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

Searching for the Dark Photon

Dark photon is a hypothesized gauge boson which behaves like a standard photon. It is called dark because it interacts very weakly with normal particles like electrons and protons, but instead interacts more strongly with dark matter. This makes dark photons escape previous detections easily. However, some unexpected radiation from the center of our galaxy implies the existence of dark photon. Therefore, we plan to produce dark photon by annihilation of a pair of particle and anti-particle with enough center-of-mass energy. We can look at the decay products of the dark photon if these products are normal particles (anti-particles). From the information we get about the final state of this process, we can reconstruct the whole process. If we finally find some clues for or against the existence of dark photon interaction, we will open another window to improve our understanding of universe.

...Read More about Minyu Feng
L&S Sciences

Tour Guides in Angkor Wat: Narrativization, Licensing, and Discourse

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Angkor War has become central to the Cambodian economy through the utilization of international tourism in the past few decades. My SURF project looks at local tour guides in Siem Reap, Cambodia and their discursive relationship to international tourists. I will address three issues: how does tour guide folklore relate to the cultural heritage of Angkor Wat, how state intervention and licensing creates a spectrum of official versus unofficial tour guides, and thirdly how the narrativization of Angkor Wat is dependent on the exchange of official and unofficial discourse through different types of tour guides. I will be conducting interviews with tour guides and Ministry of Tourism officials while attending various types of tours. The significance of this project is to understand the impact of international tourism on the local perspective through the Cambodian tour guide industry of Angkor Wat.

...Read More about Rose Gephart
Humanities and Social Science

The Extension of the Log Periodic Power Law: How to Predict After the Crash

To judge whether an economic bubble would lead to a financial crash and to estimate the critical time of a crash are significant in financial areas. The Log-Periodic Power Law (LPPL) is an equation that describes how bubbles evolve and grow. By fitting the equation into a financial time series, it is possible to predict the event of a crash. The equation proves to be effective in predicting several financial crises, such as the one in 2008. My research will focus on extending the model to predict market behaviors after the crash. I will adopt some assumptions in LPPL (i.e., imitation behaviors among traders) as well as some more theories from other literatures, and follow the similar track to construct a model that predicts when the market will stop crash. I will then fit the model into financial time series to examine the accuracy of the model.

...Read More about Kaiji Gong
Humanities and Social Science

Analyzing the Ecological and Geomorphological Effects of Reintroducing Native Plants in Riparian Zones of He'eia Stream

Hawaiian riparian zones have a high incidence of invasive plants that threaten the biodiversity of native vegetation and stream habitats. Restoration efforts to replant native vegetation are underway; however, Hawaiis extensive history and abundance of invasive species make it challenging to find natural reference sites. Therefore, my project aims to explore ecological relationships between the riparian zone and stream habitats to help monitor the progress of an ongoing restoration. I will use Heeia Stream in Oahu as my study site, where I will compare stream habitat between invaded and restored riparian reaches of the stream. Specifically, I will explore the effects of riparian canopy cover on water temperature and microalgal communities. In addition, I will characterize stream leaf litter and woody debris to identify the plant species that contribute to habitat and organic matter for aquatic macroinvertebrates. My findings will help guide the restoration team as they continue to restore […]

...Read More about Nicole Greenfield
L&S Sciences

Pragmatic Idealism? Assessing the Promise and Perils of the Decentralized NGO: A Case Study of a Social Enterprise for Textile Production in India

Jhoole, a textile production NGO based in Madhya Pradesh, India, formed in 2008 through a dialogical need from sari weavers that were working under indentured conditions. Since its formation in 2008, Jhoole has provided collective ownership, secured creative freedom over design/production, implemented sustainable agricultural practices, and supplied living wages to these female artisans. However, in March 2012 after reading Marx, Hannah Warren, the founder and Executive Director of Jhoole, un-incorporated Jhoole in an effort to dismantle institutional hierarchies that limited the extent to which local stakeholders were able to direct the activities and assets of the organization. My research involves both a case study analysis of the effects of Jhoole un-incorporating and a larger deconstruction of the term economics of well-being in its relation to the proto-Indian social enterprise/NGOs efforts at effectively (or ineffectively) promoting such an economics of well-being in India.

...Read More about Graham Haught
Humanities and Social Science

Activation and selectivity pathways for nitric oxide reduction by hydrogen over noble metal catalysts

Nitric oxide (NO) is a toxic by-product of fossil fuel combustion known to cause lung infection and respiratory allergies. The catalytic reduction of NO by H2 over noble metal catalysts (e.g. platinum, rhodium, and palladium) is an effective means to remove this environmental toxin; however, the reaction mechanism is poorly understood. We aim to develop a set of elementary reaction steps describing the reaction pathway by measuring steady-state reaction rates. We plan to measure isotopic exchange rates and kinetic isotope effects and perform in situ infrared spectroscopy to evaluate the validity of our proposed mechanism.

...Read More about Andrew Hwang
Rose Hills

Energies and Dynamics of New Pathways in Excited Metalloporphyrins Upon Ionization

Metalloporphyrins are found in various different organisms ranging from humans to plants. Metalloporphyrins consist of a porphyrin macrocycle with a coordinated metal atom at their center. They are part of many biological systems such as chlorophyll, vitamin B12, cytochrome P-450, and hemoglobin. Synthetic metalloporphyrins are used as commercial dyes and catalysts in the design of solar cells, molecular electronics, and supramolecular building blocks. The metalloporphyrins interaction with light plays a critical role in many systems therefore it is important to characterize the molecules interactions with light. The goal of my research project is to investigate the molecules interaction with light by studying the ionization of the ground and excited state using a femtosecond laser to conduct a pump-probe experiment. Metalloporphyrins of various metal centers and substituent groups on the porphyrin macrocycle will be studied in order to find how each variable affects the ionization process and excited state dynamics.

...Read More about Nare Janvelyan
Rose Hills

Mechanistic Study of a Bioorthogonal Oxidative Coupling Reaction

The goal of my research project is to study a new method of bioconjugation: an oxidant mediated coupling reaction. This reaction is highly site specific and unreactive with the functional groups traditionally found in biological systems, making it useful for the efficient construction of biomaterials with a variety of different functions. Although this reaction has already seen a variety of uses, further studies into the mechanism will allow for even greater tuning of the reactions selectivity and efficiency. To do this I will prepare a set of internal standards and then use these standards as a basis for a series of high throughput screens that will analyze a variety of different components of the reaction. Ideally, some of the information gathered will pave the way for a set of low temperature NMR studies that, when combined with other information gathered in the screens, will provide insight into the reaction mechanism.

