The Quest Summer Fellowship Program (QSFP) provides experiences in which Quest students take the lead on intellectually substantive projects that require creative and original thought. Fellows are supported by Host Faculty members whom they choose during the application process.
The Summer Fellowship recipients, along with other students who conducted research throughout the previous year, will be invited to speak at the Quest Scholarship Conference in November.
The RSCW Committee is currently reviewing the accessibility of the Winter Fellowship Program. A decision about continuing the Winter program in 2019-2020 will be announced in late January 2019.
For more info, you can reach out to the Research, Scholarship, and Creative Works (RSCW) Committee.
The 2019 Summer Fellow Applications are due Monday, February 11, 2019.
FAQs and Application Guidelines
A student is eligible to apply if (s)he:
- has a cumulative GPA of at least 2.5
- has completed at least 4 regular courses taught by Quest faculty (i.e., not Experiential Learning or independent study) by the start of the Fellowship
- is not under any disciplinary sanction
- is in good financial standing with the university
- has the intent to return to Quest as a student within one year of completing the Fellowship
When and what:
- The 2019 Quest Summer Fellowship program will take place during the weeks of the May, June, and July Blocks.
- Summer Fellowships are paid by Quest University Canada. All Fellows receive the same amount of compensation, as well as housing.
- The research proposal can be on any topic of the student’s choice; there is no or minimal research funding available for the student; the fellowship is confirmed as soon as you accept.
What to include in your application:
A complete application consists of
- a cover sheet that includes a title and the applicant’s name; an abstract; the name of the proposed host faculty member (must be continuing faculty or faculty associate); the name of the faculty member writing the second letter; and a statement regarding review from the Research Ethics Board (see below)
- an unofficial transcript
- a project proposal of not more than three single-spaced pages (this includes figures but not references, which may be on a fourth page)
- a personal statement of not more than one single-spaced page that describes the student’s academic directions at Quest and explains the relationship of the proposed Fellowship to that direction
- a letter of support from the prospective Faculty Host that indicates a commitment to serve as mentor; explains their commitment to the proposed project, including the provision of necessary resources, and contains a statement of the faculty member’s availability to the student during the Fellowship Period
- a letter of support from one other tutor (e.g. continuing faculty, former faculty, visiting tutor, teaching fellow) who has taught the student in a class during the last 24 months.
Risk Management and Research Ethics Board Review
- The cover page must include one of the following statements about Risk Management:
- In the best estimation of myself and my prospective host faculty member, this project does not warrant review by the University Risk Management Committee.
- My project may require a risk management plan developed in collaboration with the University Risk Management Committee. I have been in touch with this committee, and they have indicated to me that the development of such a plan will not be a barrier to my work should my Fellowship be funded.
- My project is supported by a risk management plan developed in collaboration with the University Risk Management Committee. Please find a copy of it attached as an appendix.
- The cover page must also include one of the following statements about approval from the Research Ethics Board (REB):
- In the best estimation of myself and my prospective host faculty member, this project does not warrant review by the Research Ethics Board.
- My project requires review by the Research Ethics Board, and that review progress is currently in progress.
- My project requires review by the Research Ethics Board. Please see the Appendix for their letter approving my proposed work.
Who Will Be Selected?
Selection of Quest Fellows will prioritize applicants with:
- complete applications that do not exceed length requirements
- transcripts that show academic competence overall and especially in the areas of the proposed work
- project proposals that reflect
- an intellectually substantive project that requires creative and original thought
- a clear understanding of the topic of study as indicated by a well-researched/referenced and concise proposal
- if Quest resources beyond the control of the Faculty Host are required (e.g., a minivan), a clear indication that these will be available to the degree that they are needed
- if additional resources not found on Quest’s campus are required, a clear indication that a firm plan exists for accessing them
- clear statements of academic direction that suggest strong intrinsic motivation to do the work described in the proposal
- entirely supportive letters from faculty, especially the Prospective Host and
- applications that adhere to the goals of the program as stated in the program details (see link above)
Additionally, the intellectual diversity of the group will be a consideration.
