Genetic Analysis of Evolved Tooth Gain in Sticklebacks

Understanding the genetic mechanisms that underlie morphological evolution is a long-standing goal in biology. The threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) is an emerging model organism with features ideal for studying the molecular basis of morphological evolution. Several stickleback populations display evolved differences in tooth number, likely adaptive to match different diets. These differences in tooth number are largely controlled by a Quantitative Trait Locus (QTL), a genomic region controlling a quantitative trait. This QTL is located on chromosome 21 and contains an excellent candidate gene: Bone Morphogenetic Protein 6 (Bmp6). I will use two approaches to test the hypothesis that Bmp6 underlies the chromosome 21 tooth QTL. First, I will use a reverse genetics approach with TALENs (TAL Effector Nucleases) to generate loss-of-function Bmp6 alleles to assess the role of Bmp6 in tooth patterning. Second, I will use a forward genetic approach of recombinant mapping to further fine-map the tooth QTL.

...Read More about Rachel Agoglia
L&S Sciences

Unsupervised Feature Learning for Object Recognition

My research this summer focuses on object recognition for robotics. The goal is to have a robot be able to look at several objects and be able to not only identify each object, but also figure out how each is positioned. I will apply deep learning algorithms that have proven useful in other vision tasks to this problem.

...Read More about Pedro Amaral
Rose Hills

Improving Sintered Cadmium Telluride Nanocrystals Films for Photovoltaics by Controlled Halide Surface Chemistry

Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) is an alternative semiconductor to silicon for photovoltaic applications. Its advantageous physical properties allow it to absorb an equal amount of light with a fraction of silicons thickness; this means lower material costs. However, lack of fundamental research renders this material less efficient than silicon. Recent attempts at reducing manufacturing costs of CdTe solar cells investigate solution deposited nanocrystal (NC) films, i.e.semiconductor ink. During solar cell fabrication, CdTe films must be exposed to CdCl2 and heated to improve device performance. My research will investigate the effect of CdCl2 on heated CdTe NCs films. I will first synthesize solution-stable CdTe NCs (i.e. ink), then modify the NC surface with CdCl2. Next, I will fabricate CdTe layers by heating solution-deposited CdTe NCs and evaluate the films electrical and optical properties. Ultimately, I strive to discover which deposition and CdCl2 parameters lead to the best film performances for solar cells.

...Read More about Rami Ariss
Rose Hills

The Role of Nonhematopoietic Cells in Tuning Natural Killer Cell Responsiveness

In the Raulet lab, we are interested in studying the ability of a subset of innate lymphocytes called Natural Killer (NK) cells to respond to stimulation (responsiveness). NK cell responsiveness mainly depends on their ability to engage with a family of proteins called Major Histocompatability Complex Class I (MHC-I) molecules commonly expressed throughout the body. However, whether a particular cell type is responsible for setting the levels of NK cell responsiveness is still outstanding. During the summer, I will develop part of a bigger project aimed in identifying the cellular component important for tuning the responsiveness of NK cells particularly focusing on the role of MHC-I on non-hematopoietic cells (nHCs). Once we establish the cellular type involved in tuning NK cell responsiveness, we could be able to modulate NK responsiveness towards hyper- and hypo-responsivity, to be applied in cancer therapies or for the improvement of graft rejection.

...Read More about Camillia Azimi
Rose Hills

Designing and Implementing a Compact, Low Power Capacitively Coupled Contactless Conductivity Detector for Use in a Point of Care Diagnostic Device Coupled with a Microfluidic Chip

Quantitative portable medical diagnostics devices have the potential to transform medicine by providing a range of analytics that cannot be provided by classical binary readout assays. We are developing a next-generation portable clinical diagnostic device with low-power consumption that produces digitized data. To accomplish this we will utilize a detection method called, capacitively coupled contactless conductivity detection (C4D), with microfluidic electrophoresis for detection in a low-power compact cheap plastic microchip. C4D directly detects ions using two external electrodes via capacitive coupling between the electrode and the solution in the microchannel. By passing a high frequency sinusoid through one electrode and picking up the signal with a second electrode, the conductivity of the solution between the electrodes is monitored and the presence of specific ions can be determined. This detection method will be optimized for detecting biomarkers associated with diseases critical to humanitarian efforts, such as HIV and malaria.

...Read More about Cameron Baradar
Rose Hills

Role of the Medial Prefrontal Cortex in Learning and Memory: Integrating Antagonistic Effects of Reward Signals

Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) is an alternative semiconductor to silicon for photovoltaic applications. Its advantageous physical properties allow it to absorb an equal amount of light with a fraction of silicons thickness; this means lower material costs. However, lack of fundamental research renders this material less efficient than silicon. Recent attempts at reducing manufacturing costs of CdTe solar cells investigate solution deposited nanocrystal (NC) films, i.e.semiconductor ink. During solar cell fabrication, CdTe films must be exposed to CdCl2 and heated to improve device performance. My research will investigate the effect of CdCl2 on heated CdTe NCs films. I will first synthesize solution-stable CdTe NCs (i.e. ink), then modify the NC surface with CdCl2. Next, I will fabricate CdTe layers by heating solution-deposited CdTe NCs and evaluate the films electrical and optical properties. Ultimately, I strive to discover which deposition and CdCl2 parameters lead to the best film performances for solar cells.

...Read More about Nadir Bilici
Rose Hills

Martyrdom Imagery in the Church of Santi Nereo e Achillo: Establishing the Lineage of Catholic Iconography through Theatrical Arrangement

The reassertion of Catholicism’s essential principles after the Council of Trent had a major impact on religious art production in 16th century Italy. Consciously putting together reliques from the early years of Christianity with Rinascimento painting techniques, the new visual programs created within Roman churches became the place where sacred space and ideas could be rebuilt, generating a new meaning for the Catholic community. I will travel to Rome to investigate the emergence of the discipline of Archaeology as the crucial event that allowed early Christian antiquities discovered in the Catacombs to be reinvested in churches during the Counter-Reformation. My research will focus mainly on the modest basilica of Santi Nereo e Achillo where infamous scenes of Christian martyrdom are believed to have been composed by Renaissance painter Pomarancio to understand how this gruesome imagery participated in the establishment of the Roman Catholic Church’s claims for historical legitimacy.

...Read More about Mathilde Bonvalot
Humanities and Social Science

Study of the over-expression of Thioredoxin h in Sorghum bicolor and its effects on seed protein digestibility

Sorghum is an important staple crop in the semi-arid tropics of Asia and Africa as it feeds millions of the poorest people in these regions. It provides some degree of nutritional content for humans, but is considered an inferior grain because of its significantly lowered protein digestion. Since sorghum is being consumed in populations where undernourishment is of concern, it is extremely important to consider the accessibility of its nutritional content.

...Read More about Stephanie Byun
L&S Sciences

Exploring the Helicase Domain of Dicer

My primary work revolves around a eukaryotic pathway known as RNA interference (RNAi) where small RNA molecules regulate gene expression. As the main enzyme responsible for generating these small RNAs, Dicer measures and cleaves a diverse population of RNA molecules into mature fragments primed to control genes. The two main substrates are hairpin RNAswhich are cut into microRNAs (miRNAs)and long duplex RNAswhich are cut into small interfering RNAs (siRNAs). Although many studies have analyzed Dicers ability to cleave RNA, there are still many unanswered questions about how Dicer selects its RNA substrates, which can lead to large changes into which genes are eventually regulated. Dicer is a large protein composed of many distinct parts. One elusive part of the protein is the helicase domain, which is involved in the processing of specific RNA substrates. My research aims to examine how the Dicers helicase domain recognizes the RNA substrates to influence […]

...Read More about Jessica Chan
Rose Hills

Characterizing the Tumor Suppressive Functions of MIR-449 miRNAs in the E-myc B Cell Lymphoma Mouse Model

Cancer is a potent disease that occurs when cells acquire certain mutations that cause uncontrollable cell growth. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that have been associated in cancer development. In our research, we specifically study the tumor suppressive effects of miRNAs on B cell lymphoma, a type of blood cancer in the lymph nodes. We have determined that the deletion of mir-34a or mir-34bc (tumor suppressive miRNAs) accelerate lyphomagenesis. More recently, it has been shown that there is a homologous cluster of miRNAs, the mir-449 family, suggesting similar functions. While the ultimate goal is to understand how these miRNA clusters interact and collectively act in a tumor suppressive role, I aim to understand the effects of losing the mir-449 cluster alone on lymphomagensis. I propose to determine the extent of acceleration of lymphomagenesis due to the loss of mir-449, and whether this acceleration is through proliferation or cell death.

