Valerie Kuehne Undergraduate Research Awards (VKURA)

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VKURA website

This UVic award provides an opportunity for first year students to gain research-enriched and applied experiences in their discipline or field of study. Students gain first-hand experience in planning and undertaking research or creative works.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 20 of 88
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    Competition in unregulated environments: An inquiry into cryptocurrency firms
    (2023-09-28) Hardy, Felix
    Looking into the unregulated markets of cryptocurrency, we wanted to find out how individual firms compete amongst each other. Cryptocurrency markets, in contrast to legacy securities markets, operate in a grey area and have an easier time bending the rules than traditional financial institutions -- because they are not yet classified as such. In these new markets, what drives consumers to choose one firm (exchange) over the other? With the amount of variables and freedom that these firms have due to the unregulated nature of the markets, we can get a clearer view into the raw behaviors of them. Through my rough initial models, I determined three of the most likely significant factors consumers weigh when choosing a firm. The factor most likely to have the largest impact was twitter followers and outreach, followed by trust and products offered by the firm. More rigorous modelling techniques along with more complex data will be used by Dr Xu to develop a comprehensive model.
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    Best Spider Friends Forever: Female-female socialization and cohabitation in intertidal jumping spiders (Terralonus californicus)
    (2023-09-28) Mali, Paula
    Jumping spiders are rarely social, guarding their nests and eggs. However, some exceptions have been recorded sharing interconnected webs. This study investigates social repulsion and attraction between female intertidal jumping spiders (Terralonus californicus). In each trial, an intruder spider was introduced to a resident spider’s nest. We compared the sociality of resident spiders with and without egg sacs laid. Overall, the trials showed low rates of repulsion in both egg presences and absences. In most of the trials, the resident and intruder spiders were observed nesting together. Additionally, other social spiders are suggested to benefit from cooperative egg-laying. We proposed that the spiders are more likely to lay eggs in a nest with preexisting egg clutches. The experiment found that on average, more egg sacs were laid in the trials where eggs were previously present. Further research could be conducted to investigate the benefits of female spiders cohabiting and laying eggs together.
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    Creating a Peer Mentorship Program for Incoming Autistic Students
    (2023-09-28) de Wijze, Jacob
    This summer was focused on building the foundation to create a peer mentorship program for autistic students at UVIC. I created a list of campus resources including financial and social supports that will be helpful for students. In addition, I developed a survey to learn what autistic students would want from a peer mentorship program. This survey will be circulated this fall. Dr. Ames and I also wrote and submitted a proposal to the ethics review board so that we would be able to distribute posters and surveys to student groups. Dr. Ames, Kai Punt, and I will be working this fall on creating a university-wide advisory council to help oversee the program and to make sure there are minimal barriers to participating. Future steps include creating a training program for mentors, recruiting interested students, and reaching out to university departments to help increase the likelihood of students hearing about this program. This is a long-term project, and the goal is to have it up and running in the next couple of years.
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    Promises, Pledges and Practice? Understanding the Narratives of Financial Authorities in Sustainable Energy Transitions
    (2023-09-28) Harmel, Isabella
    My research investigates the emergence of asset management firms in green finance and how they are shaping global environmental governance. I focus specifically on the “Big Three”, Vanguard, BlackRock, and StateStreet, who combined manage nearly $20 trillion of assets, and hold standard-setting power due to their role as leaders in this industry. Building on International Political Economy and critical corporate governance research, I begin to investigate how these firms frame their engagement in green finance, what relations of power are involved in this engagement, and discuss if meaningful engagement is possible within the purview of corporate action. By discursively analyzing company programs, statements, and actions in the arena, I begin to develop an understanding of this trend and build a foundation for further research in the field.
