Investigating how mTORC1 Hyperactivity Affects Autophagy and Mitophagy in Dopamine Neurons

The mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) is a protein complex that activates protein synthesis, modulates cell growth and proliferation, and regulates autophagy. Loss-of-function mutations in the TSC1 or TSC2 genes, which negatively regulate mTORC1, result in complex hyperactivity causing the syndromic neurodevelopmental disorder Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC). TSC patients have a wide variety of clinical presentations including high comorbidity rates with neuropsychiatric disorders in which the dopaminergic system has been implicated. Little is known about the impact of mTORC1 disruption on the dopaminergic system. Previous work showed that normal autophagy and mitophagy processes in cortical neuronal cultures are disrupted by mTORC1 hyperactivation. My project will explore how Tsc1 gene deletion in mouse dopamine neurons affects autophagy and mitochondrial function of this cell population. We consistently observe that Tsc1 knock-out dopamine neurons are very large in size, leading to the hypothesis that in addition to protein overproduction, these cells […]

...Read More about Kamran Ahmed
L&S Sciences

Mourning "Veils": Racialization through Gothic Tropes in the Writings of William Faulkner and Kazuo Ishiguro

My project will explore the ideological implications of racialization through gothic tropes in William Faulkners The Sound and the Fury (1929) and Kazuo Ishiguros first two novels, A Pale View of Hills (1982) and An Artist of the Floating World (1986). Specifically, I will reframe Faulkners use of the Southern Gothic genre to configure a postwar Asian Gothic through Ishiguros early work, generating a new cross-racial, trans-historical perspective on literary representations of racial melancholia. Why, I will ask, did the historical contexts of the postbellum American South and postwar Japan, both cultures of defeat (Schivelbusch) tasked with refiguring national identity, give rise to such eerie, macabre constructions of race in literature? Focusing on melancholia through the lens of oppressions perpetrators rather than its victims, I will analyze the gothic genres potential as a limited redeemer of historical trauma and provide a more nuanced account of W.E.B. Du Boiss notion of […]

...Read More about Mieko Kurata Anders
Humanities and Social Science

Stable isotope analysis of travertine carbonates

For SURF 2017, I studied a travertine fissure ridge in Bridgeport, California to characterize trace element partitioning between thermal spring water and travertine carbonates. I will further analyze this system to establish an empirical temperature-oxygen isotope relationship for regional paleotemperature reconstruction. For use in paleoclimate reconstruction, temporal changes in carbonate precipitation conditions and their effect on carbonate trace element and isotopic composition must be characterized. In my earlier study, bulk solids were analyzed to capture overall travertine system dynamics. Analysis of travertine fluids and instantaneous precipitates can reflect present conditions of travertine formation and composition. A comparative analysis of the isotopic and trace element composition of the bulk and instantaneous carbonates can constrain conditions of past travertine deposition. This is important for isolating isotope and trace element partitioning effects in terrestrial carbonates due to climate signals like temperature, from other effects like biotic activity and evaporation. Changes in the deposition […]

...Read More about Holly Barnhart
Rose Hills

Optimizing Our Search for Fast Radio Bursts with Realfast at the Very Large Array Telescope

The Very Large Array (VLA) radio interferometer in New Mexico is an excellent instrument to look for radio transients such as fast radio bursts (FRBs). FRBs are intense radio signals lasting milliseconds that do not yet have a confirmed origin. An interferometer employs an array of radio telescopes to observe radio frequencies. FRBs are a new major interest in radio astronomy because of their mysterious nature and increasing number of observations. Many radio telescopes are beginning to design and construct FRB pipelines that search incoming data in real time. Besides detecting FRBs, the software and signal processing techniques developed while implementing an FRB search pipeline have other important applications to the radio astronomy community. Real time pipelines are data intensive and improving the algorithms and learning how to best manage the flow of data will be very useful for other transient search pipelines. I will be exploring the accuracy and […]

...Read More about Sabrina Berger
L&S Sciences

Understanding IRES RNA-mediated mechanisms for controlling Hepatitis C Virus Translation

Under conditions of cellular stress, such as in times of starvation, infection, or exposure to potentially dangerous environmental agents, normal cellular processes are often compromised. One such process involves how the 5-cap structures of mRNA are used to recruit ribosomes, the cells translation machinery, to initiate protein synthesis. When this process is compromised, mRNAs use an element on their structure called Internal Ribosomal Entry Sites (IRES) to recruit ribosomes and initiate protein synthesis. Furthermore, it is believed that IRESs may initiate translation by interacting with the cells translation initiation factors, eIFs. Due to their unique ability to circumvent the cells regulation of translation, IRESs have been associated with tumorigenesis, as they may allow damaged cells, which could turn cancerous, to live by permitting them to continue synthesizing proteins necessary for growth and survival. To further elucidate how cellular IRESs may interact with eIFs to initiate translation, we plan on using […]

...Read More about Samar Bhat
Rose Hills

Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too: Orange County's Backlash to "Communist" Textbooks (1945-1970)

No area is perhaps more synonymous with conservatism than Orange County, California. This region fell victim to Cold War paranoia of imposing Soviet threats and possible communist subversion. From the end of World War II to the late 1960s, Orange County residents engaged in local battles to protect their most precious individuals from socialist leanings: children. In an effort to reinforce American superiority, citizen organizations, parents, and school boards waged textbook wars to censure particular materials they believed subscribed to Soviet leanings. However, my study seeks to understand the viability of these claims of communist propaganda. Instead of dismissing these civilians discontent as a product of the second Red Scare, I will attempt to establish-with an examination of the contested textbooks themselves and the personal writings of these groups-if these texts did contain leftist leanings. Based on my conclusions, Orange County may have been unjustly labeled as a right-wing, chauvinistic, […]

...Read More about Emma Paulina Bianco
Humanities and Social Science

The Council for Mutual Economic Ignorance: The Lack of Integration of Eastern Bloc Markets

It is convenient to see the failure of the Comecon (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance), the economic union of Eastern Bloc countries, as a verdict on command economies. Central planning is commonly understood to have reduced the competitiveness of these countries to the point where they could no longer provide themselves with the resources required to maintain a viable economic portfolio. But the Comecons lack of success to keep up with the West cannot be ascribed to the shortcomings of central planning alone. In this project, I argue that a major reason behind the demise of the Comecon was the systemic refusal of its economic actors to cooperate for a greater common benefit, as they played to their individual short-term interests instead. The shortcomings of central planning were exacerbated by the wastefulness of analogous efforts running in parallel: in other words, what appears to be a resource scarcity problem is […]

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

Investigating the role of Ras proteins in TORC2 localization in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

In eukaryotes, an essential growth regulator is a multi-subunit, plasma membrane(PM)-associated protein kinase, the Target of Rapamycin Complex 2 (or TORC2). Work using Saccharomyces cerevisiae has established that TORC2 is responsible for controlling processes that preserve PM homeostasis and that regulate actin polymerization. Studies have shown that the localization of TORC2 to the plasma membrane is essential for the complex’s function. However, little is understood about the processes that regulate the assembly, maintenance and activity of TORC2 itself. Avo3, a TORC2 subunit necessary for maintaining stability of the complex, contains a RasGEFN domain, a structural motif typically found in Ras guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs). Ras proteins themselves are anchored to the PM via modification of their C-terminal end. Therefore, the RasGEFN domain of Avo3 may contribute to PM localization of yeast TORC2. My primary goal this summer is to use genetic methods and fluorescence microscopy to investigate the potential […]

...Read More about Jessica Bonnar
L&S Sciences

The Effect of Gender, Education, and Area of Residency on Division of Household Labor in Punjab, India

While the unbalanced sex-based division of labor has been explored in various parts of the developing world, it remains largely unstudied in Punjab (Northwest India). Punjab is a predominantly agricultural society with diverse family organizational forms, including joint and extended families. I will examine how the division of labor amongst heterosexual couples in Punjab, India is influenced by gender, religion, education, and area of residency. I will conduct 20 in-depth interviews in two cities and two to three rural villages, divided evenly into the following four groups: 1) rural and educated, 2) rural and uneducated, 3) urban and educated, and 4) urban and uneducated. In this research, I will seek to discover how gender, educational attainment, and area of residency affect the division of household labor among heterosexual couples in Punjab.

...Read More about Kiran Brar
Humanities and Social Science

Using Electrocorticographic Gamma Oscillation to Explore Models of Movement Preparation in Humans

Movement preparation and execution are central to our everyday experience, yet we do not yet understand how the complex motor computations required for these actions are performed. In an attempt to understand how movements are prepared, many models have been created–using brain activity to predict someones intended movement before it is executed–with limited efficacy. A recent breakthrough in primate research provides a potential framework for exploring these preparatory computations further, but due to technical and ethical constraints the development and evaluation of this model has been limited to research involving non-human primates. My research project makes use of previously recorded human electrocorticography (ECoG) data, obtained from microelectrodes implanted during neurosurgery, to evaluate the utility of this model in a human context. Together, this work should advance our understanding of the human brain and add to the brain-machine interface field, enabling better rehabilitation strategies for a variety of patients that have […]

...Read More about Connor William Brown
L&S Sciences

Characterizing the Function of Unique KSHV Genes

We are studying the eighth human herpes virus; Kaposis Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus (KSHV). This is a sexually transmitted virus that establishes life-long infections. KSHV does not cause symptoms in most people but is known to cause three types of cancer (Kaposis Sarcoma, Pulmonary Effusion Lymphoma, and Multicentric Castleman Disease) in immunocompromised people, such as those with HIV/AIDS. It is estimated that 20-50% of people with HIV are also infected with KSHV. KSHV has several regions of DNA called open reading frames (ORFs) that are completely unique and their role in the KSHV lifecycle are not well understood. We are studying several of these unique ORFs more closely using modern gene editing techniques to generate mutants of the virus that lack these ORFs. By comparing the infection phenotypes of these mutant viruses to those of normal KSHV infections we will be able to characterize the roles these region play in the KSHV […]

...Read More about Nicholas Carey
Rose Hills

Criminal Record, Education, and Employment in the Era of Mass Incarceration

Recently, the U.S. has seen a growing increase in the number of programs advocating for more formerly incarcerated college students. In California, the Bay Area is home to a number of these programs. One prime example, the Underground Scholars Initiative (USI), is a pioneering program located at the University of California, Berkeley that focuses on creating a pathway into higher education for formerly incarcerated individuals. As a leading institution, UC Berkeley has seen an increasing number of formerly incarcerated students graduate with a Bachelors degree. USIs first graduation ceremony was held in May of 2016 and had a graduating class of fourteen students who were all formerly incarcerated and/or system-impacted. My project will test whether those with a criminal record and a Bachelors degree are harmed in the labor market for college degree jobs through an audit study of job application callbacks. I will expand on current research on criminal […]

...Read More about Michael Cerda-Jara
Humanities and Social Science

Synthesizing and Investigating the Magnetic properties of new Honeycomb Iridate, Ag2IrO3

Honeycomb iridates are a class of compounds that were theoretically predicted to be spin liquids, i.e. materials that lacked magnetic ordering due to their magnetic spin interactions. However, due to real-world deviations from theory, compounds like Lithium Iridate have been extensively studied to show fascinating forms of magnetism (like spiral and zig-zag orderings). Taking inspiration from this recent research, the goal of my project is to synthesize a new iridate – Ag2IrO3 (Silver Iridate). The motivation for this is to see how the metal, Ag, interacts with the underlying magnetism of the honeycomb lattice. Since the electronic energies of Ag are closer to those of Ir, it is possible that this material unlocks new energy interactions that will help further understand the way magnetism manifests in these materials. Once successfully synthesized, I shall use experimental probes such as magnetization and heat capacity to see signatures of these novel properties.

