Veterinary Biomedical Sciences, PhD Student
Flirty Flies to Funky Physiology: The Impact of Sex on Female Metabolism
Sex isn't just about reproduction - it can also trigger dramatic physiological changes in female animals. Take the common fruit fly, for example: during mating, the male not only transfers sperm but also a protein called sex peptide. This protein kickstarts post-mating responses (PMR) in the female, increasing its feeding to meet the increased metabolic demands of reproduction. But how exactly does PMR work? That's the question our lab is investigating. We're delving into the neural and molecular mechanisms behind PMR in fruit flies, aiming to shed light on this fascinating and important process. We've already uncovered a key protein in the female nervous system that regulates hunger - and we suspect that this protein is also involved in post-mating feeding behavior. By manipulating specific neurons and measuring feeding behavior, we hope to identify the neural circuits and molecular pathways responsible for PMR. Our ultimate goal is to gain a deeper understanding of how animals regulate reproduction and metabolism, and how these processes are controlled at the molecular and neural levels. Findings from this research could have implications for improving reproductive health and food intake regulation in other species, including humans.
Civil and Environmental Engineering, Master's Student
Factors influencing road safety at urban signalized intersections.
As a result of traffic accidents, the lives of almost 1.3 million people are cut short annually in the world and in Saskatchewan, Canada it averages more than 100 fatal collisions every year. Also, a roadway network's intersections are among the riskiest locations because they serve as a convergence point for pedestrians and vehicles traveling on divergent pathways and a common location for serious side-impact crashes and a source of traffic congestion. Previous studies have shown that about 30% of all traffic crashes in Canada occur at or near intersections. Therefore, it is very imperative to study the factors affecting collisions and to take measures to avoid them in future. The conventional theories, research techniques, and standards developed to enhance the safety performance of the roadway systems assume that collisions can reduced if countermeasures are implemented at dangerous road locations, i.e., sites where collisions have historically been concentrated. Hence, the focus of road safety management still stays on so-called blackspots. The objective of this research is to revisit current practices by reversing the current paradigm, i.e., the efforts to improve road and traffic safety should be focused on identifying factors at road sites that might cause an abnormal collision frequency. Therefore, this research focuses on highly performing road intersections where collision frequency and crash severity is low. For this purpose, 196 urban signalized intersections in Saskatoon and Regina are to be reviewed over a 3 year period (2016 to 2018) and identify geometric design elements which enhance safety.
University of Winnipeg
(Host of the 2022 Western Regionals)
Veterinary Pathology, PhD Student
Protecting chickens from a gut rotting bacteria.
The withdrawal of prophylactic antimicrobials use in the Canadian chicken industry has led to a substantial increase in various bacterial infections, including Clostridium perfringens-induced necrotic enteritis (NE) in meat-type chickens. NE is a devastating, re-emerging disease and causes severe economic losses to the chicken industry. It is more prevalent in meat-type chickens raised without antibiotics and there is no commercial vaccine available in the market. Therefore, we aimed at developing a novel vaccine strategy against Clostridium perfringens by synergizing immune enrichment with immunostimulation in chicks. On day 18 of incubation, synthetic bacterial DNA and CpG motifs were used to enrich different immune compartments of chicken embryos. Further, the Clostridium perfringens vaccine was delivered by an intrapulmonary route through a nebulizer chamber (n = 40 chicks). One and a half weeks later, birds were challenged with C. perfringens in the feed. There was a significant reduction in intestinal lesions in the vaccinated groups. The vaccinated groups showed a significant increase in antibodies produced in the blood and intestines. In conclusion, this strategy of vaccination showed us promising results. A greater number of birds can be vaccinated at a time, so the technique is industry feasible.
School of Public Health, PhD Student
Not thriving, just surviving.
I am the mother of the two handsome Guatemalan boys you see in the picture, I hope you can tell who they are. Yes, you got it! The little one with an orange shirt making the excellent sign that was four, and the other with a green shirt, was only seven. Time flies! The other children posing are children they met on this road trip and are Indigenous Guatemalans, all of them in their early adolescence. But wait, you said that one of your sons was seven, and he looks taller than adolescent girls. How come? Is he a giant? Well, bear with me while I attempt to tell the story of how and why I believe this happens. You see, these two skeletons look similar but different in size. These two skeletons are from children the same age; the smaller one is from a stunted child. Stunted children have minimal height because their food and environment deter their growth. This lack of development is unrelated to their genes; my mestizo children have similar genetics and grew well. The evidence is clear that this poses a higher risk for non-communicable diseases and for future generations to present the same problem. But what happens to these bones’ density because of stunting? Unfortunately, it is tough to address this question because it is not usual to evaluate bones in low resources settings like this, maybe related to the availability of facilities and equipment. So we went to the Guatemalan Indigenous community with a portable bone sonometer to evaluate if there were changes in bone density and structure or if the tiny skeleton compensates somehow to keep healthy bones. We found that the growth process may deter prematurely, and the factors that may conditionate this were low coverage of health services, inadequate practices of breastfeeding and weaning, moderate and severe food insecurity and a diet that was primarily based on grains. But the intergeneration effect was very important too, the bone density may be affected if the mother of the child has a history of suffering from stunting during her early years and from malnutrition in her adolescence. This leads to a short height, but also to low body fat mass, especially one that is highly biologically active. Various components collide for children to thrive in their environment, if the families do not have access to them, the children will survive, but the possibility to have a thriving future may vanish.