Timeline and Submission
- Applications are due by 9 am on Monday, February 11, 2019.
- Students are responsible for submitting four items: the cover sheet, the unofficial transcript, the project proposal, and the personal statement.
- These must be e-mailed as a single PDF document to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The title of your e-mail must be “QWFP Application: FirstName LastName“.
- All late or incomplete applications will be rejected.
- Faculty are responsible for submitting their letters of support directly to the Selection Committee.
- These must be e-mailed as PDF documents to email@example.com.
- Accepted applicants will be notified no later than February 22, 2019 and given four days to accept or decline.
- The Summer Fellows will be announced on the Program website when all offers have been accepted or declined.
The Fellowship Award consists of:
- Housing: Fellows will receive on-campus housing for the duration of the Fellowship. Summer Fellows will live together in a Quest condo (shared bedrooms) at no charge. Winter Fellows will remain in their current residences at no charge.
- A stipend: Fellows will receive a $4,000 stipend. Half the stipend will be paid in regular installments during the Fellowship period. The remainder will be paid upon satisfactory completion of the deliverables. Tax, EI, CPP and vacation pay deductions will be applied.
- A dedicated work space that can be customized to their needs.
- Access to Quest laboratory facilities, field gear, library resources, and study space as needed.
Timeline and Attendance
- A Summer Fellow can *not* do an experiential learning during their Fellowship, as these weeks are to be dedicated to research.
- The 2019 Summer Fellowship period will begin on Monday, May 13, 2019 and end on Wednesday, July 31, 2019.
- If enrollment in courses is necessary for maintenance of an international student visa, contact Barbara.Fernandes@questu.ca. Or if you are receiving financial aid, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Summer Fellowship is not compatible with classes in May, June, or July. Students do NOT receive any Quest course credits for completing this Fellowship, i.e., these are not “independent study blocks”.
- Summer Fellows will be expected to attend a weekly Seminar Series on Wednesday afternoons.
- The dates of the Fellowship Period may be negotiable. Fellows seeking to shift their dates or include a several-day vacation must petition the Selection Committee as early as possible.
- Fellowship activities are expected to be the main priority for Fellows during the Fellowship Period. Fellows should spend an absolute minimum of 35 hours per week on their Fellowship activities. If possible, Fellows are expected to work at their Fellowship full time (i.e., >40 hours per week).
Fellows will be responsible for four deliverables:
- A public presentation approximately midway through the Fellowship period.
- A final report that must be approved by the Host Faculty member.
- A narrative self-evaluation.
- An oral presentation to the Quest community during the Quest Scholarship Conference, which takes place each November.
(If a Fellow will not be on campus in November, that Fellow may present during the first block (s)he is back on campus.)
Priorities of The Program
- Promote individual student scholarship.
- Promote close interaction between students and faculty.
- Cultivate a culture of on-campus research at Quest.
- Foster a diverse community of student scholars.
- Support the intellectual activity of faculty.
Faculty Hosts are expected to provide active mentoring of their Fellows during their projects. Hosts will be the primary mentor and contact for help in all things relating to a Fellow’s project. Hosts should be readily and consistently available so that they can serve in this capacity reliably. Two or three suitable faculty may offer to jointly support one Fellow. This is possible where a student project overlaps the expertise of several faculty, and it affords faculty the opportunity to be away for part of the Fellowship period. The co-Hosts should coordinate their schedule to ensure continuous support for the student throughout the entire Fellowship period.
While interacting with his/her Fellow, the Faculty Host should expect to coach the Fellow through every part of the project, including background reading, experimental design, data collection, data analysis and interpretation, report writing and any other activities pertinent to the project. As it seems unwise to expect students to manage their time across a 12-week period, it is incumbent on the Faculty Host to make sure each of these steps proceeds at a reasonable pace so that a quality report can be completed by the end of the Fellowship Period.