...Read More about Sanyum Channa
L&S Sciences

Identifying Regions Responsible for Sex Chromosome Drive in a Non-model Drosophila Species

Gregor Mendels law of equal segregation states that the two copies of each chromosome are transmitted with equal probability to the offspring. However, there are also genes, termed meiotic drivers, that manipulate the genome to be transmitted at greater than 50% frequency. Meiotic drivers have been identified across taxa (including insects, plants, fungi, and mammals), and have profound genomic, evolutionary, and ecological consequences. Moreover, the development of synthetic drive systems is the focus of multiple research groups as a means to control pest and disease vectors, since the >50% transmission distortion can be utilized to exterminate target populations and/or species. However, few meiotic drive systems have been characterized at the molecular genetic level, thus limiting the development of synthetic drivers. Over the summer, I will phenotype and genotype experimental males from a Drosophila miranda population with a putative meiotic driver and perform a Quantitative Trait Locus (QTL) analysis to identify […]

...Read More about Percival Chen
Rose Hills

Analysis of Matrix Multiplication Complexity Using Properties of Tensors

Matrix multiplication is one of the most foundational mathematical operations, and has deep connections to many areas of math, including algebra, geometry, and combinatorics. There is huge incentive to improve the speed of matrix multiplication as well as understand the inherent bounds on its complexity, due to its importance in applied mathematics and the computational sciences. Many of the questions concerning the complexity of matrix multiplication are still unsettled, namely: how can we make it faster and how fast can it go? It is thought that intrinsic mathematical properties of matrices constrain the algorithmic possibilities for operations on them. This is the thesis of algebraic complexity theory. Such properties include the dimensions of certain functions of matrices, many of which are not known. The purpose of this project is to perform a systematic application of known techniques from algebraic complexity theory to understand simple cases which are still poorly understood […]

...Read More about Nathan Cheng
L&S Sciences

Construction and Testing the New MAPS Pixel Chips for the ALICE ITS

The ALICE detector at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN collides lead nuclei and observes the particles ejected from the collision to study quark-gluon plasma, a highly energetic state of matter that existed during the first microsecond after the Big Bang. ALICEs current systems have been successful in measuring a variety of aspects of quark-gluon plasma, but they are unable to produce the resolution and statistics necessary to observe every aspect of quark-gluon plasma or observe particles of all momenta. To reduce this limitation, the Large Hadron Collider will be upgraded during its 2018-2019 shutdown. The LHCs beam will be increased in intensity to provide more particles for statistics. To keep up with this increase, and to increase the detection resolution, ALICEs internal tracking system, which tracks the trajectories of charged particles subjected to a magnetic field, will be refitted with the new MAPS detector pixels, which have a […]

...Read More about Ivan Chernyshev
Rose Hills

Calcium-Dependent Neuronal Activity Visualisation via a Bioluminescent Reporter

My project aims to develop an improved method for reporting calcium influx in vitro and in vivo. Bioluminescent calcium sensing is aimed at allowing researchers to accurately and quantitatively observe neuronal activity. Compared to conventional fluorescent calcium sensing, bioluminescent calcium sensing does not produce any noise in the data, does not have crosstalk with opsins, and can be used in a lensless imaging system. This project uses a new combination of recently developed synthetic proteins in-vitro to assess the potential for in-vivo experiments. Specifically, I will culture neurons, express in them the bioluminescent protein complex, and quantify the levels of bioluminescence under varying conditions as the first step. Further on, I plan to express bioluminescent protein in-vivo and, using a lensless imaging system, verify the feasibility of this approach for ameliorating calcium sensing in-vivo. The method itself would be the major valuable product derived from this project, because any improvement […]

...Read More about Kirill Chesnov
L&S Sciences

Defining the transcriptional regulation of ATF5 isoforms during mitochondrial stress across multiple cell types

Mitochondria often decline in function as a normal part of aging. However, mitochondrial dysfunction often has severe consequences and has been linked to neurodegenerative diseases, cancer and infection. Understanding the ways in which mitochondria recover when exposed to proteotoxic environments is therefore a crucial element in constructing better novel treatments to mitochondrial related disease such as Parkinsons. The mitochondrial unfolded protein response has been identified as a key stress signaling pathway regulated by the ATFS-1 transcription factor in the Caenorhabditis elegans model organism system. However, relatively little is known about the mammalian analog of this gene, ATF5. I propose to investigate the ATF5 genes three isoforms to uncover the differential roles of each isoforms upstream promoter. I hypothesize that these three promoters are differentially utilized to confer distinct responses under stress, and understanding these different cellular responses will reveal key insights into the mechanism behind mammalian mitochondrial recovery and, in […]

...Read More about Hannah Chi
Rose Hills

Investigating Molybdenum Disulfide Quantum Dot Blinking

Quantum dots are tiny, semiconducting particles with unique electronic properties that distinguish them from larger particles. Notably, quantum dots have discrete energy levels. Thus, by changing the size of the dot, the difference between these energy levels change. As the size of a quantum dot decreases, the energy difference increases between the highest and lowest bands. Thus, more energy is needed to excite the dot and more is released when it returns to its ground state. As a result, quantum dots can emit light of any frequency. Notably, two-dimensional transition metal dichalcogenides have been demonstrated to be made small enough to exhibit these properties. In particular, molybdenum disulfide exhibits interesting size dependent properties. My project this summer will investigate the dynamics of trapping and charging mechanisms of molybdenum disulfide quantum dots that cause fluorescent intermittency, known as quantum dot blinking, a phenomenon in which quantum dots turn their photoluminescence on […]

...Read More about Elizabeth Coda
Rose Hills

Think of the Children!: An Analysis of Queer Childhood

My research project is an analysis of queer childhoods. Taking as a starting-point Lee Edelmans notion of reproductive futurism, a term coined to refer to a cultural, political, and psychic investment in the figure of the Child who “remains the perpetual horizon of every acknowledged politics as the emblem of futuritys unquestioned value (No Future 3-4), I would like to consider representations of children who refuse the future we invest in them. Broadly, I am preoccupied with violent children those who spit in the face of the exhortation, Think of the children”; who use their nascent sexuality as a weapon; who fight to exist outside of capitalism, but cannot entirely cast off its chains; who beat and shoot and rape each other. Through synthesizing psychoanalysis, critical theory, and close readings of literary texts from various historical moments, I hope to better understand when the category of the child as someone […]

...Read More about Sarah Elisabeth Coduto
Humanities and Social Science

Inner Vision: The Role of Entoptics in the Artwork of Piet Mondrian

The visual field of the human eye is not limited to external objects, but instead includes visible effects which arise from within the optical system itself, otherwise known as entoptics. One may be familiar with entoptics in the form of floaters or migraine auras, as well as the field of changing colors and shapes borne of gentle pressure applied to the back of shut eyelids. Through research on the human optical system, the basic morphological components of these visual phenomena have been classified into a set of primarily geometric forms. Because the paintings of Piet Mondrian are geometrically minimalist themselves, they carry a strong resemblance to these forms, making his works suited to an analysis based around entoptics. In the past, such an approach has been used in the examination of prehistoric cave painting, but it has yet to find application in modern artworks. Thus, by investigating the entoptic presence […]

...Read More about Mason Cummings
Humanities and Social Science

The Effects of Practice Schedule on Motor Learning

Practice is an important process for anyone attempting to learn a new skill. Repeatedly performing the skill has been proven to lead to better learning . However, how should people organize their practice schedule if they want to learn multiple skills simultaneously? Is it more optimal to master each skill separately or all at once in a random order? There are multiple former experiments that show a random-ordered practice schedule actually leads to better retention than a blocked one. However, these studies typically use explicit motor tasks that require working memory and fails to measure implicit learning – the unconscious update of body movements. My project aims to understand the effect of different practice schedules on implicit learning by using a visuomotor reaching task. I am interested in determining if and how the bodys explicit and implicit systems differ in response to random- or blocked-ordered practice. My findings will hopefully […]

...Read More about Kristy Dang
L&S Sciences

Optimizing Bacterial Binding to Nanosheets

I am working with my SURF mentor on optimizing binding of mannose conjugated nanosheets to E. Coli bacteria by controlling expression of pili. Loop are created on the nanosheet surface in an air-water interface by a rocking mechanism. These loops protrude from the nanosheet bilayer, mimicking glycoproteins and glycolipids that protrude from cell membrane surfaces.Type 1 pili, which are the structures that project from bacterial cell surfaces that govern binding, are primarily controlled by the fim operon. The fim operon has a multitude of constituent elements that code for fimbrae proteins (e.g. fimH, fimB, fimE, fimA). Our approach involves the removal of fim elements that naturally control the On/Off switch for pili expression. We would like to be able to have control over expression of Type 1 pili by exposure to varying amounts of the chemical inducer Isopropyl -D-1-thiogalactopyranoside (IPTG). The levels of binding and degrees of success will be […]

...Read More about Jacqueline Dang
Rose Hills

Understanding the mechanism of NK cell inhibitory receptor Ly49A variegated expression

Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell that are essential to the function of vertebrate immune systems. Lymphocytes include Natural killer (NK) cells, an important component of the innate immune system. NK cells function through families of stimulatory and inhibitory receptors, providing early response to viral infections and tumor development. In mice, Ly49 C-type lectin receptors make up the largest family of inhibitory receptors expressed on NK cells. NK cells require Ly49 receptor activity in order to discriminate between healthy host cells and infected or abnormal cells and respond accordingly. NK cells express on average one to four of ten Ly49 genes in an independent, variegated fashion (only subsets of NK cells express each given Ly49 gene). My project aims to learn more about what regulates NK cell variegated expression of Ly49a as a model gene for the cluster. Based on previous studies, I hypothesize that DNA elements acting […]

...Read More about Susanna Ming-Yu Dang
Rose Hills

In Vitro Reconstitution of mTORC1 Recruitment Using a Supported Lipid Bilayer System

In recent years, our view of the lysosome has changed from the cells recycle bin to a sophisticated metabolic signaling center. The lysosome is the site of recruitment and activation of the mammalian Target of Rapamycin Complex 1 (mTORC1), a master regulator of cell growth and metabolism. The surfaces of lysosomes harbor many different chemical sensors that communicate with mTORC1, but how these different stimuli are integrated and translated into mTORC1-regulating signals is still poorly understood. As there has been increasing evidence that the facilitation of protein scaffold formation by membranes plays an important role in signal transmission, modeling mTORC1 recruitment to a membrane is an important step in elucidating the mechanisms behind mTORC1 regulation. By employing in vitro reconstitution of mTORC1 recruitment to a membrane using a supported lipid bilayer (SLB) system, I aim to investigate critical roles the lysosomal membrane may play in the proper assembly and regulation […]

...Read More about Ann Deng
L&S Sciences

Music and Mood: Tuning in to Music's Role in Emotion Regulation

Musics ability to evoke and communicate emotion seems intuitive and universal, but the cognitive and psychological processes that underlie musics emotive inductance still remain largely a mystery. Investigating how people perceive and engage with music ultimately reveals the complexities of emotion regulation. In this study, I compose music that targets various emotions and have participants evaluate changes in their mood state upon listening. By targeting and inducing emotions such as happiness, sadness, or anger in a lab setting, I can assess how effectively music either augments or diminishes the experience of a pre-existing mood, paying particular attention to whether the selected music is congruous (matching) or incongruous (non-matching) to the respective mood state. Music shows therapeutic potential not only in its emotive capabilities, but also as an easily accessible form of self-care and as an exercise of mindfulness via active listening. In this sense, music can be used by anyone […]

...Read More about Gregory Devine
Humanities and Social Science

3D City-scape Reconstruction from Motion

Reconstructing dense models of real-world 3D scenes is important for autonomous driving tasks. However, motion estimation for an agile single camera moving through general, unknown scenes has proved to be a challenging problem. The task becomes much more challenging in autonomous driving when real-time performance is required under disturbance of transient change of moving objects (e.g. vehicles, pedestrians) and surrounding environments (e.g. lighting conditions). The goal of this project is to build a pipeline for processing driving videos gathered by on-dash car camera on top of existing Structure from Motion method. This pipeline should generate high-quality reconstruction model of the environment using previously unknown scene along with mapping the trajectory of the 3D camera pose as output. The reconstructed vision system should ideally enable localization, general spatial awareness and scene understanding, opens up new possibilities for learning of autonomous driving policies.

