Imagined Interventions: Tunnels

Why do children spend so much time engaged in pretend play, imagining fictional scenarios? Could children actually be learning new things through this process, exploring new possibilities inaccessible to them in daily life? My SURF project seeks to explore whether imagination can indeed enable children to learn about and successfully intervene on novel causal structures, even in the absence of a demonstration of the structures. Children will be introduced to a novel causal structure, and will be asked to choose one of three possible interventions on the structure to produce the highest probability of a desired result. Will the process of imagining outcomes produce higher accuracy in the absence of a demonstration of a novel causal system? This project not only serves as my honors thesis in Psychology, but also explores the little-understood relationship between imagination and probabilistic causal learning in preschoolers.

...Read More about Rotem Aboody
Humanities and Social Science

Evaluating the role of lactate in conferring the beneficial effects of exercise on immunity

Exercise has been shown to be an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, and also as an adjuvant to enhance vaccine efficacy in the elderly. Evidence accumulated by others suggests that lactate production formed as a byproduct of exercise may fuel many cellular functions. This includes improving energy metabolism, even in the presence of glucose, by boosting bioenergetic efficiencies in many different cell types (i.e. skeletal muscle and neurons) through a shuttling mechanism that facilitates movement of lactate into recipient cells. My project will monitor lymphocytes, a major player of our immune defense system, upon exposure with lactate to observe if these cells convert lactate into pyruvate via the catalytic activities of the enzyme lactate dehydrogenase. This would suggest that exercise exerts its beneficial effects on lymphocyte proliferation and immunity through the lactate shuttle and the associated bioenergetic machinery. The evidence gathered in support of this proposed relationship would provide […]

...Read More about Salman Aljilani
Rose Hills

Residue or Residon't? The Value of Archeaological Micro-debris in Unraveling Dhiban's Imperial Past

My project is a reassessment of current archaeological interpretive techniques through comparing two main focuses of artifact analysis. I will be looking at site interpretive resolution of more standard heavy-fraction analysis (focusing on items > 4mm in size) in relation to microdebris analysis (focusing on items > 2mm in size) to find out which method provides 1) the highest resolution of site area use, 2) efficiency/cost of use of the techniques. My goal is to determine whether more specialized techniques, such as microdebris analysis, provide enough of an interpretive edge to offset the time and monetary costs of its use. To do this I will be traveling to of Dhiban, Jordan to excavate a Roman/Byzantine domestic surface in order to collect and analyze primary data. In conjunction with my reassessment of analytical techniques, I will use my interpreted data to create a site history of domestic life in Roman Dhiban. […]

...Read More about Nicolas Ames
Humanities and Social Science

Deciphering the Mechanisms by which Bacillus Megaterium provides infection resistance for Caenorhabditis elegans from Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Caenorhabditis elegans is a widely studied bacterivorous nematode that is typically grown on one specific strain of E. coli as its standard food source for experiments. However, in nature the worm encounters almost endless varieties of bacterial food sources and establishes a much different microbiota than those grown in our sterile lab environments. Our lab is attempting to characterize this yet unknown normal mircobiota of C. elegans and to understand how different bacteria may provide benefits for the worm. So far our lab has identified two soil isolates that seem to provide the worm with protection from subsequent infection by the pathogenic bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This summer I will be working to characterize the interactions between C. elegans and one of these isolates, Bacillus megaterium, and will attempt to decipher the mechanisms by which this bacteria provides the worm with protection from infection.

...Read More about Michael Appel
Rose Hills

Artistic Protest: Oakland's Legacy of Radical Art Practice

The interplay of art and politics historically holds a distinct role in the City of Oakland, California. Since the 1960s, social activism has shaped and informed political art practices. Further, aesthetics and intertextuality continue to engage the issues of race, police brutality and economic marginalization as motifs and discourses for Oakland artists. Through primary and secondary archival sources, interviews, and participant observation, my project investigates how political art practices in Oakland operate as a context and product for social justice and community empowerment. I am looking at the work of two Oakland artists: Emory Douglas, the Black Panthers Minister of Culture, and Jon-Paul Bail, a local political screen printer. I examine theses two artists motifs as case studies of the larger portrait of Oaklands legacy of art and activism.