Historically, faculty members have been hesitant to support multiple Fellows in any given summer. Therefore, students should contact the potential faculty host well before the application deadline to ensure that the faculty member is willing to support the student’s fellowship application. This is achieved through an informal process that varies among faculty, but often starts by an inquiry from the prospective student. Faculty should decide which student(s) they intend to support far enough in advance to allow prospective students time to find alternate host faculty members and develop new proposals.
The 2018-2019 Program is overseen by the Research, Scholarship, and Creative Works Committee (RSCWC). Fellows or Hosts should contact this group at any time if difficulties arise.
The RSCWC will ensure that Program policies described here are followed, and will serve as the Selection Committee to decide the Fellowship recipients.
If students fail to meet the obligations described above, they will be subject to discipline by the RSCWC that might take the form of A) loss of a portion of their stipend, B) loss of their Fellowships (and subsequent eviction from campus housing), or C) other measures as appropriate.
Failure to submit the deliverables by the deadline implies that Fellows will forfeit their end-of-fellowship lump-sum payments.
Despite this disciplinary duty, the RSCWC is meant to be a resource to Fellows, especially insofar as difficulties might arise between Fellows and Host Faculty or between multiple Fellows. The RSCWC exists to ensure a productive and satisfying experience for the students and faculty involved in the Program.
2018 Summer Fellows
Daan de Kruijf (host: Andre Lambelet) / A Crisis of Personality: Working Through Problems of Memory, Authenticity and Modernity in Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s Buru Tetralogy
Michael Geuenich (host: Marina Tourlakis) / On the Conservation and Distribution of SBDS Across Species
Samantha Leigh (host: Eric Gorham) / Watching People Throw Out Garbage: Food service waste management in Squamish, B.C.
2018 Winter Fellows
Jessica Hancock (host: Marina Tourlakis) / An Exploration of Algal Lignin: Potential of Cladophora Glomerata as an Alternative to Wood Derived Pulp
Sawyer Plato (host: Neal Melvin) / Up-Regulating Memory: Research into RNA Binding Motif Protein 3’s role in Synaptic Translation
Anika Watson (host: Thor Veen) / A Practical Guide to Function-Valued Traits
2017 Summer Fellows
Cameron Friend (host: Glen Van Brummelen and Jamie Kemp) / Carrying Across: A Translation and Analysis of Leonhard Euler’s Text “Problematis Cuiusdam Pappi Alexandrini Constructio
Ali MacKellar (host: Kim Dawe) / Locating a Remote Teaching & Research Site near Pemberton, BC
Hannah Mendro (host: Shira Weidenbaum) / Constraints, Additions, and Distance: Reading Rilke in Translationo
Sophia Vartanian (host: Andre Lambelet) / A Clash of Civilizations? France, Islam, and the Far Right
2017 Winter Fellows
Emma Badgery (host: Kaija Belfry Munroe) / Tsilhqot’in Nation, Provincial Jurisdiction, and the Misunderstanding of Culture as its ‘Paraphernalia’
Graeme Lee-Rowlands (host: Rich Wildman) / A framework for analyzing transboundary resource sharing negotiations and the case of salmon restoration in the renegotiation of the Columbia River Treaty
Sophie McGregor (host: Mark Vaughan) / Bioincorporating L-Monofluoroethionine into Green Fluorescent Protein
2016 Summer Fellows
Maya Broeke (host: Colin Bates) / The Howe Sound Project
Kelsey Chamberlin (hosts: I-Chant Chiang and Maï Yasué) / A mixed-methods approach to exploring the impact of grades on academic motivation at three North American universities
Janali Gustafson (hosts: I-Chant Chiang and Meaghan MacNutt) / Exploring mind-body connection – can “power poses” impact physical performance?