...Read More about Zisu Dong
L&S Sciences

Tuning Magnetic Ordering in Intercalated Transition Metal Dichalcogenides

Transition metal dichalcogenides make up a class of 2D semiconductors that are of high interest in the field of condensed matter currently. I plan on synthesizing two primary intercalated versions of these compounds: Fe(1/3)NbS2 and Fe(1/3)TaS2. These two compounds have competing magnetic orderings (antiferromagnetism and ferromagnetism respectively), so what happens in a hybrid material where both Nb and Ta are present? The Fe sites in Fe(1/3)NbS2 already host frustrated moments, but by incorporating some ferromagnetic ordering from the Ta compound, the frustration can be tweaked. Frustration is one of the key ingredients of a sought after class of materials, quantum spin liquids (QSLs). At the very least, looking at the crossover region from AFM to FM in these compounds will provide us with information about competing energy scales in 2D, and allow us to study the dichalcogenides in the presence of a range of magnetic orderings.

...Read More about Spencer Doyle
L&S Sciences

Analysis of Matrix Multiplication Complexity Using Properties of Tensors

The rich theory of algebraic computational complexity aims to study the complexity of objects with an intrinsic mathematical structure. In particular, for each n, matrix multiplication of two n n matrices can be expressed as a bilinear map, which corresponds to a tensor via a well-known isomorphism. The rank of this tensor controls the asymptotic complexity of matrix multiplication of a particular dimensionality. Despite this powerful relationship, much is still unsettled; for instance, the rank of the tensor corresponding to n = 3 is not even known. But to date, a systematic review of applications of known techniques to specific cases has not been performed. We hope to study lower and upper bounds on tensors for small n by looking at border rank bounds, basis transformations, tensor-flattening approaches, and group-theoretic algorithms, and demonstrate either the power or the limitations of such techniques. We believe that an in-depth analysis of specific […]

...Read More about Jiahan Du
L&S Sciences

Exploring the role of nucleosome positioning on gene silencing in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Nuclear DNA is subjected to various levels of compaction, including tight wrapping around histone proteins producing densely packed, relatively inaccessible regions of heterochromatin. How nucleosome positioning is established and maintained is an area of active study. Understanding nucleosome positioning allows further understanding of proper and improper gene regulation. Budding yeast is a simplified yet highly conserved eukaryotic model used to gain understanding of complex processes that occur in humans. I am interested in studying the mechanism of silencing, using the silent mating type locus in yeast. I am curious about the role of nucleosome depleted regions in nucleosome positioning and will utilize various genetic manipulations, including CRISPR/Cas9, MNAse-Seq, and CRASH analysis to study this question.

...Read More about Delaney Farris
L&S Sciences

The 'Three-Dimensional Woman': Exploring Gender and Representing Femininity in James Joyce's Ulysses

Upon first reading Ulysses by James Joyce, I developed a question: why does one of the most significant novels of the modernist canon, a literary movement associated with hyper-masculine authors, contain such a prominent focus on the feminine and end with a female narrator? Throughout Ulysses, Joyce investigates the trappings of normative gender, especially through Molly and Leopold Bloom. My research engages with this investigation and my original question, pursuing critical conversations surrounding Ulysses while also examining texts from queer theory and novelistic theory in order to interrogate the precise role of gender within Joyces masterpiece. My project uses this interrogation to suggest that, due in part to Ulyssess remarkable influence upon the literary world, Joyce was able to pave the way for new, complex conceptions of femininity and gender within the 20th century novel as a whole.

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

UV Completion of Aristotelian Yang-Mills and Topological Methods in HL Gravity

Symmetry is a very important and beautiful tool in physics. From every symmetry in a physical system, one can derive a conserved quantity. However, when one attempts to study various quantum systems with interesting and useful symmetries compatible with Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity, one finds that some of them fall apart and create divergences at high energies. One method of resolving this problem is to work in a hypothetical space-time where Lorentz symmetry doesn’t have to hold at high energies. This gives us more freedom in building the theory, and makes it easier to complete the theory at high energies. Using this method gives interesting mathematical and physical insights about the theories in question. Our project will be centered around the specific cases of Supersymmetric Yang-Mills (an interesting generalization of electromagnetic theory that is closely connected to the strong nuclear force) and topological Horava-Lifshitz gravity (a theory of gravity […]

...Read More about Alexander Frenkel
L&S Sciences

Developing a New Method of Measuring the magnetoelectric Switching in BiFeO3 at the Nanoscale

This summer, I will be working in the Ramesh Group to develop a new method of measuring the magnetoelectric switching in BiFeO3 (bismuth ferrite) at the nanoscale. BiFeO3 is a magnetoelectric multiferroic material meaning that it has coupled and stable electric and magnetic polarization without the presence of an external electric or magnetic field. This material was discovered in the Ramesh Group in 2003 and is still the subject of investigation in the lab. BiFeO3 has promise for use in the future of memory storage devices. One of the current goals of the Ramesh Group is to reduce the energy consumption for these devices. The results of my project will allow us to determine the fundamental limits of energy consumption in this material, minimizing contributions from extrinsic defects, in turn, furthering the promise of these materials in next generation memory devices.

...Read More about Sophia Gaynes
Rose Hills

Investigation of the Internalization of Dengue Non-Structural Protein 1

Dengue virus is an arbovirus that affects infects as many as 390 million individuals annually. Up to 96 million individuals express symptoms which range from flu like uncomplicated dengue fever to life threatening cases of dengue hemorrhagic fever/dengue shock syndrome (DHF/DSS), the latter being characterized by severe vascular leak and dysfunction of endothelial cells, which form blood vessels. Interestingly, higher levels of dengue virus non-structural protein 1 (NS1), a protein secreted from infected cells, is associated with severe cases of dengue. NS1 has been shown to disrupt the function of endothelial cells and degrade the endothelial glycocalyx, part of the extracellular matrix of these cells. Though we can connect dengue NS1 to these symptoms, the mechanism of pathogenesis remains unknown. That being said, preliminary data suggests that NS1 is internalized by endothelial cells. My project aims to confirm this and determine the mechanism of internalization and its role in pathology. […]

...Read More about Trent Gomberg
Rose Hills

Synergy Analysis in Radiobiology using Incremental Effect Additivity

The current theory we are interested that is applicable in radiobiology uses a mathematically lacking model for specifically modelling dose and effect relationship. This lacking model is especially inappropriate for settings where the dose effect relations are highly curvilinear, which will seriously hinder many researchers from developing synergy theory, a concept of interest to many radiobiologists. We propose a better and more appropriate model to do synergy theory and modelling. My SURF research, which will build from the research I have already been doing with my mentor, will continue to explore deeper into the statistical validity and robustness of our proposal through various techniques. To get a little bit more specific, some of the things that will be validated is appropriateness of fit and parsimony of our variables through methods such as cross validation and building alternative models.

...Read More about Dae Woong Ham
L&S Sciences

Hyperpolarized Magnetic Resonance Zinc Probes for Prostate Cancer Detection and Risk Stratification

Prostate cancer (PCa) is the most common noncutaneous cancer in men and presents with a heterogeneous disease course ranging from indolent to rapidly progressive, fatal disease. Imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) imaging are important for differentiating between these phenotypes and selecting appropriate patients for treatments. Although low zinc concentration in malignant prostate tissue has been identified as a biomarker for the presence of and aggressiveness of PCa, there is no method for imaging zinc biodistribution in routine clinical use. One solution is hyperpolarized magnetic resonance spectroscopy (HP-MRS), which allows for non-invasive in vivo imaging with excellent sensitivity. Based on preliminary studies, 13C labeled 2-picolinic acid is a promising hyperpolarized zinc probe, so I propose to synthesize derivatives of that compound and evaluate their ability to image zinc in vitro as well as in vivo in a murine model of PCa. These probes may […]

...Read More about Andrew Hong
Rose Hills

Investigating the Egyptian Fruit Bat as a Mammalian Model for Vocal Learning

Vocal learning is the ability to produce vocalizations using auditory feedback to guide learning. Vocal learning has been explored extensively in songbirds and humans, but never within a tractable mammalian model species. By using two approaches, mapping vocal motor pathways and identifying auditory networks, I aim to investigate the neural circuitry of vocal learning in Egyptian fruit bats (Rousettus aegyptiacus). From a systems neuroscience perspective, my research will reveal mammalian neuroanatomical underpinnings and build the foundations for a mammalian model system of vocal learning. My findings will elucidate the mechanisms driving vocal learning in bats and have strong applications towards supporting research related to the pathologies of human speech and language disorders.

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

Repulsive-force electrostatic actuators for low-cost, scalable mechanical stimulation of cell cultures

I plan to develop a new meso-scale device for the mechanical stimulation of cell cultures using repulsive-force electrostatic actuators that I have helped fabricate and characterize in prior work. Cells live within a dynamic micromechanical environment, sensing and adapting to external mechanical forces, including tension, compression, fluid shear, and hydrostatic pressure. Basic cellular functions like proliferation and differentiation, as well as many diseases including osteoporosis and atherosclerosis, have been associated with these types of mechanical cues. Because of the complexity of in vivo models, a wide variety of in vitro methodologies have been employed to stimulate cell cultures. Conventional pneumatic and mechanical stimulation systems rely on bulky motors or pumps that limit design scalability. In contrast, RFAs have simple operation, generating forces and displacements (proportional to applied input voltages) at magnitudes within biologically relevant regimes. Moreover, RFAs are easily fabricated and may be designed in scalable biocompatible configurations, which is […]

...Read More about Loren Jiang
Rose Hills

Investigating changes in gene expression that affect heart rate during pregnancy

In normal pregnancies, cardiac output increases to accommodate increased metabolic demand. There are changes in pacemaker cells that cause an increase in resting heart rate. Currently, the mechanisms that connect changes in hormones to changes in gene expression in pacemaker cells are unknown. Understanding the mechanisms that lead to an increase in heart rate in pregnancies could provide insight on how to prevent cardiovascular complications in pregnancies. For my project, I will be studying changes in gene expression between pregnant and non-pregnant mice. Through laser capture microdissection, I will be able to isolate sinus nodes and sequence the RNA of pacemaker cells from these mice. I will also be collecting heart rate data from pregnant and non-pregnant mice through surgically implanted transmitters. This will allow me to assess heart rate dynamics in fully awake pregnant mice throughout all stages of pregnancy. My project aims to connect gene expression changes to […]

