An Archaeological Analysis of Craft Production in the San Francisco Bay Area Shellmounds

My summer research involves analyzing old archaeological collections to study the meaning of a specific type of site unique to the San Francisco Bay Area and Delta regions, shellmounds, for evidence of craft production. I will be looking through lots of shell material and soil samples for evidence of stone tool and shell bead production, in the form of stone manufacturing debris and possibly drilled or shaped shell. Evidence of production in these sites can help establish the types of uses and meanings that shellmounds had in Californias prehistory as well as add information about the everyday activities of the Coast Miwok and Ohlone peoples in the Bay Region.

...Read More about Fanya Becks
Humanities and Social Science

Dance Learning and Situated Social Practice

Dance Learning and Situated Social Practice” examines how social position, culture, and community influence learning processes and outcomes in youth dance programs. In this investigation, I ask: How do interactions between identity, culture, and community mediate students’ learning experiences in dance programs across different genres? This summer, I will conduct an ethnographic case study at AileyCamp- a dance and youth development program for underprivileged middle school aged children. To focus on the sociocultural aspects of learning, I am using situated social practice theory as a conceptual framework to describe how community practice mediates adolescents’ experience of dance education.

...Read More about Giuliana Blasi
Humanities and Social Science

Structure determination of the DNA polymerase III subunit from Aquifex aeolicus by X-ray crystallography

The ultimate goal of my research is to identify the structure of the subunit of DNA polymerase III in Aquifex aeolicus (Aquifex) using X-ray crystallography. DNA pol III is the enzyme that is responsible for the majority of the DNA replication that occurs in this strain of bacteria. The the subunit of DNA pol III is responsible for the polymerase activity. To date, the structure of the replicative unit has only been determined in two gram-negative bacteria, Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Thermus aquaticus (Taq) (Lamers et al., 2006, and Bailey et al., 2006). While these structures have proved to be quite useful in furthering our understanding of DNA polymerases, much remains unclear. Solving the structure of the subunit in Aquifex will help to further our understanding by providing a third system to study.

...Read More about John Campo
L&S Sciences

Time in the Brain: An Investigation of Spatial Representations of Time using Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

How does the brain represent concepts outside of perceptual experience? Relatively little is known about the neural mechanisms and brain areas involved in abstract thoughtthose enabling us to conceptualize domains for which we lack dedicated perceptual systems. Theories of embodied cognition suggest that understandings of such abstract domains are constructed from co-experienced perceptual input; for instance, Lakoff & Johnson (1999) have proposed that we build representations of time based on experiences of movement through space, as we consistently experience the passage of time while moving. This research seeks to determine if our sense of time arises in part from experiences of motion. Specifically, it asks whether judgments of temporal duration are altered by rTMS disruption of motion-selective visual areas in the medial temporal and medial superior temporal cortex.

...Read More about Alexandra Carstensen
L&S Sciences

Mini Atom Interferometry

Physicists can now readily cool atoms down to near absolute zero and exploit their quantum behavior that one does not see at everyday room temperatures. One such application of cold atoms is called atom interferometry. Typically, the experimental setup of atom interferometers are quite bulky and can fill up a room. However, at the cost of some sensitivity these setups can be scaled down to the size of a moving box. Since such a small atom interferometers can measure accelerations nearly as well as other cutting edge technology, a miniature version could have applications in navigation and geophysical measurements. My project this summer is to create a small trap to cool the atoms that can be later extended into a small atom interferometer.

...Read More about Cheong Chan
L&S Sciences

The First Generation: West Indian Immigrant Contributions to African American Freedom Struggles

The Naturalization Act of 1870 ushered in a wave of immigration during the turn of the 20th century which included many from the West Indies. While they sought the same opportunities as their European counterparts they often suffered from, and organized against, discrimination and Jim Crow segregation. Thus as activists, intellectuals, and parents, these immigrants paved the way for their children who went on to become such civil rights pioneers as W.E.B. DuBois, James Weldon Johnson, Shirley Chisholm, and Malcolm X. My research illuminates how these often overlooked immigrants helped sow the seeds of the Civil Rights Movement, by connecting their politics to those of their more well-known first generation American children.