...Read More about Bryce Jarman
Rose Hills

Understanding Cultural Differences in Disclosure of Personal Problems and Help Seeking Propensity

In my research, I aim to explore the mechanisms behind why Asians experience more difficulty in disclosing personal problems and approaching others for help in various situations (especially emotionally) than when compared to Westerners. Do different styles of communication (indirect vs. direct) or differences in the implicit sense of power status (high vs. low) moderate this interaction? Might Asians show preference seeking certain people to whom they disclose their problems or seek help from? I hope that this research could help shed light on the acculturation process and success of Asian immigrants in flexibly adjusting to the host culture. In addition, I also hope that exploring the reasons why Asians have a harder time seeking others help could give mental and physical health professionals some insights on how to face Asians and give them better treatment methods. Lastly, I hope this research could give a better understanding to people of […]

...Read More about Josephine Juanamarga
Humanities and Social Science

Characterization of ms32, a bHLH Gene Required for Tapetum Development in Maize

Increasing crop yields has always been a global issue. One of the largest studies of domestic hunger, Hunger in American 2010, reported, hunger is increasing at an alarming rate in the United States (Feeding America). My research this summer focuses on identifying a bHLH gene, ms32, which promotes fertility in maize (corn), the most widely grown grain crop. As the anther – the male reproductive organ in plants – matures during early development, five distinct layers are formed and required for meiosis to function properly. One of the five layers, the tapetal layer, is crucial for the development of pollen grains, which are the male gametes, and is regulated by the ms32 gene. A mutant in this gene causes excess cell division in the tapetal layer, causing pollen mother cells to collapse, rendering the plant sterile. A better understanding of this bHLH gene will prevent additional division in the layer […]

...Read More about Angel Jung
Rose Hills

The Role of Two, Opposing RFamide Peptides in Female Reproductive Functioning

Normal female reproductive health requires the precise temporal coordination of the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis by the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). Disruptions to circadian rhythms have pronounced negative health consequences, including an increased incidence of heart disease, obesity, ulcers, and cancer. Most relevant to the present studies, women with disrupted circadian rhythms exhibit pronounced deficits in ovulation and fecundity. My project investigates the circadian control of two, opposing neuropeptides that act upstream of the reproductive axis, gonadotropin-inhibiting hormone (GnIH) and kisspeptin. Our lab has shown that both of these neuropeptidergic systems receive monosynaptic SCN input and that this mode communication is critical for ovulation. My study will use a combination of gene knockdown and overexpression strategies combined with pharmacology to elucidate the specific means by which the SCN balances the activity of these positive and negative regulators to initiate ovulation.

...Read More about Veronica Kim
L&S Sciences

Sleep Electrophysiology and Reward Processing

Recent evidence suggests that sleep and sleep loss have profound effects on emotional brain reactivity, especially for positive emotional experiences. As a consequence, sleep disruption may lead to detrimental risk taking and reward seeking. However, it remains unclear exactly what type of sleep helps reset the brains ability to appropriately react to rewarding experiences. I propose to test the hypothesis that a specific type of sleeprapid-eye movement (REM) sleep, and its associated electrical brain activityrestores the optimal next-day reactivity to rewarding, motivating experiences. I will therefore investigate whether the quantity and electrical quality of the sleeping brain predicts (hence, resets) appropriate levels of next-day reactivity in reward centers of the brain. Considering the high prevalence of sleep disruption in addiction disorders, combined with the continued loss of sleep time in young populations where risk taking and reward seeking are a major concern, this proposed research holds direct clinical and societal […]

...Read More about Adam Krause
L&S Sciences

The Food System and Ecological Ethics

Because I am an out-of-state student, the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship allows me to stay near UC Berkeley and its resources. Without the distractions of academic coursework during the summer, I have the freedom and time to delve into theory and materials from a multitude of disciplines. I am excited to work with my mentors and my SURF cohorts. I am grateful both for the opportunity to conduct an independent research project and for the supportive environment of the SURF community.

...Read More about Isaac Kreisman
Humanities and Social Science

The Metapoetics of the Construction of Space and Location in Horaces Odes

The Roman poet Horace, an enormous influence on Western thought and poetry, himself stands within a long tradition of Greek and Latin lyric. He innovates on the foundations his forebears have built, creating new and surprising poems. Many of Horaces Odes reveal a marked attention to the construction of setting. I categorize these settings into actual place, or a geographical location that could potentially exist, and poetic space, more imaginary or surreal constructions. These spaces are often linked to a religious ritual and involve a skillful manipulation of time and space on the part of the poet. My project aims to elucidate the characteristics and purposes of these spaces, the relationship of the poet and these spaces to religion, and ultimately how these poems change or define the genre of Latin lyric poetry.

...Read More about Erin Lam
Humanities and Social Science

Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH) and Gonadotropin Inhibitory Hormone (GnIH) Interactions Over Time In Birds That Exhibit Delayed Puberty

Delayed puberty is a reproductive strategy seen only in a few species of seasonally breeding birds. These birds go through puberty several years after reaching adult size unlike most birds that experience puberty right as adult size is reached. Little is known about the mechanism behind puberty, and even less is known about delayed puberty. To investigate why some species of bird experience delayed puberty, my project involves observing neuronal cell populations of two important reproductive hormones in the brains of California Gulls and Western Gulls, two species that display delayed puberty. These hormones are gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) and gonadotropin inhibitory hormone (GnIH) that regulate the reproductive status of an individual. I am attempting to understand the relationship between GnRH and GnIH as birds age, which will help uncover parts of the mystery behind delayed puberty.

...Read More about Jacqueline Lee
Rose Hills

The Role of Vitamin A Metabolism in Obesity Prevention

In my research, I plan to investigate the role of vitamin A in obesity prevention. With obesity increasing at alarming rates in the United States in the past twenty years, it is imperative to gain a deeper understanding in the development of the condition. Obesity is influenced by many risk factors such as diet, lifestyle, and genetics. I will explore how vitamin A regulates adipose tissue, observing mice with the Rdh10 gene conditionally deleted in white adipose tissue, and comparing their weight gain to that of wild type control mice. The Rdh10 gene produces RDH10, the enzyme involved in oxidation of vitamin A to retinoic acid, an active metabolite necessary for various physiological processes. I hope to examine the role of RDH10 in adipocyte differentiation and morphology in mice. Understanding this process may generate the potential to treat obesity or regulate weight gain, or at least provide a direction for […]

...Read More about Michelle Leu
L&S Sciences

Fireworks, Then My City is Ashes: Poems about World War II

Part creative writing, part auto-ethnography, part literary analysis — my project examines how war blurs distinctions between national and individual identity, the ways in which this complicates family bonds, and how both of these issues haunt future generations. My research focuses on the memoir as a genre of historical narrative, specifically of the Jewish diaspora and the Japanese experience in the Second World War and its aftermath. My goal is to relate these seemingly disparate stories to one another, and to ultimately bridge both sides of my own Jewish-American and Japanese family history. I am traveling across the world this summer; from California through New York City to Poland, France, and finally, Japan. I will create an original auto-ethnographic memoir as a series of poems based on my experiences meeting my relatives and immersing myself in the surroundings that affected them during and after the war.

...Read More about Lisa Levin
Humanities and Social Science

Community and Exclusion in the Gay Mecca

The Castro District in San Francisco, California is frequently referred to as the Gay Mecca, a home for those of us who have been pushed to the margins because of our sexual orientation. However, demographics of and race relations within the Castro tell quite a different story, as people of color are largely absent or excluded from the community. Thus, my research question asks how queer people of color who congregate in the Castro neighborhood perceive their membership within the community. To answer this, I will conduct participant observation within the Castro, both in areas where queer people of color congregate as well as in a community organization, and I will interview queer people of color who congregate in the community. Ultimately, I hope to better illuminate the mechanisms through which queer people of color are either included or excluded in queer enclave communities such as the Castro.