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    Sex Differences in Cerebrovascular Regulation during Autonomic Stimulation
    (2023-09-28) Mojgani, Tara
    Cerebral blood flow is vital for optimal brain function, and requires redundant synergistic regulation to ensure essential oxygen and nutrient delivery. The Cold Pressor Test (CPT) activates the autonomic nervous system, revealing sex-specific relationship between blood pressure and extracranial CBF and regulation in order to preserve functional and structural integrity. The question arises: do these sex-specific regulations extend to deeper intracranial arteries? The hypothesis posits that despite potential blood pressure differences, males and females will exhibit distinct regulatory patterns in intracranial arteries during a CPT. Participants visited the CHEERS lab, refraining from exercise, food, caffeine, or alcohol. The CPT involved baseline establishment, recording vital metrics at rest, continuous monitoring during the three-minute experiment, and a subsequent recovery period. Contrary to our hypothesis, both genders exhibited reduced blood flow, more pronounced in males due to greater vessel diameter reduction. Females displayed smaller blood pressure increases but a more significant vessel diameter reduction, suggesting heightened cerebral blood flow regulation during the CPT. In summary, males and females may have varying sensitivities to blood pressure fluctuations in intracranial vessels. Further investigation with an expanded dataset in 2024 promises a more comprehensive understanding.
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    Celebrating Teaching Excellence in the Social Sciences
    (2023-09-20) Coady, Maria
    During this past summer I was responsible for designing and building a website for the Teaching Excellence Award winners in the Faculty of Social Sciences. The site celebrates teaching within the Faculty and highlights the many achievements and contributions a number of teaching award winners have made over the years. The site includes a series of video interviews that I recorded and edited for several faculty on why they love teaching, what makes a good teacher, as well as advice for to students struggling in their classes, and some lessons learned about teaching. The site went live in August 2023.
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    Following the Voices of our Ancestors: Studying the pronunciation of Wendat language learners
    (2023-09-20) Marcoux, Delwyn
    As Wendat, I dream that future Wendat will learn our language without a French or English accent. Accent is most easily and effectively acquired through consistently mimicking native speakers. This proves difficult in the case of Wendat, as we are revitalising a sleeping language, and so even the best speakers inevitably have an accent currently (generally a Quebecois accent). This research begins exploring the efficacy of mimicking audio that has been edited to approximate un-accented Wendat using recordings of ancestral Wyandot. In order to do this, a phonetic analysis of the Wyandot corpus was first completed for the stops /t/ and /k/ as produced by Sarah Dushane in 1967, novel utterances were edited to match, and lastly language learner's pre- & post-mimicking productions were recording and analysed. Overall, preliminary findings indicate the process to be effective. With further research into the rest of the language's phonetic inventory and improved efficacy of the audio editing process, this technique could ensure that the Wendat spoken by our descendants is as free of colonial impacts as possible.
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    Legacies of Irresponsibility: Post-secondary institutions, antebellum, and slavery
    (2023-09-20) Wang, Zitan
    The research project focuses on how post-secondary institutions founded during the antebellum period respond when challenged about having benefited from slavery (aka their legacies of irresponsibility). It will also answer questions such as what influences a university/college’s decision on how to respond when challenged about their past connections to slavery. My part in this project is to help collect more information about many of these institutions. The project will go on to analyze these responses for how engaging they were and determine factors that influence response. In the end, the data and the analysis will turn into a paper that will help understand how other companies or organizations respond when people challenge their past deeds. Though I did not get to the end of the research, I realized from my research that factors like location, how close the connection to slavery is, and how other universities and colleges react after a challenge could influence responses. For example, because of the BLM movements, more universities and colleges were challenged, mainly by students, and more responded when challenged.
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    West African Monsoon, a computational model
    (2023-09-20) Richers, Merrick
    The West African summer Monsoon (WAM) is a weather phenomenon that is both unpredictable, and paramount to local water resources; with current climate models providing conflicting information pertaining to rainfall. The research conducted investigates the modification of a preexisting computational model of the Indian Monsoon for use in the WAM. This process required an understanding of the model’s C++ source code, code compilation, and command line Linux for HPC cluster usage; as well as learning the terminology of climate science, the basics of fluid mechanics, and the partial differential equations that govern the monsoon model. The main modifications that were done to the code were to change the latent and sensible heat forcing to that of the WAM using real world data. This required the writing of a netCDF data extractor, a csv file reader, a linear interpolator, and a way to alter the domain of the simulation. The resulting data has been plotted, and it has been concluded that the model requires some fine tuning to produce more accurate results, but is otherwise functional. The resulting code and data has been documented and shared with the research group, with plans to expand upon this project at a later date.
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    WRT-10 and Fasting in Caenorhabditis elegans
    (2023-09-19) Schweigel, Maxwell
    Reproductive aging is becoming an increasingly important area of research in a world where people both live longer and delay having children until later in life. In particular, research into women’s reproductive health has been historically underfunded, leading to a gap in the understanding of the mechanisms behind important processes such as menopause and its associated health outcomes.