...Read More about Catherine Jung
Rose Hills

Computational Modeling of Reinforcement Learning and Working Memory Systems

Learning is paramount to human success, but the complex processes that underlie it are poorly understood. While cognitive models adequately explain some learning mechanisms, much remains to be discovered about the interactions between different mechanisms. Reinforcement learning (RL) is a slow and robust process that relies on external rewards to guide behavior. Working memory (WM) is a system that can retain recently acquired information for short periods of time. While previous research has demonstrated that both systems contribute to learning, the two mechanisms have rarely been studied together. In this project, I seek to examine what factors may affect how we recruit WM vs. RL for learning. Specifically, I would like to understand how being able to easily label a stimulus modifies the balance of WM and RL for learning. I hope to contribute to our knowledge of learning disorders, best practices in education, and computational neuroscience by testing how […]

...Read More about Haley Keglovits
L&S Sciences

The Esterification of Boronic Acid Derivatives

Aryl esters are a class of organic molecules that have a wide range of applications. They are common active ingredient of pharmaceuticals, food flavorings, perfumes, and cosmetics. They are useful building blocks for other molecules in synthetic chemistry, structural elements in material science, and components of many biological tools. Traditionally, these esters are prepared by the addition of strong electrophiles to arenes under harsh conditions, often for long periods of time. Because of the harsh conditions, these classical reactions occur with a very limited scope. In addition, the reaction occurs at the position of aryl rings that is most electron rich. However, recent advances in metal catalysts allow implementation of new and easier methods of synthesis that were not previously possible. This summer, I propose to discover a catalyst and appropriate reagents for the esterification of aryl boronic esters that are formed from the catalytic functionalization of aryl C-H bonds […]

...Read More about Elena Kharitonova
Rose Hills

Stereopsis and Motor Control in a Prehension Task

Precise and coordinated motor movement, such as prehension, is an essential skill for completing everyday tasks. The aim of this study is to quantify the relationship between stereopsis (the ability to see depth) and skilled prehension (the ability to precisely grasp an object). We present objects in a frontal view that minimizes other cues to their shape and ask participants to reach and pick up the objects while recording their hand movements. Because grasping an object relies on 3-dimensional object properties and relative disparity, we predict that individuals with anomalous depth perception will have impaired ability to grasp objects. Thus, in a subset of the larger study, stereo-anomalous participants will undergo perceptual learning training using virtual reality games to observe any possible recovered stereopsis and improved motor movement. It is our ultimate hope that the study will illuminate our understanding of how stereopsis benefits manual tasks and provide a basis […]

...Read More about Alyson Kishi
Rose Hills

Investigating the Role of Lipoproteins in Listeria monocytogenes Pathogenesis

Listeria monocytogenes is a facultative intracellular bacterial pathogen that is being developed as a vaccine vector. The potential for L. monocytogenes as a vaccine vector stems from its ability to invade host cells and its genetic tractability, which allows us to make mutants that express antigens and are avirulent. However, it has been shown that in some instances infection with L. monocytogenes mutants causes the host to produce IL-10, which is an immunosuppressive cytokine. Thus, we believe that L. monocytogenes has the potential to be an even better vaccine vector if we could get rid of its capabilities to induce IL-10 production. We have discovered that IL-10 production is lowered when the gene coding for the lipoprotein anchor, lgt, is removed. However, it is still unclear whether specific lipoproteins, or all lipoproteins, are involved in the IL-10 induction cycle. My project involves making individual lipoprotein L. monocytogenes mutants and testing […]

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

Finding circuit layout and Hamiltonian to optimize quantum variational eigensolver

Quantum computers promise tremendous gains in computational efficiency to a number of important areas in STEM. Among these, few are as promising as the ability of quantum computers to simulate atomic-scale (and thus quantum) systems. A specific topic of interest in this area is using the simulations to find the ground state energy of particularly cumbersome energy systems. However, many barriers still exist in the way of this theoretical benefit becoming a real advantage. One such barrier is the difficulty of designing the gate layout . The goal of the research I am proposing is to help overcome this barrier by writing software that will take tensor networks and computation steps suggested by an algorithm for the ground state and generate a circuit for preparing them in a way that minimizes the use of less reliable gates/hardware. I will also investigate different mathematical classes of Hamiltonians (i.e. energy systems) to […]

...Read More about Vladimir Kremenetski
Rose Hills

Sign of the times: the lipid signature of a collapsing phytoplankton bloom

Did you know that phytoplankton produce half the world’s breathable oxygen? These enigmatic organisms are a vital part of the marine ecosystem and closely connected to our terrestrial world, but there’s a lot we don’t know about them. This summer, I’ll be looking specifically at phytoplankton blooms – dynamic events in which they reproduce rapidly and overwhelm thousands of square kilometers of ocean – and studying the signals phytoplankton produce when stressed. This project will help us understand how carbon is sequestered in the ocean and the implications for the global carbon cycle.

...Read More about William Kumler
Rose Hills

The Broken Clepsydra: Fascism as the Distortion of the Water-Gazers Perception of Time in Argentina and Japan

Tragically, fascism has re-appeared in many forms and permutations throughout modern history. Although Japan and Argentina represent only two nations which have suffered this political epidemic, through studying these nations perhaps deeper deductions can ultimately be drawn about a contemporary political phenomenon which Albert Camus rightfully labeled an epidemic. Accordingly, my research will focus upon the literature of Japan and Argentina with the aim of discovering key commonalities which suggest vulnerabilities to what Emilio Gentile categorized as a political religion. Socio-historical theorists ranging from Hannah Arendt to Robert O. Paxton have characterized the foundation of fascism in the same manner as Gentile with slight variations in terminology which I will explore in my research. By juxtaposing Meiji-era Japanese literature with mid-19th century Argentinean literature such as Martin Fierro, I will seek to identify a trajectory toward such inevitable characteristics of fascism as atavism. Similarly, by comparing relatively more modern works […]

...Read More about Hideyasu Kurose
Humanities and Social Science

Design and Assembly of a Magnetic Quench Protection System for Alpha-G

The gravitational behavior of antimatter has critical bearing upon our understanding of particle physics, quantum gravity, and the expansion of the universe. The weak equivalence principle (WEP) states any particles gravitational acceleration is the same, conflicting with quantum theory, which imposes limits on the certainty of position and momentum (thus trajectory) of particles. ALPHA-G, a new antimatter gravity experiment being performed at CERN, tests how gravity acts upon antihydrogen as a test of the WEP. Confining and cooling antihydrogen such that gravitational rather than thermal effects are measured requires strong magnetic fields produced by superconducting coils kept at liquid helium temperatures. These coils, when heated, lose their superconductivity and expends stored energy into heat, damaging the magnet and potentially the entire experiment. I will research and design magnetic quench protection systems for the experiment. This entails designing circuits to detect quenches, choosing instrumentation equipment to measure magnet characteristics, and helping […]

...Read More about Huws Landsberger
Rose Hills

Doping a 2D Mott Insulator

Some of the biggest technological hurdles come from the existence of electrical resistance in everyday materials, causing a waste of energy. High-temperature superconductivity is a great solution to this problem. High-temperature superconductors can conduct electricity without dissipating any energy and possess many special magnetic properties, making them useful for long distance power transmission, power storage, transportation, and magnetic medical imaging. However, the currently best high-temperature superconductors still require cryogenic temperatures to be superconducting, making them cost inefficient. Explaining the cause for their behavior has perplexed scientists for many decades, and understanding the phenomenon will lessen the drawbacks in their use and be a great leap for science and technology. To help accomplish this, I plan to study a class of closely related materials called Mott insulators, which are very often high-temperature superconductors, indicating a connection between the two. Establishing this link will help explain high-temperature superconductivity, which will in turn […]

...Read More about Ryan Lee
Rose Hills

Binding Determinants of Dengue Virus NS1 to Human Endothelial Cells

Dengue virus (DENV) is the most prevalent mosquito-borne virus worldwide, causing ~390 million infections annually. Disease ranges from inapparent infection to classic dengue fever to severe dengue, characterized by vascular leak that can lead to systemic shock, organ failure, and death. Non-structural protein 1 (NS1) is the only protein secreted from DENV-infected cells and plays a role in pathogenesis through induction of barrier dysfunction of human endothelial cells. However, the receptor for NS1 on endothelial cells and the molecular determinants of pathogenesis on NS1 remain unknown. In my research, I seek to identify specific DENV NS1 regions that are required for binding to human endothelial cells and to investigate whether blocking these binding sites prevents NS1-induced pathogenesis. My experimental approach includes testing a panel of anti-NS1 monoclonal antibodies to determine which antibodies prevent NS1 binding to human pulmonary microvascular endothelial cells (HPMEC). Then, the NS1 epitope targeted by these antibodies […]

...Read More about Kendall E. Lee
L&S Sciences

Auditory Adaptations

We propose to conduct research exploring potential cognitive adaptations in children who come from less wealthy and/or educated homes (low socioeconomic status, SES). Previous research indicates that lower-SES environments expose children to stressors including neighborhood crime and loud, crowded home environments. Such stress has been associated with academic struggles and poor health. We explore whether children coming from low SES households may, in fact, have particular strengths; specifically, adaptive auditory abilities allowing them to learn from multiple stimuli at once. In the study, we will have both low- and high-SES children listen to two stories simultaneously; we will measure their attention to both stories by testing their explicit and implicit memory in relation to the stories. As an indicator of attention, we measure pupillary dilation in response to unexpected sounds embedded within the stories. We hypothesize lower-SES children will have better recollection of the content in both stories in comparison […]

...Read More about Keren Lev
Humanities and Social Science

Specters Old and New: a Critical Study of Bernard Stiegler's Social Theory

In recent years, there has been a proliferation of speculation concerning the significance of new digital technologies on social relations, culture, and political economy. French philosopher and social theorist Bernard Stiegler is one of the more prominent of such New Media theorists, who aims at a philosophical transformation in our understanding of the technological mediation of social processes of individuation, production, and consumption. For my research, I am carrying out a critical study of Stieglers work, as it concentrates several pressing contemporary problematics within critical social theory into an exemplary object of study. My research focuses on three questions: what are the stakes of a socio-political theory built from a phenomenological understanding of subjectivity, and how does this method relate to historical projects of social transformation built around analysis of the dynamism of antagonistic social structuration, particularly Marxist ones? What is the strategic possibility of the struggle for economic transformation […]

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

Advancing Neural Machine Translation in Speed and Accuracy

Language is a crowning achievement of human civilization and a defining characteristic of human intelligence. There are over 5000 languages spoken in the world. Most people speak only a handful of languages, so translation is critical to overcoming barriers in communication. Unfortunately, translation is laborious and challenging, and cannot be done manually at scale. As a result, machine translation (MT) has been an active area of research in artificial intelligence. This research focuses on methods to improve MT. It incorporates the idea of neural machine translation, which builds a neural network to process languages. Typically, the network model is given access to a database of text in some source languages and manually translated target languages. Though powerful, MT still has unsolved problems. An inherent one in its training process is that there are multiple equally valid ways to translate the same sentence but the system only has access to one […]

...Read More about Evelyn Li
L&S Sciences

Advance Neural Machine Translation in Speed and Accuracy

Language is a crowning achievement of human civilization and a defining characteristic of human intelligence. There are over 5000 languages spoken in the world. Most people speak only a handful of languages, so translation is critical to overcoming barriers. Unfortunately, translation is laborious and challenging, and cannot be done manually at scale. As a result, machine translation (MT) has been an active area of research in artificial intelligence. This research focuses on methods to improve MT. It incorporates the idea of neural machine translation, which builds a neural network to process languages. Typically, the network model is given access to a database of text in some source language and manually translated target languages. Though powerful, MT still has unsolved problems. An inherent one in its training process is that there are multiple equally valid ways to translate the same sentence but the system only has access to one correct translation […]

...Read More about Evelyn Li
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Mixed-Orientation Marriage in Queer Modernity: Tongqi in China

