Graduate Student Profiles

  • Chithran, Aarya
    One of the most extraordinary characteristics of the nervous system is the complexity and accuracy of its wiring. Although there are multiple mechanisms involved in shaping the pattern of these connections, one of the most important events is the guidance of axons to their specific targets. During the development of the nervous system, the axons of billions of neurons navigate to their targets in response to various axon guidance cues in the extracellular environment. Both attractive and repulsive cues are required to guide developing axons to their targets. More recently it has become clear that after functional circuits have been established, many neurons continue to express developmental guidance cues. The expression of these genes in the adult indicates that there are likely additional roles for these proteins beyond the initial phase of neuronal process outgrowth, growth cone navigation, and target innervation. This study begins to elucidate the roles of these guidance genes in the adult nervous system and how they contribute to neuronal maintenance and synaptic plasticity. Discovering the mechanisms involved is vital both for advancing basic scientific understanding and as a foundation for future strategies to treat neurological disorders, congenital cognitive impairment, and neural injury.
  • Habib, Rishad
    My research aims to understand the socio-cultural dynamics that shape our perceptions of morality and determine whether and why we act in ethical ways. One way to address health, environmental and welfare issues is to switch to a more plant-based diet. Previous work indicates that vegetarianism has become moralized and that people view vegetarians as judgmental. This socio-cultural moralization may act as a significant barrier to the uptake of a healthier and more sustainable diet that focuses on plants. In addition taste and issues related to identity, social values and inconvenience may also play a role in preventing change. With the support of the PSI I aim to understand the issue more completely and to work with Better Eating International, a non-profit educational organization, to produce, test and promote unique content with a positive social message geared towards better eating practices. By understanding the motivations, values and challenges of consumers better we can help them take a positive step towards a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle.
  • Shrestha, Pranav
    We aim to develop an integrated device to extract fluid from the human skin and conduct on-site analysis in a microfluidic chip, for detecting the presence of specific biomarkers of diseases.
  • Verma, Jigyasa
    Cancer is responsible for one in every six deaths in the world, is the second leading cause of deaths globally, and the search for potential therapeutic targets of cancer has occupied researchers for decades. Global spending on cancer medicines continues to rise with therapeutic and supportive care use at $133 billion globally in 2017, up from $96 billion in 2013. Spending on cancer medicines is heavily concentrated among a handful of therapies, with the top 35 drugs accounting for 80% of total spending, while over half of cancer drugs have less than $90 million in annual sales. This necessitates the need for finding highly effective, novel cancer therapeutic targets. In cancer cells, the evolution of the glycolytic phenotype, in which cancer cell metabolism switches to aerobic glycolysis at the expense of respiration, is a critical adaption required for tumour growth and progression. This evolution results in the generation of excess metabolic acid and intracellular acid stress, which tumour cells must mitigate to survive. A consequence of the tumour cell's adaptive response to acidic conditions is increased invasiveness. Thus, the targeting of tumour cell acid stress resistance has become an attractive new therapeutic anti-tumour progression strategy. Acid pumps, which are the current therapeutic targets in the treatment of breast and other types of cancer, are also critical to many normal cellular functions, which raises the potential for widespread toxicity without targeted inhibition. Acid pumps are currently the only class of targets, and therefore there is an urgent need to identify and test new classes of acid stress-specific targets. In my PhD project, I am characterising one of these novel potential targets of acid-stress resistance in malignant cells.
  • Lu, Hong
    Characterizing the roles of synapse organizers in mediating synaptic function and brain-based diseases.
  • Rahman, Ehsanur
    Thermionic electron emission from CNTs has recently been an emerging field of research due to the heat trap effect, which has significantly reduced the optical power intensity required to reach a thermionic emission temperature in CNTs compared to the bulk materials. The heat trap effect observed in CNTs is due to the highly anisotropic thermal conductivity along the nanotube axis. Moreover, the heat trap effect is observed over a wide spectrum of incident light which has made the CNTs particularly suitable for harvesting solar energy. Our research group at UBC has already demonstrated a simple yet effective thermionic solar converter based on CNTs, where we achieved a current and power density comparable to that of the state-of-the-art solar photovoltaic cells. If properly designed, CNT based thermionic solar converter can significantly exceed the efficiency of the conventional photovoltaic solar cell. However, the efficiency of the device reported by our group was quite low which can be substantially enhanced by reducing the work function of the CNTs. My PhD research is focused on reducing the work function of the CNT array by treating the surface of the ensemble with different low work function materials. I have shown that the work function of the CNTs can be reduced by introducing specific adsorbate materials using physisorption or chemisorption process. However, since the thermionic emission of electrons requires a very high temperature, not all the adsorbates can form a stable layer over the CNT surface at an elevated temperature. Therefore, while choosing an adsorbate for work function reduction, we need to consider the strength of the bond that the adsorbate makes with the CNTs. In my research, I will investigate the thermal stability of the bonds that the adsorbates form with the CNT and compare it with the extent to which the CNT work function is reduced by different adsorbates. Therefore, I will develop a mechanism to reduce the work function of the CNTs using thermally stable adsorption of specific materials, which would significantly enhance the performance of the CNT based thermionic electron emitters and make the cathode structure robust to high-temperature operation as necessary in thermionic emission.
  • Mehdi, Wajiha
    There is a global trend of rising nationalist rhetoric in the politics of fear and dehumanisation. This rhetoric that led to Brexit in the United Kingdom and Donald Trump’s election in the United States, is also manifesting the form of rising communal riots and mob lynching of Muslim minorities in India. Taking into account the rise in mob lynching of Muslims across India, navigating spaces has become life-threatening. Because of this threat, the mobility of women from the minority Muslim community is restricted. This study is interested in how Muslim women access spaces in Ahmedabad, the capital city of Gujarat state, India. The city has been declared as one of the safest for women in India and yet violence against Muslims occurs regularly in the city. Ahmedabad is divided along communal lines through a series of riots and development-induced displacement, leading to large scale ghettoization of Muslims. These intersections result in a complex landscape for mobility within public spaces in Ahmedabad. Despite these trends, no systematic study has been conducted on how Muslim women access public spaces in Ahmedabad. This study intends to examine everyday strategies that Muslim women employ to access the city and their ways of maneuvering to protest against systems of power at the intersection of Hindu nationalism, Muslim Identity formations, neoliberalism and communal structuring of the city. At this point of rise in Islamophobia and politics of demonization of minorities globally, this study will contribute to the understanding of subjectivities and vulnerabilities of minorities, and how their exclusion is further enhanced in the case of women.
  • Jain, Sakshi
    My research involves using low-cost sensing technologies and novel data analytics to identify and constrain key uncertainties for indoor air pollution in developing countries as they transition towards new and/or renewable fuels.
  • Arora, Shubham
    My doctoral project is a study of intertextuality, dating and origin of a tenth-century Sanskrit treatise on love (sensuality), the Nāgarasarvasvam, alongside coming up with a critical edition of the text using thirty-nine Sanskrit manuscripts. A seventeenth-century Sanskrit commentary, as per my findings, which is inappropriate and vague, passes over in the silence a critical import of the text. My research filled this gap by textual analysis of the primary text.
  • Wang, Huanwen

a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

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