First and foremost, I would like to thank Kah Chan, Peter Freer, and Dr. Edgar Rodriguez-Ramirez. Without your guidance and patience I would not have made it this far.

I would like to thank William Duncan for collaborating with me on this thesis. It has been a unique and most enjoyable experience going through it all in tandem with another researcher. I will miss the adventures.

I wish to express my sincerest gratitude to Dr. Nicola Kayes, Dr. Nada Signal and Prof. Denise Taylor, whose consultation and insight helped us create something both meaningful and worthwhile.

I would also like to thank Matthew Everitt, James Otter, Duncan Phillips and Lukas Stoecklein for their technical assistance and contributions.

A special thanks goes out to the Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund, whose support made this research possible.

Finally, special thanks go to my parents and my partner, whose constant love and support kept me a oat. I would not be where I am today without you. For that, I cannot thank you enough.