...Read More about Ariella Aronstam-Powers
Humanities and Social Science

Characterization of signaling pathway involved in bacterial regulation of multicellular development in closest living relatives of animals

My project will study a bacterial-eukaryotic signaling interaction. Through the secretion of chemical signals, bacteria affect animal health and morphology. As the closest living unicellular relatives of animals, choanoflagellates are a good model system for the study of the evolutionary origins of long-standing partnerships between animals and bacteria. Choanoflagellates are single-celled eukaryotes that form colonies under certain conditions. A sulfonolipid molecule (a structural relative of the common cell signaling moleculessphingolipids) produced by the bacteria Algoriphagus machipongonensis triggers multicellular development in the colonial choanoflagellate Salpingoeca rosetta. This bacterial-eukaryotic biochemical signaling interaction is an important example of how bacterial chemical signals affect animal morphogenesis. I will identify and characterize A. machipongonensis genes involved in the biochemical synthesis and release of this morphogenic sulfonolipid. Uncovering the genetic basis of the synthesis and secretion of this signaling molecule will help characterize this bacterial-eukaryotic interaction that has implications for the role of bacterial signaling in […]

...Read More about Viktoria Betin
Rose Hills

Investigating the Mechanism of RNA-Mediated Target Interference in a Bacterial CRISPR System

CRISPR RNAs (crRNAs) are instrumental in mediating a prokaryotic immune response by targeting and subsequently directing the degradation of invasive genetic elements. Research is currently underway to harness the CRISPR system for biomedical applications including the detection and diagnosis of viruses in human clinical samples. My project investigates the components of the large multi-subunit complex found in E. colitermed Cascadewhich is responsible for targeting and destroying invading nucleic acid via an unknown mechanism. Prior work from our lab has shown that a key protein in the Cascade complex called Cas7 may be essential in unwinding the invading dsDNA duplex, thereby making it accessible for degradation. Using a combination of biochemical tools and x-ray crystallography, I plan to investigate the structural interactions of Cas7 with a DNA: RNA hybrid to examine the method of target recognition by the Cascade complex, with the ultimate goal of an atomic resolution structure of this […]

...Read More about Prashant Bhat
Rose Hills

Small Artifacts on a Small Island: Late Bronze Age Cypriot Cylinder Seals and the Rising Palace Elite

Ancient Cyprus has generally been shadowed by its neighbors Egypt, Greece, and Mesopotamia, yet the small island, is an ideal entrpot. In the Late Bronze Age (1550-1050 BCE), the influence of internationalism can be seen in the appearance of cylinder seals on Cyprus. This summer I am researching the interesting mix of locally and internationally produced cylinder seals and what they can tell scholars about Cypriot society. This study investigates the seals’ use on Cyprus, like what new roles they played and which Cypriot needs they fulfilled. I will study the seals, which are varied in iconography and style, in person at the British Museum in London, looking at how international motifs are reconstituted on a local scale. Studying small artifacts on a small island gives both a local and international picture of the Late Bronze Age and highlights an area and object that are often ignored.

...Read More about Emily Booker
Humanities and Social Science

Effects of Arginine Vasotocin on Voice Discrimination in the Zebra Finch

The zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) is a highly social passerine that heavily relies on vocal communication during social interactions. Over one third of its brain is dedicated to auditory functions. Vocal recognition has been studied previously in mated pairs of this species using a particular type of calls, the distance call. However, zebra finches communicate with a full repertoire of vocalizations. Here I am investigating whether they can discriminate voices of other individuals. More precisely, Im testing the capacity of zebra finches to discriminate between different emitters irrespective of the vocalization category produced by the emitter. I will also look at the effects of arginine vasotocin (AVT), a neuropeptide implicated in regulating social behavior, on these discrimination capabilities. My investigations will be both behavioral and neurophysiological and I hope to provide more insight to voice discrimination and the role of AVT in the perception of acoustic social cues.

