• Enzymatic Studies of Bromocyclohexadienediols & Semi-synthesis of Narciclasine Analogues

      Goulart Stollmaier, Juana; Department of Chemistry
      This thesis describes two projects: • cis-Diene bromo diol obtained from the microbial oxidation of bromobenzene was used as a substrate for lipase-catalyzed acylation and epoxidation reactions. The model studies showed that the regiochemistry of the acylation is solvent dependent. The chemoenzymatic epoxidation followed the expected regiochemistry when compared to the chemical epoxidation with m-CPBA, but with the unexpected formation of bromoconduritol-C, an important intermediate whose electrochemical reduction led to the short synthesis of (-)-conduritol-C. • A detailed description is given to the studies of conversion of natural narciclasine to its C-1 enol derivative, followed by the attempted conversion of this material to its triflate, in order to conduct cross-coupling at the C-1 position. However, it resulted in a triflate at C-6 that was successfully coupled with several functionalities. All compounds were fully deprotected and subjected to evaluation of biological activity. Only one derivative showed moderate activity as compared to those of narciclasine and pancratistatin. Spectral and physical data are provided for all new compounds.
    • Erwinia amylovora bacteriophage resistance

      Roach, Dwayne R.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 2012-04-04)
      It has been proposed that phages can be used commercially as a biopesticide for the control of fire blight caused by the phytopathogen Erwinia amylovora. The aim of these studies was to investigate two common bacterial resistance mechanisms, lysogeny and exopolysaccharide production and their influence on phage pathogenesis. A multiplex real-time PCR protocol was designed to monitor and quantify Podoviridae and Myoviridae phages. This protocol is compatible with known E. amylovora and Pantoea agglomerans rtPCR primers/probes which allowed simultaneous study of both phage and bacterial targets. Using in vitro positive phage selection, bacteriophage insensitive derivatives were isolated within sensitive populations of E. amylovora. Prophage screening with real-time PCR and mitomycin C induction determined that the insensitive derivatives harboured the temperate Podoviridae phage ΦEaTlOO. Lysogenic conversion resulted in resistance to secondary homologous phage infections. Prophage screening of environmental samples of E. amylovora and P. agglomerans collected from various locations in Canada, United States and Europe did not demonstrate lysogeny. Therefore, lysogeny is rare or absent while these bacterial species reside on the plant. Recombineering was used to construct exopolysaccharide deficient E. amylovora mutants. The EPS amylovoran mutants became resistant to Podoviridae and certain Siphoviridae phages. Increasing amylovoran production increased phage population growth, presumably by increasing the total number of bacterial cell surface receptors which promoted increased phage infections. In contrast, amylovoran did not playa role in Myoviridae infections, nor did production of the EPS levan for any phage pathogenesis.
    • The Essence of Feeling a Sense of Community: A Hermeneutic Phenomenological Inquiry With Middle School Students and Teachers

      Cassidy, Kate J.; Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Education (Brock University, 2013-04-10)
      In contemporary times, there is a compelling need to understand the nature of positive community relationships that value diverse others. This dissertation is a hermeneutic phenomenological inquiry into the essence of what it means to feel a sense of community. Specifically, I explored this phenomenon from the perspective of middle school teachers and students through the following questions: What meanings do students and teachers ascribe to feeling, experiencing, and developing a sense of community in their classes? To what extent do students’ and teachers’ ideas about feeling a sense of community include the acceptance of individual differences? Together these questions contributed to the overarching question, what is the essence of feeling a sense of community? As the data pool for the research, I used 192 essays and 218 posters from students who had been asked to write or draw about their visions of a positive classroom community where they felt a sense of community. I conducted 9 teacher interviews on the topic as well. My findings revealed one overarching ontology, Being-in-Relation, which outlined a full integration between individuality and community as a “way of being.” I also found five attributes that are present when individuals feel a sense of community: Supporting Others, Dialogue, An Ethic of Respect and Care, Safety, and Healthy Conflict. Contributions from this research include extensions to the literature about community; clarity for those who wish to establish a strong foundation of community relationships within formal and non-formal educational programs; insight that may assist educators, leaders, and policy makers within formal educational systems; and an opportunity to consider the extent to which the findings may point toward broader implications.
    • Etiology and Management of Grape Sour Rot

