Browse the oral and visual presentations from day 2 of the 2022 UWill Discover Conference.


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Brain Metastasis Hypofractionated Stereotactic Radiotherapy Outcome in a Single Institution

Amber Shaheen, University of Windsor
John Agapito, University of Windsor
Khalid Hirmiz MD, Windsor Regional Hospital
Ming Pan MD, University of Windsor


The development of brain metastases heralds a dismal prognosis and remains a substantial contributor of high mortality in patients with advanced-stage cancer. Historically, craniotomy and whole-brain irradiation (WBI) have been standard of care for patients with brain metastases, with median survival only 3 to 4 months. However, long-term neurotoxicity and associated complications from WBI encouraged the use of a more localized radiation modality. This study reviews our single-institution experience with brain metastasis patients' outcomes during two years since adopting hypofractionated stereotactic radiotherapy (HSRT).


This retrospective study was approved by our institution’s Research Ethics Board. All charts of patients with brain metastases between November 2018 and April 2021 were reviewed. A total of 51 patients and 75 lesions were treated with HSRT to a median prescribed dose of 30 Gy (range 20-30 Gy) in 5 fractions every other day; nine of them also received WBI with dose of 20 Gy in 5 fractions every day. Patients underwent follow-up with MRI, generally every 3 months after HSRT.


The cohort's mean age was 66 years (37-90), 55% were female, and 55% had two or more major comorbidities. Of the 51 patients analyzed, most primary sites were from lung (67%), breast (12%), colorectal (6%), gastric (6%), melanoma (4%), head and neck (2%), and unknown primary (2%). The longest dimension of the brain metastases ranged from 4 mm to 39 mm (median 12 mm) on diagnostic MRI. Sixty-nine percent patients presented with solitary lesion and 31% with two to four oligo brain metastases. The most common tumour locations were the frontal lobe 36%, parietal lobe 17% and cerebellum 17%. According to the Kaplan-Meier curve, the overall survival at 3, 6, and 12 months were 72.7%, 45.5%, and 30.8%, respectively. The median survival after HSRT was 6 months. Using Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST) guideline, local control rates at 3, 6, and 12 months were 91.8%, 77.4%, and 66.3%, respectively. Radionecrosis emerged in only four of 75 lesions (5.3%).


HSRT achieved good local control and survival in patients with brain metastases, with acceptable low rate of radionecrosis. Our findings suggest that it is safe and well-tolerated. HSRT could be a good alternative for solitary or oligo brain metastases if craniotomy and WBI are not desired. Further randomized controlled trials with larger cohorts and longer follow-up are warranted.

Defined, Described and Defended: The Genetic Non-Discrimination Act in the Media

Krishali Kumar, University of Windsor
Michael Crawford, University of Windsor
Katharina Clausius, University of Quebec at Montreal

Genetic testing is a mainstream tool for disease prevention, diagnosis, and recreational genealogy. Many countries enacted legislation to protect their citizens against genetic discrimination in labour, health, and insurance markets. Risks assumed by an individual extend to their genetic relatives non-consensually. Canada lagged other nations in developing protections via Genetic Non-Discrimination Act (GNDA). As part of a larger study, my project has centered on how the GNDA was framed by journalists, editorials, and on emerging social-media platforms.

The decade long fight to enact the GNDA was an uphill battle filled with closed-door lobbying, political-maneuvering, and legal challenges. In the earliest media coverage, federal parties supported protections: both the Conservative and Liberal Parties espoused policies to prevent genetic discrimination. Nevertheless, both parties obstructed NDP initiatives. The lack of follow-through elicited speculation by journalists regarding the role of insurance lobbyists. Interviews with proponents indicate that at the provincial level, most governments were supportive or indifferent of the GNDA. The Act survived passage as a Private Member’s Bill – the first to do so against the wishes of a Majority Party leadership. Afterwards, along with the Quebec and the B.C. government, the Attorney General of Canada challenged the Act in court based upon perceived infringements of provincial jurisdiction. The Act remains in force having survived a Supreme Court Challenge in 2019. Presently, the GNDA is being reported in social-media as potential defense against COVID-19 testing which utilizes DNA-sequencing to confirm infection. How will genetic discrimination be defined and defended in the media post-GNDA?