Tongqi, the abbreviation of gay man (tong)s wife (qi), is a term used in China to describe a self-identified straight woman who married to a self-identified gay man that both partners assume to maintain a heterosexual marriage. Chinas interactions with its ancestral-familial ethics stressing on offspring, reactionary attitude toward the Western knowledge/power on gender and sexuality, and the rigid legal status against same-sex marriage, complicated the struggles faced by the women in the mixed-orientation marriages. This research conducts participant observation and interviews in the tongqi online mutual-support group and related public health institutions to examine i. what systems of knowledge they mobilize, ii. how they exercise them to negotiate norms around the legitimacy of tongqi, iii. how do subjects identified as tongqi develop divergent paths of resilience. This research seeks to contribute to the scholarship on gender and marriage system, the social processes of mixed-orientation marriage, and the diverse pathways […]

...Read More about Celine Liao
Humanities and Social Science

Investigating the Role of a Truncated LRRK2 Product in Parkinsons Disease

One million Americans suffer from Parkinson’s Disease (PD), a fatal neurodegenerative disorder characterized by neuronal death and motor symptoms such as bradykinesia and tremors. Unfortunately, there is no treatment that prevents, reverses or even delays PD. My research focuses on the protein called the Leucine Rich Repeat Kinase 2 (LRRK2), which is the most common site for mutations in PD. However, the mechanism by which LRRK2 causes PD is unknown. With the help of my lab at UCSF, I have uncovered that a sizable amount of intracellular LRRK2 is processed to a shorter ~160 kD version of LRRK2 missing its N-terminus. This exciting piece of LRRK2 biology has remained unknown because the protein is lowly expressed in most cells. This project will define the shortened sequence of LRRK2, determine how it is generated in the cell, and begin to test its cellular functions. Specifically, I will test the hypotheses that […]

...Read More about Lotus Lum
L&S Sciences

Analysis of Matrix Multiplication Complexity Using Properties of Tensors

Matrix multiplication is one of the most foundational mathematical operations. Understanding this operation is a sophisticated mathematical question, which has been the subject of extensive research over the years. There is huge incentive to improve the speed of matrix multiplication as well as understand the inherent bounds on its complexity. The rich theory of algebraic computational complexity aims to study the complexity of objects with an intrinsic mathematical structure. In particular, for each n, matrix multiplication of two nxn matrices can be expressed as a bilinear map, which corresponds to a tensor via a well-known isomorphism. The rank of this tensor controls the asymptotic complexity of matrix multiplication of a particular dimensionality. Despite this powerful relationship, much is still unsettled.To date, a systematic review of applications of known techniques to specific cases has not been performed. We hope to study lower and upper bounds on tensors for small n by […]

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

Investigating mechanisms of nutrient release by phage lysis

Bacteria live in complex and diverse communities ranging from marine environments and soils to the human gut. Improving our understanding of bacterial communities is dependent on deepening our knowledge of how interactions between species affect community function and structure. In one specific interaction, phages participate in these bacterial communities by lysing members and releasing nutrients to the environment. Previous work has explored nutrient sharing interactions on larger scales and research suggests that within marine communities, in algal and phytoplankton populations, viral-mediated cell lysis is responsible for the majority of nutrient turnover. However, although bacteriophages have been an ubiquitous tool in molecular biology for targeting bacteria and delivering DNA to cells of interest, few studies have looked at a specific mechanism by which nutrient cycling occurs by phage lysis. The Taga lab has developed a simple, genetically tractable E. coli co-culture which was engineered to reciprocally exchange methionine and vitamin B12. […]

...Read More about Joseph Maa
Rose Hills

Effect of visual experience on ventral-preferring ganglion cell patterning in the mouse retina

Direction-selective ganglion cells (DSGCs) are characterized from other retinal ganglion cells because they generate a higher rate of action potentials when a moving light stimulus passes over the cell in its preferred direction than when the stimulus moves in the opposite or null direction. Four subtypes of DSGCs have been elucidated, each of which prefer one of the four cardinal directions of visual motion: dorsal, ventral, temporal, and nasal. Although asymmetric synaptic circuitry is a common property of these DSGCs in the mouse retina, asymmetric dendritic morphology is not. However, one subtypethe ventral-motion preferring DSGCis an exception; it is unique in its asymmetric dendritic morphology that mimics its preferred direction. My project will attempt to determine whether there is difference in how this subset of DSGCs is spatially distributed on the retina in the presence and absence of visual experience. The answer could help determine how visual experience influences the […]

...Read More about Kayla Maanum
Rose Hills

A Genetic Basis for the Evolution and Regulation of Heart Rate

One of the fastest heart rates in the world belongs to one of the smallest mammals, the Etruscan Shrew. Only weighing around 1.8 grams, this animal has a heart rate of 1511 beats per minute (in comparison, human heart rates are around 80 beats per minute). In contrast, the blue whale has a heart rate of about 8 bpm. This phenomenon of heart rate scaling can consistently be found throughout the animal kingdom, with smaller organisms possessing a higher heart rate compared to that of larger animals, though little research has been done to explain why. However, previous research has indicated that activity of the ion channel HCN4 is closely correlated with heart rate. We believe the cis-regulatory elements determining HCN4 activity, enhancers, have changed during evolution to create these differential heart rates. My project aims to test this hypothesis, assaying the activity of a putative enhancer for HCN4, then […]

...Read More about Ravi Mandla
Rose Hills

Hybrid and Catalytic Behaviors of Transition Metal Dichalcogenides

The development of nanoscale materials (materials that are around 10-9 meters in size) is something that promises to widely impact fields such as computing, medicine, and energy and change the landscape of technology as we know it. One type of promising nanomaterial is the Transition Metal Dichalcogenide (or TMDC) which is a crystalline nanomaterial made of a transition metal, such as Tungsten, and a chalcogenide, such as Selenium. When crystals of TMDCs are reduced to an atomic thinness, they exhibit unique electronic properties which make them useful for the development of technologies such as thinner and more efficient solar cells, photodetectors, sensors for biological markers, or superior catalysts. One TMDC property that is particularly unique is its capacity to link with other nanomaterials and form heterostructures that have even more exploitable characteristics. My SURF research will look into the creation of TMDC structures and other nanomaterials as a researcher in […]

...Read More about Cameron McBride
Rose Hills

Basic Income: Theory and Practice in Neoliberal Aid

Direct cash transfers, often termed ‘basic income,’ are an emerging trend in contemporary development interventions. This form of poverty alleviation depends upon a particular form of social contract between state, civil society, and citizen. While influential thinkers from across the political spectrum have long supported a basic income, including economists such as Milton Friedman and activists like Martin Luther King, Jr., I will investigate why basic income is taking hold in this specific moment across the development industry. To whom is this form of poverty alleviation attractive and why? How does this trend speak to the current political economic conjuncture? My study will focus on Give Directly, a central organization in the growing trend towards basic income programs. I will investigate the organizations distinct configuration of direct cash transfers which reconfigures social contracts through a new form of NGO-citizen alliance. First, I will explore how the ideas of GiveDirectly’s founders […]

...Read More about Elizabeth McCullough
Humanities and Social Science

Self-Writing and James Baldwin: A reexamination of black autobiography

My work will focus on the autobiographical tendencies of James Baldwins texts as they engage with the sociopolitical and philosophical problems inherent to black autobiography’s genesisslaverywith the larger task of reexamining understandings of autobiography as a genre. The research will explore the history of African American literature in order to find how questions originating from the slave narrative are reformulated, and how the slave narratives resilient strain has injected itself into the nature of black literature so as to make autobiographical practice a fundamental method of communication. This will predictably produce questions of authorship, intention and social validation. To leverage these formulations in my reading of Baldwin, I will be studying literary theory, particularly of the structuralist and post-structuralist schools, as these writers are concerned with the philosophical freedoms that writing, considered generally, and self-writing particularly, afford a writer. As a foundation to these theories, the sociological assertion that identity […]

...Read More about Samara Michaelson
Humanities and Social Science

Language Revitalization: Thinking By Design

Indigenous language revitalization (LR) work comes from the heart. Whether done by a documentary linguist or an indigenous community member, LR is a labor of love, usually done in someones spare time, with little to no financial compensation. While their linguistic and/or cultural knowledge may be vast, such individuals usually lack pedagogy training and experience. As the nature of LR work is already immense and taxing, providing its practitioners with a structured but adaptable program detailing how best to implement the pedagogical aspects of LR would be a major innovation. My SURF project develops one such program. I am collaborating with a UCB documentary linguist/language revitalization expert as well as a UCB theatre professional. Through a series of workshops, we will use music, movement, games, and theatre to explore the language of Iquito. The project includes 25 LR teaching hours this summer with the Iquito heritage community in Peruvian Amazonia. […]

...Read More about Cecelia Di Mino
Humanities and Social Science

Social media meets Zimbabwes informal economy: How street vendors use social media to support income generation

The uses of social media in developing countries particularly in Africa are generally under-researched. The few studies that have been conducted emphasized the impact of such digital tools on democracy, civic participation and other largely socio-political implications, leaving out the economic implications. After identifying this information gap, I formulated my research to study the emergent ways in which social media use and the informal economy intersect particularly in Zimbabwe, a country which has been struggling with rampant unemployment and consequently an increasing informal sector made up of self-entrepreneurial street vendors. In light of this development, my study will specifically seek to understand how social media is shaping or transforming street vendors income generating activities. Using the capabilities approach, this study will critically assess the role of WhatsApp and Facebook as part of a livelihood strategy for street vendors and determine whether these platforms are effectively impacting their economic choices, opportunities […]

...Read More about Liona Muchenje
Humanities and Social Science

Dynamic Load Balancing in Networks Using The Data Plane

The internet essentially functions like a mailing system, with data packets sent across a network of devices. These devices act like the post offices and shipping warehouses from our regular mailing system. Until recently, modifying the way things ran for each device worked in a similar fashion to training a new worker. In our case, it took years for manufacturers to develop new hardware that did what the network managers wanted. This is where P4 comes in; it is now feasible to change the functionality of forwarding devices by directly programming them with P4, thereby cutting out the manufacturer middleman. I will develop and evaluate new methods of improving Load Balancing, that is, designing the devices to route packets in order to prevent traffic congestion. Not only can I use P4 to change a devices initial program, I can combine it with a Software Defined Network (SDN) to update it […]

...Read More about Angel Najera
Rose Hills

Investigating the ability of gut commensals to confer ammonia resistance to worm hosts

Within the last decade, research on the microbiota has begun to shed light on the immense contribution of gut microbes to host health, metabolism, immunity, and reproduction. Even more recently, studies have identified systems in which animals that are exposed to a toxin have acquired gut bacteria that confer resistance to the animal host. I am particularly interested in ammonia, a chemical that is toxic in high concentrations to most animals. All life on earth requires nitrogen, yet the multi-step nitrogen cycle relies primarily on bacteria to carry out steps such as nitrogen fixation (converting inorganic nitrogen to ammonia) and nitrification (the oxidation of ammonia to the relatively non-toxic nitrate), in order to make nitrogen bioavailable. In particular, only a few select genera of Bacteria and Archaea the nitrifying bacteria are capable of nitrification. I will be researching whether nitrifying bacteria can colonize the gut of the worm C. elegans […]

