COUHR Calgary Inaugural Research Symposium Highlights

Unfolding the potential of today’s youth to discover tomorrow’s solutions

September 27, 2019
Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking  
Calgary, AB 2500 University Drive NW, University of Calgary

Conference Abstracts

Undergraduate Students’ Awareness of University of Calgary Community Engagement initiatives

Joan Chu*, Tammy Wong*, Taylor Krawec*, Sarika Haque, Tanvir Chowdhury Turin, MBBS, MS, PhD

Background: Community-engagement is a term that is frequently used when discussing social initiatives, however it can be hard to define as there is no widely agreed upon definition for the term. In general, community-engagement is a broad term that encompasses various activities and has different definitions depending on the context of its use. Previous studies have found that students who participate in regular community-engagement often experience benefits in different areas of their lives as a result. The University of Calgary has implemented a program called Eyes High, which focuses on improving several aspects of campus life including community-engagement. Objective: The purpose of this study is to obtain perspectives on community engagement from University of Calgary undergraduate students, in order to analyze and compare to the university’s own priorities.

Methods: Opinion mining will be conducted through crowd-sourcing. Crowd-sourcing is an emerging information obtaining method that has  the potential to gather opinions using online/social media platforms. An online survey has been created through Qualtrics, to assess undergraduate students’ knowledge of University of Calgary community-engagement initiatives and their perception of and attitudes towards community-engagement on campus. We intend to recruit participants through social media pages for UCalgary  undergraduates. Furthermore, posters with the QR-code for the survey will be put up in various locations around the campus. Faculty members will be requested to further disseminate the survey invitation through their channels.

Results: While this study is a work in progress, we anticipate that results of this survey will allow us to gauge undergraduate students’ awareness of University of Calgary community-engagement initiatives, as well as assess the disparity between the students’ and the university’s understanding of community-engagement.

Conclusions: With further understanding of the students’ knowledge of UCalgary’s community-engagement initiatives, we anticipate that this research will serve as a gateway to explore communicative methods to better convey the university’s priorities to the students. The results  will derive student identified priorities which will be instrumental in building a campus-wide community-engagement initiative which is student-informed.

Mesenchymal Stem Cell Fate Mapping in the Dura and Epidural Fat of Mice

Sathvika Mudigonda, Sophia Shah, Paul Salo, Roman Krawetz

Background: Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are multipotent cells that can terminally differentiate into mesodermal tissues, such as bone cartilage, and fat. A previous study from our lab found that MSCs are present within human epidural fat (EF), however, the functions of these EF MSCs remain unknown. Although EF is thought to protect the spinal cord and nerve roots by cushioning the movement of the dural sac, it is also often clinically considered as a relatively inert “space-filling” tissue. Due to this, surgeons typically discard EF during surgery to improve their field of view. The rationale behind this project was to determine if EF MSCs could play a more significant biological role in vivo. In this study we identified and localized endogenous EF MSC populations over time in vivo to investigate their role in the vertebral environment.

Methods: To identify and map the fate of MSCs in vivo, we permanently marked MSCs using fluorescent proteins (e.g. GFP and TdTomato) in  transgenic reporter mice.

Results: In these mice, the fluorescent reporter proteins are under the control of MSCassociated markers such as the transcription factor Prx1, therefore, all Prx1 expressing MSCs expressed fluorescent proteins and could therefore be identified in vivo. Since non MSC sub-types  express the same markers, an additional MSC reporter mouse (Hic1) was also used. Immunohistochemistry analysis allowed for the identification of both Prx1 and Hic1 positive cells. Interestingly, these two populations of MSCs were spatially distinct within the spinal canal. Specifically, at early time points, Prx1 MSCs were found in the EF and appeared to migrate into the dura over time while the Hic1 MSCs were observed in the dura and appeared to migrate into the EF over time. These results suggest that multiple MSC sub-types exist in the vertebral environment and therefore may have distinct roles in development, repair, and regeneration.