...Read More about YeeAnn Chen
L&S Sciences

The Mechanism of Nor-1 Mitochondrial Translocation during Thymocyte Negative Selection

Nor-1 is a protein that can promote death of CD4+ CD8+ double positive thymocytes, cells in the process of maturing into T cells. In the thymus, these double positive thymocytes undergo a process called negative selection, in which any thymocytes that recognize self-molecules that our own body produces are killed. This makes sure that our body mounts an immune response when it encounters a foreign pathogen. Failure during this negative process results in autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus (the go-to disease whenever someone is sick in the episodes of House), Graves’ disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Presently, the exact molecular mechanism of negative selection is poorly understood. Nor-1 can induce apoptosis (cell death) by assisting in translations of new proteins, but it can also promote cell death by moving into the mitochondria and turning on Bcl-2 into a pro-apoptotic molecule by exposing its killer BH3 domain1. The mechanism for […]

...Read More about April Choi
L&S Sciences

Improving the Large Underground Xenon (LUX) Dark Matter Detector

The Large Underground Xenon, or LUX, collaboration has spent the last few years constructing a dual-phase liquid xenon detector which is sensitive enough to detect weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs), the primary candidate for dark matter. The detector is finally running and has been taking data since February of this year. With the first round of data in hand, I will analyze LUXs current level of performance. I will look for unexpected drops in its photo-detection rates and other signs that previously unaccounted for factors are limiting the detectors efficiency. The ultimate goal is to determine whether the detector is running as well as it needs to before the second round of data is taken. If it isnt, I will make recommendations for methods of measuring and investigating the factors I have studied.

...Read More about Derrek Coleman
Rose Hills

Specific Active Site Inhibition of Members ofthe DEAD-Box Protein Family

DEAD-box proteins are vital to the central dogma of biology. They are involved in all aspects of RNA biology including ribosome biogenesis, mRNA export, RNA-protein complex remodeling and much more. Since DEAD-box proteins have been implicated in pathways of viral infections, like HIV, and many types of cancers, they are critical to human health. The two most formidable hurdles in researching this family are their highly similar active sites and that most are essential for life. This makes studying individual DEAD-box proteins difficult, so many of their functions remain unclear. My project will focus on designing chemical inhibitors for a single DEAD-box protein in order to develop methods for further investigating the entire DEAD-box family. This work will reveal the potential of chemical inhibition of DEAD-box proteins for treating disease and shed light on the biological functions of specific DEAD-box proteins.

...Read More about Kendall Condon
Rose Hills

Producto de La Ley: Immigrant Policy and Literature

The Chinese Exclusion Act is considered the most racist law in U.S. history; it entailed quarantining immigrants for up to two years on Angel Island, resulting in a collection of poetry carved by the detainees onto the walls of the detention barracks. Given the tumultuous history of immigration from south of the border, where is this poetry for Mexican and Central American immigrants? While immigration has been extensively studied through various academic perspectives, the literature from the immigrants themselves has largely remained untouched. By identifying the trajectory of literature by undocumented immigrants, I will analyze how policy may have driven the changes in language and style of this corpus of literature and, conversely, what the literature reveals about policy itself. In creating an aesthetic for The Literature of the Undocumented, I will argue for its differentiation from Chicano Literature, under which the literature is currently (mis)categorized.

...Read More about Kiara Covarrubias
Humanities and Social Science

Investigating the Effects of Electric Field Noise from Metallic Surfaces on Ultra-Low Temperature Ion Traps at Low Frequencies

The objective of this work is to study electric field noise from metallic surfaces at low frequencies observed in ultra-low temperature ion traps. This source of noise has been a major issue for ion trapping experiments because it heats up the cold ions several orders of magnitude faster than what was expected. This heating is a serious problem and hinders progress in the use of ions, as dependably controllable qubits, toward a scalable quantum computer. The expected benefits from this research is the determination of the frequency scaling of this anomalous heating, which will shed light on the origin of this noise and, in turn, on ways to mitigate it.

...Read More about Thamine Dalichaouch
Rose Hills

Correlating Maximum Intrinsic Luminosity and Spectroscopic Features of Type Ia Supernovae

Type Ia supernovae are the thermonuclear explosions of critical mass white dwarves which have reached the Chandrasekar mass through accretion of mass from their binary companion. The near constancy of their maximum intrinsic brightness is the key to the use of these events in cosmological studies. Unfortunately, systematic errors associated with the diversity of type Ia supernovae continue to limit their usefulness as standard candles. I will use a very large spectroscopic and photometric data set gathered by the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF) in order to identify correlations between the stretch parameter of type Ia light curves and a variety of parameters derived from type Ia blackbody spectra. Combining the correlations between photometric and spectroscopic parameters I hope to obtain a new correction to type Ia maximum intrinsic luminosity. Furthermore, I would like to apply this new correction to obtain a new value for Hubbles constant using the PTF data.

...Read More about Joseph DeRose
L&S Sciences

Uncovering the Role of Global mRNA Degradation during the Gammaherpesvirus Lifecycle

I will be working with the Murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (MHV68), a member of the Herpesviridae family consisting of over one hundred viruses capable of infecting a wide array of hosts. My gene of interest, muSOX, is a viral gene that targets and cleaves cytoplasmic host mRNAs and is the mouse analog of the SOX gene in the human gammaherpesvirus. A former graduate student constructed an MHV68 virus that is defective for host shutoff (HS). The HS virus has a single point mutation R443I and is incapable of targeting and degrading host cytoplasmic mRNAs. This summer, my job will be to confirm that phenotypes observed in the HS virus are due to only absence of host shutoff activity and not an unintended consequence of the R443I mutation. To do this, I will be creating another MHV68 virus that is defective for host shutoff and contains a different point mutation, L132F.

...Read More about Mansee Desai
Rose Hills

Charge Transport in Millikelvin Germanium

Dark matter is ubiquitous in this universe yet has not been detected directly. The leading candidate particles for dark matter are Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs). The Cryogenic Dark Matter Search utilizes measurement of ionization and phonons in order to discriminate between background particles and rare WIMP interactions. Achieving complete charge collection by the ionization readout is challenging due to trapping within the low temperature Germanium detectors. The charge transport experiment will provide great insight into the phenomenon of charge trapping and this information will have wide implications in low temperature semiconductor physics. Examining the trapping curves will also allow us to better understand the charge collection mechanism for the CDMS detectors. With this information we can more accurately distinguish between background particles and rare WIMP interactions, eventually leading to the detection of dark matter.

...Read More about Akash Dixit
Rose Hills

The Socialized Being: How the Words "As If" Operate within Selected Novels of Henry James

I am currently exploring the question of the ways in which the phrase as if — as it appears in novels by Henry James, particularly What Maisie Knew — implicates integration into a social existence in which the curious and problematic acceptance of both reality and unreality is required of the self, particularly the pre-adolescent self. This is a vital question because, first, it offers a foundation from which to examine the complex interplay between several important novelistic factors: the self in relation to the other, the socialization of the child, the divide between the conscious and unconscious mind, and the necessary falsehoods perpetuated by social existence (to name a few). Second, the words as if and the work these words do within the novel as a literary genre is a topic which has received little attention and, yet, is of paramount importance in regard to both novelistic form and […]

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

Healthy Corner Stores Movement

Many communities in the San Francisco Bay Area struggle with food insecurity or the lack of access to healthy and affordable food, making them more likely to suffer from diet-related diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Because these communities have a base of corner stores where people already shop, such as liquor stores or other smaller-scale stores, bringing healthy options to local corner stores may be a more effective strategy than developing larger supermarkets. My project will examine whether the federal governments strategies of providing financial incentives to storeowners is an effective way of increasing the availability of healthy food. I will also learn how local and state governments can make the process of corner-store conversion not only more appealing but easier and less demanding for storeowners. My research will involve looking at government policies as well as interviewing storeowners and other key players in the healthy corner store movement.

...Read More about Alina Enoiu
Humanities and Social Science

GIS Modeling of Wildfire Risk in Los Angeles County, California

Wildfires annually burn hundreds of thousands of acres of the Western United States, forcing mass evacuations, burning residences and costing hundreds of millions of dollars. Using a Geographic Information System (GIS), my project aims to model the wildfire potential of the Angeles National Forest, a large and diverse natural area just outside the city of Los Angeles. Considering variables such as fuel type and moisture content, temperature, precipitation, slope, and winds, I will determine the areas of the forest most conducive to a destructive fire. Using these ‘hot spots,’ I will analyze the resource allocation of the fire fighting units surrounding the forest. By the end of my project, I intend to have developed a model capable of incorporating future climate scenarios and being applied to other areas of the state.

