Characterization of Optical Pumping of Ti Beam into a Metastable State

Laser cooling and trapping consists of using lights momentum to slow down and eventually confine atoms to small regions of space using light and magnetic fields. These techniques have been demonstrated with many elements in the periodic table, yet most transition metals are still to be addressed. A current effort in the Stamper-Kurn group seeks to implement laser cooling on titanium, eventually trapping and cooling it to quantum degeneracy. Cooling titanium requires that atoms exist in the a5F5 metastable state, an atomic internal state with energy higher than the ground state but with a relatively long lifetime compared to an excited state. One method of creating metastable titanium atoms is by optically pumping titanium from the ground state a3F4 to the y5G5 excited states where atoms can decay to the metastable state. My project focuses on characterizing the efficiency of such method of optical pumping using 379 nm and 844 […]

...Read More about Diego A Pea
L&S Sciences

Investigating the Mechanism of NLRP1 Inflammasome Activation by Dengue Virus Protease

Dengue virus (DENV) is the leading cause of death in dengue-endemic areas. An infection resulting from DENV can manifest as serious human disease, such as Dengue hemorrhagic fever or Dengue shock syndrome. Currently there is no effective vaccine to prevent the infection. My project seeks to understand critical host-virus interactions between DENV and multi-protein innate immune cytosolic complexes called inflammasomes, which initiate downstream proinflammatory signaling. Inflammasomes are typically thought to detect pathogen-encoded ligands. In contrast, NLRP1the focus of this proposaldetects protease activity. I will be focusing on the molecular determinants of human NLRP1 sensing of the DENV NS2B3 protease, and how this recognition event leads to inflammasome activation. A full understanding of the molecular events leading to DENV-mediated activation of the NLRP1 inflammasome is crucial to developing improved mouse models to study host immunity and pathogenesis in the setting of in vivo DENV infection.

...Read More about Rimjhim Agarwal
L&S Sciences

Identifying the Causal Genetic Basis of an Adaptive Trait in Two Diverged Yeast Species through a Novel Mapping Approach (RH-seq)

Finding the causal genetic basis of a complex trait is a challenge of biology. Current methods, such as GWAS and QTL analysis, can identify associations between variants and phenotypes, but this is limited to analysis within the species being investigated and not species-wide traits. Through a novel approach named RH-seq (reciprocal hemizygosity analysis via sequencing), causal variants that underlie interspecific differences can be identified, including those that are the basis of adaptive evolutionary changes. I will be investigating the genetic basis of the relative thermotolerance of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (budding yeast) compared to Saccharomyces paradoxus, two related yeast species that are roughly 20 million years diverged. At 39C, S. cerevisiae grows to a significantly higher density than S. paradoxus. Eight candidate genes have been previously identified through RH-seq performed at 39C. When these candidate S. cerevisiae variants are transformed into the pure S. paradoxus background, the transformants exhibit a small, but […]

...Read More about Faisal AlZaben
Rose Hills

Investigating Root-Multiplicities of Kac-Moody Algebras

Over the summer, we propose to investigate the root multiplicities of (generalized) Kac-Moody Algebras. Our plan is to create an open-source computer package that allows for the computation of root multiplicities of Kac-Moody algebras, building upon the existing tools available to computational mathematicians, for instance, the popular library sage-math. Once we have developed and verified this package against known tables of root multiplicities, we aim to start investigating the root multiplicities of simple graphs, and attempt to address some outstanding conjectures on the distributions of root multiplicities. A greater understanding of the root multiplicities of Kac-Moody algebras would help with questions such as finding natural geometrical realizations of the algebras, and shed light on the connections that have already been found with mathematical physics. Some of these applications may include generalised knot invariants defined over Kac-Moody algebras rather than Lie Algebras, or the study of symmetries of systems and spaces […]

...Read More about Aidan Backus
L&S Sciences

Investigating the Functional Crosstalk Between the Crucial Epigenetic Silencers PRC1 and PRC2