      Huber, Cristina; Department of Biological Sciences
      Sour rot is characterized by increased volatile acidity (VA) in ripe grapes. VA is associated with spoilage organisms and wineries may reject grape crops based on their concentration of acetic acid. Our research associated Hanseniaspora uvarum, Gluconobacter oxydans, and to a lesser extent, Gluconobacter cerinus and Acetobacter malorum with sour rotted grapes in the Niagara Peninsula, designated viticultural area, Ontario, Canada, and the pathogenicity of these organisms was confirmed by laboratory assays. Only G. oxydans was shown to penetrate around the site of pedicel attachment to the grape. The yeasts required further wounding. Candida zemplinina was also associated with the sour rot microbial community. This species showed variable pathogenicity by strain and most strains were not highly pathogenic. C. zemplinina gained dominance in the microbial population of grapes only after sour rot symptoms were observed, indicating a succession which was studied in laboratory assays. There was a correlation between temperature, moisture, and berry ripeness and the development of sour rot when conditions were monitored in a Vitis vinifera cv. Riesling vineyard over four years, and this was confirmed in laboratory assays. Disease management options are limited since sour rot is caused by a complex of yeasts and bacteria, with symptoms developing just as grapes approach maturity. Post-veraison treatments for sour rot were investigated. Wineries routinely add potassium metabisulphite (KMS) to the surface of fruit in bins and to grape juice to kill spoilage organisms. Replicated field trials were conducted in V. vinifera cv. Riesling in 2010 and 2011 to determine the efficacy of KMS at different concentrations and pre-harvest timings as a fruiting-zone spray. Potassium bicarbonate (Milstop) was also evaluated for its efficacy against sour rot. Plots were rated for incidence and severity of sour rot and VA (g acetic acid/L juice). KMS treatments at concentrations above 5 kg/1000L and Milstop sprayed at the label concentration of 5.6 kg/1000L were able to reduce the severity of sour rot compared to untreated control plots which had a severity above 50% (2011). KMS was able to reduce VA to below the winery rejection threshold of 0.24 g acetic acid/L when sour rot severity reached 12% in untreated plots (2010). When tested in the laboratory in disk diffusion assays conducted on yeast peptone dextrose agar, KMS at a concentration of 10 g/L had the greatest efficacy against G. oxydans and H. uvarum. Grape incubation assays showed the potential of KMS acidified with tartaric acid to reduce sour rot symptoms. Acidification did not show as much potential in field trials, calling for further research.
    • The European Union and the Politics of Migration: An Interdisciplinary Examination of the Intersections of Migration, Citizenship and Statelessness

      Williams, Paul; Interdisciplinary Humanities Program
      In 2016, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) recorded that 5,096 people died attempting to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa to Europe. So far this has been the peak in the total number of deaths. However, the journey has become more dangerous, as the UNHCR reported that in 2018, 1 out of every 18 people who crossed the Mediterranean died, an increase from 2017, which saw 1 out of every 42 people that crossed the Mediterranean dying. The Migration Crisis on Europe’s southern border is only one aspect of a politics of migration that is a fundamental characteristic of the European Union (EU) and its right of the free movement of peoples. Rather than being understood as a contemporary development, this dissertation argues that the EU entails a crisis of the movement of peoples whose complexity and multi-faceted nature can be understand by going back to Hannah Arendt’s theoretical analysis of the inter- and post-war periods. This dissertation makes the case that the European Union and its Member States are struggling to resolve problems of migration (the social and political inclusion of migrants) which require us to draw on multiple theoretical and political frameworks of understanding that place the issues of migration and statelessness at the centre of the discussion. This dissertation presents an interdisciplinary analysis of a larger migration crisis that speaks to (and threatens) the heart of the project of European integration, from the integration of national economic sectors within a coal and steel community after the Second World War to a supranational political community, which includes transnational Union citizenship and the free movement of peoples. This dissertation attempts to forge new avenues of discussion concerning European integration and issues of social and political exclusion by highlighting the situation of the Roma (as migrants with Union citizenship). The experience of the Roma in Europe highlights the ongoing crisis, on a practical and theoretical level, of ‘statelessness’, a situation depicted by Arendt and re-formulated by thinkers like Jürgen Habermas and Rosi Braidotti. It is a goal of this dissertation to develop new angles in which academics and political actors can analyze the intersections of migration, citizenship and the issue of statelessness in the 21st century, both on theoretical grounds and in practical discussions of alleviating social and political discrimination and exclusion.
    • Evaluation of genetic and strain specific factors on root colonization in endophytic insect pathogenic fungi (EIPF) Metarhizium and Beauveria, with special emphasis on hydrophobins

      Moonjely, Soumya; Centre for Biotechnology
      The Ascomycete genera, Metarhizium and Beauveria, are traditionally known as insect pathogenic fungi and are widely used as mycopesticides in agricultural settings. More recently, an additional role of these fungi in nature as root symbionts, with the ability to transfer nitrogen from dead insects to host plants, has been recognized. In this study, the genetic as well as strain-specific factors of Metarhizium and Beauveria were assessed during interaction with the plant and insect hosts. Hydrophobins are small proteins, unique to filamentous fungi, that provide hydrophobicity to aerial hyphae and conidia, and also supports fungal attachment to host surfaces. The role of two hydrophobins (hyd1 and hyd2) in insect pathogenicity were previously described in Beauveria, but little is known about their possible role in root colonization. Gene expression and plant root colonization assays revealed that the deletion of hyd1 or hyd2 subjected Beauveria to stress, which subsequently altered the expression of genes involved in signaling pathways, pigment production, specific adhesins, as well as fungal association with the root. The involvement of six Metarhizium genes on plant root colonization and insect pathogenesis were also investigated. Nitrogen transporter genes, Mep2, MepC and Urease, were selected due to sequence similarity with previously characterized plant-associating fungal ammonium transporters. Root colonization assays showed that the targeted deletion of MepC and Mep2 genes in M. robertsii enhanced the rhizoplane colonization on barley roots and insect-derived nitrogen transfer to plant hosts. Three other genes were selected on the basis on RNA-Seq data that showed high expression levels on bean roots; these encoded a hydrophobin (Hyd3), a subtilisin-like serine protease (Pr1A) and a hypothetical protein. Root colonization assessment revealed that the loss of Hyd3, Pr1A, or the hypothetical protein gene from M. robertsii had no influence on establishing association with barley roots. We also assessed ten Metarhizium generalist and specialist strains and a related endophytic fungus Pochonia, for insect pathogenicity and their ability colonize plants; however, regardless of whether the Metarhizium species was a generalist or specialist insect pathogen all strains tested showed some ability to associate with plants. Moreover, Metarhizium spp. were able to colonize monocots better than dicots. Our data indicates that even after divergence as generalist or specialist insect pathogens, Metarhizium spp. maintain their ancestral ability to colonize plants. Overall, this study provides useful insights into the genes involved in EIPF-root interactions and also highlights the impact of gene deletion in triggering compensatory pathways.
    • Evolutionary Origin and Maintenance of Sociality in the Small Carpenter Bees