...Read More about Scott Farley
L&S Sciences

The Evolution of the Animal Innate Immune System

All animals share a common ancestor that underwent a transition to evolve multicellularity. To better understand this transition, we compare animals to choanoflagellates, their closest living relatives. Multicellular animals faced many challenges not shared by their unicellular ancestors. One such challenge was the evolution of mechanisms to defend against pathogens seeking to exploit the new niches present in a multicellular organism. My project aims to lay the groundwork for asking whether Toll-like receptors (TLRs), critical components of the innate immune system, evolved in the earliest animals to answer this challenge. As little is understood about choanoflagellate innate immunity, characterizing the role of their putative TLRs will increase our knowledge about choanoflagellate immunity, especially in hypothesizing the changing role of immunity in the evolution of multicellularity. Characterizing the role of these TLRs in choanoflagellates would provide valuable insights into the basic immunological tool kit of the last common ancestor of animals.

...Read More about Parinaz Fozouni
L&S Sciences

Trials & Collective Memory in Post-Conflict Cambodia

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) was established in 2003 with the goal of trying those responsible for the horrors inflicted upon Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge between 1975-1979. Two of the original four Accused in Case 002 are currently being tried at this Khmer Rouge Tribunal, and as part of my research, I will be monitoring these trials at the ECCC on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. By observing these trials and interviewing experts on the ECCC and the Democratic Kampuchea period, I intend to examine the influence of the tribunal and other sites of historical importance, such as the Killing Fields and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, on the development of a national collective memory of the Khmer Rouge era. Public consciousness is undoubtedly being molded by these trials and memorials, and my project will provide insight into how this history is being developed and […]

...Read More about Stephanie Fung
Humanities and Social Science

Revolutionizing Robotic Manipulation: Learning to Fold Towels from Demonstration

Currently, it is difficult for robots to manipulate deformable objects. This is because deformable object’s plethora of states make it is difficult for the robot to figure out what next action will get it closer to its goal. One solution to this problem is to use human demonstrations. The robot can currently tie knots when given a demonstration of a knot tying sequence. This is done by finding a transformation from the rope state at test time to the rope state at the beginning of a demonstration. This transformation is then applied to the motion of the robot’s grippers recorded during the demonstration to create a motion of the arms that will work for the new rope state. This summer, I hope to extend upon this capability by allowing the robot to choose the best out of many demonstrations, and teaching the robot how to fold towels and garments.

...Read More about Robert Gleichman
Rose Hills

The Politics of Domestic Labor Amongst Ethiopian Women in Lebanon

In 2009 the country witnessed a spate of suicides among foreign maids, and last year a 33-year-old Ethiopian woman [Dechesa] killed herself shortly after being filmed being beaten by a Lebanese man on a Beirut street. With increasing reports of immigrants and abuse of domestic workers in the Gulf countries, the conditions of these migrant women need to be closely studied. My research question asks: 1) How is domestic work in Beirut, Lebanon racialized and gendered and 2) How do Ethiopian domestic workers in Lebanon experience race? I will approach this in 3 ways: 1) By examining the role of Islam and Christianity in migrant labor discourse; 2) By exploring two types of interpersonal relationships: the personal (among migrant workers) and the romantic; and 3) By investigating what resources of support and assistance are available for Ethiopian immigrant workers. To accomplish this, I will travel to Beirut, Lebanon to examine […]

...Read More about Fikreselam Habebo
Humanities and Social Science

Finding Identity: Female Sexuality in Contemporary Korean and Korean American Women Poets

In todays culture, the east is often defined as archival and conservative, the west being its modern progressive counterpart. Nevertheless, the patriarchal dominance had significant influence in both hemispheres. Of the same nationality yet of contrasting environment, Korean and Korean American poets maintain similar yet different perspectives. How do contemporary Korean women poets express themselves differently from their mothers who suffered oppressions? Furthermore, how would the Americanized daughters of the Korean mothers develop similar thematic approaches as part of their poetics? As my senior thesis, I intend to analyze the issues of representations of female sexuality, the female body, and the forms of resistance taken to gender stereotypes in the works of Korean and Korean American women poets. I will approach this by analyzing the rhetoric used by these poets to portray womens experience, observing the poets’ identity as women and artists.

...Read More about Soo Yeon Han
Humanities and Social Science

Evaluation of a New Neutralizing Antibody Assay to Predict Dengue Virus Infection Outcome

Dengue (DENV) is a mosquito-borne viral illness that is endemic to many areas around the world, including Central and South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia, and affects approximately 300 million people per year. The current gold standard in vitro assay uses cell lines such as Vero or BHK that are not natural targets for DENV and lack several important co-receptors and FcRs that modulate DENV infections. My project will test cell lines that express the major co-receptors involved in DENV infection and will develop a new, robust, high-throughput in vitro assay that will provide a better tool for studying the natural course of DENV infection and could be used for vaccine and treatment studies.

...Read More about Christopher Hansen
Rose Hills

Throwing Stones --A Palestinian Boy's Manhood: The Affects of Youth Imprisonment on Palestinian Males

This research project studies the impact of imprisonment on men living in occupied territories in the Middle East. First, I will assess the systematic incarceration of male children in the Middle East. Second, I will study the current employed and education levels of men who were incarcerated in their youth. Finally I will investigate the family dynamics and shifting gender roles within the nuclear families of youth who were imprisoned. This project seeks to address the importance of maintaining children rights in processes of incarceration and after release, while shedding light on the systematic impediments youth incarceration creates on the development of households.

...Read More about Taqwa Hasan
Humanities and Social Science

Robotic Grasping in Cluttered Environments

A particularly notable obstacle to the adoption of robotics in the everyday household is the difficulty of teaching robots to execute new tasks in unforeseen environments–this is currently a task only approachable by those with plenty of time and technical expertise. I am working on a system that aims to make teaching robots as simple as providing human demonstrations. It will use ideas from artificial intelligence to enable robots to generalize demonstrations to new situations and learn from failures as they interact with the world. My work will focus on deformable objects, such as rope and cloth, which are among the most difficult for robots to reason about and manipulate.

...Read More about Jonathan Ho
Rose Hills

Enriching the SCOP Database with Phylogenetic and Protein Function Data

Different protein databases classify and organize proteins based on separate criteria. As a result, the organization and information available on these databases will often vary. By mapping the protein domains between different databases, I can analyze and add new, otherwise not apparent information. During the summer, I am augmenting the computational resources available on the Structural Classification of Proteins (SCOP) database by mapping it to the Uniprot Gene Ontology Annotation Database (Uniprot-GOA) and the Pfam Database. Based on the results of mapping the Pfam database to SCOP, I can uncover the internal phylogeny of SCOP families and organize new protein sequences within SCOP without necessarily knowing the structures. The Uniprot-GOA mapping will be used to assign protein functions to the Protein Data Bank entries in SCOP and improve the search function to include GO annotations.

...Read More about Gabrielle Ho
Rose Hills

Purchase Intention as a Function of Social Media Mediated by Self-Esteem

What will happen if Myspace use can increase your narcissism? What will happen if Facebook use can increase your self-esteem and decrease your self-control? What will happen when only ten minutes of using Facebook may make you more willing to purchase online products? Those are some of the questions I want to answer in my study considering it is impossible to deny the great influence of online social network on our daily lives. More specifically, I want to examine if peoples personality and self-control may change after using Facebook, and if the reduced self-control can lead to higher purchase intention. The findings of this study may help explain the enormous growth of electronic commerce worldwide. Online businesses can also take advantage of this outcome to promote their sales.

...Read More about Hai Hoang
L&S Sciences

The Mind in the Vulva: Androcentric Interpretations of Prehistoric Imagery

Research related to prehistoric image-making is constructed around a patriarchal scientific tradition of discourse. In 2007, archaeologists once more imposed vulva symbolism on an abstract engraving on a rock at Abri Castanet, perpetuating the assumption that Upper Palaeolithic societies perceived the world through a similar cultural screen to our own. Using the so-called vulva engravings as an example, my project asks: How can contemporary patriarchal values that have been dominating the interpretation of pre-historic imagery be re-evaluated? My project culminates in a senior honors thesis that aims at re-examining the dominant narrative imposed on Upper Palaeolithic engravings, and sparking alternative interpretations that would take our archaeological mind out of the vulva.