...Read More about Michelle Carney
Rose Hills

Phase-Sensitive SFG Study on the Interaction of Solvated Sulfone and the Lithium Cobalt Oxide Electrode

Currently, the lifetime of lithium ion batteries limits utility in applications like electric vehicles. As a battery is cycled, it experiences extreme potentials that decompose the electrolyte to form a layer, the solid electrolyte interphase (SEI), on the two electrodes. The SEI traps lithium ions and generates resistance, both of which degrade the battery over time. Research has shown that the addition of a compound known as a sulfone increases the voltage at which the electrolyte decomposes. This new voltage threshold is higher than the voltages seen in a battery, so SEI growth is reduced. This high threshold is a property of sulfones, even though they do not dominate the composition of the electrolyte solution. Thus, it has been proposed that sulfones preferentially reside on the surface between the lithium cobalt oxide electrode and the electrolyte, and occupy sites where the conventional electrolyte would decompose. This summer I will measure […]

...Read More about William Carpenter
Rose Hills

Mapping Courtship Song Genes Using Next-Generation Sequencing

Under the Biological Species Concept, species are defined by the presence of interspecific reproductive isolation, and under this model, both pre-zygotic and post-zygotic reproductive barriers are important in preventing gene flow between populations to drive speciation. My project focuses on pre-zygotic reproductive isolation in the form of courtship songs. In Drosophila athabasca, females from one population are less receptive to the courtship song of males from other populations. I plan to hybridize recently diverged, behaviorally isolated populations of D. athabasca, and use next-generation sequencing techniques to map regions in the genome that are important to courtship song and ultimately speciation.

...Read More about Emily Chan
Rose Hills

Investigating the Role of TRIM21 Autoubiquitination in IRF7 Down-Regulation

The innate immune response is the cells first line of defense against viral infection. One of its functions is the production of cytokines, such as interferons (IFN), which are needed to recruit immune cells to the site of infection. In order to create an efficient immune response, IFN production is controlled by highly regulated signal transduction pathways. The E3 ubiqutin ligase protein, TRIM21, has been shown to down-regulate IFN production pathways by targeting the IFN regulatory factor, IRF7, for degradation. However, the factors and mechanism leading to the affinity of TRIM21 for IRF7 upon viral infection are not well understood. I will investigate the importance of TRIM21 autoubiquitination, a protein modification, in promoting TRIM21 activity and interaction with IRF7. Understanding how TRIM21 is activated to regulate interferon production is beneficial in understanding the innate immune response pathway.

...Read More about Neha Chandra
L&S Sciences

Roughness Testing of Synthetic Adhesives

Over the last decade there has been increasing interest in how geckos can walk on vertical and even inverted surfaces. It has been found that they do so with tiny fibers on their feet which bend to adapt to and stick to surfaces. While the basic principles behind this have been studied and replicated on smooth surfaces with very simple fibers, geckos employ complicated fiber structures to adapt to more general surfaces. Due to the complicated nature of the real fibers, research on replicating them fully is progressing slowly. My research is on how different properties of the surfaces being adhered to affect the performance of the synthetic gecko materials. This will reveal what properties of the real gecko fibers are most significant, and establish a method for testing complicated structures against each other. This will prove useful as increasingly complex synthetic fibers are developed.

...Read More about Robert Claus
Rose Hills

Unraveling Bande Dessin: an Exploration into French Alternative Autobiographical Graphic Novels

France is home to a sophisticated comic book culture that considers the genre as valuable literature. Its integration into French society is indicative of its influence in contemporary popular culture. My research project explores the role that the printed image plays in narrating French autobiographical comic books, and how the overall visual aspect of graphic narrative interacts with more conventional types of literary self-representation. I will look at which elements of graphic narrative make the medium particularly suited to telling stories of the self by examining the various codes at play in several French works. These different communicative systems present in the work, such as visual image, the written word, and the hand of the author, among others, combine to make an innovatively unique product. My project, which supports my senior honors thesis, will provide insight as to how these new methods of self-portrayal are bringing to light questions of […]

...Read More about Anjelica Colliard
Humanities and Social Science

Genetic Control of Development and Evolution in the Three Spine Stickeback Skeleton

The vertebrate skeleton has undergone extensive evolutionary adaption to a wide variety of environments. The precise molecular mechanisms that led to this vast variation are not fully understood. The three spine stickleback fish provides a model organism in which to study these mechanisms. Populations of stickleback colonized newly formed freshwater lakes and streams at the end of the last ice age and repeatedly evolved numerous skeletal adaptations, including lengthening of certain groups of bones. My project will investigate possible genetic and developmental mechanisms that led to this observed variation in bone length. I will be comparing expression patterns of important bone development genes between marine and freshwater populations and searching for regions of the genome that control the increased bone lengths. The results of this project will provide a further understanding of the molecular regulation of the development and evolution of the vertebrate skeleton.

