The Displacement of Oromo Farmers: A Critical Understanding of its Impacts and the Role of its Community Members

The further one reaches towards the outer fields of Oromo, the closer one gets towards the chaotic infrastructures currently in place. Since late November 2015, dozens of violent confrontations have emerged in towns across Ethiopia, merging into the central Oromia region, which is home to the largest ethnic group, the Oromo. Protesters are opposed to party members and their current master plan, being the fight against an urban plan. Most refer to such plan as the master plan, a new urban infrastructure development project in Addis Ababa (the capital of Ethiopia), that would weigh into the surrounding towns in Oromia. The protests are due to the fact that the Ethiopian government is currently displacing Oromo farmers in order to retain such land and utilize to their benefit, regardless of its impacts to the Oromo people, and the community surrounding that land. I will be studying the Land Rights currently partaking […]

...Read More about Iman Abdella
Humanities and Social Science

DT-MRI Visualization of the brains optical networks to understand MS Pathology

While researchers have not been able to fully characterize the pathology of multiple sclerosis (MS), conventional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) techniques have been the gold standard for the diagnosis and monitoring of MS (Guglielmetti, Lassmann). Using advanced MRI techniques, such as diffusion weighted imaging, and specifically spherical deconvolution tractography to image the brains neural tracts, recent studies have furthered MRIs predictive capabilities to leverage the brains connectivity to develop a composite MRI-based measure of motor network integrity that appears to predict disability substantially better than conventional non-network based MRI measures (Pardini). My research project would be to conduct similar analysis of the brains visual network: the white matter tracts underlying the parts of the brain associated with visual processing. Using data from the Human Connectome Project, I intend to develop a brain atlas of the visual pathways. I will then use this atlas to predict visual function in MS patients. […]

...Read More about Amit Akula
Rose Hills

400 Years Young- The Elizabethan Stage

400 years after William Shakespeares death, debates on Elizabethan staging methods remain fresh. My SURF L&S research will explore the unknown mechanics Elizabethan staging. I will specifically do so by examining Elizabethan era resources (such as actual, annotated rehearsal scripts from Elizabethan theatre companies) on Shakespeares Henry IV, Part I. Henry IV, Part I stands as an anomaly amongst other Shakespearean plays because it does not adhere to the conventional scene-to-scene structure that most of the other Shakespearean plays follow. Unlike most scholars (who almost exclusively study conventionally structured plays), I believe that closely examining a play with unique structure gives me the best chance to discover new information about the still uncertain methods of Elizabethan staging. Attempting to answer this question is relevant and necessary because major theatres and theatre companies (E.g. Shakespeares Globe in London) continue to emulate Elizabethan staging, yet unlike theatre companies from 1616, modern companies […]

...Read More about Peter Alexander
Humanities and Social Science

Detection of Intracellular Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic pathogen that most commonly causes infection in immunocompromised individuals or compromised epithelial surfaces such as the cornea. This infectious agent is the leading cause of contact lens-associated microbial keratitis, which sometimes results in vision loss or blindness. I am interested in the mechanisms through which P. aeruginosa causes infection. P. aeruginosa is considered an extracellular pathogen known to utilize a type-III secretion system, a needle-like macromolecular structure implemented by the bacteria to inject toxins into the cytoplasm of a target cell without ever entering the cell. However, it has been shown by the Fleiszig lab and a few other researchers that P. aeruginosa does not always use its T3SS to infect extracellularly, but can enter the cell making it more difficult to kill. I am specifically interested in developing an assay that quantifies how often P. aeruginosa enters the cell in order to gain insight […]

...Read More about Sarah Alsamman
L&S Sciences

Relationship between wear and nano-mechanical properties of Polycarbonate Urethane (PCU)

Polycarbonate Urethane (Bionate, PCU), a medical grade polymer, is utilized in the orthopedic industry as a load bearing system due to its superior mechanical properties and biocompatibility. However, adhesive/abrasive wear of polymers in vivo can lead to osteolysis (bone loss) and subsequent aseptic loosening of implants, severely limiting their overall lifetime. This study will instigate the surface mechanical properties, by using a nanonindenter by Hysitron, of Bionate 75D and Bionate 80A and determine a correlation between nanoindentation and wear properties. Understanding the relationship between surface properties and wear behavior can allow researchers to efficiently measure surface behavior.