...Read More about Nada Hosking
Humanities and Social Science

Supporting Brain Glucose Metabolism in Traumatic Brain Injury Patients

Patients who have experienced severe head trauma are in a state where their brain exhibits impaired glycolysis by a process that is currently not well understood. Because the brain relies on glucose metabolism for energy production, the obstruction of its supply can lead to loss of brain function. Lactate is the final step of the glycolytic pathway, and as a result there has been speculation that infusions of lactate into TBI patients could give the brain another potential source of energy by bypassing glycolysis. For my project this summer, I have the ability to quantify the level of carbohydrate metabolism in the brain through derivatization of the plasma samples from patients treated with isotopically labeled lactate and glucose. Thus, my project points to the possibility that lactate infusion could offer a future alternative form of treatment for TBI patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Dr. George A. Brooks, my […]

...Read More about Emmelyn Hsieh
Rose Hills

Evaluating the Role of Trehalose in Desiccation Tolerance in Saccharomyces Cerevisiae

Desiccation tolerance is an organisms ability to withstand removal of as much as 95% of its intracellular water and be able to resume normal metabolism upon rehydration. However the molecular basis for tolerance is not completely understood. Budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is one of the rare species that exhibit this amazing trait and is an excellent organism to study desiccation tolerance. Upon desiccation, yeast, like other desiccation tolerant organisms, accumulates the disaccharide trehalose. However, mutants that are unable to make trehalose exhibit significant tolerance, suggesting the existence of other molecules that help promote tolerance. My project this summer is to identify additional molecules that cooperate with trehalose and to examine the roles of these genes in desiccation tolerance. This research will provide an understanding of the molecules necessary for tolerance, which can used in biomedical applications, like safely desiccating red blood cells for long term transportation and storage.

...Read More about Xuchen Hu
L&S Sciences

Identity at the Fringes of Citizenship: Experiences of Afghan Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Turkey

Turkey is home to a population of 17,000 Afghan refugeesa number which is projected to double by the end of the year. Afghan refugees travel to Turkey fleeing violence and economic hardships, only to find themselves struggling to subsist while navigating a convoluted resettlement process. My project is an ethnographic study of their experiences and interactions within their communities, and with state and non-state actors. Findings will be generated with participant observation and interviewing of Afghan refugees currently in Turkey. The project will explore what citizenship means for displaced peoples in an increasingly globalized world. I hope to reveal how international refugee policy affects lives on the ground, and reveal how state and non-state actors interact when dealing with a single population.

...Read More about Kamyar Jarahzadeh
Humanities and Social Science

Analyzing the Effects of Temperature on Protein Fragments of Human and Snake TRPA1 Ankyrin Repeats

TRPA1 ion channels are a specific example of a protein class that help the cell interact and respond to its environment. TRPA1 channels have been shown to consist generally of six trans-cell-membrane segments with two ends, an N-terminal and C-terminal end, with the N-terminal end extending into the cell. This endo-cellular region consists of 16 structural repeats called ankyrin repeat (AR) motifs. Studies have shown that TRPA1 channels in snake cells respond more to heat than chemical stimuli, in contrast to similar channels in mammals. Past research has also shown that by interchanging ARs 3-8 and 10-15 from humans to snakes (and viva versa), the relative responsiveness of TRPA1 to temperature changes. Our research is aimed at using circular dichroism (CD) to identify why these specific ARs changed the TRPA1’s response. We also hope to investigate how the order of the ankyrin repeats impacts motif response to temperature.

...Read More about Arvin Javadi
Rose Hills

Cloud-Based Robotic Grasping

This summer I will be working in Ken Goldberg’s Automation Lab on a project in surgical robotics. Currently most surgical robotics systems are not “true robots”; rather, the actuator components of the systems mirror the motions of a human surgeon operator. I will be conducting research into the possibility of increasing the autonomy of such surgical robotic systems. I will be working on the Raven surgical robot system to integrate a vision component to the overall system. After this first step I will then be conducting research into what is known as apprenticeship learning. Apprenticeship learning is a system under which a robotic system observes a human performing a simple task like tying a suture, and then replicates the same motions as demonstrated by the human. In effect, we want to train the robot through having it observe the actions of a human and then repeating those actions.

...Read More about Jonathan Kim
Rose Hills

Investigating the Neural Basis of Prosociality

In a recent groundbreaking paper by Bartal et al., Science 2011, entitled Empathy and Pro-Social Behavior in Rats, researchers discovered that when one rat of a pair of cage mates was placed in a restrainer while the other rat was free, the free rat learned to emancipate the restrained rat. This helping or empathic behavior persisted even in the absence of potential contact with the newly freed rat, which proved that the free rat engaged in this behavior for the sole purpose of liberating the trapped rat instead of expecting to socially interact with its cage mate. The Kaufer Laboratory in the Integrative Biology Department is interested in understanding the neural basis of such empathic or prosocial behaviors. Their approach is truly integrative, in that they study the molecular, physiological, and behavioral aspects of social behaviors, which has far-reaching clinical implications for neurological disorders such as autism and depression.

...Read More about Eba Kim
Rose Hills

Interfacial Contributions to the Electrochemical Performance of a Printed Supercapacitor

Supercapacitors have emerged as an attractive option to augment batteries in small electronic devices by providing the large power draws over short periods of time that would otherwise reduce the cycle life and health of the battery. Printing provides a cost-effective manufacturing method for uniform process control of individual components as well as for total device integration. Although ionic liquid supercapacitors have been successfully printed, there exists much room for improvement at the electrode interfaces with both the electrolyte and the current collector. The porous electrodes interfacial structure must be tailored to the specific electrolytic ions and current collector used to optimize electrochemical performance and minimize ohmic losses, but this structure is highly dependent on the electrodes composition and the involved printing processes. My research will focus on optimizing the electrodes and electrode interfaces produced through dispenser printing processes to improve the overall integration and electrochemical performance of the printed […]

...Read More about Bernard Kim
Rose Hills

The Statement of Who?: The Narrative of the Howl Trial and its Discontents

The 1957 obscenity trial of Allen Ginsbergs Howlthat cornerstone epic of the Beat generationis understood as a major episode not only in the history of American and West Coast poetics but in the history of American culture. Missing from prevailing accounts of the trial, however, is an assessment of the role of Gil Orlovitzs text, The Statement of Erika Keith and Other Stories, Poems and a Play. When undercover officers Russell Woods and Thomas Pagee purchased a copy of Howl in order to arrest City Lights Books clerk Shigeyoshi Murao for selling obscene materials, they bought Orlovitzs book as well; why, then, are there few and dismissive mentions of Orlovitz in popular and scholarly recollections of the period alike? Through extensive archival research, interviews, and literary analysis, I hope to determine the significance of this textand, consequently, whether or not a more nuanced appraisal of this mid-century confrontation between artists […]

...Read More about Andrew King
Humanities and Social Science

Re-Imagining Food Systems: From Charity to Solidarity

There are 50 million individuals suffering from hunger in the United States an absurdity when one considers the amount of food produced and wasted. Without accessible alternatives, North America and Europe waste nearly half of their excess consumable food. Despite an abundance of charity and emergency food services, the traditional hand-out model cannot seem to remedy the hunger epidemic. My research will examine nonprofit organizations in food security; I will examine how these organizations may contribute to more structurally transformative, long-term solutions in the communities they serve while simultaneously providing for short-term needs. I will conduct field research through participant observation and interviews with people involved in food pantries, soup kitchens, and nonprofit organizations in the food desert of east Oakland, California. I will seek to understand why current efforts have fallen short, and how to re-imagine the way non-State actors engage in hunger alleviation and food security.

...Read More about Hussin Kordi
Humanities and Social Science

A Nietzschean Interpretation of Autobiography

If as many theorists of the genre argue, authenticity is essential to autobiography, what place, if any, does the literary occupy in it? By literary I mean all of the subjective qualities that interpretation introduces to any verbal description of reality. On the one hand, it seems impossible to depict a complete life without recourse to interpretation; on the other, the various effects of interpretation might be said to amount to distortions of the life depicted, rendering it inauthentic. At the core of Nietzsches philosophy is the “”famous insistence that every view is only one among many possible interpretations, his own views…included”” (Nehamas, 1); this insistence is called perspectivism. Perspectivism offers insight on the relationship between authenticity and human life as a fundamentally constructed, which is to say, interpretive, experience. Nietzsche’s writing offers a new paradigm for autobiographical discourse that resolves the genres need to reconcile its literary expressiveness with […]

...Read More about Tiffany Ku
Humanities and Social Science

The Stone Age meets the Digital Age: The Application of Three Dimensional Techniques for the Study of Lithic Artifact

My project explores the ways in which 3D, digital technology can assist in analyzing and teaching about lithic technologies, e.g. stone tools. Over the summer of 2013, I will experiment with different methods that allow me to reproduce accurate 3D models that will be included in an online digital reference dictionary. The methods I will be using are photography of Jordanian lithic material and computerized 3D modeling from the photographs to reproduce the models digitally. I will be working closely with my mentor, Lisa Maher, a Jordanian lithics expert, to teach me how lithics were produced, as it is essential for me to know this process to reproduce accurate models.

