Canadian Francophone community. This raises questions of legitimacy and belonging for FL2 speakers in the Canadian context.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Gaëlle Planchenault
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of French
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Women, methadone, and the politics of supervised exclusion

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-03-27
Abstract: 

This study examines women’s participation in methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) in British Columbia, Canada and concerns the intersections of addiction trajectories, clientization, and social exclusion. Drawing on life stories, physician interviews, and analysis of MMT (documentary) texts, the study explores how women experience MMT and other services in their efforts to improve life chances and social circumstances. Clientization in this case hinges on complex meanings of the body and care and can involve contestation of knowledge at various service sites. Five women’s life stories, told from the vantage point of their mid-adult years, confront the normative progress story that MMT involvement suggests and illustrate how participants actively navigated program demands and service relationships, as well as challenged moralizing and individualizing notions of the woman MMT client. Physician perspectives and MMT texts show narrow understandings of the woman methadone client and reveal the glaring need for broader supports for women experiencing drug use troubles. I develop the term “supervised exclusion” to show how medical subjectivity in this case minimally alleviates the participants’ experiences of social marginalization and complicates their economic and political marginalization. I argue that supervised exclusion is the intertwined process of “supervision” and “exclusion,” and MMT as a supervised treatment asserts a contradictory care and control element which additionally disempowers women who have few resources due to their long-term social, economic, and political exclusion. Women’s marginality persists in this context because although they actively challenge policies and discrimination at the level of MMT and broader service provision, they cannot dismantle such a complex problematizing of their lives without far more resources and political power.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Jane Pulkingham
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Greening the Fight against Sea Level Rise: The Value of Ecosystem-Based Approaches to Coastal Flood Resilience in the City of Vancouver

Date created: 
2017-03-27
Abstract: 

This paper addresses the issue of sea level rise; contributing a multi-criteria trade-off analysis of five coastal flood resilience investments that could be undertaken in Vancouver, Canada, at the case study site of Kitsilano Beach. The analysis uses mixed methodology (primary expert interviews and secondary benefit transfer valuations) to assess the relative merits and trade-offs between soft, hard, and hybrid approaches to coastal flood resilience. Results suggest that while hybrid infrastructure may require 2 to 3.5 times the capital costs of hard infrastructure, it is equally effective at providing flood-related damage protection from sea level rise, and many times more effective at enhancing aesthetic, amenity, and ecological values. In the near term, it is recommended that the City of Vancouver invest in soft-shore armouring at Kitsilano Beach, as well as commence a technical feasibility assessment for the implementation of a sand dike with sediment fill for future preparedness.

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

Streams of Oil and Barrels of Conflict: An MSF Analysis of Canadian Energy Policy since the Failure of the National Energy Program

Author: 
Abstract: 

Canadian policy on environmental protectionism has shifted under the Trudeau government, in line with signing onto the Paris Climate, breaking with the previous governments’ passivity towards climate change. However, the new Government’s stance appears muddled. Though Transmountain expansion was approved, Northern Gateway Pipeline was rejected. This policy change shows that the Trudeau government aims for a more environmental-economic balanced approach. I ask how this shift happened? I analyse Canadian energy policy from 1980-2015 using Kingdon’s multiple streams framework to demonstrate why previous governments have prioritised economic growth over environmental protectionism since the failure of the National Energy Program. There are two competing dialogues in Canadian energy policy: neoliberalism and securitisation. During the time-period analysed, neoliberalism has won over securitisation because economic growth was prioritised by stakeholders. As the effects of anthropogenic climate disruption becomes more concrete and irrefutable, new stakeholders have found their voice in the energy policy debate.

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

Parental Support for Students Who Participate in High School Athletics: An Exploration of the Perceived Influence of Parents and Its Effect on Student Self-Efficacy and Academic Success

Date created: 
2017-04-10
Abstract: 

This mixed method study explored student athletes’ perception of parental influence in their high school athletic endeavours and how this perceived influence affected their self efficacy and academic success.   The quantitative data was derived from surveys that gauged student perceived parental involvement, self efficacy and academic success in two high schools in a large metropolitan school district in British Columbia. One of the schools was a school composed primarily of students of mid to high social economic status while the other was designated an inner-city school.  The qualitative focus group consisted 10 athletes from each of the schools – a male and female from each grade – discussing students’ feelings about perceived parental involvement and how it affected their self-efficacy and academic success.  The findings showed that all of the student athletes – regardless of which school they attended – perceived that their parents were involved in their high school athletic careers. This perceived parental influence did not, however, substantially influence their self-efficacy or academic success.  Student athletes did feel increased membership when part of a high school athletic team and the interactions with their peer group and positive role models is linked to engagement in school, stronger feelings of self-worth, and academic success.  This study showed that perceived parental influence, while likely a positive support for students, had very little effect on the students’ perception about themselves or their academic success.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Dr. Daniel Laitsch
Dr. Fred Renihan (retired)
Department: 
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ed.D.

Designing a low carbon fuel standard to achieve deep GHG reduction targets: Insights from an energy-economy simulation model of British Columbia

Date created: 
2017-03-13
Abstract: 

Low carbon fuels are expected to play an important role in achieving long-term regional greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets within transport. The Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) is a policy instrument that has been used in British Columbia, California, Oregon, and Europe to reduce the GHG emissions associated with transportation fuels. I use a dynamic hybrid energy-economy model (CIMS-LCFS) coupled with a linear programming optimization model to explore the potential effectiveness of the LCFS at reducing GHG emissions in British Columbia under a variety of policy scenarios. This study also explores the potential for British Columbia’s transportation sector, including passenger vehicles and freight vehicles, to achieve the province’s mandated target of reducing GHG emissions by 80% below 2007 levels by 2050. CIMS-LCFS is a technologically-explicit, behaviorally-realistic energy-economy model that simulates the effects of climate policies on technology adoption and GHG emissions. The LP optimization model represents fuel supplier decisions to supply fuel to the market at the lowest possible cost subject to 50 unique constraints encompassing limited fuel availability, policy, and technical constraints. Results demonstrate that British Columbia’s present suite of transportation policies are not strong enough to induce the emission reductions required to achieve the province’s 2050 GHG target. These targets are only achievable for the entire transportation sector when the most stringent climate policies are combined, including a LCFS, a zero emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate, fuel efficiency standards and carbon pricing. My results indicate that the LCFS may have a particularly strong effect in decarbonizing the freight sector. In contrast, the LCFS may be less important for the passenger vehicle sector in the presence of other stringent transport policy (e.g. a ZEV mandate). Overall, I find that with careful policy design, the LCFS can be complementary to other stringent policies, and could play an important role in achieving 2050 GHG reduction targets in the transportation sector.

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