...Read More about Sofia Arevalo
Rose Hills

Aspects of Historical Consciousness through the fabric of Akhavan Sales's Literature

Mehdi Akhavan Sales is regarded as one of the most celebrated contemporary poets in modern Persian Literature. My research aims to shed light on Akhavans viewpoint on history and historical consciousness along with its trajectory of development. Namely, I am curious to understand what form historical consciousness is manifested in and whether its development can be described as a linear progression, evolutionary or one marked by abrupt changes. This analysis will examine historical events as early as Irans 1953 coup d’etat (28 Mordad) to post 1979 Iranian Revolution while paying close attention to a selection of his works as sources of collective awareness: Arghanun (1951), Zemestan (1965) and Akhar-e Shahnamah (1959). Akhavans poetry is eclectic with its epic themes alluding to the style Ferdowsi, the free verse like that of Nimais poetry in the manipulation of rhythm and rhyme and yet being so descriptively symbolic. Because of his intellectual complexity […]

...Read More about Saman Arfaie
Humanities and Social Science

Topological superconductivity of Weyl Semi-metals

The search for superconductors began in the twentieth century as our understanding of quantum physics developed. In the field of condensed matter physics this search is pivotal. My research will focus on investigating the superconductive properties of certain group of semi-metals, known as Weyl semi-metals. These semi-metals are crystals whose low energy excitation was predicted by one of the solutions to the Dirac equation, the Weyl Fermions. I will mainly investigate different growth methods and superconductive properties of crystals such as Tantalum Arsenide (TaAs) and Cadmium Arsenide (Cd3As2). Further, exploring the behavior of these crystals under high magnetic fields would manifest some of their magnetic properties. Therefore, I intend to explore efficient methods of growing these crystals and analyzing their magnetic and electric properties under high magnetic fields, which would thus help us gain an understanding of their crystal structure and superconductivity.

...Read More about Arman Babkhani
Rose Hills

Specialization of the Human Mediator Complex: How Does This Happen?

Misregulation of cell differentiation often leads to pathological cell fate and frequently employs mechanisms that alter gene expression. There are multiple levels of transcriptional regulation. The focus of my research is one of the subunits of the Mediator complex, MED12 and its paralogue MED12L. The Mediator is known as a general transcription factor, and so it is not expected to specialize. Meanwhile, Dr. Darzacqs lab observed that upon specific knockdown of the MED12L gene (and not MED12), Human primary fibroblasts transdifferentiate into neuron-like cells, suggesting a unique function for this paralogue. In addition, MED12L is highly expressed in Human embryonic stem cells (ESC) and in tested cancer cell lines. By defining and characterizing promoters and enhancers for MED12L, this project aims to explain how the Mediator can be regulated in its composition, leading to differential transcription regulation of its target genes. It is important to understand how the Mediator becomes […]

...Read More about Maryia Barnett
Rose Hills

Electronic Transport in NbSe2-NbSe3 van der Waals Heterostructures

Today’s technology has allowed for significant advances in the fields of condensed matter physics and materials science. In recent years scientists have been able to consistently isolate high quality, atomically-thin layers of various crystals and compounds, beginning with graphene (a single sheetof carbon in a hexagonal pattern) in the mid-2000s. While there has been much research into the properties of single layers of certain materials, a rich variety of novel phenomena can explored in stacks of these layers, known as van der Waals heterostructures. The customization of these stacks and the ability to tune their properties make them an exciting test bed for both validating theories and improving electronic devices. Previous work in my lab has contributed to a good repository of metallic crystals, and I propose to construct heterostructures from thin samples of these crystals, starting with niobium diselenide (NbSe2) and niobium triselenide (NbSe3). Motivation for such research stems […]

...Read More about Joey Barreto
Rose Hills

Benchtop Characterization of Fetal Membrane Sealants

The field of fetal surgery, though it remains the best hope for expecting parents whose child might have dangerous complications, is impeded by the amniotic sac’s inability to heal following rupture. The Messersmith Group, in which I work, has proposed both a sealant, which draws inspiration from the chemical properties of the adhesive secreted by mussels to attach themselves to their surroundings in the underwater environment, as well as “presealing,” an innovative manner of delivering the sealant to the surgical area. This summer I shall be developing a benchtop method of fetal surgery presealing in order to accurately characterize candidate adhesives in a manner that reflects the failure mechanisms that would occur during surgery. Specifically, I will test this protocol on a selection of tissue samples to determine the tissue type and testing conditions that best replicate the the properties of the amniotic membranes.