...Read More about Andrew Levine-Murray
Humanities and Social Science

The Effects of Myopia and of Atropine Treatment on the Creep Response of Whole Eyes

Myopia occurs when the eye becomes too long for the cornea and lens to properly focus the light on the retina. In myopia progression, the sclera thins and weakens causing the eye to grow axially. This summer, I will determine the effect of myopia on the mechanical properties of whole chick eyes and to determine how the sclaral creep response is affected by treatment with the myopia-control drug atropine. I will utilize a method of inflating intact eyes in order to characterize the creep response. Using intact globes allows for loading conditions similar to those experienced by the sclera in vivo, providing a better understanding of scleral weakening.

...Read More about Jacob Lewis
Rose Hills

Crystallization of Analog-sensitive ZAP-70 with a Genetically Modified Inhibitor

My research is focused on a protein tyrosine kinase called Zeta-associated protein of 70kDa (ZAP-70), which plays a crucial role in initiating T-cell signaling. An inhibitor specific for ZAP-70 would be clinically significant in treating autoimmune diseases via downregulation of signaling in T-cells that attack the bodys own cells. Our collaborator at UCSF, Arthur Weiss, is using chemical genetics to study ZAP-70s role in T-cell signaling and development. The Weiss lab has developed a mutant version of ZAP-70 that can be selectively inhibited by a derivatized kinase inhibitor. My goal is to crystallize the analog sensitive ZAP-70 with the specific inhibitor bound to it. A structure of this would reveal in molecular detail how the inhibitor binds. This would allow the design of more potent inhibitors, which are necessary for use in the animal studies that the Weiss lab would like to pursue.

...Read More about Kevin Lin
Rose Hills

Clarifying the Mechanisms of Ergothioneine Depletion in Sickle Cell Disease (SCD)

Sickle Cell Disease is a disorder in which a point mutation in the -globin gene causes a structurally unstable form of hemoglobin (HbS). This instability generates higher levels of superoxide and hydrogen peroxide that cause rapid oxidation of erythrocyte (Red Blood Cell) membranes, and subsequently promotes polymerization of HbS, forming the sickling in Sickle Cell Disease. The pro-oxidant effects of the HbS mutation lead to rapid hemolysis, blockage of microvasculature, and release of reactive agents that further cause peripheral tissue damage. HbS is more redox active and more prone to act as a heme peroxidase relative to regular hemoglobin, and our lab has hypothesized that Ergothioneine, an antioxidant, is preferentially depleted by hemoglobin peroxidase activity. To test this hypothesis, I will modulate cellular hemoglobin peroxidase activity and determine its effect on the oxidation on the major intracellular antioxidants ascorbate (Vitamin C), glutathione, and ergothioneine.

...Read More about Edwin Liu
Rose Hills

Understanding and Self-Advocacy: Students with Learning Disabilities, Unrecognized Talent

It is estimated that approximately 15% of the U.S. population has some type of learning disability (LD) (LDA, 2012). Though there is a growing body of research about people with LDs, this population is still dramatically misunderstood and underserved. Due to the amount of people in the U.S. who are now discovered to have LDs and the magnitude of the correlations to the social issues that exist, there continues to be a growing interest in identifying the barriers to success that this population faces. This research focuses on the effect of diagnostic testing to self-understanding and the ability a student has to self-advocate. With thousands of different LD diagnostic tests used, remarkably there is no one testing, clinician-training, or documentation model used. My question asks: What is the effect of the availability and inconsistencies of testing models on self-advocacy for students with learning disabilities in postsecondary education? The aim of […]

...Read More about Tabitha Mancini
Humanities and Social Science

Maximizing Biodiversity Conservation in Tropical Production Forests Through Optimal Reserve Site Selection & Strategic Harvest Planning

With a rapidly increasing amount of tropical forest threatened by logging and land conversion, there is growing concern about retaining species diversity, and in turn, ecosystem sustainability. My research uses methods from the Operations Research field to incorporate ecological considerations for strategic planning in multi-use tropical forest landscapes. While past research has primarily focused on identifying sites for placing permanent reserves, my research develops optimization tools to create algorithms that apply principles of ecological sensitivity to both reserve patterns and harvest scheduling at once.I am utilizing recent advances in numerical optimization of integer programming problems to include spatial and temporal factors that until recently were difficult to solve with such precision. Varying harvesting patterns in response to species-specific spatial and temporal patterns in addition to reserve planning represents a promising new method inform future sustainability standards for forest management, thereby helping to conserve species diversity and maintain ecosystem function.

...Read More about Elaina Marshalek
L&S Sciences

Spatiotemporal Dynamics of Visual Neurons

This summer, I will be using MATLAB to investigate the development of spatiotemporal dynamics in 8-week kittens and adult cats. Previously, the cats were presented with a series of visual stimuli, and electrode measurements were taken to identify the neurons receptive fields, which characterize the response of each neuron to each point in space and time. I will be applying various computational techniques to determine how these receptive fields change over short time intervals, providing insight into how course-fine tuning and binocular vision is achieved. By comparing these spatiotemporal dynamics in different brain regions for kitten and adult cells, I hope to learn more about the development of early visual pathways and neural plasticity. Because the feline visual system is very similar to that of humans, these results may have numerous applications in identifying and correcting visual disorders that are manifested during human development.

...Read More about Matthew Melissa
Rose Hills

Characterizing the Arabidopsis warp2 Gene Responsible For Responding to Temperature Signals by Affecting the Circadian Clock

Circadian clocks are endogenous timers that allow organisms to anticipate daily changes in their environment, and adapt accordingly. In plants, growth, photosynthetic activity, and flowering time are all processes through which circadian regulation plays an integral role. Over the summer, I will be working with Arabidopsis thaliana, one of the model organisms used for plant genetics. The population has mutations in their warm acute response of prr7 (warp) genes, causing them to have acute responses to temperature signals that set circadian rhythms. My objective is to determine both how warp2 affects phenotype, and where in the Arabidopsis genome the warp2 gene lies. We will use this information to place the genes associated with the warp2 mutant in the context of other established circadian factors. Identifying the signaling networks that communicate temperature information to the circadian clock has the potential to provide insight on the effects that our warming climate will […]

...Read More about Mark Mullan
Rose Hills

Understanding the Evolution of EMF2 in Bryophytes

All land plants undergo an alternation of generations. This alternation occurs between a haploid gametophyte and a diploid sporophyte. In the early-diverging lineages of land plants, such as liverworts, hornworts, and mosses, the haploid gametophyte is dominant in the life cycle. However, in later-diverging lineages, such as gymnosperms and angiosperms, the diploid sporophyte is dominant while the haploid gametophyte is transient. It is possible that this evolution of sporophyte dominance may have been caused by a delay in Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2)-triggered meiosis in the sporophyte generation. PRC2 functions in the trimethylation of lysine 27 on histone 3, a mark usually associated with gene silencing. By investigating the PcG gene EMBRYONIC FLOWER2 (EMF2) in bryophytes, I plan to better understand how the EMF2 gene evolved in early-diverging land plants.