...Read More about Nicole Lang
Humanities and Social Science

IgG Serum Avidity After Dengue Natural Infection and Vaccination: Breadth of Response and Association to Outcome

I aim to study the role of antibody avidity in the immune response to dengue virus (DENV) infection, and antibody-dependent enhancement as a result of low DENV-specific neutralizing activity, which is thought to influence progression to more severe disease in secondary heterotypic DENV infectionproblematic natural infections in hyperendemic areas. Despite the great burden of dengue disease worldwide, no antiviral therapy or vaccine is commercially available, although several vaccines are currently being tested in clinical trials. The first proof-of-concept dengue live attenuated vaccine efficacy trial that were recently published by Sanofi Pasteur showed only 30% overall efficacy, demonstrating partial (60-80%) protection towards 3 of 4 DENV serotypes with no protection against DENV2 infection despite high neutralization geometric mean titers in the serum of vaccinees against DENV2. This highlights the critical need to better understand the immune response to natural DENV infections and vaccine candidates and to identify robust correlates of protection.

...Read More about Louis Lau
Rose Hills

An Exploration of the Perceptions and Utilization of Networks in Washington D.C.

Washington, D.C. is arguably the nation’s largest hotspot for young adults seeking professional careers. College students who aspire to these positions are typically advised to develop their professional networks. My research question asks how young college-affiliated adults ages 18-25 perceive networking relationships, how they develop and maintain networking ties, and how effective those networks truly are in their career trajectory. First, I will investigate how college students interning in the city view and participate in social and/or digital networking. Next, I will interview Cal in the Capital Alumni in D.C. who have become successful through networking and identify how they advanced in their career. Lastly, I will study three professional societies to see how other networking venues worked for those individuals. My goal for this project is to provide young professionals information on how networking ties truly advance career opportunities and to begin collecting data to contribute to my senior […]

...Read More about Robynne Lindsey
Humanities and Social Science

Uncertainty, Herding, and Information Cascades in the Brain

My research involves various aspects of decision making in social situations. When making decisions, people generally don’t have all the information necessary to make an informed decision. So, to make up for this lack of information, people rely on the behavior and decisions of others. This occurs in many everyday situations, for example, in choosing a restaurant to dine in based on the number of patrons. In certain situations, this behavior can be rational. In what are called “”information cascades”” people rationally follow the actions of others, even when their own information goes against the decisions of others. I am interested in what factors influence this herding behavior, and to what degree it differs from an optimal Bayesian strategy. How do people weight their own private evidence against the public decisions of others? Are there heuristics used in decision making that are non-optimal in certain situations?

...Read More about Joshua Moller-Mara
L&S Sciences

Using Machine Learning to Automatically Identify Elemental Ions in X-ray Crystal Structures

Construction of protein structures from X-ray crystallography data is a difficult, time consuming, and error-prone process. With of 90,000 protein structures currently deposited in online data banks, tools to automatically construct, analyze, and fix models is essential for correct scientific analysis. My research is to apply techniques from the machine learning field to identify elementary ions, such as zinc and calcium, in available data. These atoms are often essential to enzyme function, but their identification requires knowledge of esoteric rules, making it great ground for computational automation.

...Read More about Nader Morshed
L&S Sciences

High-Throughput Screen for Antibiotic Compounds to Target the Initial Enzymatic Steps of Respiratory Sulfate Reduction

Water injection into oil reservoirs is a commonplace practice used to increase oil production beyond primary yields. Seawater is most commonly used, which creates conditions conducive to the activity of sulfate-reducing microorganisms (SRM) within the reservoir. Once established, SRM can generate immense quantities of hydrogen sulfide as a metabolic byproduct, resulting in various oil recovery problems including oil reservoir souring, crude oil contamination, and metal corrosion that later leads to oil pipeline explosions. Overall, microbial hydrogen sulfide production poses numerous environmental and public health issues, and represents a multimillion dollar annual revenue loss in the oil industry.The primary objective of this high-throughput screen is to identify compounds, out of library of tens of thousands of small molecules, that are specific inhibitors of the first three enzymatic steps of microbial sulfate reduction, to allow for the development of low cost, highly effective, and specific controls of biosouring in oil reservoirs.

...Read More about Mark Mullan
Rose Hills

Exploring Power Systems Among California's Female Inmates

Today California has the largest womens prison population of the nation, with a population size of 6,409. Between 1972 to 2010, the number of women in correctional facilities nationwide increased by approximately 646%, the fastest growing prison group of the nation. In spite of these alarming numbers, little is known about the prison subculture that exists within California’s women correctional facilities. My research seeks to expand the male dominated discourse of incarceration by exploring how racial systems of social control operate within California’s correctional facilities through in-depth ethnographic research. The primary objective of my research is to survey a diverse pool of formerly incarcerated women from various racial and socioeconomic backgrounds, in order, to illustrate a more inclusive narrative of race relations within women’s prisons.

...Read More about Julissa Muniz
Humanities and Social Science

Mechanisms of Cellular Damage with Gold Nanoparticle Stimulated Radiation Therapy at MeV Energies

The goal of radiation cancer therapy is to deliver a lethal dose of radiation to a tumor while sparing the healthy tissue along the beam path. My project studies the phenomenon of gold nanoparticle radiosensitization: where gold nanoparticles are used to increase the damage that a certain dose of radiation has to a tumor without increasing the damage to the healthy cells. Specifically, I am trying to determine why gold nanoparticles increase the effects of radiation, a question that scientists are debating today. I am investigating this by using cutting edge techniques to count the number of double strand breaks in the cells chromosomes. If, for example, an increase in double strand breaks is observed, this can lead scientists in the field to focus future research on double strand break effects in cancer cells.

...Read More about Khashayar Nattagh
Rose Hills

Towards the Biosynthesis of Physostigmine

Streptomyces is a large genus of actinobacteria well known for their secondary metabolism, producing a large array of antibacterial, antifungal, and antiparasitic drugs. The compound of interest in this project is physostigmine, produced by Streptomyces griseofuscus. Physostigmine is a tryptophan-derived alkaloid that reversibly inhibits acetylcholinestrase. It is a candidate drug for treating numerous neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, myasthenia gravis, glaucoma, and orthostatic hypotension. Studying the biosynthesis of physostigmine can provide insight into the biosynthesis of a large family of alkaloids with the unique pyrroloindole skeleton. Furthermore, understanding the key enzymes responsible for the biosynthesis will also allow the engineering of physostigmine-like analogs from modified tryptophan substrates.

...Read More about Tai Ng
Rose Hills

Analysis of Diverse Mechanisms of BimA-mediated Actin-based Motility in Burkholderia Species

Members of the Burkholderia genus are Gram-negative intracellular bacteria that are highly pathogenic to humans and animals. Some species are capable of manipulating the actin cytoskeleton in eukaryotic cells for intracellular movement, which promotes cell-to-cell spread and evasion of the host immune system. However, the mechanism of actin nucleation is not understood. This project will determine how actin nucleation mediated by the conserved bacterial factor Burkholderia intracellular motility A (BimA), which is required for actin-based motility, differs among three Burkholderia species. Identification of BimA motifs that are important for actin-binding and actin nucleation will provide insight into the mechanisms by which the different species manipulate the host actin cytoskeleton during infection. This study has clinical and public health significance because these structural motifs could serve as targets of potential drug development to treat diseases such as melioidosis and glanders.

...Read More about Catherine Nguyen
L&S Sciences

Who are More Likely to Help: Powerful or Powerless?

After the tragic death of Kitty Genovese, a woman who was stabbed to death in front of several neighbors, a scientific investigation was made into the bystander effect. Bibb Latane of Columbia and John Darley of Princeton were the first to study the phenomena. Latane & Darley (1968) designed the classic bystander research paradigm where a comparison between helping rates of individuals who witness a crime versus a group of people who witness the same crime. Across their studies, they have found that 75% of people helped when faced with an emergency situation alone versus 53% who helped when faced with an emergency situation when in a group.The aim of my research is to understand if, how, and why the psychological phenomena of power attenuates the bystander effect. Power is a force that is unparalleled in the impact it exerts in social situations. Previous research shows that power increases levels […]

...Read More about Nikolay Nichiporuk
L&S Sciences

Studying Uptake Patterns of a Glycosaminoglycan into Epithelial Cells in Physiologically-Relevant Culture Models

Elevated accumulation of glycosaminoglycans in tumor microenvironments of many advanced cancers, including breast cancers, has been associated with poor patient prognosis. Our laboratory has long been developing in vitro physiologically-relevant culture models that provide epithelial cells with an in vivo-like microenvironment, which is optimal to bridge the gaps between epithelial monolayer cultures and animal models. We have also developed glycosaminoglycan-based probes for identifying invasive breast cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. My project characterizes uptake patterns of these probes into a panel of normal and malignant epithelial cell lines using both two- and three-dimensional culture models. I will study probe uptake at the cellular level by techniques such as fluorescent/time-lapse microscopy and quantitative image analysis. This investigation may lead to the development of clinically-relevant assays for more effective detection of aggressive breast cancers.