      Rehan, Sandra; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 2012-07-31)
      Many arthropods exhibit behaviours precursory to social life, including adult longevity, parental care, nest loyalty and mutual tolerance, yet there are few examples of social behaviour in this phylum. The small carpenter bees, genus Ceratina, provide important insights into the early stages of sociality. I described the biology and social behaviour of five facultatively social species which exhibit all of the preadaptations for successful group living, yet present ecological and behavioural characteristics that seemingly disfavour frequent colony formation. These species are socially polymorphic with both / solitary and social nests collected in sympatry. Social colonies consist of two adult females, one contributing both foraging and reproductive effort and the second which remains at the nest as a passive guard. Cooperative nesting provides no overt reproductive benefits over solitary nesting, although brood survival tends to be greater in social colonies. Three main theories explain cooperation among conspecifics: mutual benefit, kin selection and manipulation. Lifetime reproductive success calculations revealed that mutual benefit does not explain social behaviour in this group as social colonies have lower per capita life time reproductive success than solitary nests. Genetic pedigrees constructed from allozyme data indicate that kin selection might contribute to the maintenance of social nesting -, as social colonies consist of full sisters and thus some indirect fitness benefits are inherently bestowed on subordinate females as a result of remaining to help their dominant sister. These data suggest that the origin of sociality in ceratinines has principal costs and the great ecological success of highly eusociallineages occurred well after social origins. Ecological constraints such as resource limitation, unfavourable weather conditions and parasite pressure have long been considered some of the most important selective pressures for the evolution of sociality. I assessed the fitness consequences of these three ecological factors for reproductive success of solitary and social colonies and found that nest sites were not limiting, and the frequency of social nesting was consistent across brood rearing seasons. Local weather varied between seasons but was not correlated with reproductive success. Severe parasitism resulted in low reproductive success and total nest failure in solitary nests. Social colonies had higher reproductive success and were never extirpated by parasites. I suggest that social nesting represents a form of bet-hedging. The high frequency of solitary nests suggests that this is the optimal strategy when parasite pressure is low. However, social colonies have a selective advantage over solitary nesting females during periods of extreme parasite pressure. Finally, the small carpenter bees are recorded from all continents except Antarctica. I constructed the first molecular phylogeny of ceratinine bees based on four gene regions of selected species covering representatives from all continents and ecological regions. Maximum parsimony and Bayesian Inference tree topology and fossil dating support an African origin followed by an Old World invasion and New World radiation. All known Old World ceratinines form social colonies while New World species are largely solitary; thus geography and phylogenetic inertia are likely predictors of social evolution in this genus. This integrative approach not only describes the behaviour of several previously unknown or little-known Ceratina species, bu~ highlights the fact that this is an important, though previously unrecognized, model for studying evolutionary transitions from solitary to social behaviour.
    • The Examination of Potential Mechanisms Underlying the Cross Education Phenomenon