...Read More about Jared Nathanson
Rose Hills

Graphene CVD Growth and Electrical Measurements

Discovered in 2004, graphene is a single atom thick sheet of carbon arranged in a hexagonal lattice. It is also the most conductive material at room temperature known to humankind and many believe it could replace silicon and change the future of computers and other electrical devices. Despite this, there is a long way to go before reaping the benefits of its potential applications. Because graphene is a relatively new material, scientists and engineers are still in the process of learning about its production, properties, and capabilities. For my summer research project and honors thesis, I will be synthesizing graphene by varying growth conditions, and then will investigate and compare the differences between them. This research will make progress in creating an optimal standard protocol for making high quality graphene. The information obtained from this research can be applied to creating more efficient graphene-based semiconductors to replace silicon-based semiconductors in […]

...Read More about Jimmy Ng
L&S Sciences

Random Matrix Theory and its Applications in Finance

Although Random Matrix Theory has been developed for almost a century, its application in finance is underutilized. A random matrix is a Hermitian matrix with its entries drawn from a normal distribution with mean zero and variance one. Most of its interesting properties lie in the distribution of its eigenvalues. Not until recently has RMT been employed to estimate the profits and risks of financial portfolios. My project focuses on exploring new ways to manipulate current methods frequently adopted to maximize the profit of a financial portfolio given a certain level of risk. My preliminary research has shown that several distributions regarding the eigenvalues of a random matrix and some techniques developed in time series forecasting are likely to contribute in producing a better estimate. Thus, the goal of my project is to develop a method that can refine current estimates by integrating techniques derived from time series forecasting into […]

...Read More about Hoiyi Ng
L&S Sciences

The Efficacy of Verbal Retrieval Practice: Implications for Educational Practices

My research is about the efficacy of verbal retrieval practice, the act of verbally explaining or telling someone else about learned material. So much of academics is focused on studying or re-reading material when really, telling or explaining it to someone may be more beneficial for memory and comprehension. Along the lines of the testing effect, in which a student shows better memory for items that were tested as opposed to simply studied, verbal retrieval practice serves as a form of testing that may be in line with Transfer Appropriate Processing. My research will explore quantitatively how much verbal retrieval practice may affect memory more than studying or re-reading alone.

...Read More about Tricia Ngoon
Humanities and Social Science

The Animal Companions of Classical Attic Gravestones

In Classical Athens, many children died before adulthood. For a culture that practiced the exposure, or infanticide, of unwanted newborns, the value of the sub-adult life has been difficult to define. What did a child mean to the Athenian family and state? Once a child had been chosen to rear, its life must have been quite valuable, since the family spent lavish sums on the erection of grave markers for deceased children. These gravestones, carved in relief with images of children, provide iconographic information that may help to fill in the gaps in the understanding of death and childhood in ancient Greece. My research investigates the relief images of children and animals that mark these graves, in combination with ancient literary sources concerning animals and childhood, in order to understand what these monuments communicated about the children who lay beneath them.

...Read More about Ann Parker
Humanities and Social Science

Phylogeography of the Orange Ground Thrush (Zoothera gurneyi) of the Eastern Arc Mountains, Africa

The Eastern Arc Mountains of Africa have been identified as an area of high bird diversity and endemism. The forests on these mountains underwent a contraction creating sky islands. Diversity of the forest habitat suggests that the Eastern Arc Mountains served as a refuge during the Pliocene climate cycling. Current molecular technology has allowed for discovery of cryptic taxa between the sky islands. Insights in the genetic structure of populations lead to further understanding of the driving forces of evolution for endemic taxa. There is a high likelihood that similar structure may be detected in the Orange Ground Thrush (Zoothera gurneyi). The present day range of this species encompasses discontinuous, contracted forests in the Eastern Arc Mountains. With the use of various molecular markers, the extent of gene flow can be measured between these montane forests. Information from this study may serve in future conservation measures for this declining species.

...Read More about Joshua Penalba
L&S Sciences

Hexapodal Robustness: the effects of leg loss on energetic and kinematic performance in Blaberus discoidalis cockroaches

My project examines an aspect of the robustness of the hexapodal design. Cockroaches are one of the fastest terrestrial animals for their size and mass, and have been shown to negotiate many different types of externally caused perturbances, such as uneven or slippery terrain. Previous research suggests that cockroaches use passive mechanical control, which is built into the physical properties of the locomotory system, to overcome uneven terrain (Sponberg and Full, 2008). But how about a perturbance brought about by altering the cockroach itselfleg loss? I seek to determine whether these animals spend more energy for running the same distance, and whether they can run just as fast with fewer than six legs. By observing changes in gait and step frequency, I may be able to understand how these hexapodal runners compensate for leg loss. A biomechanical discovery can help explain their ancient evolutionary history and also provide inspiration for […]

...Read More about Yung-En Perng
Rose Hills

The Developmental Basis for Silver Spot Formation on the Wings of the Gulf Fritillar

Butterflies are known for the remarkable patterns and colors of their wings. There are precisely arranged rows of microscopic single-cell scales across the wing surface. The color of scales can result from either the biosynthesis of pigments within the scale, or from structural coloration (sometimes both). Structural colors, such as iridescence, are of particular interest because they originate from the interaction of light with complex nanostructures that are found within or at the surface of each scale. A remarkable example of iridescence is seen on the wings of the Gulf Fritillary butterfly, Agraulis vanilla, where spots appear silver and almost reflective as a mirror. I am interested in how scale stacking contributes to overall reflectivity, and how actin contributes developmentally to the particular structure, and therefore iridescence, of a silver scale. I will be looking at Gulf Fritillary butterfly wings at the larval, pupal, and adult stages. My work will […]

...Read More about Maria Pizzano
Rose Hills

Temperature Fluctuations in Planer Symmetry Ion Traps

Quantum information processing promises to increase computer power on a scale not yet seen in the industry. With less than a hundred quantum mechanical bits physical systems that are beyond the scope of current computers could be investigated. One method of quantum information processing is using laser cooled ions trapped in electromagnetic fields. The ions must remain sufficiently undisturbed long enough to make calculations. In practice strong heating of the laser cooled ions hinder this. The source of this heating can be traced to electric fields which are five orders of magnitude larger than what is predicted by fundamental theories. It will be very important to measure and understand this source of heating in order to mitigate it. I will measure the heating rates of surface ion traps at room temperature to provide data for future ion trap architecture. With these measurements future cleaning and treatment methods of the trap […]

...Read More about Anthony Ransford
Rose Hills

Delivery of a Gene Targeting Agent Against HCMV by Salmonella Vector in Human Cells

Human Cytomegalovirus Virus (HCMV) may go unnoticed in people with healthy immune systems; however, this opportunistic pathogen can be life threatening to immunodeficient individuals including AIDS patients, newborns, and transplant patients. Nucleic acid molecules such as ribozymes are promising gene – interfering agents. This enzymatic RNA accomplishes gene-interference by targeting and cleaving a specific region of mRNA e.g., viral mRNA. In my research I will take advantage of the ability of Salmonella bacteria to enter human cells and transfer genetic material to host cells, leading to efficient expression of the transferred genes. My goal is to use an attenuated strain of Salmonella bacteria as a carrier system to transfer the M1-GS ribozyme genes to HCMV-infected human cells in vitro. Successful delivery and expression of the M1-GS ribozyme gene in the cell will lead to cleavage of the viral mRNA coding for proteins that are essential for the HCMV virus to […]

...Read More about Michael Reeves
L&S Sciences

The Dynamic Resting Brain: Dopamine-Dependent Changes in Functional Connectivity of Intrinsic Networks

The brain is a system of cells that electrically interact with each other in complex ways. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) on a human at rest or doing a task, we can identify clusters of cells that work together to transmit electrical messages to other clusters of cells. These functional networks allow us to connect what is happening physiologically in the brain to mental phenomena. It is useful to find a baseline organization of functional networks in the brain to characterize what changes occur when a human begins a task and what happens when the mind wanders” at rest. I will look at subjects at rest with differing levels of brain dopamine (an important chemical for brain function) to identify a collection of functional networks common across subjects and present at both dopamine levels. This will provide insight into intrinsic brain activity as well as direction toward an understanding […]

...Read More about Jacob Richards
Rose Hills

Genome Editing in Mammalian Cells for Study of Clathrin-mediated Endocytic Dynamics

Clathrin-mediated endocytosis is a process by which a cell absorbs molecules with the help of the protein clathrin. Cell biology studies often employ a variety of different cell types to study a single cellular pathway but how these pathways operate often differ depending on the cell type observed. Unfortunately, in most cases, little is known about the mechanisms that give rise to these differences. I aim to explore how cells differ in the process of clathrin-mediated endocytosis, with the ultimate goal of understanding why these differences exist and what it means for human physiology. I will couple genome-editing technology, together with use of fluorescent proteins and live-cell microscopy to characterize this highly dynamic process. I believe this work will help us map how and why different cell types undergo endocytosis, and provide a foundation for elucidating how complexity in this pathway contributes to physiology.