Developing a Quantum Computing Code in the Qiskit Programming Language

Lily Symons

In a world of constantly evolving technology, the classical computer is approaching its limits. The quantum computer is cutting edge and the reality of the future, being built to solve problems the classical computer simply cannot compute. Although this technology is still in the early stages, it will greatly improve quality of life in every aspect from cybersecurity to advancements in the pharmaceutical industry. Quantum computing uses quantum systems such as superconducting qubits to solve problems too complex for the most advanced classical computers. This research project aims towards gaining knowledge about the quantum computer and how it solves problems a classical computer cannot solve. Over the last semester, the topics that were studied are computational basis states of a qubit, quantum gates, and the quantum computing model. Currently, this research project is focusing on topics such as the Grover Search Algorithm with a goal of designing a code in the Qiskit programming language. This code is then to be implemented on one of the few operating quantum computers (such as IBM).

Evaluating the Efficacy of Water-Soluble Ashwagandha and Ubisol-Q10 as Treatment for Mechanisms Implicated in Parkinson’s Disease

Gabrielle Walach, University of Windsor
Mansi Patel, University of Windsor

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a common neurodegenerative disorder that can be characterized by a loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra. L-DOPA is currently the most common treatment method, however, permanent motor function issues may result from long-term use. Natural health products (NHPs) have been found to possess neuroprotective properties that could potentially target the mechanisms implicated in PD, alleviating symptoms and preventing the disease’s progression while avoiding negative side effects associated with traditional treatments. In previous studies, water-soluble Ubisol-Q10, and Ashwagandha root extract displayed multiple neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties. The multi-faceted nature of PD requires a holistic treatment approach, and thus a combinatorial treatment would likely be most effective. For this study, it is hypothesized that using a combination of water-soluble Ashwagandha and Ubisol-Q10 will prevent the progression of PD by decreasing oxidative stress and inflammation, stabilizing mitochondrial function, and inducing autophagy mechanisms. Paraquat injections were administered to induce PD in rat models. Brain tissues were preserved and sectioned from 5 different treatment groups. Examination through immunofluorescent staining and microscopic imaging evaluated the degree of oxidative stress, autophagy, inflammation, and activation of neurotrophic growth factors. The results demonstrate that Ubisol-Q10 and Ashwagandha exhibit neuroprotective activity via the hypothesized mechanisms. Additionally, a combinatorial treatment was seen to be most effective at targeting the mechanisms implicated in PD rats. Future experiments will involve quantifying dopaminergic neurons using immunohistochemical staining and stereological analysis. This study provides insight into the potential efficacy of NHPs as a treatment for PD.

Exploring Principles of the Interplay Between Tumour Initiating Cells and Endothelial Component Towards Advanced Therapies Against Glioblastoma

Alan Cieslukowski, University of Windsor
Dorota Lubanska, University of Windsor
Lisa Porter, University of Windsor

Glioblastoma (GBM), a stage IV brain tumour is among the most aggressive types of cancer. Current treatment options are suboptimal with extremely poor survival rates of approximately 15 months. GBM-Tumour Initiating Cells (TICs) are at the source of therapy resistance and unpredictable aggressive progression of the disease. GBM-TICs are divided in diverse groups with different characteristics, and they present different molecules on their surface which they can be identified by. TICs thrive on the presence of endothelial cells (ECs) which are recruited by the tumour to form new vessels and to sustain its growth and expansion. This novel project aims to explore in detail the interaction between TICs and ECs in glioblastoma and how their relationship controls GBM aggressiveness. Individual TIC populations derived from GBM patients at surgery will be cultured as 3D GBM patient- derived mini tumours in a dish (GBM organoids). We will manipulate the levels of TIC and EC driver, Notch1, and study how the cocultured cells impact each other in terms of capacity to form vessels, proliferation, expression of aggressiveness markers and response to chemotherapy. This project will contribute to elucidating of brand-new therapeutic targets and aid in patient-tailored approaches to treatment of patients with GBM.

