USURJ: University of Saskatchewan Undergraduate Research Journal <p><em>USURJ</em>&nbsp;is an open access, peer-reviewed scholarly journal featuring original artwork and scholarly articles by University of Saskatchewan undergraduate students. <em>&nbsp;</em>All submissions are reviewed by established experts in a relevant field. The journal is supported by the Office of the VP, Research, the College of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, and the University Library, including the Writing Centre.</p> University Library, University of Saskatchewan en-US USURJ: University of Saskatchewan Undergraduate Research Journal 2292-1141 <p>The current Publication Agreement [as of Oct, 1, 2018] for articles and research snapshots applies a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License (CC-BY-NC) by default. The author(s) can choose a different CC license, as outlined in&nbsp;<span style="color: #222222; font-family: 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: medium;"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl=";source=gmail&amp;ust=1599846705017000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGwZTr5lE-MTC0VQUGqs9PcUAKciQ">https://creativecommons.<wbr>org/about/cclicenses/</a></span>. Please see the PDF for each article to determine what license is applied to that article. If there is no indication for articles published before September 2020, assume the author retains all rights beyond those necessary for publication by USURJ. All articles published after September 2020 will apply one of the aforementioned CC licenses. See the Publication Agreement under the Submission Preparation Checklist or Author Guidelines for more information.</p> Cover Image <p>I’m a freelance digital designer working out of Saskatoon.SK. On a daily basis, I design anything from Facebook posts to billboards. Currently, I’m going into my 3rd year at Edwards School of Business. You can learn more and view my portfolio at &nbsp;The original photo was taken by <a href="">Aiony Haust</a>, a fashion photographer working worldwide. The inspiration for the cover comes from the artist Magdiel Lopez.</p> Balraj Mahil ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2020-04-15 2020-04-15 6 2 10.32396/usurj.v6i2.531 Artwork <p>I am a recreational artist from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. My participation in art classes predates my teenage years and has had a great influence on my growth as an artist. I enjoy a wide variety of fine art disciplines and mediums, including film/digital photography, printmaking, drawing, chalk pastels, acrylic painting, pottery &amp; sculpture. I continue to create works of art and display them on Instagram and on my art website.</p> <p>My work “Express Yourself” is a monotype screen print. This involves painting on a screen and transferring the image through the screen onto paper to create a one-of-a-kind print. I enjoy the freedom that this method of printmaking provides. The colours and the loose impressionistic style of this work were inspired by my favourite artist -- Claude Monet.</p> Sarah Klein ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2020-04-15 2020-04-15 6 2 10.32396/usurj.v6i2.532 Artwork <p>“The Surgery” is the product of a live model study and an intuitive collage that evolved into the representation of my memories observing a surgical procedure. My most prominent memory is the anesthesiologist comforting and holding the patient’s hand, asking her to count downwards from ten as her time and sensations slowly vanished. The elements in “The Surgery” are inspired on visions and sensations described by people that have been under the effects of anesthesia.</p> <p>Salma Kazmi moved to Canada from Mexico in 2018 to pursue an undergraduate degree. She is now in her third year of B.Sc. Double Honors Biology and Studio Art. Kazmi describes her work as dynamic and often inspired by the anatomical and ecological aesthetics. Furthermore, Kazmi is interested in studying movement, narrative illustration and perceptions of sexuality.</p> Salma Kazmi ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2020-04-15 2020-04-15 6 2 10.32396/usurj.v6i2.533 Editorial Board and Acknowledgements <p><strong>Editorial Board and Acknowledgements<br></strong><strong>Volume 6, Issue 2</strong></p> <p><strong>Editors-in-Chief<br></strong>Ghassan Al-Yassin and Juno Bayliss</p> <p><strong>Humanities and Fine Arts<br></strong>Senior Editor:&nbsp;Delane Just<br>Associate Editors: Mae McDonald, Teevin Fournier, Courtney Neufeld, Sophia Charyna, Chloe Stainbrook<br>Graduate Advisor (2019-2020):&nbsp; Jasmine Redford&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Natural Sciences<br></strong>Senior Editor:&nbsp;Sarah Foley<br>Associate Editors: Gloria Yu, Rina Rast, Riley Whyte, Leland Bryshun, Bre Hipkin, Jalen Mikuliak, Brooke Coller<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><strong>Health Sciences<br></strong>Senior Editor: Nikoo Soltan<br>Associate Editors: Naiela Anwar, Sergey Kens, Tasker Wanlin, Anne-Sophie Fortier<br>Graduate Advisor: Valerie Rozwadowski</p> <p><strong>Social Sciences<br></strong>Senior Editor: Jordan Wellsch<br>Associate Editors: Muhammad Awan, Robin Steeg, Brenan Smith, Courtney Hrynuik, Ziying Li<br>Graduate Advisor (2019-2020): Bidushy Sadika<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><strong>Layout<br></strong>Layout Editors: Rina Rast, Ziying Li, Teevin Fournier, Courtney Hrynuik, Ghassan Al-Yassin<br>Cover Layout: Amy St. Jacques<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><strong>Communications <br></strong>Jordana Lalonde</p> <p><strong>Staff and Faculty Advisors<br></strong>Faculty Advisor (2019-2020): Vicky Duncan, University Library<br>Staff Advisor:&nbsp;Liv Marken, Writing Help Coordinator, Student Learning Services<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><strong>Acknowledgements<br></strong>The Editorial Board would like to thank the following individuals, departments and organizations for their contributions to and support of the journal: &nbsp;Laura Larsen, Writing Help Centre; Amy St. Jacques, Student Learning Services at the University Library; DeDe Dawson and JoAnn Murphy, University Library; Kate Langrell, University Library; Merle Massie, Undergraduate Research Initiative, Office of the Vice-President, Research; all faculty and graduate student reviewers; the College of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies; and the University Library.