...Read More about Chryl Corbin
Humanities and Social Science

Developing Novel Readers: The Case of Jane Austen

My research explores three major works of Jane AustenNorthanger Abbey, Pride and Prejudice, and Persuasionwith an eye toward Austens development of ideological and formal features of the novel, as well as her attempts to coach her characters and, by implication, the reader, in how to understand these new features. By analyzing Austens presentation of characters engaged in reading texts as diverse as novels, sermons, conduct books, letters, poems, situations, and countenances, I hope to develop an understanding of the way in which Austen desired her novels to be read and to explore the implications of Austens theories of reading practice upon the rise in the respectability of the novel in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

...Read More about Candance Cunard
Humanities and Social Science

A Behavioral Study of Learning in Stomatopod Crustaceans

My research project focuses on elucidating the visual and cognitive abilities of Stomatopod Crustaceans through animal behavior experiments. Commonly known as Mantis Shrimp, these marine crustaceans comprise a family of 350 species, some of which evolved over 100 million years ago. As active predators, they need excellent eyesight to locate and attack prey in their underwater environments, where light is filtered and reduced. I am investigating Stomatopods ability to learn to respond to a particular visual stimulus, and how this relates to their eye structure and brain function. Through repeated tests in which the animal is rewarded with food when it chooses the correct shape, I hope to gain new insight into the visual world of these fascinating invertebrates.

...Read More about Robert Hicks
L&S Sciences

The American Vernacular in Twain and Hemingway

My research deals with a trend in American prose that, starting around the nineteenth century, led to an increasingly speech-based way of writing, called plain speech, characterized by simplicity in language, conciseness, and straightforwardness. Starting with Mark Twains Adventure of Huckleberry Finn, which was the first time that a serious work of literature maintained the use of a dialectical speaker throughout itself for a purpose other than humor, American literature entrenched itself in the vernacular, breaking with the verbosity and erudition of Anglo writers. I am tracing how, starting with the dramatic advent of Huckleberry Finn, American prose adapted the notion of plain speech into a literary form, culminating in the blunt and powerful prose of Ernest Hemingway. I also want to explore the implications of plain speech as an American form, in terms of its development on the frontier and its fixation on the common.

...Read More about Kirsten Lew
Humanities and Social Science

The New Traditional Woman

My research will focus on the role of women in forming the gender and family politics of the New Right in the 1970s and 1980s and if their views differed from New Right men. I am also interested in complicating the idea of ‘traditional values’ by looking at how the privileging of certain issues and identities in fact represented a departure from the past.

...Read More about Morgan Lewis
Humanities and Social Science

The Narration of Smallpox in Charles Dicken's Bleak House

This summer, I will be researching the narration of smallpox in Charles Dickens Bleak House. While much has been said about his influence on the literary development and the Victorian society, Dickens use of the medical motif is often undermined. In this project, I will focus my inquiry on smallpox. My research will be divided into two phases, one on the historical events regarding smallpox in England in the 1850s, and the other on the literary criticism of Dickens work. Within these two phases of research, I will try to register Dickens use of imagery, diction, tone and allusions to the historical events. Furthermore, I would like to explore the reasons why Dickens uses a disfiguring disease as his major motif in his well-received novel. I hope this research will ultimately develop into a senior thesis for the English major.

...Read More about Shan-Ying Li
Humanities and Social Science

Dynamic Regulation of the Circadian Control of Ovulation in the AVPV of the Hypothalamus

This research attempts to determine how the circadian system controls the timing of ovulation, a requirement for successful reproduction. Initiation of ovulation requires a signal from the brain’s master clock, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). This signal’s necessity in most mammals, including humans, is apparent as disruptions in circadian rhythms lead to reproductive deficits. Currently, the neural pathways and neurochemical mechanisms by which the SCN triggers ovulation remain uncharacterized. Previous work indicates daily rhythms of GABA and kisspeptin, neurotransmitters that inhibit and stimulate ovulation, respectively, are crucial for reproductive maintenance. We will explore the cellular and molecular pathways associated with the coordination of GABA and kisspeptin expression, as well as their roles in the timing of ovulation, using Syrian hamsters, a well-studied animal model of ovulation. This work will contribute to gaining more insight into and finding new treatments for current problems in health fields such as infertility and maternal-fetal health.

...Read More about Han Amy Li
L&S Sciences

The Role of VLDLR and LRP5 in Retinal Degeneration

Many eye diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, and macular edema, are caused by the abnormal development of retinal vasculature. My project aims to better understand the signaling network that regulates this process by examining the function of two key molecules: Very LowDensity Lipoprotein Receptor (VLDLR) and Low Density Lipoprotein Related Protein 5 (LRP5). Previous studies have demonstrated that VLDLR promotes vessel growth while LRP5 inhibits it. Additional studies done by the Gong lab suggest that LRP5 plays a more dominant role in this process. In order to further characterize how and when LRP5 and VLDLR influence retinal vessel development, the lab has generated various mutant lines with the Sca1-GFP transgene, which allows for the direct visualization of endothelial cells lining blood vessels via green fluorescent protein (GFP) signal. Using fluorescence microscopy to examine and compare these endothelial cells of the retinal vasculature in wild-type and mutant mice, […]

...Read More about Eric Lu
L&S Sciences

Tango spotted: virtual embodiment in military first-person shooters

It’s easy to see video games as fantasy worlds designed for pleasure and escape. In this project, I plan to look further into the real-life implications of virtual worlds–specifically military first-person shooters. When we consume war as a source of fun, what happens? Military FPSes, such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, involve certain assumptions–not just about global questions of the role of the United States as a military superpower, but about small-scale questions of how we are embodied in the world. These games invite us into the bodies of anonymous supersoldiers who see the world through the technologized eyes of Predator drones and heartbeat sensors. What kinds of bodies and perception do these games take as natural? What global dynamics of war and power do they transform into play?