      Green, Lara; Applied Health Sciences Program
      Cross education is the strength or skill gain that is found in the contralateral, homologous limb following a unilateral training program or practice. This phenomenon provides a beneficial rehabilitation model for unilateral injuries or neurologic disorders, such as stroke. Although the cross-body transfer of strength and skill are each widely studied, they are rarely examined concurrently, despite each contributing to the goal of functional movement rehabilitation. Therefore, the overall purpose of this thesis was to examine the neuromuscular adaptations of unilateral resistive exercise training contributing to the transfer of strength and skill, while employing the necessary methodological controls that have been under-examined and under-used. The assessment of neuromuscular mechanisms requires both voluntary and evoked contractions to be performed simultaneously. Therefore Manuscript 1 examined a novel electrode configuration, consisting of one electrode on the electrically identified motor point and the second electrode directly adjacent in a bipolar configuration. Both voluntary surface electromyography measures and evoked potentials were found to be reliable (ICCs > 0.75) and effective across multiple test sessions. Manuscript 2 was a comprehensive review of 90 unilateral training studies in young and older able-bodied participants and in patient populations. The cross education strength gain was estimated at 18% in young, and 17% in older able-bodied participants. The cross education strength gain was 29% in patient populations consisting of post-stroke, multiple sclerosis, osteoarthritis, and neuromuscular disorder patients. The meta-analysis identified the efficacy of electromyostimulation (EMS) training over voluntary training modalities. The magnitude of strength transfer was similar between upper and lower and between males and females. Lastly, manuscript 3 consisted of a 6-week unilateral training program resulting in contralateral strength gains of 11% in the wrist flexors and 15% in the dorsiflexors. A continued increase in contralateral strength at retention demonstrated the persistence of cross education following 6-weeks of detraining. Skill transfer in the contralateral limbs was evident in the force variability measures calculated during contractions without concurrent feedback (noKR). Agonist RMS amplitude, V-wave amplitude, and central activation ratio indicated neuromuscular adaptations; however, there was no change in motor unit firing rates at 60% of maximal force.
    • An examination of self-compassion among Canadian youth with and without a caregiving role

      Berardini, Yana; Department of Child and Youth Studies
      Self-compassion occurs when people apply the same compassion towards themselves as they would towards others (Neff, 2003a, 2003b). Self-compassion has been shown to relate to positive mental health outcomes, such as reduced depression and lower anxiety (Neff 2003a), as well as increased happiness and optimism (Neff et al., 2007), but has yet to be studied with young carers (YCs), who provide significant care and compassion to family members due to various circumstances (e.g., illness, disability, substance use, language barriers, and age-related needs; Bleakney, 2014; Charles, 2011; Charles et al., 2009), leaving limited time for other activities, friends, or self-care (Sexton, 2017; Stamatopoulos, 2018; Szafran et al., 2016). This dissertation examined 1. Self-compassion in youth ages 12-18 years, by exploring its potential correlates; 2. Self-compassion in the context of caregiving for others via focus groups with 33 YCs; and 3. Self-compassion and Subjective Well-Being (SWB) among YCs (n = 55) in comparison to non-caregiving youth (n = 107). Study 1 found that while sex and age did not relate to self-compassion, positive affect, life satisfaction, honesty and humility, and agreeableness were positively related to self-compassion, and negative affect and emotionality were negatively associated with it. Study 2 revealed that caregiving for others may have reduced YCs’ time for self-compassion, thereby possibly showing lower self-compassion. Finally, Study 3 found that YCs and non-YCs showed similar levels of self-compassion and SWB, which suggested that even though caregiving responsibilities may come in a way of self-compassion, it did not do so significantly. YCs’ SWB was also not any lower than their non-caregiving peers, which could be indicative of some hidden protective mechanism at play, such as resiliency. Implications for interventions and program modifications were discussed.
    • Examining Student Preparation for Certification Examination: An Exploratory Case Study

      TAYLOR, HELEN CATHERINE; Applied Health Sciences Program
      This research paper explores three university-level programs with mandatory licensing exams for graduates who wish to attain professional certification. Specifically, the study explored the affordances and constraints associated with curricular alignment and program accreditation, student success on licensure, and student satisfaction. The specific programs and the licensure exams are: the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN), who are eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN), the Master of Applied Disability Studies (MADS), who write the Behavior Analyst Certification Board Exam, and the Bachelor of Accounting/Master of Accountancy (BAcc/MAcc), who are eligible to take the Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA) Common Final Examination (CFE). The study used a scoping review of the literature specific to the NCLEX-RN to help inform an exploratory case study of three academic programs that are offered through a University in Ontario, all leading to licensure exams. The programs are designed to ensure that students are prepared to write the licensure exams and provide more material that is integral to the practice but is not necessarily tested on the licensure exam. Using curriculum and accreditation review processes, administrators/faculty and students can provide insight into processes that could aid future students for licensure exams. When comparing the findings from analyses of transcripts from one program and documents across all three programs, it is apparent that there are many similarities across the programs despite the differences in the actual curricular goals and licenses. However, there appears to be a disconnect in the Nursing program, since they use the greatest number of the identified techniques/tools, but still have lower percentages of first-time pass rates than the other two programs. This provides an area for future study and analysis.
    • The Experience of Being a Collaborative Writer

      Reid, Joanne Louise; Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Education
      This qualitative self-study narrated and analyzed my experience of writing an academic textbook collaboratively with 2 other authors. Social constructivist theory and the idea of cognitive apprenticeship provided a conceptual framework. In this study, I compared my experience with the benefits, challenges, and relational dynamics reported in the literature. Data included face-to-face interviews, recorded Skype conversations, emails, and journal entries. Strategies that can enhance collaborative writing are presented. The study concludes with a discussion of the ways collaborative writing disrupts traditional cultural and academic notions of writing.
    • An exploratory study for the discovery of non-invasive hepatocellular carcinoma biomarkers among high-risk hepatitis C virus infected patients