...Read More about Arya Nikjoo
Rose Hills

Native Pollinator Assembly and Fire Ecology in Yosemite National Park

Pollination systems, particularly the coevolutionary forces between plants and pollinating insects, have proven vital to both natural and managed landscapes. My research will examine the assembly of pollinator communities in response to fire in backcountry settings of Yosemite National Park (YNP), through the dynamics of succession along a chronosequence since fire disturbance. Meadows created by fires in YNP, previously vegetated with native wildflowers and grasses, have been invaded by non-native cheat grass (Bromus tectorum). This invasion is thought to have substantial effect on the native California ground-nesting bee species that inhabit the area because the grass creates a thatch that blocks potential nesting sites. It is essential to understand the interplay of human-managed land systems and their biotic communities in order to preserve functioning ecosystems. The existence of native bees is also crucial for the continued pollination of remaining native plant species in this valuable California ecosystem.

...Read More about Claire Parker
Rose Hills

Renewable Energy in Fluid Mechanics

Recorded in literature, it has been observed that mud banks can dampen overpassing waves, absorbing the energy stored in the waves. In the Theoretical and Applied Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, team members have built an artificial seabed carpet coupled with dampers and springs acting vertically at various locations on the carpet to mimic the effect of a muddy seafloor. I will be investigating methods to optimize the parameters of the carpet which include designing a power take off system, spring stiffness and damping coefficient of the carpet as well as many other intrinsic properties of the carpet. These all have to be optimized for an efficient wave energy conversion. I will also review the progress of ocean wave energy conversion in the United States in the past decade. The advantages of harnessing ocean wave energy are its energy density, predictability, and environmentally friendly nature, which means little to no pollution.

...Read More about Henry Pham
Rose Hills

How the Ribosome Reads the Nascent Chain: The Role of Exit Tunnel Components in Elongation Arrest

As nascent proteins are synthesized, specific polypeptide sequences can interact with the ribosome exit tunnel to arrest translation, effectively stalling the ribosome. Importantly, stalling is sometimes dependent on small molecules raising the possibility that drugs may be designed to inhibit the synthesis of specific proteins implicated in disease. My research aims to explore the question of how both the amino acid sequence of a nascent polypeptide and the presence of a small molecule interact with the ribosome to arrest elongation. Specifically, the Arginine Attenuator Peptide elicits elongation arrest in the presence of arginine. I will mutate the yeast ribosome proteins L4, L17, and L10 by deleting the L17 and L4 loops of the constriction site (the narrowest part of the exit tunnel) and the portion of L10 in the peptidyl transferase center (the catalytic site of protein synthesis) and subsequently monitor stalling to further characterize the mechanism of elongation arrest.

...Read More about Gregory Phillips
Rose Hills

Understanding the Effects of AKT Pathway Inhibitors on the Pathogenesis of Mycobacterium Tuberculosis in Macrophages

Mycobacterium tuberculosis manipulates the host response to prevent bactericidal mechanisms and promote its own survival. AKT is one enzyme that has been linked to proliferation of M. tuberculosis within its target. As a serine/threonine protein kinase, AKT is an important enzyme in signal transduction pathways for apoptosis. Inhibition of AKT during infection leads to increase bacterial death. By looking at the downstream effects of the AKT pathway, our goal is to determine, why? This will be accomplished by using site directed mutagenesis to create multiple alterations to the structure of AKT in macrophages and then using inhibitors of AKT, stop the downstream effects at numerous junctures after being infected by a model organism, M. Smegmatis. Western blotting will be used to analyze the AKT signaling. We plan to infect the AKT mutant macrophages with fractionated M. tuberculosis and treat with inhibitors to compare to infection patterns of M. Smegmatis.

...Read More about Robert Potter
Rose Hills

Cognitive Load Affects Interactions Between Procedural and Declarative Systems

Human memory is characterized by multiple memory systems. Two of the most widely recognized of these are the procedural and declarative systems. My project extends a line of research aimed at exploring the interaction between these systems. Previous research using category learning paradigms widely thought to selectively tap either the procedural or declarative memory system has implied that these two systems compete for control of motor resources.For example, human participants usually perform poorly in category learning tasks in which optimal performance requires trial-by-trial switching between procedural and declarative strategies. My experiment will attempt to identify factors that facilitate successful system switching. This research represents a significant contribution to the human learning and memory literature at large, and has potential to inform novel training methods for skills that require interaction between procedural and declarative memory systems (e.g., learning to identify a tumor in a radiological image).

...Read More about Ben Reuveni
L&S Sciences

The Directed Evolution of Novel G-Protein Coupled Receptors for Orthogonal Binding with Select Ligands

G-Protein coupled receptors (GPCRs for short) are a class of membrane proteins that bind to a specific chemical stimulus, an interaction which then initiates a cellular response pathway. Such a mechanism is present in most eukaryotic organisms, where it governs over processes like olfactory responses, neurochemical signal reception from chemical compounds, or the systematic release of hormones. The manipulation of GPCR-mediated pathways can allow for novel cellular responses to a ligand of choice, a phenomenon that can be expanded to the scale of a whole nervous system if implemented uniformly into an organism. Such a level of functional control necessitates the mutagenesis of the GPCR with a selection pressure in place that drives the evolution of the protein towards a specific end goal. I intend to the extend the boundaries of GPCR evolution through the introduction of more robust mutagenesis and novel combinatorial library designs, allowing for greater protein variation.

...Read More about Ryan Rezvani
Rose Hills

The Cross and The Eagle: Egyptian Nationalism and the Coptic Orthodox Church Today: Egyptian Nationalism and the Coptic Orthodox Church Today

My project focuses on the role of Coptic Christians in the ongoing Egyptian Revolution. Coptic Christians have a long history within the nation as the indigenous population, believed to have descended from the pharaohs themselves. The population has been largely marginalized in recent decades and prone to attacks of sectarian violence. This trend has been exacerbated since the January 25th Revolution of 2011. Through my research I hope to answer and clarify questions regarding the role of the Coptic Church members and clergy in the Revolution.

...Read More about Amanda Sadra
Humanities and Social Science

Agricultural Productivity of Different Social Classes in Late 19th and Early 20th Century Imperial Russia

In 1917, after 300 years of rule by the Romanovs, the Russian state collapsed. To understand the causes of the 1917 revolution, and the destabilization of the empire in 1905, the economics of agriculture are important to explore. After all, Russia was mostly an agricultural state and the peasant agriculturalists composed over two-thirds of the population. I am exploring how agricultural wealth was distributed during the late Tsarist period in the Central Black Earth region, an important political and agricultural center that underwent major famines and revolutionary activity. My study focuses on the distribution of land between the peasants and nobles, the quality of that land, the differences in cultivation of the land and what effects these had on agricultural productivity and consumption. These agrarian differences between the classes would provide insight into the problems the Central region faced, and the role of inequality in the Russian revolution.

...Read More about Mariya Sakharova
Humanities and Social Science

The Liquid Border: How Alcohol Built a Wall Between Nations

On April 1, 1924, an official request to Washington was received for estimates on building an 8 foot fence along the 160 miles of international boundary between Mexico and California. However, in 1924 this request had nothing to do with either immigration or labor, but rather alcohol. With Prohibition in full-swing, Mexico posed a dual threat with Americans crossing south to drink and liquor flowing north for illegal distribution. It was these threats to Americas Prohibition era that were the catalyst for a barrier still tested and controversial almost a century later. My research question asks how legal prohibition of a substance set a precedent for a barrier between these two nations? More particularly, in what ways has this relatively unexplored history of the border been impacted by its original inception created through Prohibition? Finally, how is it that the purpose and collective memory of the US/Mexico border transformed so […]

...Read More about Michael Sanchez
Humanities and Social Science

Chiapas and The National Crusade Against Hunger

The federal program Cruzada Nacional Contra el Hambre was launched by the new Mexican president Enrique Pea Nieto at the beginning of this year. In a very symbolic act, the program was inaugurated in the community of Las Margaritas, Chiapas, an area near the home of the Zapatistas and a milestone in the history of their struggle. Mostly based in the community of San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, my research will evaluate, analyze and compare the discourse deployed by government officials and members of the local community to describe the problem of hunger and its possible solutions, as well as the actual practice of organizing around it. Thus, I ask whether or not the design of this program is an effective public policy that attends to the needs of communities with a history of struggles for self-sufficiency, autonomy and cultural difference.