...Read More about Alyson Cook
Rose Hills

Telling it Two Different Ways: TheInfluence of Culture on theTranslation of Goethe's Faust

From Homers Odyssey to Dostoevskys Crime and Punishment, the average American high school graduate has at least encountered a work of foreign literature in translation. Yet those students have not likely read the same translations of the works. Where the original language text is fixed, translations can differ wildly. Whats more, there are both British and American versions of Harry Potter; because of cultural differences from one English speaking country to another, there are translations of a book from one language to the same language. How much then, does culture affect the translation of a piece of foreign literature? As a senior thesis, I intend to investigate the influence of culture on translation. I will focus on the structure and thematic emphasis of two nineteenth century English language translations, one American and one British, of Goethes seminal work, Faust. As source material is absolute and permanent, such an approach to […]

...Read More about Sarah Covington
Humanities and Social Science

The Role of Dopamine in Working Memory, Decisions Making, and Self Control

Dopaminergic projections from the midbrain to the striatum and prefrontal cortex are known to affect widespread brain processes, including reward, movement, cognitive control and working memory. Lower dopamine levels in the striatum are linked with higher body mass index, poorer decision making in relation to food choice and a skewed sense of healthiness of food items. I propose to investigate the role of dopamine in a working memory task and decision making on the food task and examine if a relationship exists between the two tasks. I will also investigate if modulation of dopamine, via a drug that affects mostly the striatum or one that acts more to the prefrontal cortex to elevate dopamine levels affects behavior. With dopaminergic administration, working memory as well as perhaps decision making in relation to food choices will improve in individuals.

...Read More about Cathy Dai
Humanities and Social Science

Lizards Aloft: Biomechanics of the Aerial Righting Reflex in the Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis)

Arboreal animals such as the Green Anole, Anolis carolinensis, must be able to manipulate aerial descent to reduce injury when dislodged from elevated habitats. To maintain controlled aerial descent, the anole must obtain a prone posture. Anoles have been known to correct orientation after dislodgement by use of their tails through either the conservation of momentum to induce roll or by lateral swings which alter yaw. While the mechanics behind yaw and roll alterations are understood, the extent to which an anole can correct pitch at high angles is not. My goal is to examine the aerial acrobatics performed by anoles when oriented vertically and how this affects methods of reorientation. The limitations of tail manipulations, the effects of velocity, and the angle of orientation will have a diverse effect on the ability to right. My findings will help provide information regarding the evolution of flight and aerial robotics.

...Read More about Angela DiRocco
L&S Sciences

Using Machine Learning Techniques to Fit Receptive Fields of Speech Spectrogram Trained Auditory Neurons

Using the tools of machine learning one can determine parameters of a model that probabilistically best fit experimentally collected data. This gives us insight into determining the model that best describes the data. I will be using machine learning to fit models of receptive fields of auditory neurons (a receptive field is any stimulus that maximizes activation of a neuron) that have been generated using a sparse-coding model. In this case, a sparse-coding model is one that minimizes the number of neurons required to represent different sounds. Sparse-coding models have been shown to accurately predict the receptive fields of auditory neurons in the Inferior Colliculus. It will be my job to determine a mathematical model that best describes the receptive fields of these neurons.

...Read More about S. Zayd Enam
Rose Hills

The Essive Suffix of Karuk

Karuk is an endangered language indigenous to Northern California. One of its most interesting features is its large variety of verbal prefixes and suffixes, expressing everything from person and tense to the direction of motion relative to the Klamath River. For my summer research project, I will be focusing on just one suffix, the essive, which roughly provides the meaning of being in a certain condition. For example, when applied to the verb imus, to see, the result is imus-ahi, to look like. I plan to take a more modern and typological approach to better understand the morphosyntax and semantics of the suffix. I hope to contribute not only to the academic understanding of the language but also to current revitalization efforts of this fascinating language.

...Read More about Kouros Falati
Humanities and Social Science