In mammals, the Polycomb Repressive Complexes 1 and 2 (PRC1, PRC2) play crucial roles in maintaining gene expression patterns that enforce cell differentiation during embryonic development. Both complexes silence genes by post-translationally modifying the histone tails of nucleosomes, the smallest structural unit of chromatin. PRC1 plays a role in chromatin compaction by histone ubiquitination, whereas PRC2 reduces expression at the transcriptional level by histone methylation. The importance of these two complexes is emphasized by the fact that mutations in either complex results in embryonic lethality. While PRC1 and PRC2 are essential in maintaining cell identity, the molecular mechanism of PRC1-mediated chromatin compaction and the spreading of silencing marks by PRC2 remains poorly understood. Using cryo-electron microscopy and a novel technique to prevent the denaturation of sensitive protein complexes, we will directly image PRC2-nucleosome interactions to investigate the mechanisms underlying the recognition of specific histone ubiquitination by PRC2 and how it […]

...Read More about Curtis Beck
Rose Hills

Actuating a Spherical Tensegrity Robot using Momentum Wheels

Traditional robots are often ineffective in environments with rough and uncharted terrain. For this reason, robots are underutilized for applications like disaster relief, HazMat, CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive) response, and space exploration. The Berkeley Emergent Space Tensegrity (BEST) Lab is developing a tensegrity soft robot, designed to travel over rough terrain after surviving large impacts. The BEST lab robot would be deployed by aerial vehicle, then traverse the unknown area, sending back sensor data and arming first responders with previously inaccessible information. The existing robot moves via shape shifting, and can either sustain a 200m drop or move – not both. I propose a locomotion scheme using momentum wheels instead of shape shifting to address this gap in functionality. My goal is to develop a prototype capable of locomotion after sustaining a 10m drop by the end of summer. My prototype would address this problem, and mark […]

...Read More about Antonia Bronars
Rose Hills

Developing of Reductive Loop Design Principles for Polyketide Synthases

The consumption of petroleum-based gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel continues to affect greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. Alternative fuel sources are needed, and recent breakthroughs in synthetic biology provide a promising solution: the engineering of microorganisms to generate drop-in biofuels, which are compatible with existing engines. Unlike electricity and natural gas alternatives, biofuels reduce greenhouse gas emissions by recycling the carbon dioxide that is emitted. However, biofuel derived directly from crops or oils may threaten land and/or food security. Thus, this project focuses on expanding the diversity of biofuels by engineering polyketide synthases (PKSs), or complex enzymes found in microorganisms, to generate molecules that can function as drop-in biofuels. We specifically aim to develop the design principles for such PKS engineering by producing fully reduced acids from PKSs that would normally produce hydroxy acids. Not only will this technology assist in developing an accessible, environmentally-friendly fuel alternative, but these […]

...Read More about Sami Chang
Rose Hills

Amino Acid Sensing In The TOR Pathway Of Plants

The presence of nutrients such as amino acids, glucose, or nitrogen and varying growth factors is hypothesized to activate the target of rapamycin (TOR) which initiates eukaryotic cell growth, development, and metabolism. Although TOR is extremely significant to plant cells growth and metabolism, little is still understood about TOR signaling within plants. As such, my project proposal investigates Asparaginyl tRNA synthetase 1 (NRS1) and its likelihood as an amino acid sensor that can stimulate TOR pathways and its importance for plant development. Comprehending how plants can sense the presence of amino acids and then activate TOR is central to breeding crops that are not as affected by nitrogen deficiencies in soil and can survive, despite lacking nutrients or poor growth factors. With the results of my research project, further research can be done to possibly confirm the importance of NRS1 in the promotion of TOR activity and establish and define […]

...Read More about Cindy Chau
Rose Hills

Optimization of CRISPR-Cas9 using an Adeno-Associated Virus (AAV) Delivered Self-Inactivation System

CRISPR-Cas9 is a versatile genome-editing technology that is widely used to modify genome sequences linked to genetic abnormalities. Often, the CRISPR-Cas9 system is used to target or repair disease-causing versions of genes, delete fragments of unwanted DNA, and insert therapeutic gene sequences to treat diseases. However, many studies have shown that CRISPR-Cas9 can cause unexpected mutations and genomic rearrangements in untargeted sites. My research aims to develop a self-inactivation system in effort to limit long-term expression of nuclease-editing protein Cas9 while still maximizing its on-target cuts and reducing off-target effects. To effectively deliver the Cas9-sgRNA complex, I plan to use adeno-associated virus (AAV) due to its highly efficient, targeted gene delivery. In addition, I plan to modulate the kinetics of Cas9 targeting the single-guide RNA to gain better control of Cas9 activity for potential in vivo applications. The goal of this work is to improve current CRISPR-Cas9 applications in not […]