...Read More about Adriana SanchezPillot
Humanities and Social Science

Text it or Forget it? The Application of Text Messaging to Enhance Memory for Learned Information

Research has shown that memory for medical and psychological advice hovers between 20 and 30 percent. This may be associated with adverse effects on treatment adherence and outcomes. My research employs memory-enhancing strategies through a reiterative text-message intervention for cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Previous research suggests text interventions can have positive treatment outcomes. A more standardized and systematic approach to studying their effects on treatment outcomes and memory, may lead to more conclusive findings. In my study, participants will receive a two-week text-message intervention following a basic lesson in CBT, and will be assessed on both recall and depression scores. We live in an era where technology is replacing traditional methods of communication. I hope that my project will help further our understanding of how to optimally use technology to aid treatment efforts outside the clinic.

...Read More about Anita Satish
L&S Sciences

Identification of Novel Genes Involved in Regeneration in Drosophila Using a Newly Developed Ablation System

Many organisms have the potential to regenerate damaged tissues; however, this potential decreases as the organism ages. Using the model organism Drosophila melanogaster, I will perform a screen to identify genes that are involved in up-regulating or down-regulating regeneration in damaged tissues as the organism ages. To conduct this screen, we have developed a new genetic ablation system that allows us to damage wing tissue in the developing fly at precise timings, as well as to express or knockdown any gene of interest in the damaged tissue. By scoring the adults for wing size and shape, we can determine if the gene of interest that we expressed helped to increase or inhibit regeneration in response to damage. By screening a wide array of genes, I will be able to identify novel genes involved in regeneration, which will help in our understanding of the process of regeneration as a whole.

...Read More about Joshua Saul
Rose Hills

Voices of the Potomac: Race, Class and the Deindustrialization of a River

The project investigates how deindustrialization has been different on two areas of rural Maryland along the Potomac River, based on race and geography. During the last half century both ends of the river have lost heavy industries, yet the upper river has seen the maintenance of their population with a rise in poverty, while the lower river has seen a decrease in the original population but a decrease in poverty.

...Read More about Gabe Schwartzman
Humanities and Social Science

Awakening From The Western Imaginary: The Resurgence of a Unified Rapa Nui Identity Against Psychopolitical Domination

Bloodbaths by Western explorers, followed by various other forms of abuse, resulted in the reduction of the Rapa Nui of Easter Island to 115 people. Being the most isolated inhabited place on Earth, Easter Island has become a major tourist destination today, by means of the renowned landmarks left by the ancient population. Many of the five or so thousand Rapa Nui, all descendants of the surviving 115, believe, on the basis of oral history, in guardian spirits. I am currently living with one of the leaders of an organized occupation of a private hotel built on ancestral land, with spiritual value to the Rapa Nui. Via participant observation and in-depth interviews, I plan to study how the Rapa Nui work to preserve their culture, in the context of an industry based on the commodification of pre-modern values, which brings about the modernization of the people who host those values.

...Read More about Pablo Seward
Humanities and Social Science

Explaining Regional Disparities of China's Economic Growth: Policy or Geography?

Astonishing development that China has achieved for the past 30 years following the Open and Reform in 1978 is unquestionable. What behind, however, is notable disparity of growth between coastal and inland regions. While previous studies focus on preferential policies, the crux of my project centers on answering the question: how geographic features and construction of transportation networks on top of policies explain economic growth of Chinese regions in the last three decades? My analysis will assess the relative importance of geographic features, transportation networks and preferential policies during each policy stage defined by Open and Reform in 1980s favoring the coast, general open door stage that eliminated coastal policy advantages in 1990s and Western Development Drives targeting inland regions after 2000. The results will hint on how development policies should and could overcome specific barriers to economic growth and to achieve balanced overall growth.

...Read More about Zhengyun Sun
Humanities and Social Science

Role of Cocaine and Amphetamine-Regulated Transcript (CART) Peptide in Cocaine Addiction

Drugs of addiction use and “hijack” the neuronal systems normally used in reward learning, which makes finding a treatment specific for addiction highly problematic. Several biological markers of addiction have been identified and are potential treatment targets, but their relationship and role in addictive behavior remains unknown. One such marker is the cocaine and amphetamine-regulated transcript (CART) peptide that has been found to be upregulated in select groups of neurons in the brain following systemic injections of cocaine in animals. Although previous studies have characterized the CART peptide as a neuromodulator capable of blocking cocaine-mediated locomotor actions and rewarding properties, little is known about CART-expressing neurons and their role in drug addiction. My preliminary data suggests that the activity of CART-expressing neurons is necessary for the maintenance and expression of cocaine-induced behaviors. Using optogenetic and other neuromodulatory techniques, I will further assess the role of CART-expressing neurons in addictive behavior.

...Read More about Jenkang Tao
L&S Sciences

Developing a Single-Cell Immunofluorescence Assay of Phosphorylated LAT protein

The immune system is the bodys way of responding to invading disease-causing microbes and mutation-induced tumor cells, which have the potential to become cancer. Thus, the immune response protects against both infectious disease and cancer, and its regulation and activation are extremely important for maintaining health. T-cells play a central role in the immune response both in recognition and in downstream pathways that lead to microbe or tumor destruction. A protein that is essential in the signaling cascade of the T-cell is ZAP-70 (Zeta-chain-associated protein kinase 70). I will be developing an assay that can be used to quantify the level of protein expressed with protein activity at a single-cell level. This assay will be useful in studying how the protein is able to specifically catalyze its substrate, allowing us to better understand the immune response and develop novel cancer therapeutics that target specific pathways to modify the immune response.

...Read More about Alyssa Tao
L&S Sciences

Identification of Cortical and Subcortical Structures Receiving Projections from Corticostriatal Barrel Cortex Neurons

The barrel cortex, a structure found in the brains of mice, plays an important role in processing sensory input from whiskers. Mice rely heavily on their whiskers to perceive the environment, and this makes the barrel cortex an attractive model for studying sensory processing. At this time, many connections between the barrel cortex and other brain regions are only superficially known. Using a double viral injection technique, I will specifically label the subset of barrel cortex neurons that project axons to the striatum, a structure associated with several functions including motor control. This will allow me to quantify and characterize these neurons and record any brain regions that their axons target. This is an early step in the ultimate goal of understanding how barrel cortex neurons cooperate with other regions of the brain to process and present sensory information in a way that is useful to the animal.

...Read More about David Taylor
Rose Hills

Marine Larvae in Turbulence

Bottom-dwelling marine animals produce microscopic larvae that are dispersed to new habitats via ocean currents. In order to direct their movements and settle on a suitable site, suspended larvae must respond to physical cues from the turbulent flow forces that act on them. Understanding the flow types that larvae are subjected to and their response patterns can give us insight into trends in marine larvae dispersion. To conduct this research, mesofluidic devices are built to simulate fluid flow around marine larvae, and their responses are recorded and analyzed. My project focuses on a particularly simple and prevalent type of fluid flow, and will confirm whether this type of flow can serve as a signal for larvae, and what magnitudes of force trigger larval response.

...Read More about Neil Thomas
Rose Hills

Characterization of ATP Release and Biofilm Production by Salmonella and E. coli

Salmonella is a Gram-negative pathogenic bacterium that can invade cells, take residence within macrophages, and evade the immune response, causing illness and death especially in those with compromised immune systems. Recently we have discovered that Salmonella and E. coli release ATP to culture medium and we are currently determining the function and the mechanisms of ATP release. The initial plan for my summer project was to determine the role of ATP release in biofilm formation, which allows Salmonella to become more resistant to stressful conditions and antibiotics. After doing preliminary studies, we have determined that the assay to quantify biofilm formation was not robust enough and did not give us consistent results. For this reason, I decided to instead study the biochemical mechanisms of ATP release. I will test a panel of mutants containing mutations in genes that code for porins, channels, or outermembrane proteins that may play a role […]

...Read More about Helen Tran
Rose Hills

Bubble Bursting in Mud Volcanoes

We are conducting laboratory experiments to study bubble dynamics in natural mud sampled from mud volcanoes near the Salton Sea in Southern California. Gas bubbles bursting at the muds free surface exhibit unusual behavior: bubble films first rupture away from the bubble apex, and often rupture at multiple locations simultaneously. I will use a high-speed video camera to measure features of multiple bubble bursts, and a cone-plate rheometer to characterize the muds rheology. Based on the experimental observations, I will formulate a simple physical model that can be used to numerically replicate observed bursting behavior. A successful model may be extended to other mud volcanoes, as well as magmatic volcanoes such as Stromboli, Italy.