...Read More about Caroline McKusick
Humanities and Social Science

The Functional Effects of Troponin I Phosphorylation in Slow and Fast Rat Skeletal Muscle

My research is looking into the effects of chemical modification of the skeletal muscle protein troponin I. The troponin complex is composed of three subunits (troponin I, C, and T) that combine to regulate the strength of skeletal muscle contraction. Past research has shown that modification of troponin I by specific enzymes can increase the amount of force heart muscles produce. My project will focus on the effects of such enzymes in skeletal muscles. Because the structure of troponin I in skeletal muscle varies slightly from the structure found in cardiac muscle, we expect to see a deviation in the effects on force production. My findings could help provide insight on the mechanism by which Beta-blocking drugs reduce muscle strength. Over the summer I will be testing to see if specific enzymes have effects on skeletal muscle. If these enzymes do act on skeletal troponin I, then I will test […]

...Read More about Derek Moriyama
L&S Sciences

Neural Tube Defect and Genetic Mutations Coding for Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase (MTHFR) Enzyme

This summer, my research involves point mutations in genomic sequences encoding for the enzyme methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, which is a part of the neural tube formation pathway. The mutations cause spina bifida or neural tube defect (NTD), one of the most common neonatal defects in the US. A common method for NTD prevention is folate (vitamin B9) supplementation but this is not always effective. Thus, my hypothesis is that the success of the folate salvage depends on the type of point mutation that is present in the fetus. Additionally, though NTD is common, there is no universal agreement on the cause; there is a tug-and-war between genetics and environmental factors. Hopefully, this study will shed more light on how much genetics weighs into NTD incidence.

...Read More about Carissa Pardamean
L&S Sciences

The 2010 World Cup's Effect on Xenophobic Violence in Cape Town

My research this summer analyzes the effects of the 2010 World Cup on xenophobia and interethnic violence in Cape Town. Working in conjunction with the NGO Projects Abroad Human Rights Office, I will document cases of xenophobic violence from January to August 2010, graphing how rates of violence fluctuate in response to the Cup. I will supplement this evidence with informal testimony from a range of communities within Cape Town to see how different people view this international event as affecting levels of xenophobia in the city. In totality, the research is meant to explain the effect of this specific World Cup on the human rights situation in Cape Town, and to add to the larger body of research that studies how international events such as this alter the political economies of the regions in which they are held.

...Read More about Akash Patel
Humanities and Social Science

The Political Philosophy of Ignacio Manuel Altamirano within His Works of Fiction

...Read More about Marco Ponce
Humanities and Social Science

Antibody Isotype Profile for Bovine Leukemia Virus Infection and its Correlation to Breast Cancer

A major breakthrough in cancer research over the past 50 years has been the discovery of tumor viruses, or cancer-causing viruses. Thus far, six viruses have been causally linked to cancer (the best known being human papilloma virus and cervical cancer). This SURF project investigates bovine leukemia virus (BLV) and its role in breast cancer susceptibility. Previous research has demonstrated that BLV in breast tissue is significantly correlated with the breast cancer risk, and that humans have antibodies against BLV. Expanding on this, the goal of my SURF project is to determine whether a particular antibody profile correlates with BLV infection of breast tissue. From a public health prospective, such a profile could prove useful in breast cancer screening and prevention.

...Read More about Niema Razavian
L&S Sciences

Identity Formation in People with Invisible Disabilities: How Decisions About Disability Disclosure Impact College Students' Sense of Self

An invisible disability is one that remains unnoticeable to an observer unless the person with the disability or someone else discloses it. Invisible disabilities can be of a physical, cognitive, intellectual, or psychiatric nature and are estimated to account for 40% of disabilities in the U.S. Since people with invisible disabilities can choose whether or not to conceal them in a given situation, they face the ongoing challenge of deciding whether and how to present their disabilities. This liminal status proves challenging for identity formation, a critical issue in young adulthood. Through qualitative interviews, I will learn how college students decisions about disability disclosure affect their self-concepts and relationships. I hope that my research findings will inform public health workers, university administrators, and the general public about how to better accommodate students with invisible disabilities.

...Read More about Alyse Ritvo
Humanities and Social Science