Seth Newman (host: Shira Weidenbaum) / Irony and the Bible
Marielle Rosky (host: John Reid-Hresko) /Writing Myself into Being: The Process of Creating a Self Representational Story
Aaron Slobodin (host: Sarah Mayes-Tang) / Betti Table Stabilization of Homogeneous Monomial Ideals
2015 Summer Fellows
Holly Bull (host: Mark Vaughan) / Quorum Sensing Communication in Biofilms: In Vivo Synthesis of Autoinducer-2 Molecule
Elijah Cetas (host: Maï Yasué) / Why Do We Conserve? A Structured Look at the Incentives behind Community Based Conservation
Tenea Dillman (host: Steve Quane) / Hazardous Hydrology: Developing a Monitoring Program for the Garibaldi Lake/Rubble Creek Hydrological System, British Columbia
Katie Gerstle* (host: Marjorie Wonham) / Biodiversity Monitoring and Education in the Foreshore Environment of Howe Sound
Kestrel Kunz (host: Rich Wildman) / Using Field Monitoring and Computer Modeling to Investigate Thermal Stratification and Mixing Patterns in Three Lakes in the Sea to Sky Region
David Leehr (hosts: Darcy Otto and Jeff Warren) / A Geneology of the Analytic-Continental Divide in Contemporary Philosophy
Cassi Mason* (host: Mark Vaughan) / Let in the Light: Developing a Screening Method to Tune the Absorption Spectrum of Proteorhodopsin
Camilo Romero* (host: Steve Quane) / Geology of the Woodfibre LNG Building Site: Implications of Acoustic Transmission into the Howe Sound
* These Fellows were supported by Woodfibre LNG, Ltd.
2014 Summer Fellows
Tyler Heilman (host: Court Ashbaugh) / Garibaldi Provincial Park Weather Station: Technical Overview
Andrew Laird (host: Rich Wildman) / Towards the Modeling of Simulated Inflows to Lake Powell
Gillian Pool (host: Chris Neufeld) / Wildlife Monitoring of the Sea to Sky Gondola
Jenna Treissman (host: Negar Elmieh) / How our behaviors now affect our fertility later: Examining sexual health behaviors and STI prevalence at Quest University Canada
Mabel Vautravers (hosts: John Reid-Hresko and Curt Wasson) / Radio Silence, an original novella
2013 Summer Fellows
Annie Borch (host: Steve Quane) / Beyond the Barrier: A Final Report
Sommer Harris (host: Colin Bates) / Geology from Sea to Sky
Emma Linde (host: Rich Wildman) / Greenhouse Gas Emissions from a Hydroelectric Reservoir and a Natural Lake in the Squamish Area
Caleb Raible-Clark (host: Richard Hoshino) / A Summer of Implementing Gradual Improvements to Systems at Quest
2012 Summer Fellows
Zuri Biringer (host: Jim Cohn) / Flowers, an original short story
Heather Harden (host: Megan Bulloch) / Psychological survey method development
Ashley Pearson (host: Rob Knop) / Nerves of the Heart, an original play
Eric Ross (host: Rob Knop) / Classical Chaos
Chloe Wightman (host: Rob Knop) / Methods of Galaxy Merger Classification
Publications by Quest Students
- Maximilian Kahn (CLASS OF 2019), along with Professor Richard Hoshino, published Predicting Unsolvable Deals in the Birds of a Feather Solitaire Game, in the proceedings of the 9th EAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence (EAAI 2019), Honolulu, Hawaii (January 2019).
- Max Notarangelo (CLASS OF 2019), along with Professor Richard Hoshino, published Computational Intractability and Solvability for the Birds of a Feather Game, in the proceedings of the 9th EAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence (EAAI 2019), Honolulu, Hawaii (January 2019).
- Isaac Menninga (CLASS OF 2018), along with Professor Richard Hoshino, published Nomogram to Predict Graft Thickness in Descemet Stripping Automated Endothelial Keratoplasty: An Eye Bank Study, Cornea (2018).
- Jeneva Beairsto (CLASS OF 2018), along with Professor Richard Hoshino, published Optimal Pricing for Distance-Based Transit Fares, in the proceedings of the 30th IAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence (February 2018).
- Aaron Slobodin (Class Of 2018, Recipient Of The 2016 Quest Summer Fellowship) And William Bernoudy (Class Of 2017), along with Professor Richard Hoshino, published An Automated Employee Timetabling System for Small Businesses, in the proceedings of the 30th IAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence (February 2018).