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

Investigating the Regulation of Atg40 Expression During Meiosis

Autophagy is a process of self-eating by which the cell targets specific cargo for degradation. While autophagy was initially believed to primarily be a response to stress or starvation, it is now known that it also plays important roles in cellular homeostasis and organismal development. This process can happen either non-selectively, where cargo is degraded randomly in bulk, or selectively, where degradation of a specific cargo, such as a protein aggregate, organelle, or pathogen, is specified by an autophagy receptor. In budding yeast, selective autophagy of the endoplasmic reticulum is mediated in part by the autophagy receptor Atg40. The work of my lab so far suggests that Atg40 expression is highly regulated, but it remains unknown what factors are controlling its expression. I aim to define the cis- and trans-acting factors required for Atg40 expression in meiosis. Identifying these regulatory factors will shed light on how dramatic changes in cell […]

...Read More about Tia Cheunkarndee
L&S Sciences

Comparative Dual RNA-Seq Transcriptome Profiling of Host-Pathogen Interactions During Chlamydia Trachomatis Infection of Human Primary Endocervical Cells

Microbes pose a wide spectrum of nonpathogenic and pathogenic challenges for the immune system. The encounters are governed by the interactions between the bacteriums adaptations and the hosts ability to mount a protective immune response. Chlamydia trachomatis (Ct) is an especially unique pathogen as the infections it causes in the genital tract are typically asymptomatic. While this suggests that Ct possesses an effective set of tools to cloak itself as a lesser threat to the immune system, these tools still vary in success, as Ct strains elicit different immune responses depending on the cell type the bacterium infects. Hence, I propose to use a new technology called dual RNA-seq to analyze how human primary cells from patients vary in their response to infection with Ct and determine factors that distinguish successful immune responses from unsuccessful ones. Overall, by tracking Ct and host genes simultaneously, this data could lead to preventative […]

...Read More about Siddharth Chittaranjan
L&S Sciences

Uncovering the Physical Properties of Fingerprint Treads Under Dynamic Wet Conditions

This summer, I will be looking into the natural phenomenon of wet-induced fingertip wrinkling and the possible dynamic benefits which could come with implementing and mimicking its main properties in a mechanical system. Similar to how tire treads can improve a cars efficiency and safety on the road during heavy precipitation and how shoe treads help prevent slips, the organic wrinkling found in water-saturated human fingertips can possibly provide analogous effects for a persons grip success with wet objects or underwater scenarios. However, this possible connection has barely been addressed by engineers and doctors, as any type of effective wrinkling pattern is absent in current models of hand prostheses and less than five research papers address the influence of fingertip wrinkling on the mechanics of grasping.Through a systematic series of friction and shear force testing, I hope to gather enough data to determine a set of design guidelines for robotic […]

...Read More about Ethan Chung
Rose Hills

Investigating Root-Multiplicities of Kac-Moody Algebras

Over the summer, we propose to investigate the root multiplicities of (generalized) Kac-Moody Algebras. Our plan is to create an open-source computer package that allows for the computation of root multiplicities of Kac-Moody algebras, building upon the existing tools available to computational mathematicians, for instance, the popular library sage-math. Once we have developed and verified this package against known tables of root multiplicities, we aim to start investigating the root multiplicities of simple graphs, and attempt to address some outstanding conjectures on the distributions of root multiplicities. A greater understanding of the root multiplicities of Kac-Moody algebras would help with questions such as finding natural geometrical realizations of the algebras, and shed light on the connections that have already been found with mathematical physics. Some of these applications may include generalised knot invariants defined over Kac-Moody algebras rather than Lie Algebras, or the study of symmetries of systems and spaces […]

...Read More about Peter Connick
L&S Sciences

The Particular Language of Shahan Shahnour

My research will serve as an inquiry into the particular language of the prosaic and poetic works of Armenian-French writer Shahan Shahnour, nom de plume Armen Lubin. Shahnour was a part of the Menk generation (so named after the Armenian word for “We”), a literary group of Armenian migrs living in Paris in the 1920’s, having survived the Armenian Genocide and fled the Ottoman Empire. Within the frame of exile and mourning a lost homeland, Shahnour’s novel in Armenian and Lubin’s later poems in French illuminate a unique language space that can be linked to French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Flix Guattari’s notion of a “littrature mineure.” Shahnour’s particular language parallels a symbolic third territory in which the writer finds himself displaced from both the country of origin and the country of residence. The creation of this conceptual in-between space operates on a technical level through unique syntactic constructions and […]