...Read More about Sarah Bhattacharjee
Rose Hills

The role of miR-200 in regulating self-renewing cancer stem cells in Kras lung adenocarcinomas

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounting for nearly 80% of the cases. Adenocarcinomas are the most prevalent type of NSCLC among which Kras is the most commonly found mutation that correlates with poor patient prognosis. In our mouse model carrying this oncogenic Kras mutation allele and the inducible loss-of-p53 allele, tumor progression, histopathology, and molecular characteristics are similar to those of the human disease, allowing us to understand basic lung tumor biology and identify markers for early diagnosis. In this project, I will focus on studying the role of microRNA family miR-200 in lung cancer tumorigenesis and progression by loss-of-function experiments. There are preliminary results showing that miR-200s are downregulated specifically in lung tumor metastases in comparison to primary tumors in our Kras mouse model. Mice losing miR-200 developed lung tumors with larger size and higher tumor grade as well […]

...Read More about Claudia Chan
Rose Hills

Projective Representations of the Symmetric Group

Lately, we have witnessed increased interest in the study of representations of symmetric groups, and in particular, in their projective representations. In a classic paper, I. Schur introduced what are now known as Schur Q-functions in order to calculate these projective characters; combinatorial formulas for these characters are also available in the early works of D. Littlewood and A. Richardson. On the other hand, the Schur Q-functions admit a natural Hopf algebra structure paralleling the classical case of symmetric polynomials, and it is well known that the Hopf algebra approach is indispensable in understanding the classification of linear representations of the symmetric group. This summer, I will be investigating what new information can be extracted from the Hopf algebra structure on the ring of Schur Q-functions regarding the projective representations of symmetric groups. More specifically, by interpreting the multiplication and comultiplication operations, it is possible to study projective representations in […]

...Read More about Eric Chen
Rose Hills

The neural mechanism of in-group favoritism in rat prosocial behavior

Prosocial behavior is rooted in empathy, or the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Humans, like many other animals, have been shown to process the pain of in-group and out-group members differently, reflecting strong empathic bias towards ones own group. Encouragingly, research suggests that positive social interactions with an outgroup member leads to increased empathy for the out-group. Previous research with rats in a helping behavior test has demonstrated that rats will perform prosocial behaviors, such as releasing conspecifics trapped inside a restrainer, and will do so specifically for in-group members. This proposal aims to study the neural mechanisms responsible for the social selectivity of this behavior. I hypothesize that oxytocin, a hormone that plays a large role in social bonding, plays a key role in producing prosocial motivation, through its effects on regions of the brain involved in motivation and reward. Preliminary work that I have […]

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

Interleukin-33 expression by astrocytes in response to neuronal activity

Astrocytes, the star-shaped glial cells of the central nervous system, are necessary for synapse formation, which makes the role of astrocytes in brain development particularly interesting as autism and schizophrenia are fundamentally diseases of circuit and synapse formation. Molecular communication between astrocytes and microglia, a second type of glial cell, is an emerging mechanism explaining synapse development and pruning in the central nervous system. Previous work in the lab has found that astrocytes secrete an immune signaling molecule called Interleukin-33 (IL-33) during brain development, and that this molecule acts as a signal to microglia to remove unwanted synapses through a process called pruning. Using mice as a model, I will test the hypothesis that astrocytes respond to the activity of neurons to regulate synapse pruning by increasing expression of IL-33. I will study this question by examining the visual and the sensorimotor nuclei in the thalamus, which receive input from […]

...Read More about Elliott Chien
Rose Hills

The Role of Gpr75 and RANTES in the Beta-Cell Response to Autoimmunity

Despite the growing prevalence of diabetes, the exact biological mechanisms leading to the onset of this disease still remain painfully unclear. Type 1 diabetes in particular is caused by an autoimmune attack to an individuals insulin secreting beta cells; this cell population cannot be regenerated and an adverse condition known as hyperglycemia ensues. The immune cells and chemokines present in the pancreas at the onset of this autoimmune response are of interest when considering this disease. Recent studies have suggested that the activity of a particular G-coupled protein receptor may influence the onset and progression of beta cell destruction. The goal of my project is to study this G-coupled protein receptors role in regulating beta cell function, as well as investigate any potential interactions between this receptors and the molecules of the immune system present in type 1 diabetes.