...Read More about Vivek Narayan
L&S Sciences

Atomically Resolved Measurement of Electromigration

Electromigration is a phenomenon in which an electric current induces the gradual motion of atoms in a conductor. While electromigration has been observed at the macroscopic scale, its fundamental mechanisms are not well-understood at the atomic scale. The goal of my research project is to investigate the interaction between the electric current and conductor-supported atoms that gives rise to electromigration. Electromigration has important effects on the reliability of electronic components, and has many proposed applications, including uses in nanomachine actuation, chemical transport, and as a method for the nanoscale mixing of new alloys. A thorough understanding of the physics behind electromigration is required to further develop these applications. To study how electric current leads to the motion of atoms, I will use local probe microscopy for atomically-resolved imaging of the electronic structure and charge density around the atoms. These measurements will show how the physical behavior changes in response to […]

...Read More about Kyler Natividad
L&S Sciences

Exploring a shallow landsliding event with a multidimensional stability model

Shallow landslides are a primary method of sediment transport and a dominant hillslope erosion process in many steep, soil-mantled landscapes. However, testing models that predict shallow landslide size and location is challenging due to a lack of high resolution datasets that map where landslides occurred following major storms. In February 2017, an intense rainfall event caused more than 400 shallow landslides at a field research site near Williams, California. This project will use a comprehensive landslide dataset that I created from field surveys over the past year to statistically analyze how successful a newly published model and search algorithm by Milledge et al. (2014) and Bellugi et al. (2015) are at predicting the size and location of landslides that occurred at this site. Testing this model is essential for determining when the model is predictive and under what conditions the model fails, ultimately furthering our theoretical understanding of the processes […]

...Read More about Mariel Nelson
Rose Hills

Characterization of transport parameters

Advancement of lithium-based battery technology is extremely important as demand for safer and higher capacity batteries continues to increase. Commercial lithium-ion (Li-ion) technology has an inherit safety concern as the electrolyte mixture of ethylene carbonate, dimethyl carbonate, and lithium hexafluorophosphate is highly flammable. One way to address this problem is to switch to a nonflammable electrolyte while maintaining high levels of electrolyte performance. Performance metrics include conductivity, which is the reverse of the resistance to ion flow, transference number, which is a measure of the percentage of charge carried by a particular ion, and the salt diffusion coefficient, which tells how fast a molecule is moving with concentration gradient. All three metrics are needed to fully characterize an electrolyte. Electrolytes formed out of polymers are of specific interest as they are nonflammable. The newest class of polymer electrolytes include mixtures of perfluoropolyethers and lithium salts with fluorinated anions. Our project […]

...Read More about Hien Nguyen
Rose Hills

Identification of IFN-inducible Genes Essential in Control of Tuberculosis Infection Using a CRISPR/Cas9 System

IFN- is a cytokine that has essential immunostimulatory and modulatory roles in innate and adaptive immune responses. More specifically it is released by host CD4+ T cells and has been shown to be essential in macrophage-mediated control of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Many downstream pathways have been proposed, including ones involving inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), autophagy induction, and GTPase activity; however, some models are contradictory and others unclear, leaving IFN-dependent immunity against M.tb poorly understood. Previous RNASeq. data from the Stanley Lab identified a pool of genes upregulated by IFN- in macrophages infected with M.tb. With this as a foundation, we will use a CRISPR-Cas9 system to knock out and screen for prospect IFN-inducible genes in primary macrophages that are important for control of M.tb.

...Read More about Xammy Nguyenla
Rose Hills

The Synthesis and Reactivity of a Rhenium Dioxo Species

Metal-promoted reactions are frequently utilized in the syntheses of complex organic products that are vital to the pharmaceutical and petroleum industries. With the intention of discovering new, more efficient chemical pathways to otherwise inaccessible or costly organic chemicals, many inorganic chemists devote their careers to the synthesis and study of discrete molecular compounds centered on a well-defined metal ion. Previous reactivity studies on such molecular metal-based compounds support the conjecture that electronically saturating the valence orbitals of a metal with multiple ligands can enhance the reactivity of the electrons involved in the metal-ligand bonds. The goal of this project is to first synthesize a new example of a transition-metal dioxo complex and then investigate its reactivity with industrially-relevant small molecules. Drawing comparisons to previously investigated systems will allow conclusions to be drawn about fundamental organometallic electronic structure and will create new synthetic pathways to value-added chemicals.

...Read More about Alex Oanta
Rose Hills

Investigating the Genetic Basis of Photoperiodic Flowering in Mimulus guttatus

Critical photoperiod, the threshold day length that accelerates or is required for flowering, allows plants to flower in response to seasonal cues that indicate environmental conditions should be favorable for seed development. Twenty-first century climate change, however, has led to changing precipitation and temperature patterns, and because day length will remain constant, the same photoperiod may not necessarily predict the best time of year to flower on a local scale. Species unable to evolve their flowering responses to photoperiod are at high risk for extinction. Understanding the genetic basis of flowering responses to photoperiod is important to understanding how genetic factors may constrain or foster adaptation to climate change as well as illuminating possible targets for conservation genetics and crop improvement. While research in Arabidopsis has described the molecular mechanisms by which photoperiod regulates flowering, the genetic basis of flowering responses to photoperiod and how they vary in the common […]

...Read More about Adrian Overly
L&S Sciences

The Disappeared: An Integrated Look at Incarceration and Deportation

The rise of mass incarceration and punishment over the past 4 decades in the U.S. is largely understood as a black issue, while immigrant incarceration and punishment are largely understood as brown problems. These analytical borders segregate rich bodies of theory and analysis from each other. My research will use in-depth interviews of formerly incarcerated people and black and brown social justice movement leaders to create an integrated, bottom-up analysis serving to guide archival research of current statistics and recent trends in order to understand the mass incarceration and punishment of black and brown people as an integrated phenomenon.

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

Gender stereotype knowledge and social causal attributions in young children

Intuitive theories that young children have about others behavior develop through exposure to patterns of covariation the degree to which two variables change together across time and situations as a child develops, incorporating new empirical evidence with prior knowledge. Over time and cultural exposure, children’s causal theories about other people’s behavior becomes biased toward culturally valued or relevant interpretations, resulting in culture-specific assumptions about patterns of behavior. Childrens understanding of and reliance on gender stereotypes influences their own sense of identity and social development. According to ever-present conventional gender stereotypes in Western societies, boys are generally seen to be more risk-taking and engage in more reckless behavior than girls. Very little research has investigated the influence of these socially conditioned stereotypes on the causal attributions that children make about their peers. For my senior honors thesis, I want to explore the relation between the rigidity of childrens gender stereotype knowledge […]

...Read More about Verity Pinter
Humanities and Social Science

Development of a Novel 3D Bioscaffold for Trabecular Meshwork Cell Culture

Glaucoma is a leading cause of irreversible vision loss around the world. Primary open angle glaucoma (POAG), the most common form of glaucoma, arises from functional and morphological pathologies in the trabecular meshwork (TM), a band of tissue in the anterior segment of the eye that regulates intraocular pressure (IOP) by controlling outflow of the aqueous humor. In this project, I will construct a novel three-dimensional (3D) bioscaffold structure for TM cell culture that will be used to construct a TM tissue model and mimic in vivo conditions. This bioengineering approach to cell culture will allow me to investigate how TM cells modulate fluid flow by observing changes in cell morphology and gene expression. Moreover, this 3D model for human TM (hTM) cell culture is clinically valuable because it will provide an improved mechanistic understanding of TM cell regulation as well as a platform for developing and testing novel pharmacological […]

...Read More about Greg Pommier
L&S Sciences

Untangling evolutionary relationships among Polystichum californicum and its progenitors

While speciation (the formation of new species) is often thought of as occurring through the splitting of one species into two, species can arise through other mechanisms, such as allopolyploidy. Allopolyploidy occurs through the formation of a hybrid between two species, followed by genome duplication. This mechanism of speciation is common in plants, including in crop plants. While artificial allopolyploid plants have been studied in the laboratory, allopolyploidy remains understudied in natural populations. Polystichum californicum is a fern species thought to have originated via multiple independent allopolyploidization events throughout its range along the West Coast. In my Integrative Biology honors thesis, I will collect samples of Polystichum californicum and its possible progenitor species from throughout their ranges, and analyze their DNA to answer the questions of which species Polystichum californicum arose from, and whether it arose multiple times (possibly from multiple progenitors). Through this work I hope to contribute to […]

...Read More about Jonathan Qu
L&S Sciences

Controlling Antibiotic Production: Regulation of Secondary Metabolism in Streptomyces

The study of members of the bacterial genus Streptomyces is motivated by their impressive capacity to produce clinically-applicable secondary metabolites, including antibiotics and anti-tumor compounds. It has been widely observed that the production of these secondary metabolites and natural products by Streptomyces species can be increased when in the presence of other bacterial species. However, the factors that control secondary metabolism and its induction by interspecies interactions are still not fully understood. Through my research project, I will study a potential mechanism of secondary metabolism regulation in the model organism, Streptomyces coelicolor, particularly when in interactions with Amycolatopsis sp. AA4. Specifically, I will be exploring the role of proteins encoded by an operon conserved in Streptomyces species CvnA8, CvnB8, CvnC8, CvnD8, and Sco6939 that may potentially take part in a novel signal transduction pathway. My study will focus on CvnD8, a small Ras-like GTPase, and how this enzyme influence patterns […]

...Read More about Yein Ra
Rose Hills

Implications of Landscape Features for Agroecological Strategies on Urban Farms

The U.S. food system is plagued by food insecurity, which disproportionately affects poor communities and communities of color. Urban agriculture can help remake food systems and mitigate food insecurity by providing opportunities to grow local, nutritious food. However, urban farms often struggle with pest management, and previous survey research on San Francisco Bay Area urban farms indicates that most farms experienced crop losses due to herbivorous insects. Developing low-input agroecological pest management practices for urban environments is vital and these strategies must consider the unique conditions of urban agroecosystems. As of now, urban habitat fragmentation and other off farm-characteristics related to urban agroecosystems have not been explored in depth. Our group is mapping urban agriculture sites and analyzing off-farm characteristics to identify landscape features that may promote pest control and ecosystem services while minimizing pesticide use. Additionally, I will correlate farm location and landscape trends with food insecurity and food […]

...Read More about Sierra Raby
Rose Hills

Sin-Sheltering Grove: The Implication of Nature and Female Sexuality in Rochesters Poetry

Nature has so often been used as a vehicle to express femininity, sexuality, and eroticism throughout literary history. However, when we speak of nature, there is often an overlooked ambiguity to the term that necessitates further explanation as to the sort of nature a given work focuses on. My research pays close attention to this ambiguity, as I will use a selection of Rochesters poetry, placing particular emphasis on A Ramble in St. James Park, to look at the way that Rochester both furthers this literary tradition and subverts it. I aim to explore the way that he implicates the natural landscape of this poem within the crude eroticism of its subject matter, where it serves to both reflect and challenge standing ideas of the link between the nature of human sexuality and the nature of the material world. Further, I will study A Ramble in St. James Park as […]

...Read More about Ariel Renner
Humanities and Social Science

Electrostatic potential field maps of antimatter traps using numerical analysis

According to the Standard Model, all baryonic matter is predicted to have a corresponding antiparticle. From this premise, we currently dont understand why we observe more matter than antimatter, making the study of antimatter a fascinating subject. My research project is with the ALPHA experiment at CERN, which produces antihydrogen. Composed of an antiproton and a positron bind together, antihydrogen is the matter counterpart of hydrogen. Because of its neutrality and correspondence with the hydrogen atom, it is a desirable system for experimental study. My summer project involves numerical simulations of the positron accumulator Penning trap and ALPHA-g atom trap. The former is one of the first stages of the experiment where positrons are prepared, and the latter is a new upgrade of the experiment where antihydrogen is confined in order to perform gravity measurements to test the Standard Model. The goal is to solve for and display the potential […]