...Read More about Jae Young Ryoo
L&S Sciences

Regulated Degradation of KIF20A by the APC/C

The Anaphase Promoting Complex/Cyclosome (APC/C) is an essential protein that allows cells to divide in a timely and proper manner. Inhibition of the APC/C prevents proper cell division, making it a protein of interest for cancer therapies. While many targets of the APC have been identified, its full spectrum of substrates is not yet characterized. In this project, I will be studying the interaction between the APC and a proposed novel substrate, KIF20A, a motor protein that is also essential for cell division, and which is also of interest in the development of future cancer therapies. In studying the interaction between these two proteins, I hope to identify and characterize a novel APC substrate, and to potentially discover new mechanisms of APC/C regulation. Ultimately, this project will help to gain a deeper understanding into how this crucial protein complex regulates cell division.

...Read More about Robert Saxton
Rose Hills

Lung Development in Dermophis Mexicanus

Not too many people can say they have ever heard of a caecilian, however, these worm-like, tailless amphibians, are an intriguing and understudied organism. For my project, I will be conducting an in depth, observational study of the lung development of one particular species, Dermophis mexicanus. This tropical species has two lungs, similar to other vertebrates, but one distinguishing characteristic is that these lungs are of unequal size. In Dermophis mexicanus, the left lung is significantly smaller than the right lung and the goal of my project is to detail this process of development. Hopefully, as I progress through the summer, I will be able to shed some light as to why these structures develop in this unique fashion and contribute to the growing knowledge of such a fascinating creature.

...Read More about Derek Shapiro
Rose Hills

Investigations of Side Bands in Optically Detected Magnetic Resonance Signals of Negatively Charged Nitrogen Vacancy Centers in Diamond

Negatively charged nitrogen vacancy centers (NV- centers) in diamond consist of a nitrogen atom next to a vacancy in the carbon lattice. With their small size, these color centers promise magnetometry (measurement of the magnetic field) with an unprecedented combination of sensitivity and spatial resolution. For this application, optically detected magnetic resonance (ODMR) signals must be thoroughly understood. We obtain ODMR signals by focusing 532 nm (green) laser light onto the sample, applying a scan of microwave frequencies by pressing a wire against the diamond surface, and measuring the red fluorescence. ODMR signals enable probing the energy level structure of the NV- centers, from which the external magnetic field can be calculated. My SURF project attempts to determine the origin of certain recently observed side bands in ODMR signals of NV- centers. This knowledge is important for understanding ODMR line shapes and for optimization of NV based devices.

...Read More about Maria Simanovskaia
L&S Sciences

GETTING THE MESSAGE: Understanding the Construction and Effectiveness of Media-based HIV Prevention Information Targeting African American Men, Residing in Alameda County

My research is concerned with understanding the construction and effectiveness of media-based HIV prevention information targeting African American Men, age 18-44, residing in Alameda County, California. African Americans face the most severe burden of HIV of all racial/ethnic groups in the United States with black men accounting for 70% of the estimated new HIV infections among all blacks in 2009 (CDC). Media-based HIV information is a strategy currently being used to encourage individuals to test for HIV and begin treatment as soon as possible. I will spend the summer interviewing staff personnel (program managers, coordinators, and key personnel working in community-based organizations and the public health department) who are responsible for the development and placement of HIV-related print media targeting black men in Alameda County, to get an understanding of the process that goes into the construction and evaluation of the materials. I will also be conducting qualitative observations in […]

...Read More about Bill Stewart
Humanities and Social Science

Buddhist Contemplative Practice: An Integrative Approach for Investigating Consciousness

My research focuses on the growing recognition that the scientific study of consciousness is lacking in one crucial element: a rigorous methodology for examining the first-person, qualitative aspects of conscious states. While neuroimaging and computational cognition have greatly enhanced our knowledge of brain function, we are no closer to bridging the explanatory gap. That is, how does neuronal activity create the deeply complex, subjective, and personal world that each of us experiences? Though conventional scientific study does not currently recognize introspection as a valid method of inquiry, I will examine the ways in which Buddhist contemplative practices may be used to study consciousness directly, as they have been used for more than 2,000 years. I seek to define and develop a precise methodology of meditation techniques to be used in conjunction with neuroscientific studies to heighten our understanding of consciousness. I will spend my time perusing the literature on contemplative […]

...Read More about Dayna Stimson
Humanities and Social Science

CAYA Coven: Pagan Eclecticism in the East Bay Area

My research focuses on CAYA Coven, an eclectic Pagan organization in San Franciscos East Bay that is dedicated to providing public rituals such as annual Sabbats and Full Moon Circles that honor seasonal and lunar cycles. CAYA means Come As You Are and emphasizes the incorporation of a diversity of Pagan traditions as well as deities from all over the world. I am interested in understanding how spiritual aptitudes and capacities are cultivated in the course of rituals and other coven related activities. Through participant observation and interviews, I will explore how engaging in ritualized practices shape attitudes, sensibilities, and the establishment of sociability and community. Through examining the function of CAYA as an institution, including aspects of ritual participation and performance, I hope to understand how a sacred space is created, how CAYAs hierarchical clergy works to create an eclectic environment, and why pluralism within the coven is valued. […]

...Read More about Jennifer Stover
Humanities and Social Science

Growth Factor Effects on REgulation of Neural Precursor Cell Development

Contrary to previous dogma that we are born with all the brain cells well ever have, adult neurogenesis continues to occur in the central nervous system of mammals, including humans. Neural precursor cells (NPCs) proliferate and differentiate into new neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes in response to the input from their cellular environment, termed the neurogenic niche. This niche contains astrocytes, cells that are essential players in neuronal development, synaptic physiology, and stem cell regulation. It has been discovered that the introduction of chronic stress and stress hormones, glucocorticoids (GC), cause decreases in the proliferation and neuronal fates of NPCs. We observe that GCs induce changes of expression of certain molecules, including bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) which stimulate increases in astrocytic differentiation and noggin a BMP antagonist that promotes increases in neuron formation. Thus, my project investigates the ways that changing BMP expression affects NPC behavior through astrocyte signaling in vitro. […]