      Abdalla, Moemen.; Centre for Biotechnology (Brock University, 2009-01-28)
      Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) is a major healthcare problem, representing the third most common cause of cancer-related mortality worldwide. Chronic infections with Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and/or Hepatitis C virus (HCV) are the major risk factors for the development of HCC. The incidence of HBV -associated HCC is in decline as a result of an effective HBV vaccine; however, since an equally effective HCV vaccine has not yet been developed, there are 130 million HCV infected patients worldwide who are at a high-risk for developing HCC. Because reliable parameters and/or tools for the early detection of HCC among high-risk individuals are severely lacking, HCC patients are always diagnosed at a late stage where surgical solutions or effective treatment are not possible. Using urine as a non-invasive sample source, two different approaches (proteomic-based and genomic-based approaches) were pursued with the common goal of discovering potential biomarker candidates for the early detection of HCC among high-risk chronic HCV infected patients. Urine was collected from 106 HCV infected Egyptian patients, 32 of whom had already developed HCC and 74 patients who were diagnosed as HCC-free at the time of initial sample collection. In addition to these patients, urine samples were also collected from 12 healthy control individuals. Total urinary proteins, Trans-renal nucleic acid (Tr-NA) and microRNA (miRNA) were isolated from urine using novel methodologies and silicon carbide-loaded spin columns. In the first, "proteomic-based", approach, liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) was used to identify potential candidates from pooled urine samples. This was followed by validating relative expression levels of proteins present in urine among all the patients using quantitative real time-PCR (qRT-PCR). This approach revealed that significant over-expression of three proteins: DJ-1, Chromatin Assembly Factor-1 (CAF-1) and 11 Moemen Abdalla HCC Biomarkers Heat Shock Protein 60 (HSP60), were characteristic events among HCC-post HCV infected patients. As a single-based HCC biomarker, CAF-1 over-expression identified HCC among HCV infected patients with a specificity of 90%, sensitivity of 66% and with an overall diagnostic accuracy of 78%. Moreover, the CAF-lIHSP60 tandem identified HCC among HCV infected patients with a specificity of 92%, sensitivity of 61 % and with an overall diagnostic accuracy of 77%. In the second genomic-based approach, two different approaches were processed. The first approach was the miRNA-based approach. The expression levels of miRNAs isolated from urine were studied using the Illumina MicroRNA Expression Profiling Assay. This was followed by qRT-PCR-based validation of deregulated expression of identified miRNA candidates among all the patients. This approach shed the light on the deregulated expression of a number of miRNAs, which may have a role in either the development of HCC among HCV infected patients (i.e. miR-640, miR-765, miR-200a, miR-521 and miR-520) or may allow for a better understanding of the viral-host interaction (miR-152, miR-486, miR-219, miR452, miR-425, miR-154 and miR-31). Moreover, the deregulated expression of both miR-618 and miR-650 appeared to be a common event among HCC-post HCV infected patients. The results of the search for putative targets of these two miRNA suggested that miR-618 may be a potent oncogene, as it targets the tumor-suppressor gene Low density lipoprotein-related protein 12 (LPR12), while miR-650 may be a potent tumor-suppressor gene, as it is supposed to downregulate the TNF receptor-associated factor-4 (TRAF4) oncogene. The specificity of miR-618 and miR-650 deregulated expression patterns for the early detection of HCC among HCV infected patients was 68% and 58%, respectively, whereas the sensitivity was 64% and 72%, respectively. When the deregulated expression of both miRNAs was combined as a tandem biomarker, the specificity and the sensitivity were 75% and 58% respectively. 111 Moemen Abdalla HCC Biomarkers In the second, "Trans-renal nucleic acid-based", approach, the urinary apoptotic nucleic acid (uaNA) levels of 70ng/mL or more were found to be a good predictor of HCC among chronic HCV infected patients. The specificity and the sensitivity of this diagnostic approach were 76% and 86%, respectively, with an overall diagnostic value of 81 %. The uaNA levels positively correlated to HCC disease progression as monitored by epigenetic changes of a panel of eight tumor-suppressor genes (TSGs) using methylation-sensitive PCR. Moreover, the pairing of high uaNA levels (:::: 70 ng/mL) and CAF-1 over-expreSSIOn produced a highly specific (l 00%) multiple-based HCC biomarker with an acceptable sensitivity of 64%, and with a diagnostic accuracy of 82%. In comparison to the previous pairing, the uaNA levels (:::: 70 ng/mL) in tandem with HSP60 over-expression was less specific (89%) but highly sensitive (72%), resulting in a diagnostic accuracy of 64%. The specificities of miR-650 deregulated expression in combination with either high uaNA content or HSP 60 over-expression were 82% and 79%, respectively, whereas, the sensitivities of these combinations were 64% and 58%, respectively. The potential biomarkers identified in this study compare favorably with the diagnostic accuracy of the a-fetoprotein levels test, which has a specificity of 75%, sensitivity of 68% and an overall diagnostic accuracy of 70%. Here we present an intriguing study which shows the significance of using urine as a noninvasive sample source for the identification of promising HCC biomarkers. We have also introduced new techniques for the isolation of different urinary macromolecules, especially miRNA, from urine. Furthermore, we strongly recommend the potential biomarkers indentified in this study as focal points of any future research on HCC diagnosis. A larger testing pool will determine if their use is practical for mass population screening. This explorative study identified potential targets that merit further investigation for the development of diagnostically accurate biomarkers isolated from 1-2 mL urine samples that were acquired in a non-invasive manner.
    • Exploring Adolescent Student Perceptions and Experiences of Educational Care