Functionalizable molecular tubing synthesis combining self-immolative polymers and rotaxanes

Jason Wong, University of Windsor
John Trant, University of Windsor
Sarah Nasri, University of Windsor
Xiao Yu

Carbon nanotubes are used daily for many applications such as support for automotive parts, water filtration and energy storage, due to their high tensile strength and lightweight nature. However, a limitation lies in their structure since pure carbon does not allow for easy nor high yielding ways to add functional groups in the molecular structure. A variation of organic molecular tubing with modifiable groups can be constructed from synthesizing polyrotaxanes, which are repeating units of interlocked self-immolative polymers (SIPs) and macrocyclic compounds. SIPs are molecules which are specifically end capped for stability until it encounters a specific environmental condition that causes the polymer to spontaneously degrade. Endcaps can be selectively chosen to destabilize under certain stimuli such as enzymes, UV light and chemical analytes allowing for SIP’s to be used in a variety of functions such as drug delivery.

Currently, most research focus on linear SIP’s to form spheres encapsulating drug molecules that deliver into cancer cells. Our work introduces a novel benzimidazole-backbone, resulting in a SIP that includes blocky ends which physically locks functionalized macrocycles in place to allow for cross linkage and any post-modifications. Application of a specific stimulus would allow for the inner bulky groups to degrade and ultimately leave a hollow molecular tube with the specific functionalizations desired.

Investigating the Effects of Narrative Perspective on Self-Compassion, Psychological Closure, and Affect for Unresolved Memories

Camille Busby, University of Windsor
Chantal Boucher PhD, University of Windsor

Unresolved memories lack closure or understanding, and feel unsettled. When describing these unpleasant memories, people can envision them from a particular vantage point (first-person vs. third-person) and use certain pronouns to refer to the self (first-person vs. third-person). This study examined how different narrative perspectives (a combination of visual imagery and pronoun use) influence ratings on self-compassion, psychological closure, and affect for unresolved memories. Research has shown that these retrieval strategies can influence the way people feel about and interpret negative events. More specifically, a distanced (vs. immersed) view can reduce negative emotionality and promote new insights. This study uniquely extends this research by examining self-compassion and closure. 120 undergraduates were recruited from the University of Windsor’s Psychology Department Participant Pool. In an experimental design, they selected an unresolved event-memory and wrote about it using a first-person or third-person narrative perspective. Those in the control condition were instructed to think about their event. All participants responded to measures of state self-compassion (SSCS-L; Neff et al., 2021), state psychological closure (PCS; Boucher et al., 2019), and state affect (PANAS; Bradley & Lang, 1994). Transitional impact, memory characteristics, and self-critical rumination were also examined. Findings regarding differences between narrative perspectives and between writing and thinking conditions will be presented. This study could hold important therapeutic applications by suggesting particular narrative interventions to aid in the resolution of troublesome memories.

Keywords: autobiographical memory, emotions, retrieval strategies, adaptive coping

Lost in Translation: Grand Strategy on the Asymmetric Battlefield

Noah P. Berthiaume, University of Windsor

Microplastics in the Rhizosphere: Consequences on Root Exudation and Microbial Communities

Rebecca Chloe Lebel, University of Windsor
Deqa Farow, University of Windsor
Cameron Proctor, University of Windsor

Introduction: Important agricultural crops can establish symbiotic relationships with microbial communities in the soil, forming mutually beneficial exchanges of nutrients. These root-soil-microbial interactions rely on naturally occurring soil properties which can be altered by microplastics. Plastic particles from biosolids added to soil as a nutrient source are potentially ecotoxic and may interfere with normal root functioning. The effects of biosolid microplastics on root-soil-microbial interactions is investigated on agricultural crops grown in soils amended with artificial microplastics that reflect reported biosolids microplastic properties.