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    Visualizing Audio Using Stacked Graphs
    (2023-09-19) Golan, Dean
    Audio visualization is an important aspect of audio analysis and research. Common audio visualization methods include graphing the amplitude envelope and spectrogram of a given piece of audio. Graphing the amplitude envelope generally gives a good representation of the transience but little to no spectral information, while taking the spectrogram gives a bad representation of transience. In this project we developed code to visualize audio using stacked graphs, an uncommon yet highly intuitive method which gives both a good representation of transience and the spectral information. Methods were also developed for storing audio data such that common time units could be easily used to access and manipulate it.
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    Continued Validation of Computational Method Assessing Patient-Specific Guide Stability for Shoulder Arthroplasty
    (2023-09-19) Parmar, Megan
    In the context of shoulder arthroplasty, predicting the stability of patient-specific guides (PSGs) is crucial for surgical success. This study focuses on validating the OrthoGrasp computational model, designed to predict PSG stability tailored to individual patients. During the VKURA internship, we expanded OrthoGrasp's validation. This involved creating CAD models of six different glenoids (a component of the scapula) with varying geometries and designing corresponding PSGs. The PSGs featured a circular base with four legs, each with three variations of leg placement (versions 1, 2, and 3) and two contact options (versions A and B). We isolated the contact surfaces between the PSG legs and glenoid surface, saving them as 3D STLs and then converting them to JSON files to collect the vertices and faces of the model. These were input into OrthoGrasp as Shape and Grasp files (including a force for the surgeon's finger at the PSG's back center pocket) to calculate stability metrics for each PSG version. Additionally, we 3D printed one glenoid and its PSGs for a pilot test. This study contributes to the advancement of PSG stability predictions in shoulder arthroplasty. Such innovations promise to improve patient outcomes and enhance the precision of shoulder arthroplasty procedures.
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    Is the frequency of Foreign Exchange Interventions effective In the GDP growth of a country?
    (2023-09-19) Kataria, Divyansh
    The research focuses on Forex. I try to find out if the Forex interventions are effective or not. The two countries are chosen from a dataset one of which is a developed country-Canada and the other is a developing country which is India. Next, I compare their GDPs for the same time period.
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    Physical Activity, Sex Hormones, and Brain Blood Flow
    (2023-09-19) Smith, Brianne
    Physical Activity (PA) and Sex Hormones (SH) are each individually known to mediate cerebral blood flow (CBF). However, what is still unclear is their collective impact on CBF. In MRI studies, increased levels of Estrogen (EST) has been positively correlated with increases in CBF in non-pregnant females, but a contrasting relationship between CBF and Progesterone in similar brain regions. Given that the literature overwhelmingly supports the positive relationship between exercise and CBF, we aimed to include self-reporting of physical activity to account for changes in CBF throughout the menstrual cycle that may not be caused by sex hormone fluctuations but PA. To interrogate this, as part of a larger ongoing PhD project, participants aged 19-40 are being recruited. All participants complete a multi visit protocol, with visit 1 measuring baseline aerobic capacity and physical activity using a Global Physical Activity Questionnaire (GPAQ) and Perceived Stress Scale (PSS). Visits 2, 3, 4, and 5 all include a hormone blood test, and CBF endothelial and arterial stiffness test battery, which includes a CO2 breathing test and a Cold Pressor Test. All CBF measures were achieved using transcranial and vascular duplex ultrasound. PA during visits 2,3,4, and 5 accounted for via self-report data sheet, and GPAQ and PSS questionnaires were repeated on visit 5. As the study is ongoing, preliminary PA and PSS data cannot yet be compared to the CBF or SH data. However, preliminary data shows that both light and moderate PA have the largest fluctuations over a 28-day cycle, and that the female participant had higher moderate and light PA than the male participant.
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    Exchange Rate Volatility and Standard of Living in Nigeria
    (2023-09-19) Memeh, Kelechi
    This research establishes a relationship between the volatility of the exchange rate in Nigeria and the standard of living; this relationship is represented by household consumption, that is, by household consumption expenditure per capita. To establish this relationship, I employed a linear regression model using the Ordinary Least Squares estimation technique. Household consumption, inflation, per capita income and exchange rate are variables used in my research. The results of the regression show that exchange rate and per capita income have a positive relationship with household consumption; and by extension, standard of living. Inflation however has a negative result with household consumption.