...Read More about Aaron Tran
Rose Hills

Honest Hermits: Hermit Crab Claw Regeneration and Signaling Honesty

Many animal behavior theories are based on honest communication and predict low levels of cheating and dishonesty. However, new studies are beginning to show that certain systems are prone to cheaters. This study will be among the first to focus on hermit crabs and their claw regeneration, and the potential dishonest message that claw may send. Male hermit crabs have a sexually dimorphic larger right claw used to fight and defend territories. When lost or damaged, hermit crabs are able to regenerate their claw, re-growing it to its original size and shape. This study hopes to uncover if regenerated claws of marine hermit crabs, Pagurus samuelis, are as powerful as their original claws and if they act as dishonest signals to other conspecifics. The findings from this study will show if dishonesty is adaptive for these hermit crabs in order to fend off other males and deter predators.

...Read More about Rebecca Trinh
Rose Hills

Assessing Intrahost Dengue Virus (serotype 3) Diversity in Human Dengue

The goal of this research project is to investigate the diversity profile of DENV populations within each human host (i.e., at the intrahost level). Previous studies on DENV-2 diversity from the Harris Lab have identified significant levels of variation in genomic diversity between genes, notably in the Envelope gene, which encodes for a viral structural protein that is an important target for antibody binding. Our research aims to compare DENV diversity profiles by harnessing high-throughput deep sequencing technology to sequence viral populations in individuals with primary and secondary DENV serotype 3 infections. This study will examine hotspots of intrahost DENV serotype 3 diversity within particular genes and domains, survey their effects on amino acid sequence and impacts on predicted protein function.

...Read More about Surbhi Trivedi
Rose Hills

Optimized Transport of Particles in a Penning Trap

Throughout the summer, I will be undertaking my project with the Fajans Nonneutral Plasma Physics Group in Berkeley. One of the central steps in many tests done with the cold electron research (CERES) apparatus in Berkeley and with the ALPHA Experiment at CERN involves the transport of a nonneutral plasma (electrons, antiprotons, ions, etc.) between potential wells in a Penning Trap. The basic process is that a cloud of charged particles is trapped using static electric and magnetic fields in a potential well on one side of the trap and in order to perform diagnostics or in order to image the plasma, one needs to transport the plasma to a separate well on the other side of the trap. The purpose of this project is to optimize this transfer so that loss of plasma and heating effects are minimized.One of the central steps in many tests done with the apparatus […]

...Read More about Matthew Turner
Rose Hills

Hey Fatty Boom Boom! Fat and Fit in the Upper Paleolithic

Something happened to Homo sapiens, our species, between 75,000 and 60,000 years ago, that resulted in a very different suite of behaviors and the first population boom. I argue that modern humans underwent a biological change that, coupled with environmental changes driving dietary change, allowed humans, especially human females, to lay down large stores of body fat under normal nutritional conditions. I will draw from the archaeological record in the form of ancient artworks, the ethnographic record in the documented changes in stature of the Andaman Islanders over time, and the biological record in comparing fat-management genes and enzymes between humans and chimpanzees, nearest living relative, to test my hypothesis.

...Read More about Suzanne Ubick
Humanities and Social Science

The Transformation of Traditional Hmong Spirituality in Modernity

My research project is to explore what traditional Hmong shamanism is within a western scientific context and how has it transform within the past thirty years as Hmong migrate and settle abroad, particularly in the northern California. The questions that I ask are: when, how and under what conditions did spiritual belief and behavior shift between a loss, renewal and continuation of traditional Hmong spirituality, and what are new and different forms of practicing shamanism today? I will also inquire how Hmong in northern California currently understand spirituality, spiritual experiences and encounter with spirits. I will interview people of Hmong descent: young Hmong-Americans, Hmong elders and Hmong shamans. While there is an abundance of literature about the cultural clash between the Hmong culture and western culture, there is little on the Hmong individuals experiences in relation to their spirituality in these conflicts which I will investigate.

...Read More about Karen Vang
Humanities and Social Science

Social Media Use and Protest Behavior: A Comparative Study of the 2006 and 2011 Chilean Student Movement

This study examines the 2006 and 2011 social movements in Chile, two years with distinctly different levels of social media penetration. By analyzing whether of not social media is changing the experience of participants, the relationship between leaders and individuals and media coverage of protests I seek to answer questions such as: Can social media networks bring down barriers for collective action? Are social networks a formidable means of bypassing mass media? How are these tools revolutionizing modern chilean political activism?

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

INTOMEISEE: Exploring Burn Survivors' Comfort Levels with Sexual Intimacy

A burn accident can dramatically change a persons quality of life; survivors have not only permanent physical scars, but also mental and emotional scars. For my research, I will examine how the severity of young adult female burn survivors injuries impacts their comfort in engaging in intimate and sexual relationships. I will approach this by first studying the survivors views on their body image. Secondly, I will look at their intimate relations and sexual life. Finally, I will synthesize these two findings and look at the correlation between the populations body image and sexual intimacy. I will conduct participant observation and 20 in-depth qualitative interviews with young adult female burn survivors that attended the Alisa Ann Ruch burn camp in Fresno. My work aims to provide insight into the lives of these survivors and offer intervention recommendations that will empower them to feel comfortable engaging in sexual and intimate relationships.

...Read More about Huyen Vo
Humanities and Social Science

TALEN-Mediated Mutagenesis to Determine the Role of the Splicing Factor Tra2b in Xenopus Tropicalis

I will use Transcription Activator-Like Effector Nucleases (TALEN) -mediated mutagenesis to determine the function of the RNA-binding protein tra2b and its role in alternative splicing during Xenopus tropicalis development. TALENs or Transcription Activator-Like Effector Nucleases, are artificial restriction enzymes that create double stranded breaks, inducing mutations in targeted loci. They can be engineered to target any DNA sequence and cause permanent changes in the genome. Alternative splicing and pre-mRNA processing is an important target for regulation of eukaryotic gene expression, which is what I am interested in studying.

...Read More about Bhavi Vohra
L&S Sciences

An Investigation of Redshift-Space Distortion(RSD) and Alcock-Paczynski(AP) Test Degeneracy

This project aims at providing constraints on the dark energy parameters through galaxy surveys. In theory, given the precise values of cosmological parameters, including the dark energy parameters (e.g., the density parameter ), we are able to determine the history and the ultimate fate of the universe.Therefore, to better understand the evolution of the universe and to improve current related theories in physics, we need to determine the values of dark energy parameters with higher precision to put in another way, we need to put further constraints on the parameters. To date, physicists have established several independent methods to constrain the dark energy parameters, while recent research suggested that the methods gained stronger constraining power when taken as a whole. Given the situation, this project intends to find a good combination of two existing methods (Redshift-Space Distortion and Alcock-Paczynski Test) through galaxy surveys, trying to provide further constraints on the […]

...Read More about Xinkang Wang
L&S Sciences

Development of High Mobility, High Work Function Transparent Conducting Oxides for Photovoltaic Applications

The improvement of photovoltaic materials is currently a major concern for further development of sustainable energy devices such as solar cells. This summer, I will be developing high mobility, high work function transparent conducting oxides (TCOs) for such photovoltaic devices. These materials will have minimal parasitic absorption and resistive losses, and their application will be useful in increasing photovoltaic device efficiency. I will also be characterizing the TCOs using x-ray diffraction (XRD), UV-vis spectroscopy, and Hall measurements, and studying their evolution under rapid thermal annealing (RTA) in order to prepare a complete profile of their material properties.

...Read More about Christine Wong
Rose Hills

When Bacteria Get "Good" - Purity, Progress, and the Making of Probiotics

Probiotics, microorganisms known to benefit their host, appear in curious sites: from the projected $23 billion dollar market involving upper-middle class white women searching for perfect intestinal balance – to the international struggle to treat infant mortality in the third world. My research will investigate the manner in which probiotics are discussed in scientific and clinical settings, as well as the ways they are marketed and consumed. I will interview leaders in clinical probiotics research, travel to a Bay Area creamery that uses probiotics in their products, and survey probiotics consumers at Berkeley grocery stores. Identical probiotics strains are described in very different ways depending on the context of their usage. Sometimes they are said to restore balance. Other times they are said to save lives. Rather than asking the question of whether or not probiotics are, in fact, effective health remedies I want to explore the ways in which […]

...Read More about Allison Yates
Humanities and Social Science