- Julian Hockin-Grant (CLASS OF 2015), along with Professor Mai Yasue, published The effectiveness of a permaculture education project in Butula, Kenya, in the International Journal of Sustainable Agriculture (in press).
- Olenka Forde (CLASS OF 2013), along with Professor Rich Wildman, published Effect of a moderate-size reservoir on transport of trace elements in a watershed, in the journal Lake and Reservoir Management (July 2016).
- Elijah Cetas (Recipient Of The 2015 Quest Summer Fellowship), along with Professor Mai Yasue, published A systematic review of motivational values and conservation success in and around protected areas, in the journal Conservation Biology (June 2016). This paper won Elijah the journal’s 2016 “Rising Star” award, for the best student-led paper published in Conservation Biology.
- Caleb Raible-Clark (Class Of 2014, Recipient Of The 2013 Quest Summer Fellowship), along with Professor Richard Hoshino, published The Quest Draft: an Automated Course Allocation Algorithm, in the proceedings of the 26th IAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence (July 2014). Caleb and Richard’s paper received the IAAI Deployed Application Award.
- Kellina Higgins (Class Of 2011), along with Professor Mai Yasue, published Monitoring Liverworts to Evaluate the Effectiveness of Hydroriparian Buffers, in the journal Environmental Management (January 2014)
- Olenka Forde (CLASS OF 2013), along with Professor Rich Wildman, published Management of Water Shortage in the Colorado River Basin: Evaluating Current Policy and the Viability of Interstate Water Trading, in the journal American Water Resources Association (May 2012).
Profiles of Quest Students in The Media
- Aaron Slobodin, Quest student wins scholarship for balancing chronic condition and studies(Squamish Chief, September 2017)
- Alicia Saunders, Look out for the Western Toad(Squamish Chief, August 2017)
- Elijah Cetas, Quest student wins Rising Star Award(Squamish Chief, May 2017)
- Maya Broeke, Quest students probe fate of Howe Sound’s future(Squamish Chief, November 2016)
- Janali Gustafson, Quest student looks at power poses(Squamish Chief, November 2016)
- Kyle Martin, Quest device tracks climate change(Squamish Chief, September 2016)
- Ella Van Cleave, Quest student makes ocean doc(Squamish Chief, September 2016)
- Aaron Slobodin, Squamish student optimizes local café (Squamish Chief, July 2016)
- Martin Schuster and Aaron Feicht, Tiny homes surge in popularity(Squamish Chief, April 2016)
- Jonathan Marston, His labour of love: a pond at Quest (Squamish Chief, April 2016)
- Vic Wang, Life of Chinese-Canadians on Film(Squamish Chief, March 2016)
- Michalina Hunter, Imagine a Squamish with abundant fresh food (Squamish Chief, July 2015)
The Symposium is now over.
The third annual Quest Scholarship Symposium took place on November 17, 2018 and showcased students who had recently conducted research. The event featured these students giving 15-minute presentations on their research to the Quest community and the public.
Here’s what you missed:
9 -9:45 am
Lauren Bauman, Improving Programmatic Assessment: A Participatory Approach
As program-level assessment increasingly becomes an integral part of the higher-education landscape, so does the debate regarding the efficacy of current assessment methods. Although program assessment is a recognized “best practice,” it’s also widely accepted that current methods are flawed, and investments in program assessment are not yielding the desired results. Traditionally, students don’t participate in assessment—neither of their own learning nor of institutional or program efficacy. We assert that lack of student participation in assessment is a missed opportunity for both student learning and for the institution to acquire authentic, contextualized assessment evidence.
Our research presents an alternative to traditional program-level assessment. This collaborative alternative is meant to improve student learning in two ways: (1) by asking students to reflect on their achievement of learning outcomes using evidence-based methods; (2) by providing assessment practitioners with authentic, contextualized data on which to make claims about curricula. Using a simple survey, students are asked to self-assess their achievement of the intended learning outcomes, provide evidence of their achievement, and reflect on their learning. Responses are then validated to identify patterns in data and can provide evidence to inform future practice. This collaborative assessment process responds to many concerns about traditional assessment methods.