...Read More about Hannah Cox
Humanities and Social Science

I Regret To Inform You That Your Private Information Has Been Compromised

Privacy is one of the central issues of our time. All things being equal, we assume that most people prefer privacy; it is a foundational right enshrined in the penumbras of the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 9th, and 14th amendments of the U.S. constitution as well as in several state constitutions (including those of California, Massachusetts, and Washington) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Despite our appreciation of privacy, police officers wear body cameras, customer loyalty programs track purchases, and the Transportation Safety Administration performs full body scans. This paradox illuminates the deep ambivalence in modern American society about privacy, and a largely untapped area of research in sociology. This research seeks to understand the deeper cultural logics inherent in shifting views on privacy in the modern world as well as the evolution of its meaning historically in the U.S. context.

...Read More about Savannah Cragin
SURF SMART

Numerical Simulation of the Ejecta Velocity Distribution of Type Ia Supernovae

Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) are generally thought to be the thermonuclear disruption of a carbon-oxygen white-dwarf star, but their formation scenarios and exact progenitor systems are still ambiguous. SNe Ia are used as standardizable candles used for measuring distances in the universe. Famously, SNe Ia are being used to determine the acceleration at which the universe is expanding (i.e., Hubble constant). Knowing more about the formation and progenitor of SNe Ia may help correct some assumptions made when using SNe Ia to measure distances. The photospheric velocity of SNe Ia measured from the strong Si II 6355 absorption line in their spectrum at the time of peak brightness is one such parameter useful to study various properties of SNe Ia. Recent studies reveal that the distribution of SN Ia velocity does not originate from a uniform class. I will be exploring the plausibility of the theory that the non-uniformity […]

...Read More about Keto, De Zhang
L&S Sciences

Exploring Mechanisms Behind the Oxygen Dependence of Listeria Monocytogenes Intracellular Replication

Listeria monocytogenes is a pathogen often found in poorly preserved food , especially dairy products. L. monocytogenes can survive with or without oxygen as well as inside or outside of host cells. During infection, L. monocytogenes must pass through the low-oxygen environment in the intestines before entering the high-oxygen target tissue. It thus stands to reason that both aerobic and anaerobic growth processes might be important for L. monocytogenes pathogenesis. Recently, it has been shown that essential components of aerobic respiration are critical for intracellular replication in vivo. However, the specific role of aerobic respiration within host cells remains unclear. Here, I propose conducting three experiments about the role of aerobic respiration in L. monocytogenes pathogenesis. I will use both forward and reverse genetic approaches, for which I will both analyze pathogenic phenotypes from gene functions and vice versa. Such bidirectional approaches allow me to probe for possible roles of […]

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

Probing Unknown Proteins from a Unique Genetic Island in Vibrio Cholerae

The current treatment for cholera infection is hydration with sanitary water and salts to replenish the nutrients and water lost through diarrhea. The World Health Organization estimates that 120,000 people die each year from cholera infection alone, with the majority of deaths in developing countries which have neither the infrastructure nor resources to treat patients. Current vaccines are ineffective; therefore, researchers are turning to alternative ways to stop the spread of cholera. While trying to understand a unique genetic island that Vibrio Cholerae uses to protect itself from viral infection, we found two genes. The first was named TafA and is a seemingly harsh toxin for both the infected cell and neighboring V. Cholera around it. TafB, the second gene, when co-expressed with TafA seems to detoxify TafA in an unknown mechanism. In my project, I will work to purify these proteins and analyze them to see how they interact […]

...Read More about Peter DePaola IV
Rose Hills

Modeling and Testing of Eco-friendly Piezoelectret Sensor for Anthropocentric Pressure Measurements

The ability to measure vibrations is a vital engineering problem. From measuring pulse for health diagnostics to sensing pressure on a touch screen for a smart phone, the applications vary far and wide. In our group we study the use of polymer-based devices called piezoelectrets to measure pressure signals for a variety of applications. Our microfabricated polymer approach yields superior flexibility, piezoelectric coefficients, and costeffectiveness when compared to traditional ceramic material competitors. The devices themselves also vary in material composition and geometry depending on the application. In this project we explore the potential of using environmentally friendly materials for the fabrication of a piezoelectret pressure sensor without compromising performance.

