Graduate Student Profiles

  • Javed, Sumreen
    My research is focused on small feet like structures that help tumor cells to move from one part of the body to the other. These are called invadopodia. I will be studying their role in tumor cells dissemination through lymphatics, particularly in metastatic breast cancer. This will be done by using cell lines, chicken embryos, and mouse model. My project also involves screening FDA-approved small molecules library to observe if inhibiting invadopodia could be a preeminent target to be considered for therapeutic development.
  • Sidhu, Balsher Singh
    My doctoral research addresses the relationship between climate and agriculture. With the global climate changing at a rapid pace, shifting rainfall and temperature patterns are expected to have strong repercussions for the world’s food production. Using India as a case study, I am building statistical models that improve upon the current “crop yield estimation techniques” to better understand the impact of climate variability on agricultural output.
  • Ji, Jennifer
    Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death for women from cancers, with about 25,000 women diagnosed in North America each year. Ovarian cancer is divided into subtypes based on molecular characteristics and clinical outcome. Although we have understood ovarian cancer as many diseases, the treatment has remained the same for the past 30 years for all subtypes--untargeted platinum-based chemotherapy. Clear cell ovarian cancer (CCOC) is the second most common subtype of ovarian cancer affecting many women. At late stage, it is more aggressive and resistant to current chemotherapy compared to other subtypes. Although deadly, CCOC is still not well understood and lacks effective targeted therapy. Existing molecular and genomic studies suggest that it is a metabolically driven malignancy, but its metabolic profile has not yet been studied. My PhD project will be the first characterization of a large cohort of clinical cases of CCOC using protein expression in conjunction with global metabolite profiling. Understanding of the altered metabolism in CCOC will revolutionize the ovarian cancer research community and provide strong foundations on which to build further discoveries. Most importantly, we hope that identifying targetable metabolic pathways will guide the development of more effective therapies to help patients with this deadly disease.
  • Park, Jungsoo
    I have an interest in symbiotic relations between microorganisms, algae and plants. More specifically, my research focuses on host-associated bacterial interactions in complex microbial food webs, with the aim of understanding the signaling (functioning) molecules. Moreover, examining the interaction and function of core microbes in various environmental conditions would allow for a better understanding of the existing organisms in the ecosystem, which in turn may help with tackling global issues.
  • Yagi, Shunya
    Overall objective of my research project will focus on sex difference and the effect of estrogens on adult neurogenesis and hippocampus-related cognition in rodents. Firstly, I am looking at sex differences in cognitive flexibility and the effect of estrogens on the ability of memory encoding with examining neural plasticity and learning related cell signaling pathways. Secondly, I am looking at sex differences and the role of estrogens on adult-born neurons in the dentate gyrus of hippocampus. Thirdly, I am interested in sex-dependent, age-related cognitive decline in rats examining the ability for cognitive flexibility and the capacity of neural plasticity in aged males and females.
  • Yang, Xining (Linda)
    We have developed a new therapy that activates the resting immune cells resulting in an enhanced killing of cancer cells. Studies demonstrated that a small gene-regulatory molecule, miRNA, mediated the major effects of this therapy. Due to the conserved nature of miRNA, human immune cells can be activated by mouse-sourced therapy and vice versa. Moreover, these activated immune cells showed minimal toxicity to non-cancerous cells suggesting reduced systemic side effects. Successful development of this novel therapy may prove useful in both treating cancers and preventing the spread of existing diseases.
  • Ling, Daphne
    Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is characterised by hyperactivity, impulsivity, and deficits in executive functions (EFs). EFs, which are associated with a brain area called prefrontal cortex (PFC), include abilities like attention, self-control, reasoning, and problem-solving. Our brain cells communicate with each other via neurotransmitters. In ADHD, there are lower levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine (DA). Psychostimulants (or stimulants) are often used as treatment as they increase DA. Some 50% of children with ADHD are now medicated with stimulants. Yet, they often struggle in school. At moderate-to-high doses, stimulants block DA’s transporters. The striatum (a brain region associated with behavioural problems in ADHD) relies on that mechanism but PFC does not. Thus at those doses, stimulants should help the striatum function better, but not PFC. Recent animal neuroscience studies have now shown that at low doses, stimulants specifically help PFC. Given this, we reasoned that psychiatrists prescribing the right dose to help behaviour in ADHD might be giving too high a dose to help cognition. We just completed a triple-blind study where each youth with ADHD was tested once on their prescribed dose, and once on half that. Whether the full dose was given in the 1st or 2nd session was randomised. Regardless of whether the full dose was given in the 1st or 2nd session, all performed better on EF tasks when on half their dose. For my dissertation I would like to test the neural mechanism underlying this hypothesis. Using fMRI, I aim to show in youths with ADHD that at moderately high stimulant doses, the striatum works more efficiently and performance on a striatum-dependent task is better, while at a low dose, PFC works more efficiently and performance on a classic EF test is better. This is vital as understanding how the brain works on different stimulant doses could help us change the standard of care for ADHD, improving millions of lives.
  • Ogura, Saori
    Climate change and food insecurity have been increasing the vulnerability of rural communities. In Mazvihwa, Zimbabwe, and in the Sikkim Himalayas, the local economies have become dependent on monocultural cash crops which were devastated by drought and plant disease. My research develops a protocol to mitigate economic risks by revitalizing indigenous crops and cropping strategies to enhance climate change adaptation. This study uniquely combines an on-the-ground study of traditional plants and their uses, using a community engagement process, satellite imagery, and network analysis. By conducting drawing workshops with community members, I will develop and advance a community science method utilizing art to enhance the process of revitalizing traditional crops. By identifying common traits from studies in Zimbabwe and the Himalayas, I will co-create a model with the indigenous communities that integrates traditional land use strategies, that is widely transferable, ultimately contributing to increased food security and climate change adaptation.
  • Banerjee, Sounik
    The arrangement of granular materials before undergoing cyclic back and forth loading can have significant effects on cyclic strength degradation and eventual liquefaction in undrained condition. Historically, soil fabric has been studied using limited anisotropic parameters with spherical particles, mostly limited to mechanical anisotropy suggested otherwise. However, strong contradicting evidence exists in literature which depicts stress-strain response of granular materials for constant void ratio and confining stress as a function of initial soil fabric. This can hold true for both drained and undrained behavior of cohesion-less materials. Also, if the limited effects of specific anisotropic parameters are removed and a wide range of parameters already available in literature are used, this can provide substantial evidence of the initial anisotropic effects. In our research, the influence of geometric anisotropy in terms of particle shape and multidirectional cyclic loading are also investigated in lieu of closely resembling the ideal conditions using Discrete Element Method.
  • Mohammad, Rafiuzzaman
    Because of the Internet of Things or IoT in short, every day, more and more objects are getting online and there isn’t a single area of our life that won’t be touched by IoT devices in the next decade. Day by day, the advancement of microtechnology is enabling embedded IoT devices to perform more complex jobs written with high-level languages to get more productivity. But despite the increase of job complexity and advancement of emended devices, in terms of the “elasticity of available resources”, the IoT devices are still far more behind compared to the available resources in the cloud. Because of this, when we send programs to run on any IoT devices, we must be extra careful in terms of allocating resources, as the result of a small fraction of misallocation might be devastating, especially for the safety-critical jobs. Hence, we are in a great need for a new, efficient and fault tolerable resource management system for resource-constrained IoT devices in the forthcoming days where the classical and existing techniques won't work. My research focuses on finding a solution for this scenario.

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