</p> Ghassan Al-Yassin Juno Bayliss ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2020-04-15 2020-04-15 6 2 10.32396/usurj.v6i2.534 Alpha-synuclein promotes dopaminergic neuron death in Parkinson’s disease through microglial and NLRP3 activation <p>Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that involves the death of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc). After neuronal death, the subsequent reduction of dopamine levels in the brain induces motor deficits characteristic of this hypokinetic disorder. Although there is currently no known cause of PD, alpha-synuclein appears to have a prominent role in both microglial and NLRP3 inflammasome activation. The consequential release of the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-1β (IL-1β) has been demonstrated to be responsible for neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration in PD. The present review highlights the role of alpha-synuclein aggregates in Parkinson’s disease pathogenesis. The PD alpha-synuclein preformed fibril (PFF) animal model permits the specific targeting of alpha-synuclein-mediated microglial and NLRP3 inflammasome activation in newly designed therapies. Studies using this model suggest MCC950 and its analogs as a potential new treatment to prevent neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease.</p> Sarah Klein ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2020-04-06 2020-04-06 6 2 10.32396/usurj.v6i2.425 Optogenetics: illuminating the role of PV interneuron dysfunction in the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia <p>Our understanding of the neural substrates underlying the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia remains limited, contributing to a lack of pharmaceuticals effective in treating these deficits. Cognitive impairment is the main source of disability in schizophrenia. Thus, research endeavours involving the identification of therapeutic targets can vastly improve the lives of affected individuals. Compared to previously employed techniques, optogenetics has accelerated such endeavours by allowing for manipulations of neuronal activity to occur with an unprecedented combination of cellular and temporal specificity. Research using this technique has united multiple, once tangentially-related, streams of evidence suggesting dysfunctional fast-spiking parvalbumin (PV) containing interneurons are a common substrate underlying the cognitive aberrations documented in schizophrenia. This review summarizes relevant optogenetic studies and identifies areas for future research, using this emerging technique.</p> Madeline Eva Parker ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2020-04-06 2020-04-06 6 2 10.32396/usurj.v6i2.430 Synthetic Mulches in Organic Hardneck Garlic (Allium sativum subsp. ophioscorodon) Production <p>The demand for certified organic garlic (<em>Allium sativum</em>) in Canada is increasing; however, garlic can be challenging to produce organically, as it does not compete well with weeds, requires relatively fertile soils, and is grown in a biennial cropping system. Synthetic mulches have been adopted in organic production as they can be an economical method to improve vegetable production by reducing weed pressure and modifying soil conditions. We hypothesize that garlic quality and overall yield will be improved when using synthetic mulches. In 2017-18, we conducted a randomized complete block design experiment to compare garlic production of black plastic, white plastic, and Kraft paper mulch treatments to a control with no mulch at a certified organic farm in Krestova, British Columbia. We evaluated garlic characteristics associated with yield and quality, changes in soil nutrition, and weed control of the mulch treatments. We found that plastic mulches had the best weed control, and all synthetic mulches increased minimum and maximum bulb diameter, clove count, and yield compared to the control. Mulching materials did not influence soil nitrate concentrations. The results support the hypothesis that synthetic mulches increase the quality and yield of the garlic compared to the control. Our findings suggest that synthetic mulching may be a key component of improving garlic production systems.</p> Matthew A Carr Kate A Congreves ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2020-04-06 2020-04-06 6 2 10.32396/usurj.v6i2.435 “But Virgil Was Not There” <p>At the intersection of Dante Alighieri’s <em>The</em> <em>Divine Comedy</em> and literary analysis of sexuality, scholarship has often focused on the sodomy cantos. Dante’s treatment of the homoerotic prompts investigation into the ways sodomy is depicted in Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise. However, scholarship rarely focuses on the way Dante himself becomes entangled in the homoerotic, chiefly through his relationship with his guide, Virgil. This paper builds on existent scholarship on Virgil’s role in the<em> Divine Comedy</em> as well as analyses of Dante’s depiction of sodomy to investigate Virgil’s role as a connection to the homoerotic and homosocial realm of Hell. With an analysis grounded in the Dante-Virgil relationship, Virgil’s absence from Paradise becomes a signal of departure from the homosocial bonds of Hell and a mark of Dante’s transition out of Purgatory.