...Read More about Danielle Diaz
SURF SMART

Breaking the Stereotype Ceiling: A Study on Stereotype-Inconsistent People

Humans are cognitively cheap. To preserve precious cognitive resources, we take cognitive shortcuts, one example being the detrimental use of stereotypes. Simply, we prefer to mentally process information about people when that information is consistent with our stereotypes about them. So what happens when someones identity contradicts the stereotypes that society has about them? Because relations between Black and White communities remains one of the most problematic racial issues in America, I have narrowed my research question to focus on this inter-group context. I hypothesize that White Americans prefer to interact with stereotype-consistent vs. stereotype-inconsistent Black Americans. Further, I propose that perceived authenticity is a critical variable that will mediate the proposed hypothesis. I predict I will find multi-methodological evidence of this effect across self-reported liking, salivary cortisol, attributions of trust, nonverbal behavior coded from videotapes, and cognitive impairment measured with a cognitive reaction time measure. This project will help […]

...Read More about Zoe Elina Ferguson
Humanities and Social Science

Structure and Properties of the Iron Sulfur Enzyme, the "Hybrid Cluster Protein"

Iron sulfur enzymes perform some of lifes most challenging chemical transformations, but how these enzymes function is largely unknown. I will be researching the structure, reactivity, and reduction/oxidation properties of a particular iron sulfur enzyme, the hybrid cluster protein (HCP), whose physiological function is unknown despite its presence in all domains of life. One goal of my research is to investigate how the structure of HCP dictates its reactivity towards a variety of substrates. A hallmark of HCP is the presence of an atypical iron-sulfur cluster (dubbed the hybrid cluster) whose structure is unique in biology. We hypothesize that this is the site of substrate binding and activation. I will determine the 3D structure of HCP by first crystallizing this protein and then determining precise atomic positions using X-ray Diffraction. I will then repeat this experiment in the presence of substrates (or with a mutated protein) to gain insight into […]

...Read More about Noah Epstein
Rose Hills

Schubert Calculus Through Toric Geometry

In our research, we will use toric geometry to study the cohomological structure of complex Grassmannians. The cohomology ring of a Grassmannian varieties is described by the Littlewood-Richardson rule. One of the main open questions in Schubert calculus concerns the generalization of the Littlewood-Richardson rule to flag varieties. Such a generalization is highly desirable, because it is a manifestly positive formula that can be applied to other areas: in algebraic geometry, it helps describe complicated intersections; in representation theory, it helps to find irreducible, direct-sum decompositions of tensor products; in physics, it can be applied to calculate certain physical quantities. Our research aims to give a new, geometric proof of the Littlewood-Richardson rule,by applying toric degeneration to Weyl-group-translated Schubert varieties. More specifically, we will study the intersection behavior of Schubert varieties, in terms of face-intersections of Gelfand-Cetlin polytopes. A new geometric perspective would help give a deeper understanding of the […]

...Read More about Junhao Fan
L&S Sciences

Challenging Policing, Crimmigration, and Deportation

My project utilizes both qualitative and archival methods to assess and interpret how undocumented people challenge the criminal injustice and immigration system. The devaluing of undocumented people has increased the uncertainty associated with their social value. Specifically, by engaging with scholars, professionals, and community members, this project amplifies their critical insight regarding future social and political integration. Moreover, public discourse is increasingly creating awareness and assessing the policing of criminalized populations, specifically as it relates to the carceral apparatus. In my research, I present the carceral apparatus as including multiple social institutions, often not included in dialogue. In this context, the framework of a criminal justice system does not encompass the complexity of a carceral system. The goal of my project seeks to learn from those who are experiencing the ramifications of current crimmigration policies and eventually produce new policy-related research to humanize undocumented people and shift societies’ views of […]

...Read More about Abel Fernando Vallejo Galindo
Humanities and Social Science

Systematics and Paleoecology of PlioPleistocene Shrews from South Africa

One of the most ambitious expeditions in the history of UC Berkeley has yet to be completed. In 1947, the University of California Africa Expedition, led by researchers from the UC Berkeley Museum of Paleontology, set out for southern Africa to collect fossils from early hominid sites. However, upon their return, many of the micro-mammal fossils were stored away without being properly examined or categorized. My project will focus on a subset of this wealth of Plio-Pleistocene fossils: the shrew fossils (family Soricidae). Though sometimes overlooked, these small mammals have long served as paleoenvironnmental indicators, due to specific habitat preferences. My goal is to use both the literature and comparative specimens to finalize the curation, morphological description, and taxonomic assessment of the soricid fossils, in order to better understand the paleoecology of South African mammal evolution. By aligning the various habitat preferences of the different genera with the taxonomic assessment […]