...Read More about Jennifer Su
Rose Hills

Identifying Genetic and Metabolic Interactions Between Bacteria

Bacterial communities have been shown to impact everything from geochemical cycles to human health and disease; however, the mechanisms by which natural microbial consortia partition resources and stably maintain cooperative loops of metabolite transfer are very poorly understood. These are incredibly powerful concepts; for example, synthetic communities could represent effective compartments for bioremediation or complex biochemical synthesis. Thus, we propose an exploratory study aimed at developing a genetic interaction map between pairs of model bacteria. Specifically, we will study Shewanella oneidensis MR-1, Zymomonas mobilis ZM4, Desulfovibrio alaskensis G20, and Escherichia coli, among others of interest to environmental remediation or metabolic engineering applications.We are in the process of developing a complete genomic knockout set of our target strains. The functions of many genes are not currently clear, but by pairwise co-culturing our targets, and clarifying growth conditions for viable microbial consortia, we aim to correlate growth phenotypes observed under different environmental […]

...Read More about Yumi Suh
Rose Hills

Determining the Sub-cellular Localization of Neuronal Protein Homologs in Choanoflagellates using Transmission Electron Microscopy

Choanoflagellates are single-celled eukaryotic organisms that are the most recent ancestor to multicellular animals. As such, they possess most of the proteins required for the transition to multicellularity. One choanoflagellate protein in particular, Homer, has been shown through immumofluorescence to localize to the nucleus. I will be using transmission electron microscopy with Immunogold staining and membrane fractionation to discover the sub-cellular localization of Homer. In animals, Homer plays a crucial role in adhesion and scaffolding at the synapses of neurons. Since neuro-sensory systems are unique to metazoans, I hope to take a step towards figuring out the function of a neuronal protein homolog in an organism with no neural function and hopefully learn more about the evolutionary history of multicellular animals.

...Read More about Tara Sulur
L&S Sciences

Reinforced Concrete Analysis

Currently, many structural engineers do not take masonry (or more technically infill walls) into account when they design a structure. In other words, they assume that the masonry that goes in between the structure has no effect on the building. The problem with this approach is during an earthquake, the bricks can affect the fundamental manner in which the structure reacts because, contrary to the design philosophy, they carry load and increase the stiffness of the building. My research is based on using a computer simulation called OpenSees to discover the effect of masonry walls on a building during an earthquake and trying to figure out how they affect the structures performance during a variety of different earthquakes. The goal of this is to determine whether we need to change the structural design philosophy, or whether the deficiencies of the philosophy are marginal and will have a small impact in […]

...Read More about Henry Sweat
Rose Hills

The Poetics of Punk

The language of gutter punks and academic poets have something in common: their expressive natures are socially conscious, politically aware, and always new or challenging. My research outlines how exactly both punk music and and poetry use their material to enact change in both the social and political spheres. Punk has remained one of the largest cultural phenomenon of the last 50 years; its effects are still visible today: in the non-conformist attitude, the Do-It-Yourself ethic, the raw emotional and exclamatory lyrics (and you know…mohawks, tattoos, raggedy patches, etc). Poetry, too, has had lasting effects on their environments; it has continually participated in and written about the world in attempts to portray and change it. Punk and poetry share common ends, and it is my intention to read one as I would the other, to determine exactly how these goals are achieved.

...Read More about Alex Taitague
Humanities and Social Science

Taking Up Space, Locating Poetics by Place

What does it mean to find oneself “On the Road?” What is the significance of traveling east to west? By traveling across the United States and examining the rhythm, kinetics, and visual movement of particular locations, I can try on the philosophical lenses of three American writers who were greatly influenced by place. Jack Kerouac, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman were not only affected by their surroundings, they made a presence in American literature by promoting self participation in life. They did so each in their own unique rhythm correspondent to their cultural and geographical environment. As I participate in my own experience of being on the road and amongst the American landscape, I will gain insight into the authenticity of self in relationship to place, and by doing so I can better understand what Whitman meant when he said, “I celebrate myself, and sing myself.” Robyn’s Research Blog

...Read More about Robyn Taylor
Humanities and Social Science

Evanescence and Concatenation: The Dutch Role in the Atlantic Slave Trade

Certain histories have been ignored that are incredibly important to understanding self-identity. The Dutch West India Companys (WIC) history epitomized trans-Atlantic diaspora, creating unique cultures all over the world and intensifying identity transformations. I will examine the extent of the Dutch role in producing identity transformation and cultural diaspora along the 17th century WIC slave route from Amsterdam, to Ghana, to Curaao, and finally to New Amsterdam. I will draw on publications from experts in the field such as Paul Gilroy, Kwesi Yankah, and Linda Heywood. Looking at tales, traditions, and legends from Ghana, the Caribbean, and New Amsterdam will synthesize the extent of cohesion among trans-Atlantic cultures spread by the Dutch slave trade. Highlighting the influence of cultural material and folklore could provide a greater understanding of the under-examined Dutch role in the Atlantic slave trade, and insight into the extent of cultural cohesion and distinction across the Atlantic.

...Read More about Marissa Teitelman
Humanities and Social Science

Determining Biochemical Benefits of Gene Therapy on the Peripheral Nervous System in Cholesterol Deficient Mice

Determined Biochemical Benefits of Gene Therapy on the Peripheral Nervous System Smith-Lemli-Opitz Syndrome (SLOS) is a hereditary disorder characterized by physical dysmorphia, mental retardation, and delayed growth. The principal cause of the disorder is a defect in the gene that codes for the enzyme 7-dehydrocholesterol reductase (DHCR7), resulting in cholesterol deficiency as well as the toxic accumulation of its precursor, 7-dehydrocholesterol (7DHC). The gene for this missing enzyme will be delivered via a viral vector to treat mouse models genetically engineered to mimic SLOS in humans. Since cholesterol is critical to the formation of myelin, the substance that insulates neurons to facilitate signal transduction, the treatment should allow patients to normalize brain cholesterol metabolism and correct the neurological deficits. I will work to further our understanding of the effects of gene therapy on the nervous system by measuring the cholesterol and 7DHC levels in sciatic nerve tissue from normal, untreated […]

...Read More about Flora Ting
Rose Hills

A Genetic Analysis of Bacterial Proteins Involved in ATP Secretion

To infect host cells, Salmonella uses its Type III Secretion System to inject virulence factors necessary for pathogenesis. Understanding the movement of ATP in Salmonella will help us understand how this bacterial pathogen regulates its secretion of virulence factors and its communication with host cells. This summer, I am performing a genetic analysis on bacterial proteins involved in ATP secretion of Salmonella. After screening a panel of E. coli mutants for defects in ATP secretion, it was concluded that mutants were defective in ATP secretion when two subunits of an enzyme, cytochrome bo oxidase, were deleted. These subunits are coded by cyo A and cyo B genes. E. coli is a gram-negative enteric bacterium that is closely related to Salmonella, so I will make the same deletion mutants of the two genes in Salmonella typhimurium and Salmonella enteritidis to determine if the same enzyme is responsible for ATP secretion. I […]

...Read More about Helen Tran
Rose Hills

A Neurospora crassa Serine-threonine Kinsae Involved in the Transition to Cellulolytic Metabolism

I am studying the degradation of plant biomass in the fungal model organism Neurospora crassa. The study of plant biomass degradation is important because it will both help us understand the molecular mechanisms behind this essential ecological process, and may also aid in the production of biofuels derived from lignocellulosic biomass, which could serve as an alternative to petroleum based fuels. Previous genetic analysis has implicated a N. crassa serine-threonine kinase in the cellulolytic metabolism pathway, but its molecular mechanisms remain unknown. I want to investigate the role of this kinase in cellulolytic metabolism, and how the primary structure relates to its function as a signal transducer.