...Read More about Justin Choe
Rose Hills

Identifying correlations between transposable elements, genome size, and lifespan

Genome sizes vary greatly across many species and within species, though their biological significance is still poorly understood. Large amounts of eukaryotic genomes are composed of repetitive DNA, whose functions also remain ambiguous, and are often called junk DNA. These repeats usually exist in the form of heterochromatin, DNA that is tightly packed as a possible mechanism to silence or repress the expression of these sequences. A group of repetitive elements include transposons, or transposable elements, which can jump around to different locations in the genome, interrupting other genes and creating mutations. Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies serve as useful models to study these genetic features, because their genome sizes among different strains can differ dramatically. It is likely that flies with larger genomes have more repetitive DNA, and therefore causes heterochromatin to be less tightly formed. This dilution of heterochromatin may allow the upregulation and movement of transposable elements, which […]

...Read More about Emily Chong
Rose Hills

A Culture of Support: The Practice Strengths of Mental Health Professionals and Social Workers Who Identify as Survivors of Interpersonal Violence.

The purpose of my research is to examine the current status of trauma-informed mental health treatment and practices, and to explore emerging and best practices in the field. Of particular interest is the provision of services to victims and survivors of interpersonal violence (IPV) by mental health practitioners and social service providers who identify as survivors of violence themselves. This appears to be a new area of research as little in the way of literature is currently available on the subject. My data will be drawn from a questionnaire widely distributed to practitioners and providers working with IPV traumatized client populations, as well as from in-person interviews with the same. Both instruments have been developed to provide specific insight into how survivor-identified practitioners and providers approach, define, and treat issues of IPV-related trauma.

...Read More about T. Christopher Crandall
Humanities and Social Science

The effects of heating on the ejecta of black hole-neutron star merger events

Black hole-neutron star (BH-NS) mergers are remarkably exciting events to model, as they are a source of gravitational waves, same as those discovered for the first time by Advanced LIGO earlier this year. BHNS mergers are binary systems that consist of a black hole (BH) and a companion neutron star (NS), which under sufficient conditions, falls into the BH. After the merger of these two objects, an accretion disk typically forms around the BH and high-energy ejecta is flung out. Remnants of these mergers may power short gamma ray bursts and other electromagnetic signals. Studying these systems through numerical simulations can help better model, detect and interpret such events. However, simulations have proven to be quite complicated. The post-merger disk evolution which occurs in these systems require a wide breadth of physics and numerical techniques to model, as well as necessitate the use of supercomputers. My research will focus on […]

...Read More about Dhruv Desai
Rose Hills

Aspect in Matsigenka

Matsigenka is an Arawakan language spoken by about 10,000 people in and around southeastern Peru. The language is tenseless and utilizes a system of realis/irrealis contrast to encode temporal relations. In addition to this contrast, Matsigenka appears to employ the use of an aspectual system as another means of encoding temporality, though it is theorized to be void of proper aspect. To accomplish this, Matsigenka seems to contain two classes of morphemes which function with aspectual properties. My work this summer will focus in on these two sets of morphemes, and seek first to prove that neither are not full-fledged aspectual markers, and second to explain how they work together to form a full-fledged aspectual system.

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

Identification of solid phases transition in BaFe2As2 using Resonant Ultrasound Spectroscopy

Superconductors are materials that exhibit the phenomenon of zero electrical resistance below a certain temperature. Some pure metals are superconductors, but only at very low temperatures. But over the last few decades some interesting materials have been discovered that super-conduct at high temperatures, up to about 200C. This is still far below room temperature, but if we can understand these materials it may be possible to engineer even room-temperature superconductors. However, many aspects of hightemperature superconductors are still unknown, including how the other properties of these materials are related to their superconductivity. For example, the ironbased superconductor BaFe2As2 undergoes a phase transition that changes its crystal structure. But there is debate whether this transition is related to superconductivity. Knowing exactly at what temperature the structural transition of BaFe2As2 occurs as a function of doping (chemical substitution) is an important part of answering this question. Resonant Ultrasound Spectroscopy (RUS) is a […]

...Read More about Kirk Duran
Rose Hills