...Read More about Kendall Fitzgerald
L&S Sciences

Police Tactics: Reproduction of Criminality in Fragmented Communities

My project seeks to address how gang policing perpetuates divisions in fragmented communities, while jointly producing and reproducing criminality through the labeling of individuals as gang members. Gang policing claims to respond to conflict and rivalries between gangs, but how does this policing itself produce and perpetuate these divisions within the community? My argument will build on other scholarship but fill in the gap of how law enforcement, specifically gang police, continues to divide communities and their members. That there is no official definition of what it is to be a gang member may result in individuals whom are labelled as “gang members” being objectified by the state (e.g. law enforcement) and so-called experts in the field (Hiestand 2018). My research seeks to better understand the relationship between gang policing and the fragmentation of those communities it targets, by reviewing existing scholarship and conducting sociological interviews with members of these […]

...Read More about Juan Flores
Humanities and Social Science

Art and the Environmental Movement

With well established evidence of the nuanced social and political aspects of environmentalism, it has become apparent that there is a need for a more compelling and holistic approach to discussing these issues. My research will document how art contributes to these conversations and explores the more human elements of environmental justice. The extent to which visual art can impact the formation of individuals’ opinions, motivations and curiosities with respect to the environmental movement will be explored through art practice. Informed by past works, this project will draw from art history to analyze how political and social discourse is conveyed in visual media. The role of art in social movements and its potential to inspire change will be applied to the predicament of plastics, inquiring through artistic language about the abundant disposal of plastic and its social and ecological implications. My project explores how artwork has motivated change in people […]

...Read More about Isabella Franchesca Shipley
Humanities and Social Science

Understanding Defensive Strategies: The Consequences of Losing Legs in Daddy Long-Legs

One crucial topic in ecology is understanding how animals respond to environmental pressures. My research aims to study the behavioral ecology of animal defenses in an evolutionary biology framework. Specifically, this project focuses on voluntary release of legs by arachnids. Although beneficial in the short term, this behavior can carry important negative consequences in the locomotion, physiology, and behavior of animals. Daddy long-legs are ideal for this research because of their unique morphology and behavior. Their accessibility also offers the possibility of performing extensive fieldwork and laboratory experiments in the Berkeley area.

...Read More about Nicholas Fujii
SURF SMART

Transcriptional Changes During Experience-Dependent Plasticity in Somatosensory Cortex

Neuroplasticity describes how the brain learns from experience. A proposed type of plasticity, rapid homeostasis, may be necessary for stabilizing activity on a short-time scale across primary sensory-processing regions of the brain. A class of inhibitory neurons known as parvalbumin (PV) neurons are thought to implement rapid homeostatic plasticity, but the field lacks a mechanistic understanding of exactly how PV neurons may regulate plasticity. One way in which cells adapt to change is through varying protein expression. For example, recent studies suggest that neuregulins (NRGs) and tyrosine kinase receptors (ErbBs) mediate signaling pathways that are critical to establishing early visual plasticity in PV neurons. I am studying whether the expression of several genes, including genes encoding proteins from the NRG and ErbB families, drive rapid homeostatic plasticity in PV neurons of somatosensory cortex. I will use TRAP (translating ribosome affinity purification) methodology and RT-qPCR to analyze the RNA content of […]

...Read More about Sanika Ganesh
Rose Hills

Laboratory Earthquakes: Direct Observation of Stick-Slip Fault Behavior

Laboratory seismology uses a scale-model approach to complement the wealth of research on in situ earthquakes that cannot be observed directly. A simple mechanical system applies shear stress to two blocks with a roughened interface, such that it produces stick-slip behavior with energy signatures matching in situ earthquakes. Lab scale seismic sensors allow us to apply typical seismological analyses. Additional instruments provide measurements not available in the field, which are used to expand our understanding of the underlying processes as well as the results and limits of the seismological methods.