The Association Between Screen Time and Language Development: A Meta Analysis

Lu, S., Anhorn, C., Cooke, J.E., McArthur, B.A., Eirich, R. & Madigan, S

Background: The Canadian Pediatric Society recommends that young children receive less than one hour of screen time per day. However,   up to 95% of preschoolers exceed this recommendation, illustrating the potential impact of screens on children’s learning environments and development. Specifically, language acquisition is a critical developmental milestone for children, which may be impacted by screen-time viewing. Currently, variation exists within the literature concerning the role of screen time on language development. Accordingly, this meta-analysis seeks to synthesize studies concerning the association between screen viewing and children’s language acquisition.

Method: A comprehensive electronic search was conducted in MEDLINE, Embase and PsycINFO. Included studies reported the association between screen time and language acquisition. A total of 26,474 abstracts were reviewed by two individual coders and 26 studies met the     criteria for inclusion in the meta-analysis.

Results: Screen time was negatively associated with language acquisition (r = -.13; 95% CI = .08 to .07). Conversely, parental co-viewing (r = .06; 95% CI = .02 to .09) and educational programming (r = .12; 95% CI = .01 to .22) had a small but positive association with language acquisition.

Conclusion: Findings demonstrated that quantity of screen time is negatively associated with child language, whereas quality of screen time  (i.e., co-viewing and educational programming) is positively associated with language development. These findings are consistent with pediatric recommendations stating that preschoolers’ screen time use should be limited to less than one hour of high-quality programming per day, and when possible, to co-view with a caregiver.

Recreational Marijuana Legalization Related Concerns and Perception in South Asian Immigrant Communities

Nashit Chowdhury, Rudra Dahal, Kunal Dalal*, Simran Chahal*, Shabit Hassan*, Mahzabin Ferdous, Tanvir Chowdhury Turin. MBBS, MS, PhD

Context: South Asian immigrants comprise approximately 25% of Canada’s immigrant population, however, due to minimal efforts taken to    initiate consultation on the preparedness and concerns regarding marijuana legalization within the South Asian community, the current knowledge gap has facilitated the acquisition and spread of misinformation in respect to marijuana use.

Objective: In this study, focus group discussions were utilized to understand the underlying perceptions and concerns within the South Asian immigrant community on marijuana legalization and recreational marijuana use, along with strategies on how to mobilize marijuana-related information to make such information more accessible for the immigrant community at large.

Study Design: A total of four focus group discussions were conducted among South Asian communities in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Results: The focus groups yielded a number of suggestions to enhance awareness on the current laws pertaining to recreational marijuana  use and other marijuana-related information. South Asian immigrant communities commonly stated that their primary intrapersonal responsibilities and goals were to do research on their own in regards to the effects of recreational marijuana use before educating their family members. Furthermore, community members stated that community organizations needed to implement inquiry-based learning approaches for their youth such as essay and speech competitions in regards to the effects of marijuana on both the developing and developed brain. Members of the immigrant community also stated that both adults and youth of the south Asian community would benefit greatly if academic institutions sent knowledgeable researchers and professors to conduct marijuana-related information seminars during   community events. Finally, focus group discussion participants emphasized that physician-patient interactions were critical for knowledge   mobilization within the community, and that they would appreciate if physicians allocated time at the end of examinations to discuss current research findings on marijuana use.

Conclusion: Suggestions of community engaged knowledge mobilization needs were emphasized by the South Asian community members.

Coding the Disfluencies in the Speech of Children and their Caregivers

Adesua Egbase, Elizabeth Morin-Lessard, Melanie Noel, Susan Graham

Summary: Disfluencies are disruptions in the flow of speech (like “uh” and “um”) and are produced for various reasons. They occur in all languages and are very frequent in normal speech (Fox Tree 1995). They are oftentimes used when searching for a word, thinking of what to say next, or speaking about a difficult topic. (Clark & Fox Tree 2002). Disfluencies are often ignored and usually do not change the context of speech (Fox Tree 1995). However, disfluencies can help in identifying certain characteristics in the conversations of individuals. This study    aims to know more about the disfluencies produced by children and their caregivers. It aims to investigate whether there is a difference in the production of disfluencies based on age (child vs. adult), sex and a conversation topic. It also seeks to know whether all three variables interact and how they interact.

Conference Pictures