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    Data Submission for Berries in the Canadian Arctic
    (2023-09-19) Logan, Bailey
    I spent this summer designing a survey to collect and display data collected about native berry species in the Canadian arctic. The study I joined already had data from multiple sites going back to 2008. This data was in 3 different spreadsheets, so I combined them. To manage new data as the study is ongoing, I designed a survey through ArcGIS’s platform Survey123 that would let people in the field submit data and let researchers use that data later on. By exporting the data from the survey, it made it easier to summarize and analyze. I also made a website that displays the data in a map as well as a chart, and updates every time new data is submitted.
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    Exploring the implementation of gradients in vector graphics images through colour diffusion graphs
    (2023-09-19) Goodwin, Linnea
    Given that vector graphics aims to create infinitely scalable images, a problem arises when attempting to create a smooth gradient from one colour to another. The dominant method used to tackle this problem is essentially to simulate the diffusion of colour onto a triangulated mesh; the process would be similar to letting a drop of ink hit a wet napkin and spread out. The equation that governs diffusion is the Poisson equation, which allows for a function modifier to the spread of a material; i.e. a variable coefficient of diffusion across a surface. Previous research into the diffusion of colour to create vectorized gradients ignores this coefficient for a constant spread of colour. In this study, we recreate the spread of colour to form vectorized meshes with smooth gradients using PolyFEM and allow for the inclusion of a position-variable coefficient of spread. This research could advance the world of vector image generation and have potentially publishable applications.
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    Mapping Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw Place Names
    (2023-09-19) Bailer, Chloe
    This research, conducted within the Northern Vancouver Island Archaeology and Paleoecology Project (NVIAPP), critically examines the translations of Kwak’waka place names by Boas and Hunt, highlighting the challenges of capturing the full linguistic nuance of the language. These literal translations offer intriguing insights into the landscape, but some may mask deeper metaphorical meanings. The dataset, presented in QGIS shapefile format, enhances archaeological investigations by providing contextual information rarely accessible for pre-twentieth century Kwakwaka’wakw territories. Incorporating Kwak’wala and English labels, the shapefile offers versatility for researchers to toggle between languages and filter data, facilitating a comprehensive understanding of the place names. Future research should explore and expand upon the translations, working in collaboration with the U’mista Cultural Society’s contributions. This geospatial and cultural knowledge is part of a larger effort to enrich the tapestry of Indigenous heritage on Vancouver Island, and the rest of British Columbia.
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    Meeting the Needs of a Community through Active Transportation Research and Policy Recommendation
    (2023-09-19) van Lankvelt, Ahneke
    Our research examined how active transportation, specifically forms of micro-mobility, can be promoted and adopted safely. Micro-mobility is an alternative form of transportation classified as lightweight electric vehicles operated at low speeds. These devices have the potential to aid in addressing climate action targets and sustainability goals of cities. On top of this, they support healthy living and activity goals for users from a range of demographics and age categories. However, there are many issues and challenges with the implementation of micro-mobility. Policies regarding the devices must be comprehensive to a range of factors. These factors include environmental impacts, infrastructure and city planning, barriers in terms of accessibility and adoption, and the life-long health of users. We conducted a literature review of the current research on micro-mobility, conversed with other municipalities about their bylaws and regulations in micro-mobility pilot programs, and identified gaps in our knowledge to direct our focus for continued research. This led to the creation of ATLAS, an Active Transportation Longitudinal Aging Study that will examine the intersection between infrastructure and the life-long health of individuals using an intensive measurement design. ATLAS will investigate how urban planning influences mental health, wellness, and physical activity.
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    Contextualizing Community Currency: Understanding the Comox Valley LETS
    (2023-09-19) Campbell, Nicole
    In 1983, a system of alternative community currency called LETS (Local Exchange Trade Systems) emerged in the Comox Valley in the midst of a period of severe inflation and economic recession. This project utilized archival materials from the original system alongside other sources to explore the economic, socio-cultural, and political factors that influenced both the creation of the LETS, and the community members that supported it. It seeks to situate the LETSystem within the wider historical context in order to gain a better understanding of why this community viewed a community currency as a desirable alternative to the established monetary systems to which they were accustomed.
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