Methods: Agricultural crops (soybean, wheat, and alfalfa) were grown in soil amended with artificially created microplastics that reflect reported biosolid microplastic properties. Harvested rhizosphere soil samples were adjusted to 30% water holding capacity and incubated at 25C for MicroRESP analysis, or frozen to preserve root exudates. Root exudate samples were collected by centrifuge extraction method. Incubated soil for MicroRESP was added to deepwell plates, additionally 15 carbon substrates were added, and indicator plates stacked overtop with a seal for standard incubation. After incubation the change in the indicator plates at 572nm was recorded using Biotek Epoch 2 plate reader.

Results: Preliminary analysis of the exudates revealed the ratio of sugars in exudates was 2.9:1.7:1 sucrose, glucose, fructose. Organic acids are still under analysis. Preliminary analysis of the MicroRESP samples has demonstrated a strong microbial respiration response to all added carbon substrates, with respiration rates up to 3x those of the control soil.

Conclusion: Given the stage of the data analysis, no conclusions can be drawn at this time.

Navigating Emerging Adulthood: Exploring Current Challenges Experienced in the Community

Jesse Scott, University of Windsor
Jesse Myers, University of Windsor
Jivan Chandan, University of Windsor
Jennifer Cordeiro, University of Windsor
Leslee Ward, Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare
Lindsey Jaber, University of Windsor
Jennifer Voth, Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare

Background: Despite experiencing challenges, many young people resist seeking formal mental health support services (McGorry & Mei, 2018). One possible reason for this underutilization is that outreach and current service frameworks might not meet the evolving needs of this group, especially among young people with marginalized identities (Robards et al., 2018). In collaboration with Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, a lead agency engaged with local community mental health services, this project seeks to contribute to initiatives specific to transitional-aged youth’s mental health, possible trauma symptoms, and help-seeking.

Method: This study invites undergraduate students and transitional-aged youth (18–24 years old) residing in Windsor-Essex County, Ontario, to participate in a mixed-method project with two phases. The first phase is ongoing and consists of a quantitative online survey. The next phase of this project will involve adopting a narrative inquiry approach and interviewing a subsample of participants from community and university settings.

Results: Preliminary analyses will be presented. Descriptive and correlational findings will reveal how local transitional-aged youth are coping with mental health challenges and engaging in help-seeking behaviours within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions and disruptions.

Conclusion: The expected implications of this mixed-method study include gaining valuable insights into understanding the unique challenges experienced by a traditionally hard-to-reach population during the COVID-19 pandemic. The resulting insights may be leveraged to inform and refine existing support services. This project aims to accomplish these objectives by conceptualizing the problem at the local level from the youth perspective.

Pictures and the Presentation of Gender in Rob Lloyd Jones’s Beowulf

Heather McCardell, University of Windsor

This paper analyzes Rob Lloyd Jones’s picture book Beowulf, illustrated by Victor Tavares, and explores how the relationship between text and pictures creates gendered expectations and understanding of monstrosity and heroism by focusing on the characters of Beowulf (the male hero), Grendel (the male antagonist), and Grendel’s Mother (the female antagonist who lacks a hero equivalent). This paper examines this Beowulf re-telling under the lens of children’s literature critic Perry Nodelman’s theory of the relationship between text and pictures; described as collaborative and supportive, the text makes the pictures more assertive while the pictures extend the details of the text. Together, pictures and text create a more specific narrative and experience for readers than either is capable of alone. Nodelman notes how one of the main functions of pictures books is to provide readers, namely young children, with greater understanding of how the world around them works, and this working of things includes understanding of the human body. Using this theory, this paper examines the expectations of gendered bodily experience in this children’s picture book, demonstrating how masculinity exists along a flexible border that allows the hero and male antagonist to cross over from hero to monster and vice versa through the physical similarities between them; in contrast, femininity exists within strict confines as either powerful and dangerous monster that must be destroyed, or silent and passive props in the background. This particular pictorial re-telling of Beowulf defines the expectations of gendered bodies, with men participating in more flexible roles including king, hero, and monster, whereas women’s roles are not as fluid and confined to wife, waitress, or monster.