...Read More about Dalila Robledo
L&S Sciences

Regioselective Silylation of Fluorinated Arenes

The substitution of fluorine atoms for hydrogen atoms in drug candidates has been shown to improve the biostability of those molecules. However, few reported methods exist that fluorinate complex organic molecules with high selectivity. An alternate approach to the synthesis of fluorinated drug candidates is the addition of functional groups to compounds that contain fluorine. Thus, the functionalization of fluorinated compounds would enable the discovery of improved drug candidates. Recent research has described the catalytic silylation of aryl C-H bonds. Aryl silanes are bench-stable, and the silyl group can be transformed into many other functional groups. However, current methods for the silylation of C-H bonds of fluorinated arenes produce mixtures of products, with silylation occurring both ortho and meta to fluorine. Our research seeks to develop new catalysts for the regioselective and functional group tolerant silylation of aryl C-H bonds located ortho or meta to fluorine. We aim to design […]

...Read More about Camille Rubel
Rose Hills

Politics of Care: Understanding an Embodied Ethnic Studies Pedagogy

In September 2016, Governor Jerry Brown passed a bill that called for the implementation of an Ethnic Studies program in California public high schools. This moment follows decades of student-led movements fighting for a culturally relevant education. The implementation of this bill necessitates an examination of the ways current Ethnic Studies curriculums are being practiced. As Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales alerted us to in Toward an Ethnic Studies Pedagogy, this celebration comes with an urgency to address Ethnic Studies pedagogies given the number of teachers who will be placed in these classroom without the proper training or credentialing. In my research, I focus on the San Francisco Unified School District teachers as leaders and agents of change in the larger movement of Ethnic Studies. I explore the following questions: What does an embodied ethnic studies pedagogy look like in a high school classroom? How do Ethnic Studies teachers describe the embodiment of […]

...Read More about China Ruiz
Humanities and Social Science

Exploring the Relationship between Feedback and Use-Dependent Learning

Use-dependent learning is a motor learning process that is thought to arise from the repetition of a specific movement pattern. Use-dependent learning is thought to underlie the refinement of motor skills, such that well-practiced actions become more accurate and consistent (the practice makes perfect phenomenon); however, this learning process also comes at the cost of biasing subsequent actions to be more similar to practiced ones. It was initially assumed that pure repetition of a movement was the only necessary condition to drive use-dependent learning, however recent studies suggest that some form of feedback may be required to cause this learning. I am interested in examining the interaction between use-dependent learning and learning processes that involve feedback in the form of errors or rewards. For this project, I will use reaching tasks to determine whether use-dependent learning is contingent upon repetition alone or is influenced by performance-related feedback.

...Read More about Arohi Saxena
L&S Sciences

Investigating Inner Ear Protein TMIE Using Yeast Nanobody Display Systems

The auditory system is remarkable for its ability to detect sounds across a wide range of intensities and frequencies. The molecular machinery involved in generating this range converts acoustic stimuli into electrical signals transmitted to the brain, a process known as mechanoelectrical transduction. The purpose of this research project is to achieve clarification on the basis of hearing by studying a crucial element in the transduction pathway the inner ear protein TMIE. Although TMIE has been recognized as an essential component of mechanotransduction, characterizations of its molecular structure and its mechanistic basis for mechanosensitivity have yet to be determined. In order to answer these questions, I will first establish new immunological tools that enable critical experiments for understanding the molecular signaling machinery which TMIE is involved in. My project will begin by isolating and cloning yeast expressing nanobodies that interact with TMIE. Then, I will develop expression purification techniques before […]

...Read More about Sheila Sharifi
Rose Hills

Analysis of Matrix Multiplication Complexity Using Properties of Tensors

Matrix multiplication is one of the most fundamental operations in mathematics, and its usage is extensively pervasive in modern-day computer systems; innumerable algorithms employ techniques from linear algebra in their implementation. As a result, it’s critical to perform matrix multiplication as quickly as possible to ensure the smooth and efficient performance of everyday computer applications. It’s been shown in existing literature that there is an intrinsic relationship between properties of matrix multiplication and a special geometric object known as a tensor. To date, an extensive exploration observing this relationship in specific cases has not been performed. In my research project, I plan to conduct a detailed mapping of how these properties of tensors correspond to matrix multiplication and their effect on the time complexity of performing the multiplication. As a dual major in computer science, this problem is especially interesting and relevant to me, and I look forward to contributing […]

...Read More about Nikhil Sharma
L&S Sciences

Investigating the membrane remodeling activity of ESCRT-III helical polymers with ATPase spastin

The endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT) complexes encompass an evolutionarily conserved, multi-subunit machinery that mediates unique membrane remodeling and scission away from the cytoplasm. This requires stabilization of negative membrane curvature, as induced by the ESCRT complexes. Now, studies have shown that ESCRTs can also direct membrane budding of the opposite topology, akin to that of clathrin-mediated endocytosis by dynamin. Human ESCRT-III subunits, charged multivesicular body protein (CHMP1B) and increased sodium tolerance 1 (IST1), co-polymerize to form spirals coating the outside of membrane tubules to facilitate positive membrane curvature in vitro and in vivo. On another note, CHMP1B recruits AAA ATPase spastin to endosomes and the cytokinetic midbody, mediating microtubule severing and scission in cytokinesis. My project aims to reproduce the assembly of these ESCRT-III polymers wrapped around small unilamellar vesicles (SUVs), and take the experiment one step further by adding spastin and ATP to promote scission of […]

...Read More about Jamie Shiah
L&S Sciences

Development and Integration of MEMS Devices for Submerged Microrobotics: Swimming at the Microscale

Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) are sub-millimeter structures that combine electrical and mechanical principles to produce novel sensors, actuators, and transducers for complicated tasks at the microscale. While most MEMS research focuses on devices operating in air, biomedical applications and the parallel growth of microfluidics have stimulated efforts towards MEMS operation in fluid, especially biological media. Previous work under this program examined devices in deionized water and demonstrated successful operation of an electrostatic actuator capable of generating high force density. This work extends upon those findings and focuses on designing more intricate mechanisms like motors and spring-loaded joints that can be driven in aqueous conditions by the actuators demonstrated previously. These mechanisms can then be utilized in complex integrated systems, such as a microrobot capable of entering the human body and performing medical procedures such as diagnostics, drug delivery, local tissue repair, and surgery.

...Read More about Ryan Shih
Rose Hills

Application-Based Psychotherapy for Dementia Caregivers

Dementia is a very difficult disease to live with as it can progressively deteriorate the cognitive function of a patient to the tragic point where, for example, friends and family become unrecognizable, and basic taskssuch as walking, eating, using the restroomrequire continuous, everyday assistance from family members. However this places a significant physical, socioeconomic, and psychological burden on the caregiverswhich has been shown to increase their risk for physical and psychiatric illnesses. They have shown to have a higher prevalence of depressive and anxiety disorders, compromised immune function along with other physical morbidity, and increased mortality. Although there are ways to remedy and improve their symptoms of anxiety and depression through psychotherapy techniques such as meditation and guided imagery, current intervention methods limit accessibility to care due to technological limitations. Therefore as a solution, I developed iPhone and Android apps that incorporate these psychotherapy techniques, and we conducted a successful […]

...Read More about Sab Sikder
Rose Hills

Understanding the effect of Cnr2 knockout on microglial immune response

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a devastating neuropsychiatric disorder affecting 16 million people in the United States, with an estimated public burden of $210 billion/year. Yet, mechanisms leading to MDD progression remain poorly understood. Persistent activation of microglia, resident immune cells of the brain, has been previously linked to depression. This activation also appears to be linked with changes in expression of cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2). Targeted activation of CB2 has shown to bias microglia to a pro resolution state, but whether proper CB2 expression is necessary for the normal immune response is unknown. I plan to test if CB2 expression is linked to the natural immune response using a CRISPR deletion of the Cnr2 gene to create a CB2 knockout (Cnr2KO) cell line. Then, I intend to compare the natural immune response to that of the Cnr2KO line. This project will suggest to what degree the microglial immune response […]

...Read More about Anagh Sinha
L&S Sciences

"A Matter of World Concern": Civil Rights and the UN Genocide Convention, 1949-1955

In 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The Convention defines genocide a term coined by Rafael Lemkin in 1944 as intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such The United States Senate did not ratify the Convention until 1988. I will use archival research to consider the Senates postwar (1949-1955) ratification debates debates about the codification of group rights in international law in the context of consciousness regarding group rights in the US. My research topic ponders how two related factors shaped the Senates deliberations: the relationship between the theoretical underpinnings of the concept of genocide, and American racial discrimination; and American civil rights advocates use of the UN as an instrument for advocacy. Ultimately, I aim to explore these subjects with an attention to broader implications for […]

...Read More about Harriet Steele
Humanities and Social Science

Learning the quantum trajectories of two entangled qubits using a recurrent neural network

Theoretical and experimental evidence suggests harnessing quantum mechanics to execute algorithms on qubit-based quantum hardware may allow us to calculate answers to intractable mathematical problems and process data exponentially faster than is possible with classical computers. Characterizing how qubit states evolve in time is imperative for benchmarking quantum hardware, however has been difficult due to the inability to fully measure a quantum state without disrupting it. A solution is weak measurement, which recent work has improved for a single qubit by leveraging the data-processing power of a recurrent neural network (RNN). However to implement efficient algorithms on a quantum processor, the time evolution of multi-qubit states must be understood. I aim to improve measurement accuracy of the time evolution of entangled two-qubit states using an RNN, and determine the measurement-induced backaction and dissipation to calculate the Hamiltonian operator. My project will contribute to the fields ongoing research in determining the […]

...Read More about Noah Stevenson
L&S Sciences

Biochemical Characterization of a CO-Activated Soluble Guanylate Cyclase (sGC)

In mammals, soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC) serves as the primary receptor for the signaling gas nitric oxide (NO). Binding of NO activates the enzyme, which leads to various signaling pathways that regulate many physiological functions, including vasodilation and neurotransmission. Activators of sGC are currently used as therapeutic agents for cardiopulmonary and urogenital diseases. I will be investigating an sGC homolog called Cyg11 present in the alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Preliminary results indicate that carbon monoxide activates the algal homolog more compared to nitric oxide, a novel activity that warrants complete biochemical characterization. Thus, I plan to obtain a complete enzymatic activity profile with different ligands bound to Cyg11. Investigating this novel CO activation in C. reinhardtii sGC may provide insights that add to our understanding of NO stimulation of mammalian sGC.