...Read More about Connor Geudeker
SURF SMART

Investigating the Role of Alternative mRNA Transcripts in SOD1 During Meiosis

Meiosis, the method by which diploid cells produce haploid gametes, is a dramatic cellular remodeling event. This process is regulated by many transcriptional and translational changes, including the expression of longer, meiosis-specific mRNA isoforms. Superoxide dismutase 1 is a highly conserved and vital enzyme that fights against oxidative stress. During meiosis, budding yeast cells (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) produce a non-canonical mRNA isoform of SOD1 that is four times as long as the canonical mitotic mRNA, one of the largest differences in isoforms observed. The expression of the longform mRNA also correlates with a decrease in Sod1 protein levels during meiosis. In other proteins, toggling between two mRNA isoforms has been linked to protein regulation, but we do not know if that is the case for SOD1. My goal is to elucidate the potential function of the long SOD1 mRNA isoform in regulating meiotic Sod1 protein levels, and Sod1 proteins role in […]

...Read More about Mounika Gopi
L&S Sciences

Barriers to Retention and Treatment for HIV+ Malawian Patients with Drug Failure

Since the rollout of antiretroviral therapy (ART) in 2004, Malawi has made tremendous strides in the fight against HIV and has almost achieved the global targets for diagnosis and treatment set by UNAIDS. However, emerging drug resistance threatens the progress made in Malawi and other countries facing limited access to resources and technology. Alternative drug regimens are available in Malawi, but clinics are extremely inefficient at switching patients to these life-saving drugs. As a result, people with untreated resistance can develop AIDS and transmit drug-resistant HIV to others. To address these issues, I will spend this summer working with Partners in Hope (PIH), a nonprofit organization that operates HIV clinics across Malawi, in order to improve the clinical experiences and outcomes of patients who develop drug failure. I will explore the following question: What are the causes of low retention rates and inefficient linkages to services within PIH clinics? To […]

...Read More about Laura Goy
Humanities and Social Science

Experimental Implementation of RF Electron Traps and Trapped-Electron Qubits

Quantum algorithms that take advantage of principles of quantum mechanics are able to solve certain problems (e.g. factorization of a large integer) much more efficiently than classical algorithms. One of the most promising candidates for qubit (the equivalent of a classical bit in quantum computing) implementation is the trapped ion. Although there have been promising results in trapped ion quantum information processing (QIP), it involves extensive use of lasers in cooling, readout, and qubit operations, which makes it challenging to scale up the system to many qubits. My research will focus on investigating a novel qubit by trapping electrons in Paul traps (radio-frequency traps). With trapped-electron qubits, we could avoid extensive use of lasers as required for trapped-ion qubits. Moreover, the electrons light mass (~ four orders of magnitude lighter than ions) provides a possibility of speeding up two-qubit gates, thus increasing the overall efficiency comparing to trapped-ion QIP. In […]

...Read More about Jinen (Timothy) Guo
L&S Sciences

SLASER & JDE Analysis for MRI

The inhibition of glutathione, a buffer which maintains redox balance in neural cells, has recently been implicated as part of the pathology of multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic and debilitating neurological disease. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy is a non-invasive technique which can quantitatively measure glutathione, amongst other metabolites, in the brain using the semi-localized by adiabatic selective refocusing sequence (SLASER) and J-Difference Editing (JDE). This proposal aims to apply this technique to image the concentration of various metabolites implicated in the regulation of redox potentials in the central nervous system on the NAC study cohort at UCSF. After development of an automatic quantification technique for metabolite concentrations, spatial localization of metabolite concentrations will then be computed. Further analysis, such as concentration GABA as a function of distance from MS lesions, may yield novel insights into the progression of multiple sclerosis. Furthermore, metabolite abnormalities will be evaluated on their potential as diagnostically […]

...Read More about Arya Haghighi
L&S Sciences

Investigation of the GSTM Gene Family in Humans and Apes

Glutathione S-transferase Mu 1, or GSTM1, is a gene found in humans and apes that makes toxins easier to metabolize by the body. GSTM1 is extraordinary because it is one of only two genes that has been deleted independently in both humans and apes through evolutionary time, but is still present in some individuals. Over half of the world population does not carry the GSTM1 gene, yet carrying the deletion has broad physiological implications such as higher rates of certain cancers, metabolic disorders, and the early onset of severe mental disorders. The GSTM locus has undergone complex and unique structural variation events, such as deletions and duplications, throughout its evolutionary history, but these events and their catalysts are still poorly understood. For my project, I will perform in-depth genetic analyses to understand why and how the GSTM gene family has changed over time and across species. Not only does this […]

...Read More about Alma Halgren
Rose Hills

Exploring Pubertal Effects on Dopamine Release Dynamics During Learning and Decision-Making