...Read More about Jordan Tsai
Rose Hills

ALPHA-II Apparatus Update and Charge Neutrality of Antihydrogen

Throughout the summer I will be working as part of the ALPHA collaboration in updating the current experimental apparatus and hopefully I will be able to assist in running tests by the end of summer. According to the collaboration website, “ALPHA is an international collaboration based at CERN, and whose aim is stable trapping of antihydrogen atoms, the antimatter counterpart of the simplest atom, hydrogen. By precise comparisons of hydrogen and antihydrogen, the experiment hopes to study fundamental symmetries between matter and antimatter.” My main tasks are designing and testing circuitry that will be used to control and protect the magnets of the trapping device. I am also designing equipment that will be used to mount these circuits inside the trap in cryogenic temperatures. If the summer plans run on schedule, then I will also be able to help operate the equipment in the tests on trapped antihydrogen and help […]

...Read More about Matthew Turner
Rose Hills

Textured-Object Detection and Robotic Perception

Perception, or the ability to perceive the world, is one of the remaining missing components for allowing robots to enter our daily environments. However, its current state-of-the-art performance is far from accurate. This summer, I will explore several machine learning techniques for improving perception. For instance, I will use distance metric learning to improve upon the euclidean distance that is widely used for comparing data points. Preliminary results show that algorithms such as Large Margin Nearest Neighbor can greatly improve k-nearest-neighbor performance for SIFT features, improving perception performance. I also plan to use structured data with unsupervised feature learning to improve the feature descriptors used in perception systems. Namely, the features that we hope to learn will capture local depth structure, albedo, and lighting.

...Read More about Justin Uang
Rose Hills

Beyond the Binary: New roles and implications of NGOs in Haiti

There are over 18,000 NGOs operating in Haiti, many of which provide overlapping services in the same regions without collaboration. Recent academic debates have pitted NGOs against the Haitian state, claiming that the multiplicity and fragmentation of NGOs prevents any sort of uniform policy from being implemented and thus further undercuts the legitimacy and accountability of the Haitian state (Etienne 1997). My research project will attempt to challenge this dualistic framework by conducting participant observation with the Cap-Haitien Health Network, an organization that coordinates the operations of over seventy health NGOs working in the region of Cap-Haitien, Haiti, and thus specifically addresses the critique of NGO fragmentation. My research addresses three points: How do the Health Networks practices improve the functioning and accessibility of health NGOs in Cap-Haitien? How, in practice, does the Health Network cooperate with the Haitian government in its attempts to coordinate NGO policy, accountability and efficiency? […]

...Read More about Julia Uyttewaal
Humanities and Social Science

The Resilience of Filipino Activists: A Study of Human Security

Since 2002 the Philippine government has labeled numerous leftist Filipino parties as terrorists, using the Global War on Terror (GWOT) as a political tool to delegitimize opposing parties. Despite imprisonment, torture and killings, Filipino activists continue their struggle for national democracy. This project, contributing to a Peace & Conflict honors thesis, examines their resiliency: how do Filipino activists strategize despite state intimidation? Using the framework of political legitimacy, I will compare the National Democratic Front of thePhilippines (NDFP) and BAYAN, two leftist organizations. The former operates through political exiles in the Netherlands and is deemed illegal due to its promotion of armed resistance. In contrast, BAYAN operates domestically, nonviolently and legitimately; nevertheless, its members remain targets of the state for their anti-neoliberal agenda2. I will analyze the two, through qualitative and ethnographic methods, to explore how Filipinos strategize effectively despite geopolitical limitations and a biased legal discourse.

...Read More about Rochelle Valdez
Humanities and Social Science

Analyzing the Effects of Copper on Lipid Droplet Formation in Hepatocytes

Lipid droplets are vital organelles present in various cell types that act as a site for energy and vitamin storage, lipoprotein and cholesterol synthesis, and detoxification. Abnormalities related to lipid droplets in liver cells have been shown to correlate to the pathogenesis of fatty liver disease and diabetes. Copper also plays an indispensable role in the body, functioning as a cofactor for several key proteins, the improper regulation of which has been linked to Wilsons disease, Menkes disease, and diabetes as well. Previous work from our lab has demonstrated that inducing lipolysis, the breakdown of lipid droplets, causes copper to efflux from the cell. My project will focus on investigating the converse to determine how copper affects lipid droplet formation. By performing knockdowns of CTR1 and ATP7A, the copper uptake and efflux proteins respectively, we can modulate the cells copper concentration and use lipid staining procedures to determine a correlation […]

...Read More about Gabriel Weingart
Rose Hills

Abiotic Influences on the Distributions of Tropical Cave-Dwellers

While there have been relatively many studies of cave ecology in temperate regions, tropical cave ecology is vastly understudied. The purpose of my research is to identify some of the non-living environmental features that influence species distributions through Cueva Nibida, a large cave on an island off Panamas Caribbean coast. It is of growing importance that this ecosystem be understood so that conservation measures can be enacted to mitigate human impact brought upon by increasing tourism to the region. To accomplish this, I will map invertebrate distributions and abundances through the cave, and will also map changes in abiotic characteristics such as chamber size and water depth. These two maps will be overlain on one another to reveal correlations between differences in community composition and changes in the physical environment.

...Read More about Amelia Weiss
L&S Sciences

Characterizing and Understanding the Initial Infection Profile of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and its Relationship to Systemic Dissemination

One of the leading causes of death by an infectious agent, Tuberculosis (TB) currently affects roughly 1/3 of the worlds population. However, a majority of these infected individuals carry a latent disease state within the lungs, and are asymptomatic. While it is widely known that the bacteria eventually infects macrophage cells within the lungs in order to actively propagate the disease, the first couple days following infection are less well understood. My project this summer will study an infected mouse model in order to characterize the initial infection profile of the bacteria. Furthermore, I hope to determine if the types of cells infected in the initial profile correlate with the chances of acquiring active systemic disease later in life. If successful, this new research has strong implications on novel treatment development.

...Read More about Sarah Weng
Rose Hills

Teuf Love: Verlan in French Rap and Beyond

In the banlieues or suburbs of major French cities, unemployment, crime and societal exclusion are daily realities for the largely immigrant communities. In the 1980’s, these conditions spurred an explosion in vocabulary and popularity in the syllable-switching slang practice verlan, alongside the nascent French rap scene. My research project and French Honors thesis will explore the poetic and social functions of verlan in rap and pop culture amid France’s conservative language policies. I will trace the genealogy and ethos of verlan in the French rap movement, identify how this ethos has evolved and spread to mainstream youth culture, and chart the conscious and unconscious presence of verlan and the tensions it creates between high and low culture. Through interviews, concerts, and participant observation in Paris and Marseille, I hope to shed light on verlan as both subversive social and poetic tool and defining element of modern French language use.

...Read More about Kelsey Westphal
Humanities and Social Science

Rational Discounting in Social Learning

Culture has played a large role in human’s abilities to adapt to the environment. By learning from other people, novices are able to skip the steps of trial and error learning that may be costly, or even fatal. One of the primary ways that culture is transmitted between generations is through social learning. Beginning in the 1990s some scholars have noted that social learning may be disadvantageous if a majority of people have erroneous views about the environment. In this setup, populations may descend into rational “herds” in which people, rationally, disregard their own environmental signals in favor of going with the incorrect social view. Such herds are hypothesized to be the cause of market booms and busts. This project will provide experimental evidence on how people use ordered and independently generated social cues to make behavioral decisions shedding light on the origins of rational “herds”.