Samantha Leigh, Watching People Throw out Garbage: Waste Management in Squamish
In May-July 2018, a total of 29 food service institutions in Squamish were observed to determine how the waste system set-up affects waste stream contamination. In this study, customers at each institution were observed disposing their waste. Items and the waste stream they were disposed in were recorded, with the disposal choice identified as either “correct” or “incorrect” based on waste stream standards in Squamish. Then, characteristics of each institution’s waste system were statistically modeled with customer disposal choices and behaviours. The analysis showed that the two most important characteristics affecting contamination and customer disposal behaviour were the “Service Type” of the institution, and the “Sign Quality” provided at the waste station. In addition, some food service institutions had special characteristics or customer disposal choices and behaviours that made them stand out as examples for certain patterns. This talk will describe the research and key results, and provide recommendations for future waste management development in food service institutions based on research findings, a literature review, and the context in Squamish.
Daan de Kruijf, The Specter of Imperialism: Haunted Pasts/Presents in Postcolonial Literature
Over the course of the post-war era, countless histories of modern European imperialism have been produced. Many of them, however, have perpetuated some of the most pernicious aspects of that very imperialism in their own production. Only since the turn of the present century have historians started contemplating radically different approaches to the subject. My research presents an historiographical argument that joins forces with these historians. I will present to you a contemplative analysis of the work of Pramoedya Ananta Toer – Indonesia’s foremost novelist – that seeks to identify and interrogate the spirit of the Dutch imperialist venture of the early-twentieth century, and demonstrate that it remains present (albeit concealed) to this day. The presentation will cover the history of Dutch imperialism, but even more a critical engagement with the way in which that history is often told. In the process, I attempt to dispel the pervasive binary between (historical) fact and (literary) fiction, and so foreground a fundamentally human dimension of an otherwise dehumanizing project.
Graeme Lee Rowlands, Challenges and opportunities for ecological restoration and inclusive governance in the renegotiation of the Columbia River Treaty
The Columbia River, which flows from Canada into the U.S., is a remarkable watercourse with a remarkable history. One important chapter concerns the 1964 Columbia River Treaty. As with most development in that era, the CRT helped create a system of governance that predominantly ignored ecosystems and marginalized Indigenous and other rural people for the sake of maximizing profit. Since then, dominant opinion has shifted to place greater importance on social and environmental justice. The renegotiation of the CRT, which began this May, is an opportunity for the U.S. and Canada to harmonize the law with these new progressive values.
In this talk, I will present research (co-authored by Dr. Rich Wildman) that illuminates some of the challenges and opportunities for this endeavour — specifically as it relates to the Indigenous-led movement to restore salmon runs past dams to the upper portion of the watershed. Our analysis is based on a review of previous and similar treaties, other fish passage projects in the region, and trends in global water governance. From this, we identified six main factors that will affect negotiations surrounding salmon restoration. This framework also helps contextualize notable recent happenings, including the exclusion of Indigenous nations from the negotiation.
Kai Myers, Variation in Percolation: How Layering Affects Water Movement Through Snow
Understanding the movement of water through snow is critical for predicting the nature of floods, estimating runoff, and determining SWE (snow water equivalence). This study tried to better understand the way water moves through snow packs, both on flat surfaces and on moderate slopes, by simulating rain using food colouring and a fertilizer sprayer. After spraying the coloured water and leaving time for the water to percolate through the snow, we photographed cross sections of the pits to see how the water travelled through the snowpack. The study found that on flat surfaces water percolates vertically through the snowpack until it reaches a hard layer at which point it pools. On slopes, water percolates until it reaches a hard layer at which point in runs downhill along the layer interface. When the water reaches a heterogeneity, or flat section, it percolates downward again. The change in hardness and change in percent-area-dye, representing pooling, was shown to have a Multiple R^2 value of 0.81(F 1,4= 17.1, p < 0.015), the analysis of sloped pits was qualitative.
