Thesis and Dissertation Prizes highlight exceptional graduate research at York

The Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) honoured six York graduate students for their research contributions through their thesis – the capstone of their graduate degree. The Prizes are given out every spring to honour master’s and PhD theses defended in the previous calendar year.

Dean Barbara Crow congratulated all recipients on their outstanding contributions, accompanied by their respective supervisors and program staff who provided admirable support over the years. “It is so exciting and satisfying to read and share some of the incredible research taking place at our university,” remarked Dean Crow. “Congratulations, and thank you all again for your amazing contributions.”

Master’s Recipients

Gabriela Kridova, Biology
Inhibition of HIV-1 Vif by Pokeweed Antiviral Protein and its Impact on Cellular Immune Defence

Human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) is the most common and pathogenic strain of the virus that can have debilitating and lethal effects on humans. Understanding the cellular and biochemical mechanisms that inhibit HIV-1 is fundamental for the development of anti-HIV treatments.

Kridova’s research tests how a plant protein from pokeweed inhibits HIV-1, discovering the exact step at which the plant protein interferes with the HIV-defense mechanism, resulting in future practical and clinical implications.

Diana Resetca, Chemistry
Characterizing Protein Dynamics of Protein-Ligand Interactions by Hydrogen-Deuterium Exchange Mass Spectrometry

photo of FGS Dean Barbara Crow, left, Chemistry Graduate Program Director Gino Lavoie, Diana Resetca and Associate Dean Academic Karen Krasny with Ms Resetca's Thesis Prize

FGS Dean Barbara Crow, left, Chemistry Graduate Program Director Gino Lavoie, Diana Resetca and Associate Dean Academic Karen Krasny with Ms Resetca's Thesis Prize

Resteca’s research involves purification and time-resolved hydrogendeuterium exchange (HDX) analysis on STAT-3, a problematic cancer-related protein. In trying to determine the structural and dynamic consequences of drug-binding to the protein, her work made excellent progress in going from cloning and expression/purification of a soluble hybrid to a full-fledged HDX analysis of binding using an array of salicylic acid-based inhibitors.

This research brought about several published manuscripts in prestigious academic journals including collaborations with labs at other institutions, representing outstanding productivity for MSc work.

Savitri Gordian, Law
Contesting Risk, Precaution and Legitimacy: A Case Study of Lafarge

Gordian’s thesis analyzes important intellectual debates in environmental law surrounding the Ontario Ministry of Environment authorizing Lafarge – a large cement manufacturer – to burn used tires as fuel in its cement kilns. Several citizens’ groups and individuals opposed the plan due to uncertain environmental and health effects associated with incinerating tires.

Her research makes a significant contribution to scholarship in the field of risk regulations and the precautionary principle in law, and adds to the collective knowledge on a controversial landmark in environmental and health regulations in Canada.

PhD Recipients

Serene Wong, Computer Science & Engineering
Exploiting Structure Information for Network Dissimilarity Characterization - Application to Disease Network Analysis and Treatment Prediction

photo of FGS Associate Dean Academic Karen Krasny, left, Dr. Serene Wong, Professor Igor Jurisica and Dean Barbara Crow with Dr. Wong's Dissertation Prize

FGS Associate Dean Academic Karen Krasny, left, Dr. Serene Wong, Professor Igor Jurisica and Dean Barbara Crow with Dr. Wong's Dissertation Prize

Wong’s thesis focuses on cancer treatment by understanding interaction mechanisms in cancer using graphs. One of these approaches includes contrasting gene expression correlation networks between tumour and non-tumour cells.

Her research leveraged several computation techniques – Internet algorithms, big data analytics, and robotics – to solve problems associated with cancer diagnosis and treatment. 11 publications resulted from her dissertation, including notable conference prizes and Three Minute Thesis (3MT) accolades.

David Coodin, English
A Sudden, Inexplicable Onrush of Affectionate Feeling: Subjectivity Beyond Limit in Cather, Larsen, Fitzgerald and Woolf

Coodin’s work explores the intersection of literary theory and philosophy regarding limits, such as limits of thinking, ontology and signification. His work makes several valuable contributions to the field of modernist literature, literary theory, and affect studies.

Marc Champagne, Philosophy
The Semiotic Mind: A Fundamental Theory of Consciousness

photo of FGS Associate Dean Karen Krasny, left, Philosophy Graduate Program Director Claudine Verheggen, Professor Henry Jackman, Dr. Marc Champagne and Dean Barbara Crow with Dr. Champagne's Dissertation Prize

FGS Associate Dean Karen Krasny, left, Philosophy Graduate Program Director Claudine Verheggen, Professor Henry Jackman, Dr. Marc Champagne and Dean Barbara Crow with Dr. Champagne's Dissertation Prize

Champagne’s research explores the nature of consciousness, an area at the centre of many philosophical debates. Specifically, his thesis makes use of semiotic theory – the study of signs and signals – as a novel way to approach the traditional problems surrounding consciousness. His work pays homage to Charles Sanders Peirce and makes an interdisciplinary contribution to the fields of philosophy, psychology and cognitive science.

Portions of Champagne’s thesis were published in Dialogue, the journal of the Canadian Philosophical Association, as well as the Cambridge University Press.