</p> Drumlin N. M. Crape ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2020-04-06 2020-04-06 6 2 10.32396/usurj.v6i2.476 “I Say, Can You Hear Me?” <p>Harold Pinter’s 1959 radio play A Slight Ache serves to illuminate how the constraints of radio drama provided Pinter with the opportunity to examine themes such as passive aggression and competition within outwardly bland social interactions, in an entirely new form. Pinter’s approach to radio drama goes against the principles of clarity and unambiguousness that the BBC attempted to push its writers towards at the time, instead favouring the unease and uncertainty that a total lack of visual information allows him to visit upon his audience. In particular, Pinter’s decision to render the character of the Matchseller entirely mute allows his presence to constantly challenge the listening audience, forcing them to constantly revaluate the validity of everything they hear. Through Flora and Edward’s contradictory assessments of the Matchseller, their respective goals, desires and insecurities are exposed, shining increasing light on their divergent views of the world around them. The combination of the Matchseller’s silence and the total lack of visual information given about him allow The Matchseller to become an increasingly obscure, changeable presence in the play. A Slight Ache emerges as a play so well suited to the constraints of radio that later stage and television productions only serve to expose how added visuals actually render the play far less effective, closing off the opportunity for multiple interpretations of the Matchseller to coexist, as they do in the original radio format.</p> Ava McLean ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2020-04-06 2020-04-06 6 2 10.32396/usurj.v6i2.492 The Changing Brain <p>The brain remains the most complex organ within the mammalian body with an immense capacity for plasticity and change throughout an individual’s life history. This review examines brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and endocannabinoid (eCB) signalling cross-talk within a variety of neurodevelopmental, genic, and plastic processes that occur in the brain. The action of eCB and BDNF cross-talk in embryonic and adult neurogenesis is a bidirectional dynamic process of high complexity that facilitates neural proliferation, differentiation, spatial development, synaptic development, and programmed cell death events. The coupled action of BDNF eCB signalling serves as a functional regulator of neuroplasticity, modulating synaptic signalling strength within both inhibitory and excitatory neurons. This also regulates long-term potentiation and long-term depression processes, which play important roles in the neurobiology of learning and memory. Understanding BDNF and eCB signalling has the potential to offer new insights into brain function and develop novel therapeutic treatment for psychiatric disorders, neurodegenerative disorders, and brain injury recovery.</p> Michael Kevin Bergen ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2020-04-06 2020-04-06 6 2 10.32396/usurj.v6i2.460 A centroid-based modelling approach to lens inversion for gravitationally lensed systems <p>In this research, we propose a novel method for determining the coordinate of a gravitational lens in systems where the lens has not yet been directly observed. Our technique uses image processing software to locate the optical centroid of strongly lensed systems and then applies a geometric analysis to derive the coordinates of the lens from the coordinates of the centroid and the arrangement of the lensed images. We demonstrate this method on gravitationally lensed quasar systems in which the lens has been observed to empirically validate our model, and then apply it to the GraL group's list of lensing candidates derived from Gaia DR2 to propose lens coordinates in these candidate systems.</p> Benjamen Smith Emery Dlugan ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2020-04-06 2020-04-06 6 2 10.32396/usurj.v6i2.402 How American Media Affects Perceived Racism in Canada <p class="4-Abstract"><span lang="EN-US">This study aims to identify how perceptions of racism in Canada are influenced by the consumption of American media. The current study hypothesized that: 1) individuals exposed to an American news story regarding racial discrimination (Group 1) would have a more favourable evaluation of Canada than those who were not exposed to the story (Group 2); 2) that participants who were people of colour (PoC) would have no significant differences in scores between the two groups, and; 3) that Canadians would overall rate Canada more favourably than America, but that this difference would be more pronounced in Group 1. Seventy-two (72) participants contributed data by completing one of two versions of a questionnaire, which had questions regarding satisfaction of one’s life in Canada, perceived ethnic diversity or acceptance in Canada, perceived racism in Canada, and a comparison between Canada and the USA. One version opened with a short vignette describing an example of racism that had recently occurred in America (Group 1; 47 questions), while the other version did not (Group 2; 46 questions). A 2x2x2 analysis of the data revealed that PoC and those with a different national affiliation exhibited lower scores of perceived diversity in Group 1 than Group 2. Caucasian participants evaluated Canada more favourably than America in Group 1, whereas PoC rated Canada better in Group 2. Limitations of this study included sample size, diversity of the sample, reliability of the scales, and self-selection/self-report biases. Future research should aim to rectify these limitations and further explore the significant differences present in this study.</span></p> Emily Morgan Wiebe ##submission.copyrightStatement## 2020-04-29 2020-04-29 6 2 10.32396/usurj.v6i2.380