Tully Henke, Evaluating Impacts of Trails on Subalpine Vegetation: Wheels, Feet, and Where the Trees and Sky Meet
Use of subalpine and alpine ecosystems by recreation is on the rise. Particularly in the Sea to Sky region, mountain biking and hiking are expanding into the alpine with proposals for development of heli-biking throughout the region and steadily increasing overall use. This study looks at the impacts of these activities on the vegetation communities bordering trail networks. Specifically, it quantifies the differences in impact between activities and the effect that tree density has on these impacts. Upon complete analysis of this data, the relative size of impact will be determined as a function of elevation, activity type, and position within the subalpine transition zone, a zone that has seen little previous research. This data was collected through vegetative cover and species counts along six sections of trail in the Sea to Sky region. Two of these sites were in the Pemberton area, two in Whistler, and two in Squamish, with each pair having a hiking trail and a mountain biking trail. Differences in impacts specific to these areas will be important in informing development of recreation infrastructure in and above tree line and assessing impact from proposed development projects throughout the region.
11 -11:45 am
Michael Geuenich, How Computation and a Rare Disease Can Teach us About Basic Biology and Cancer
All life as we know it requires proteins. Proteins are made through a basic biological process known as translation, during which information from a gene is taken and translated into a protein by a piece of molecular machinery known as the ribosome. Defects in this process have been associated with cancer and an increasing number of inherited disorders. One way of further understanding how defects in translation lead to disease, as well as to enhance our understanding of translation as a basic biological process, is to study disorders where translation is impaired. One such disease is Shwachman-Diamond syndrome, a rare disease with symptoms including skeletal abnormalities, digestive issues and a predisposition to leukemia. This project focused on identifying and comparing publicly available sequence data of a protein involved in ribosome assembly across species. During this talk, I will outline how computer science can help us understand the details of translation and how defects can cause disease.
Jessica Hancock, An Exploration of Algal Lignin: Potential of Cladophora Glomerata as an Alternative to Wood-Derived Pulp
Lignin is found in combination with cellulose in plant cell walls and is essential for cell rigidity, water transport, and growth in vascular plants, but is thought to be non-essential to algal life as it has only been identified in a handful of algal species. The presence of lignin complicates the harvesting of cellulose, the raw material of pulp, and makes the paper product produced weaker. This study aimed to identify and characterize any lignin or lignin-like molecules present in the cellulose-producing algae Cladophora glomerata to assess its potential as an alternative to wood-derived pulp. By following DFRC protocol, we found that Cladophora glomerata does indeed have lignin in the form of H, G, and S units. In addition, a bioinformatics and PCR-based approach was employed to identify conserved regions of DNA sequence coding for known lignin precursor genes. PCR results from this latter analysis were inconclusive and need further scrutiny. However, our current hypothesis is that lignin is not essential in algae and hence that Cladophora is a viable candidate for total lignin knockdown in a cellulose producing organism.
Devon Mitchell, Solvent Coordination to Phthalocyanine Species as a Method for Q-Band Tuning
Phthalocyanines are nitrogen-containing macrocyclic rings that are highly stable and are used for a variety of purposes. Phthalocyanines can be substituted in a variety of ways to alter the physical, chemical, and electronic properties. Because of the high variation and ease of functional group tuning, phthalocyanines are of great interest to the fields of catalytic chemistry, as well as certain chemical industries, such as the pigment and dye industry. Phthalocyanines can be tuned through substitution and redox activities to take on a variety of colours. The changes in colour are characterized by UV-vis spectroscopy, specifically looking at Q-band absorption. Zinc nButoxy-Phthalocyanine (nBuOPcZn) is a deep green molecule. nBuOPcZn becomes a deep brown colour when it has an axially coordinated chlorine. The coordination of the chlorine shifts the Q-band from 751 to 765 nm. The novel experimental concept is solvent coordination, through the chlorine, in CH2Cl2 or CHCl3. This process allows for easy tuning of a phthalocyanine and can potentially be adapted to other similarly substituted phthalocyanine species.