Preventing an outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 on campus using wastewater surveillance

Abdul Monem Al Riahi, University of Windsor
Amr Labak, University of Windsor
Ryland Corchis-Scott PhD, University of Windsor
Qiudi Geng Dr., University of Windsor
Robert Michael McKay Dr., University of Windsor

Background: SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19, is an enveloped virus that targets the respiratory tract and is shed in the feces of infected individuals. Quantification of viral material excreted into the sewershed and collected at municipal wastewater treatment plants can act as an accurate measure of community infection rates and provide a warning of an increase in community spread before clinical testing. However, wastewater surveillance is more effective when samples are collected “upstream” of wastewater treatment facilities where action can be taken to mitigate transmission. Wastewater surveillance at University of Windsor residence halls has prevented SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks.

Methods: Moore swabs (passive sampling devices that collect wastewater through filtration or absorption) were deployed in sewer laterals originating from residence halls for 24-hours on a twice weekly basis. Wastewater extruded from passive samplers was processed through a 0.22µm cartridge filter to concentrate particle-associated virus and RNA was extracted from the filters. Reverse transcriptase quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) was used to measure the concentration of SARS-CoV-2 RNA within wastewater.

Purpose: This project aimed to identify SARS-CoV-2 infections within the residence halls at the University of Windsor and prevent outbreak escalation by mitigating community spread. Another goal is to estimate of fecal shedding rates of the Delta Variant of Concern of SARS-CoV-2 in a non-clinical setting.

Results: A positive result in a routine twice weekly sample at a campus residence hall triggered higher frequency monitoring and the isolation of signal to a single wing of a residence hall. Persistent positive results within the wastewater led to a request for voluntary rapid antigen testing and the isolation of infected individuals preventing further transmission.

Conclusion: Wastewater surveillance remains a useful early indicator of infection in congregate living settings. Detections can trigger enhanced public health measures including messaging to encourage testing, masking, and distancing.

The Alignment of Self-Perception, Stereotypes, and Career Traits

Erica Rossi, University of Windsor
Lori Buchanan Dr., University of Windsor

This study explores gendered inequities in STEM fields by examining the intersectionality of self-perception, stereotypes, and gender across career goals.

Self-perception strongly influences career decisions and is often affected by societal stereotypes and dated views on the roles of men and women. Gender biases are evident in male dominated science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields (Franzway et al. 2019). Previous research has solely focused on how self-perception is linked to the undergraduate female performance (Jones et al, 2013). Female centered studies create a gap in understanding the impact of gender inequity on students in STEM based programs. Expanding the scope to include female and male experiences in a variety of STEM and non-STEM careers creates a more accurate relationship between one’s self-perception and success in chosen career.

In this study, participants were asked to list their five most salient personality traits. They were then asked to list the three traits they considered most critical for success in two STEM and two non-STEM related careers. To conclude, participants were asked to state their intended profession. This study tested the hypothesis that males would consistently list traits associated with engineers and scientists, i.e., hard-skill descriptors, whereas females would list traits consistent with teachers and nurses, i.e., soft-skill descriptors. It is anticipated that this will hold for men and women regardless of their career goals, highlighting how gendered career stereotypes and self-perception can hold students back in their careers.

Understanding the implications of this dated gendered self-perception can inform STEM education and create a more progressive and equitable STEM culture.