      Schat, Sean; Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Education
      Despite the presence of teacher caring intentions, too many students in North American schools do not experience successfully communicated care from their teachers. This study explores adolescent student perceptions and experiences of their teachers’ intended communication of care, seeking to better understand and explain educational care. The results of this study provide insights that could help teachers more successfully communicate their intended care to their students, leading to the development of caring teacher-student relationships. This study is a qualitative research design that used a constructivist grounded theory research methodology (Charmaz, 2006, 2014). The study employed unstructured interviews, working with young adult participants who reflected on their perceptions and experiences of educational care while they were in middle school and high school. The study drew on constructivist grounded theory analysis approaches and processes in order to analyze the data, resulting in important descriptions and explanations. The study generated six primary results, (1) a rearticulation of the problem of care in education as the disconnect between teacher caring intentions and student experiences of educational care; (2) a recognition that the problem of educational care is the failure to differentiate between communicating intended care and completing of successfully communicating care (a process that includes the response of the cared-for); (3) a description of the successful communication of care, which includes three distinct categories or dimensions and a number of related sub-categories, or elements; (4) a grounded theory of the intended communication of educational care; (5) a description of the student’s role in the development of a caring teacher-student relationship; and (6) a theoretical explanation of the development of a caring teacher-student relationship. The results of the study provide important insights into how educational care is successfully communicated and how caring teacher-student relationships can be developed. These results have implications for in-service and pre-service teachers, providing them with knowledge about the nature and communication of educational care. The results also provide guidelines and resources that can help teachers to communicate care more effectively and successfully.
    • Exploring Mental Health in Sport: The Behaviors, Perspectives and Needs of Stakeholders

      Murphy, Jessica; Applied Health Sciences Program
      Student-athletes are at high risk for poor mental health. Leaders within the varsity sport environment influence athlete mental health and help-seeking. This dissertation explored the behaviors, perspectives and needs of athletes, coaches, and athletic trainers as it pertains to mental health in sport. Three studies were conducted, the first utilized the Theory of Planned Behavior to explore factors associated with coach-athlete conversations about mental health. A coach’s Attitude towards having a conversation with an athlete significantly influenced their Intention to do so. Perceived Behavioral Control (PBC) significantly influenced the relationship between Social Norms and Intention. Both PBC and Social Norms had a significant relationship with the Behavior (having a conversation about mental health with an athlete). The second study applied a conceptual model from Horn’s Working Model of Coach Effectiveness to explore how an athlete’s perception of coach behavior impacts attitudes and help-seeking behaviors. Psychological distress levels influenced an athlete’s Perception of their coach’s behavior. Openness to help-seeking was significantly related to help-seeking Behaviors and influenced the relationship between personal characteristics and help-seeking. Perception of coach behaviors influenced the relationship between psychological distress and help-seeking from a coach. The last study sought to determine the acceptance of an online varsity sport-specific mental health resource. Preliminary results were promising; The PEER Network was frequently used over the study period and participants had positive and supportive feedback. Overall, results from the three studies suggest that perceived ability and social support may influence whether coach-athlete conversations about mental health occur. Due to the effects of these variables, coach mental health training should focus on improving the skills required for these conversations and normalizing mental health in sport. As an athlete’s perception of coach behavior mediated the relationship between psychological distress and help-seeking, training should also focus on clear ways to show athletes that coaches are supportive of mental health. Athlete-specific training should try and improve attitudes towards help-seeking and highlight the value from seeking help. The PEER Network may be an easily accessible and context-specific way of achieving these educational goals for members of the varsity athletic community.