...Read More about Edna Stewart
Rose Hills

Methods of Symmetry Optimization for the Computation of Electronic Properties

In solid-state physics, the theory of electronic band structures successfully explains many physical properties of solids. Band structures, which describe the range of allowed energies of an electron in a solid, form the foundation of our understanding of solid-state devices, such as transistors and solar cells. I plan to develop, modify, and utilize computational tools that use band structures to analyze the electronic behavior of solids. More specifically, I will be using and modifying open-source materials analysis tools, such as pymatgen (Python Materials Genomics), to calculate and analyze band structures along symmetric paths through reciprocal space for materials from the Materials Project database. This analysis will be carried out using computational resources at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center. The results of my work will serve as a contribution to the Materials Project, which provides open web-based access to information on both known and predicted materials. These tools will […]

...Read More about Brian Stone
L&S Sciences

Hydrological controls on the distribution and dispersal of bladderpod shrubs

Plant communities respond to disturbances in many ways; with the increase in disturbance events in California such as fires and droughts, these community responses have increasingly led to unexpected shifts in dominant plant species that negatively affect their ecosystems through each species ecosystem services. In a drought and fire prone place such as Tejon Ranch in Californias central valley, it is vital for the lands managers to understand every plants response to disturbances. My project focuses on a native Californian shrub that, though common on the ranch, has not yet been studied extensively. Peritoma arborea var. globosa (Bladderpod) exhibits a strangely even, or uniform, distribution across the Tejon Ranch landscape; some studies have assumed this dispersal to be statistically uniform without proving it. I hypothesize that we will see a statistically significant uniformity in the distribution of this plant. We will aim to explain any hydrological, allelopathic, or topographic factors […]

...Read More about Dylan Stover
Rose Hills

Dissection of Brainstem-Midbrain Circuits in Sensory Information Processing

The lateral parabrachial nucleus (LPB) is a region in the mammalian brain that is involved in regulating diverse behaviors associated with pain and aversion as well as feeding behaviors. Many neurons in the LPB are glutamatergic and project to widespread brain areas including the amygdala, periaqueductal gray, ventral tegmental area (VTA) and substantia nigra (SN). However, it is currently unknown whether subpopulations of LPB neurons, defined by their projection target, can be linked to specific behaviors. As an important step to gain knowledge of the functional heterogeneity of LPB cell populations, this project will utilize advanced anatomical methods to investigate projection-defined LPB neurons. In particular, I will focus on pathways from the LPB to the central amygdala (CeA) and VTA/SN dopamine regions in the ventral midbrain. My project involves (1) using anterograde and retrograde viruses to broadly characterize discrete LPB efferent pathways, (2) utilizing a brain clearing technique to identify […]

...Read More about Hannah Tak
L&S Sciences

Deportation of American Veterans: Shifting the Responsibility of Deportation, Who's at Fault?

As paradoxical as it may sounds, the deportation of American Veterans is a phenomenon that continues to affect our non-Citizen Veterans. My research will analyze and document the deportation and United States Veterans, in order to understand why these Americans are getting deported.

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

ReVAS: Extracting and Standardizing Eye Motion Data from Scanning Laser Ophthalmoscopes

Our eyes are never stable even when we attempt to maintain a steady gaze. The characteristics of microscopic eye motion during fixation have been proposed as diagnostic biomarkers for certain neurological and visual disorders. However, the use of scanning laser ophthalmoscopes (SLOs) in clinical and research settings is often limited to rough estimates of fixation stability, due to low frame rates inherent in videos. Such estimates preclude meaningful analyses and result in non-standardized methods to quantify eye motion across research laboratories and clinics. Furthermore, existing technology is not being utilized to its full potential. Eye motion at a millisecond resolution enables more comprehensive analyses of FEMs, allowing us to fully capitalize upon SLOs. I aim to develop a systematic method to extract that eye motion at high sampling rates. Such precise measurements will serve as the basis for reliable datasets of eye motion, providing clinicians and scientists with a standard […]

...Read More about Derek Wan
Rose Hills

Investigating Cbpb's Role in Bacterial Stringent Response

Cyclic di-AMP (c-di-amp) is a nucleotide second messenger molecule with an integral role in the pathogenesis of many bacteria; however the physiological roles of this molecule in bacteria have only recently begun to be understood. Bacteria are known to undergo physiological and regulatory changes in response to nutrient starvation. Starvation induces the stringent response, which is controlled by the key alarmone molecule (p)ppGpp and is involved in mediating downstream biological processes including antibiotic tolerance, ribosome hibernation, and activating virulence genes. While depletion of c-di-amp and consequent elevation of intracellular (p)ppGpp levels is highly conserved in bacteria, the link between these two signaling molecules is still unclear. I intend to investigate the cross-talk between these molecules by characterizing the protein-protein interactions of CbpB, a c-di-amp-binding protein that regulates the stringent response in Listeria monocytogenes via a bacterial two hybrid screen, followed with proteomic analysis. Investigating this pathway of bacterial stringent response […]

...Read More about Jeffrey Wang
Rose Hills

LIDAR-Camera Calibration For Semantic 3D Point Cloud Retrieval

Over this summer, I will be doing research on autonomous driving focusing on integrating and synchronizing data from laser radar sensor, which is also known as LIDAR, and multiple camera view. Autonomous driving has been a popular research subject recently, and it is really important to improve accuracy for the decision making by the algorithm. Since the output decision of the autonomous driving system is based on the information which sensors received from the environment, the accuracy of the decision making relies heavily on the integrity and the richness of the data. By integrating synchronized data from both LIDAR and multiple camera views, one can retrieve accurate semantic 3D information of the environment. In other words, the autonomous car can then perceive not only 3D positions, but also the object type, including people, roads, cars, etc., of the corresponding position. These data will be instrumental for the algorithm to perform […]

...Read More about Sheng-Yu Wang
L&S Sciences

Observing Jet Simulations of Sgr A* and 3C 279

The central engine of an active galaxy is a mysterious place. Simulations and physical theories have melded general relativity, fluid dynamics, thermodynamics, and electromagnetism to hypothesize the prescription of particle acceleration and jet accretion in active galactic nuclei (AGN). These complex environments surrounding the black hole may launch relativistic jets that radiate the greatest energy output of any known astrophysical source. Their influence on galaxy and star formation is undeniable, and yet these systems are not yet well understood. There remains a gap between theory and observation. My project attempts to bridge this gap and put forth a more cohesive and prescriptive understanding of two AGN with a plethora of observational signatures: 3C 279 and Sgr A* (our galactic center). I will develop a program to observe pre-existing GRMHD (general relativistic magnetohydrodynamic) simulations data via synchrotron and Inverse Compton radiation models. By converting these theoretically generated observations into light curves, […]

...Read More about Jeremy Wayland
L&S Sciences

Examining Generalization and Flexibility in Structure Learning with EEG

With the incredible amount of information available in the world, humans have to form many different behavioral strategies in order to account for the variety of situations and information we could encounter. This makes the ability to flexibly adapt behavior to different contexts a critical component of human intelligence. For example, when we use computers, we know that Macs and PCs use different operating systems. We can apply what we now from using a Mac laptop to a Mac desktop, but we know we cant apply that same knowledge to a PC. In this way, learning has to be both generalizable, so that it isnt necessary to constantly relearn information, and also flexible, to account for a variety of different situations. In my project, I will be exploring how humans learn behavioral strategies and choose which strategies to apply to novel contexts, using a combination of computational modeling and neuroimaging […]

...Read More about Lucy Whitmore
Humanities and Social Science

Plurality in Southern Chinese Languages

While languages like English use grammatical markers to signal plurality (like the -s in cat-s), languages like Chinese use separate words called classifiers. A classifier is a unit of measurement that allows the noun it describes to be countable, similar to saying three pieces of furniture instead of three furniture-s in English. Although Chinese has long been researched as a classifier language, most existing work has focused on Mandarin, overlooking the variations that exist among Chinese languages. By conducting research on variations in plurality among southern Chinese languages (including Cantonese, Hokkien, and Hakka), I hope to contribute to the existing literature on classifier languages, as well as call attention to under-studied languages. Since the field of linguistics seeks to parse what aspects of grammar are universal versus language-specific, comparative research on how languages realize plurality can further this endeavor.

...Read More about Yvette Yi-Chi Wu
Humanities and Social Science

Effect of endometrial decidualization on Chlamydia trachomatis infection

Women who are on birth control pills are at higher risk for Chlamydia trachomatis (Ct) infection than women not on birth control pills. There is also evidence that women whose endometrium is decidualized during the secretory phase of the menstrual cycle are more susceptible to Ct infection compared to women in other phases of their cycle. However, the basis for this susceptibility to Ct infection is poorly understood at a molecular level. We have previously shown that an increase in the availability of the fatty acid oleic acid (OA) to the Ct infected cell prolongs the time it takes for Ct to differentiate from metabolically active reticulate bodies (RBs) to metabolically inert but infectious elementary bodies (EBs), leading to a greater number of infectious progeny at the end of the organisms developmental cycle. Therefore, I want to examine the role of lipid metabolism changes that occur naturally during decidualization of […]

...Read More about Weirui Xiao
L&S Sciences

Learning Programs with Hyper Dimensional Computing

Computers learn to solve problems by slowly and continuously changing their strategy, this makes solving problems that involve discrete steps problematic. I will be researching the use of hyper dimensional computing to implement differentiable memory structures that interface with neural networks. Many data structures are inherently discrete which makes them difficult to incorporate into schemes because of the strategy utilized by computers during the training process. Recent work has shown that neural networks that have the ability to learn how to use external data structures outperform traditional networks in an important subset of tasks that are typically tackled with machine learning. This implies they may be an important tool in solving complex problems such as machine translation. I am interested in using hyper dimensional computing to develop a new version of this tool. Hyper dimensional computing involves leveraging the unique properties of vectors with many dimensions to develop non-traditional computing […]

...Read More about Thomas Yerxa
L&S Sciences

Synthesis and Testing of Porous, Sulfonated Polymer Systems for Drug Capture

Chemotherapy is one of the most widely known treatments for cancer, both for its effectiveness yet fatal side effects. Doxorubicin, a common type of chemotherapy drug, has the ability to kill malignant tumor cells, but is limited by the harmful interactions excess molecules cause towards human tissue. Various resins and activated carbons are being tested for drug capturing mechanisms, as many drug molecules are shown to have high binding capacities towards them. Doxorubicin, however, is more complex due to its ionic nature, and requires the use of ion exchange and charged systems. My research project will focus on utilizing negatively charged sulfonated polymer membranes for incorporation into Doxorubicin drug capture. I will test the drug uptake by these polymers in aqueous solutions and blood through intensity measurements from fluorescence spectroscopy. Various flow models will be used in order to accurately model the human bloodstream. My goal will be developing a […]

...Read More about Michael Yi
Rose Hills

On-surface synthesis of 2D covalent organic frameworks

A covalent organic framework is a crystalline structure consisting of covalently bonded organic molecules in a porous network. 2D COFs as thin as a single atomic layer are expected to have exotic electronic properties due to reduced dimensionality. My research is focused on several aspects of these novel nano-structures, including their synthesis on metallic substrate through bottom-up fabrication, atomic-scale visualization utilizing the variable temperature – scanning tunneling microscope (VT-STM), and electronic structure analyzed through spectroscopic techniques. Current methods of thermal evaporation of molecules has limitations when the precursor size is too large. Two systems of interest are carbon-bridged thiophene COF and pyrene-alkyne 2D COF, both of which cannot be deposited using traditional thermal evaporation methods. I will be exploring different methods on these precursors, including pulse injection and drop casting techniques. The ability to deposit heavy molecules efficiently would greatly diversify the types of molecules that we can design and […]

...Read More about Eric Yu
Rose Hills

How do Newborn Mammals Respond to Light?

Vision is one of the most important senses in vertebrates. In adults, photoreceptors in the retina convert light into electrical signals, interneurons modify these signals, and retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) integrate the signals and send output to the brain. In most newborn mammals, photoreceptors and interneurons are not yet fully functional. However, newborns still respond to light. How are they seeing? A RGC subpopulation are atypical photoreceptors that respond to light in development. These intrinsically photosensitive RGCs (ipRGCs) encode light intensity and send output to the brains centers for mood and biological rhythms. IpRGCs express melanopsin, a unique light-sensing protein, allowing light response without conventional-photoreceptors. In mice, ipRGCs are light responsive from the day of birth, indicated by reflexive sensory behaviors such as photoaversion, turning away from light. Our recent work demonstrated in vitro that ipRGCs formed electrical connections, called gap junctions, with each other, a rapid form of inter-neuronal […]

...Read More about Yizhen Zhang
L&S Sciences