...Read More about Andrew Whalen
Rose Hills

Exploring Gender Roles through Lithics in a Late Classic Maya Site

For my research this summer I am participating in an archaeological excavation at the Classic Maya site of Chinikiha, Mexico. I am investigating gendered labor in the production and use of stone tools (lithics) in the Maya household by analyzing material remains There is a pervasive, but untested assumption that men were the producers and users of lithics, and as such, this is an area that has been underinvestigated in archeology. Looking critically at gendered labor will allow me to explore the effect that gender had on the Classic Maya economy.

...Read More about Abbey White
Humanities and Social Science

The Social Function of Shakespeare in the Lives of American Audiences as a Cause of the Astor Place Riot of 1849

In 1849, two competing performances of Shakespeare’s Macbeth sparked a deadly riot in New York City. What began as a rivalry between two actorsan American star with a working-class fan base and a British tragedian with an aristocratic followingbecame a conflict over class divisions, British cultural influence, and permitted conduct in the theater. Previous scholarship tends to focus on the two actors, at the expense of understanding what led audiences at the time to invest so heavily in performances of Shakespeare. Using a mix of archival documents and secondary sources, my goal is to place the audience at the center of this real-life drama. What was the social function of attending performances of Shakespeare for antebellum American audiences, and how did audience experiences and expectations lead to the Astor Place Riot?

...Read More about Eli Wirtschafter
Humanities and Social Science

Learning Invariant Features f or Robotic Perception

A key challenge in bringing robots out of the manufacturing setting and into homes and offices is that of perception: though many robots are equipped with numerous sensors, there is currently no reliable computer algorithm which can take as input images of unpredictable, cluttered environments and identify each object in the image and estimate its 3D pose.Recently, there have been many advances in the field of unsupervised feature learning via neural networks, specifically in the learning of sparse features. Given the vast amount of data online, as well as the ability to render photorealistic images in simulation, there arises the possibility of enforcing feature invariances using structured data. This summer I plan to work on a project using such data to construct features which possess invariance to different lighting conditions and shifts in viewpoint, as well as encapsulate depth information through RGB-D sensors to improve robotic perception.

...Read More about Ziang Xie
Rose Hills

Efficient bioconjugation through UV-activated oxidative coupling of azidophenol and Aniline

Bioconjugation reactions, the chemical reactions connecting two biomolecules together, have been heavily studied to chemically modify proteins, allowing the possibility of augmenting the biological activity of proteins with small molecules. This field of research is crucial to many pharmaceutical applications, such as drug targeting that requires the conjugation between drug molecules and soluble proteins. In order to install new synthetic molecules onto a protein site specifically and bioorthogonally, there is an increasing need for chemical strategies that can effectively attach synthetic molecules site specifically to proteins. However, many of these reactions often require high excess of reagents, and the types of reactions that can selectively target amino acids are limited. My project is to investigate the scope of bioconjugation reaction by studying the UV-light activated oxidative coupling reaction between azidophenol and anline. The research project will potentially lead to new bioconjugation method with high yields, chemoselectivity and expanded conjugation substrates.

...Read More about Nan “Chuck” Ye
Rose Hills

Investigating Cryptic Translation Using the SHL8 Minigene

Through immune surveillance, the immune system can identify cells as self or non-self i.e. transplanted, cancerous, or pathogen-infected. Immune surveillance relies on antigen presentation to T cells. Some of these antigens arise from endogenous protein translation, through either conventional methods of translation or certain cryptic means of translation. Previous work done in the Shastri lab has shown that antigens may be generated through the usage of an alternate-non-AUG initiation codon and that this mechanism is distinct from the conventional AUG-mediated translation. This work has been done using one particular antigen-reporter system (the LYL8 antigen arising from the H60 minor histocompatibility gene). My aim is to use an alternate reporteran OVA-peptide antigen SHL8to further characterize cryptic translation, helping to establish cryptic translation as a widespread phenomenon and not one that is reporter-dependent.

...Read More about Jason Yoon
Rose Hills

Reading Comprehension and RSVP -- Processing or Memory?

My current project is about reading performance across different methods of text presentation. The standard form of text presentation is by printed words on a page or screen in blocks of sentences and paragraphs. This way of text presentation is difficult for people who have diseases of the eye that hinder eye movement. One way to correct this problem is through rapid serial visual presentation, or RSVP, where text is presented one word at a time in sequence on a monitor. Do reading speed and comprehension improve when this method is used instead of standard presentation methods? A series of experiments across various text presentation modes will try to answer that question.

...Read More about Yechong Yu
L&S Sciences

Solubility of Intermediary Polysulfides in Ion Conductive Block Copolymers

Batteries with high energy density have important applications as energy storage devices in portable electronics. This summer, I will be studying solid-state lithium-sulfur batteries with block copolymer electrolytes. This the benefit of this design is twofold: the Li-S chemistry has a theoretical specific capacity over 6 times that of todays lithium-ion battery and the polymer electrolyte eliminates the need to use liquid organic electrolytes, which are flammable and volatile. However, there are many challenges that must be overcome before Li-S batteries are viable as future energy storage systems. The problem I will be focusing on for the summer is the dissolution of lithium polysulfides into the polymer electrolyte. As the battery discharges, these polysulfides can dissolve into the ion-conducting polymer and migrate to the anode, causing self-discharge. Using lamellar block copolymers as a cathode binder, we hope to create complex diffusion pathways or chemical potential gradients to localize polysulfide diffusion.

...Read More about Rodger Yuan
Rose Hills

Identifying Dsb Substrates of the Type III Secretion System in Salmonella enterica

Salmonella enterica is a bacterium that causes major food borne disease in the world. It infects people by inducing the uptake of the bacteria by secreting proteins into cells in the host’s intestines. A crucial system of Salmonella enterica pathogenesis is the Type III Secretion System (T3SS) which transports bacterial proteins into host cells. Previous experiments indicate that the Disulfide Bond Formation (Dsb) System is needed for the Type III Secretion System. However, a direct interaction between the two systems is not currently known. Through molecular cloning and a bacterial two-hybrid system, we can determine if there is a relationship between the proteins in the T3SS and proteins in the Dsb system. A better understanding of the interaction between these two systems may provide more insight to the pathogenesis of Salmonella enterica, and further analysis can lead to the identification of potential proteins for antibacterial targets as well as potential […]

...Read More about Rebecca Yue
L&S Sciences

Are We Understanding College Predispositions in Oakland Youth? A Case Study of College Track

The disparity in earnings between students with and without a college degree has been growing for the past twenty-five years, and has become pivotal in determining the future stability of the nations youth. Through this research project, I will explore the college predispositions of low-income students of color recently accepted in College Track, an after school college preparatory program in Oakland. By focusing on three elements of the program: the college-focused activities, the extracurricular/supplemental opportunities, and the staff, I aim to understand the motivations that lead rising 9th graders to apply to the program. Through this project I will provide a better understanding of how to best assist students who want to go to college but do not have the means to do so on their own. Simultaneously, I will investigate students expectations of after school program along with their college predispositions to influence the way after school programs are […]

...Read More about Katherine Zepeda-Arreola
Humanities and Social Science