      Good, Marie; Department of Psychology (Brock University, 2012-07-30)
      The goal of the four studies that comprised this dissertation was to examine how spirituality/religiosity (SIR), as both an institutional and personal phenomenon, developed over time, and how its institutional (i.e., religious activity involvement) and personal (i.e., sense of connection with the sacred) components were uniquely linked with psychosocial adjustment. In Study 1, the differential longitudinal correlates of religious service attendance, as compared to involvement in other clubs, were evaluated with a sample of adolescents (n=1050) who completed a survey in grades 9, 11 and 12. Religious attendance and involvement in non-religious clubs were uniquely associated with positive adjustment in terms of lower substance use and better academic marks, particularly when involvement was sustained over time. In Study 2, the direction of effects was tested for the association between religious versus non-religious activities and both substance use and academic marks. Participants (n= 3993) were surveyed in grades 9 through 12. Higher religious attendance (but not non-religious club involvement) in one grade predicted lower levels of substance use in the next grade. Higher levels of nonreligious club involvement (but not religious service attendance) in one grade predicted higher academic achievement in the next grade, and higher academic achievement in one grade predicted more frequent non-religious club involvement in the next grade. The results suggest that different assets may be fostered in religious as compared to nonreligious activities, and, specifically, religious activity involvement may be important for the avoidance of substance use. The goal of Study 3 was to assess the unique associations between the institutional versus personal dimensions of SIR and a wide range of domains of psychosocial adjustment (namely, intrapersonal well-being, substance use, risk attitudes, parental relationship quality, academic orientation, and club involvement), and to examine the direction of effects in these associations. Participants (n=756) completed a survey in grades 11 and 12. Personal and institutional dimensions of SIR were differentially associated with adjustment, but it may only be in the domain of risk-taking (Le., risk attitudes, substance use) that SIR may predict positive adjustment over time. Finally, in Study 4, the goal was to examine how institutional and personal aspects of SIR developed within individual adolescents. Configurations of mUltiple dimensions of spirituality/religiosity were identified across 2 time points with an empirical classification procedure (cluster analysis), and sample- and individual-level development in these configurations were assessed. A five cluster-solution was optimal at both grades. Clusters were identified as aspirituallirreligious, disconnected wonderers, high institutional and personal, primarily personal, and meditators. With the exception of the high institutional and personal cluster, the cluster structures were stable over time. There also was significant intraindividual stability in all clusters over time; however, a significant proportion of individuals classified as high institutional and personal in Grade 11 moved into the primarily personal cluster in Grade 12. This program of research represented an important step towards addressing some of the limitations within the body of literature; namely, the uniqueness of religious activity involvement as a structured club, the differential link between institutional versus personal SIR and psychosocial adjustment, the direction of effects in the associations between institutional versus personal SIR and adjustment, and the way in which different dimensions of SIR may be configured and develop within individual adolescents over time.
    • Exploring the Ecological Self: An Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis with Gifted Adults

      Windhorst, Eric; Applied Health Sciences Program
      The nature connectedness research suggests that (re)creating human-nature connections can address both escalating ecological issues and rising mental health concerns by fostering (ecological) self-realization. Given that the nature connectedness literature oversimplifies experience of ecological self, however, there remains a need to explore lived ecological self experience, and how this experience influences mental health and environmental behaviour. In this exploratory interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA), I sought to flesh out the nature connectedness research by investigating ecological self experience among a small group of gifted adults (n=8) who measure relatively high in nature connectedness. Three research questions guided the study. The project’s primary research question was: How do gifted adults experience ecological self? Two secondary, theory-driven sub-questions refined the project further: 1. How does experience of ecological self influence mental health? 2. How does experience of ecological self influence environmental behaviour? Analysis of data collected via two semi-structured interviews held with each participant reveal that while ecological self experiences might often enhance mental health, nature experiences can also be intense, distressing, and/or ambivalent, and environmental concerns can precipitate anguish and anger. Findings also illustrate how experience of ecological self can be inconsistent: conceptions of the human-nature relationship varied, and experience of ecological self seemed to oscillate along with diurnal and seasonal cycles and appeared to evolve over the lifespan. Finally, results demonstrate that while ecological self experience may motivate pro-environmental behaviour, movement from experience to action is not automatic. Findings show how a variety of intra- and interpersonal factors can hinder pro-ecological engagement. Taken together, study results nuance the nature connectedness literature by illustrating the complexity of ecological self experience. While (re)creating human-nature connections can be considered one approach to addressing escalating ecological issues and rising mental health concerns, findings from this project suggest that the back-to-nature strategy is not a cure-all.
    • Exploring the Factors That African Refugee-Background Students Identify as Being Helpful to Their Academic Success

      Laryea, Edwin W. D.; Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Education
      African refugee-background (ARB) students achieve high standards of success, yet their lived experiences are frequently absent from educational literature in Canada. Current and past research has focused on their academic deficits, their vulnerabilities, and their maladjusted behaviour, neglecting the positive attributes they bring to their host countries. Using specific data collected from semi-structured interviews with eight male and female ARB high school graduates between the ages of 18-25, this qualitative study employed a critical race paradigm to explore factors that ARB high school graduates identified as being helpful in their academic success. The study sought to challenge the deficit views on ARB students’ education by highlighting the perspectives of academically successful ARB students in a secondary school setting. The findings from the ARB students’ narratives highlighted three major themes: (a) success extends beyond the classroom and it cannot be normalized, (b) success is multifaceted and attainable by all, and (c) intrinsic motivation and resilience is a coping strategy for academic success. Additionally, the findings indicated that ARB students used a variety of coping strategies to overcome the negative and stressful environments in their high schools. Disseminating their narratives of success provides real-life examples for other refugee-background students to emulate, in pursuit of their own academic success, amidst the educational and societal barriers that they encounter. These findings add to the limited amount of research on ARB students’ academic success and may provide alternative strategies on refugee education for
    • Exploring the impact of outgroup membership discoveries on individual outcomes and intergroup relations

      MacInnis, Cara; Department of Psychology (Brock University, 2013-07-19)
      Group memberships represent important components of identity, with people holding membership in various groups and categories. The groups that one belongs to are known as ingroups, and the groups that one does not belong to are known as outgroups. Movement between groups can occur, such that an individual becomes a member of a former outgroup. In some cases, this movement between groups can represent a sudden discovery for the self and/or others, especially when one becomes a member of an ambiguous, concealable, or otherwise not readily visible group. The effects of this type of movement, however, are poorly documented. The purpose of this dissertation is to investigate these outgroup membership discoveries, examining the individual intrapsychic, interpersonal, and potential intergroup effects of both self- and other-outgroup membership discoveries. Specifically, discoveries of homosexuality were examined in three studies. In Study 1, hypothetical reactions to self- and other-homosexuality discovery were assessed; in Study 2, the effects of discovering self-homosexuality (vs. self-heterosexuality) were experimentally examined; and in Study 3, the effects of discovering another’s homosexuality earlier relative to later in a developing friendship were experimentally examined. Study 1 revealed that, upon a discovery of self-homosexuality, participants expected negative emotions and a more negative change in feelings toward the self. Upon a discovery of a friend’s homosexuality, participants expected a more negative change in feelings toward the friend, but more a positive change in feelings toward homosexuals. For both hypothetical self- and friend- homosexuality discoveries, more negative expected emotions predicted more negative expected change in feelings toward the target individual (the self or friend), which in turn predicted more negative expected change in feelings toward homosexuals as a group. Further, for self-homosexuality discovery, the association between negative expected emotions and negative expected change in feelings toward the self was stronger among those higher in authoritarianism. Study 2 revealed that, upon discovering one’s own homosexuality (vs. heterosexuality), heterosexual participants experienced more negative emotions, more fear of discrimination, and more negative self-evaluations. The effect of the homosexuality discovery manipulation on negative self-evaluations was mediated by fear of discrimination. Further, those higher in authoritarianism or pre-test prejudice toward homosexuals demonstrated more negative emotions following the manipulation. Study 3 revealed that upon discovering an interaction partner’s homosexuality earlier (vs. later) participants reported a more positive contact experience, a closer bond with the partner, and more positive attitudes toward the partner. Earlier (vs. later) discovery predicted more positive contact experience, which in turn predicted a closer bond with the partner. Closer bond with the partner subsequently predicted more positive evaluations of the partner. Interestingly, the association between bond with partner and more positive attitudes toward the partner was stronger among those higher in authoritarianism or pre-test prejudice toward homosexuals. Overall, results suggest that self-homosexuality discovery results in negative outcomes, whereas discovering another’s homosexuality can result in positive outcomes, especially when homosexuality is discovered earlier (vs. later). Implications of these findings for both actual outgroup membership discoveries and social psychological research are discussed.
    • Exploring the Implications of White Teacher Identity in a Critical Participatory Action Research Study

      Radersma, Kimberly; Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Education
      I am convinced that there is an urgent need for transformative work among white teachers in North America in general, and in southern Ontario specifically, that engages them in a critical understanding of their racial identity. This dissertation research project undertakes a possible way to invite teachers into such dialogue. Using critical participatory action research (CPAR) as a methodology, this project focused on developing race consciousness among six white teachers from an independent school in southern Ontario. I led these teachers in a series of workshops that attempted to guide them through an understanding of their white identity in order to observe the possibility of increasing their “race cognizance” (Frankenberg, 1993). I explain the findings by uncovering and analyzing narrative themes that emerged from the data. Throughout this work, I have attempted to honour the words of W.E.B. DuBois (1903), who claimed long ago that “the hands of none of us are clean if we bend not our energies to righting these great wrongs.” The great wrongs he spoke—the wrongs of racism, of white supremacy, of dismissing the import of racial justice work—though long ago, are ongoing, shifting and being perpetuated most notably in places where our youth are being nurtured. The urgency of the work of challenging the complicity and lack of awareness among white teachers is work that I have taken up in this project.
    • The expression and development of teachers' capacities within two learning communities : a participant-observer case study

      Pancucci, Sonya; Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Education (Brock University, 2010-10-27)
      The learning community model has been an integral component of teacher development in Ontarian schools and beyond. This research was conducted to understand how teachers' personal capacity and professional, interpersonal, and organizational competencies are developed and expressed within this context. Nineteen elementary teachers and administrators participated in the study from November through January 2007. A qualitative case study methodology was used to investigate the role ofteachers' capacities and competencies in learning communities. Combined data sources from semistructured interviews, research journals, and document review were used to gather data about teachers' capacities and competencies. The study included 3 phases of analysis. In the final phase the analysis provided 3 qualities of the teachers at Jude and Mountain Schools (pseudonyms): identification as professionals, investment in others, and institutional affiliation that may explain how they differed from other educators. The data revealed these three themes, which provided an understanding of educators at Jude and Mountain Schools as dedicated professionals pushing practices to contribute to school life and address student learning needs, and as teachers who reflected on practices to continue expanding their skills. Teachers were heavily invested in creating a caring culture and in students' and team members' learning. Educators actively participated in solving problems and coplanning throughout the school levels and beyond, assumed collective responsibility for all pupils, and focused on generating school-wide consistent practices. These qualities and action patterns revealed teachers who invested time and effort in their colleagues, who committed to develop as professionals, and who affiliated closely with every aspect of school living.