Adolescence has been defined as a transitional period characterized by physical, cognitive, and socioemotional changes while the brain goes through a parallel process of circuit refinement. It is also a window of vulnerability for the development of disorders like schizophrenia and addiction. However, our understanding of the role of puberty, and the coincident surge in gonadal hormones, in brain and behavioral development is still incomplete. Multiple studies have shown both testosterone- and estrogen-dependent modulation of reward-related behaviors and its circuitry. However, there are yet to be studies that test the role played by gonadal hormones at the time of puberty onset on these circuits and associated behavioral function in learning and decision-making. I aim to study how the rise in gonadal hormone production at puberty impacts dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens (NAcc), a sub-region of the striatum, in male mice. To do this, I plan to investigate how surgical […]

...Read More about Christopher Hall
Rose Hills

Development of a Human Thymic Epithelial Co-Culture to Enhance T Cell Maturation

Robust conventional T cell development in vitro remains challenging without the thymic microenvironment. Within this organ are two subsets of highly specialized thymic epithelial cells: cTECs and mTECs. Both arise from a common bipotent progenitor whose differentiation is regulated by the forkhead box transcription factor, FOXN1. FOXN1 also mediates TEC-thymocyte crosstalk and is believed to have postnatal roles in maintaining thymus integrity. Therefore, my research project will explore in vitro TEC differentiation and, subsequently, T cell maturation. I plan to develop a human TEC line overexpressing FOXN1 and then co-culture it with iPS-derived T cell progenitors. I hope that this system may improve in vitro T cell development for adoptive cell therapies. Additionally, the co-culture may have applications in three-dimensional artificial thymic organoids (ATOs) for further enhancing T cell development and understanding thymic organogenesis.

...Read More about Tiffany Hangse
Rose Hills

Antibody Conjugation to Carborane Dendrimers for the Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest cancers nationwide, due to the dearth of effective treatment options. While KRAS oncogenic mutations are ubiquitous in pancreatic cancer, there is no anti-KRAS therapeutic for routine clinical use. One promising alternative may be boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT), which entails the irradiation of internalized boron atoms in cancer cells. In particular, carborane compounds are clinically promising for serving as effective cytotoxic BNCT agents. Therefore, I propose to improve upon current carboranyl molecules to develop a highly boronated dendrimer which will be conjugated to an antibody targeting the CDCP1 protein, which is a biomarker for mutant KRAS. Subsequently, the conjugate will be delivered to in vitro and in vivo pancreatic cancer models and be evaluated on its ability to preferentially deliver boron to pancreatic cancer cells over non-pancreatic cancer cells. Through its efficacy and selectivity, the proposed bioconjugate may ultimately improve patient outcomes for […]

...Read More about Andrew Hong
Rose Hills

Circadian Disruption of Labor

Circadian rhythms are daily rhythms generated by all mammalian tissues that are critical to numerous physiological functions. These rhythms have far-reaching influence on the brain and periphery; therefore, circadian regulation of hormones is essential for normal functioning, and disruptions to circadian timing (e.g. irregular sleep patterns, nighttime light exposure, etc.) have detrimental health consequences. Labor and birth are reproductive events that exhibit a circadian rhythm by which human labor and birth tend to cluster during nighttime. Melatonin is a hormone secreted at night that is inhibited by light. We theorize that melatonin is involved in the labor process and that light exposure can impair labor progress. However, rhythm disruptions impact on labor progression and birth has never been studied. To answer this question, I will characterize the relationship between circadian disruption and labor intensity, duration, and the intervals between the birth of each pup. We will subject pregnant rats to […]

...Read More about Gwyneth Hutchinson
Humanities and Social Science

Connected Smart Hospitals Enabled by Visible Light Communication

What makes a smart building smart? Does a smart building or space trigger behavioural changes in users and their interactions with the space? Transformation in health and medicine calls for innovation and integration of information science and engineering approaches to revolutionize healthcare delivery systems, including high-performance wireless communication and sensing technologies. This study is part of an NSF-funded project and will focus on developing event-based behavioural models to simulate building-user interactions in hospital settings, to predict human behaviour in a hospital and optimize design.

...Read More about Soumil Jain
SURF SMART

Undergraduate Research in Biology Built on Students Own Funds of Knowledge

The aim of this project is to develop, implement, and assess a new model for undergraduate involvement in research, targeting first and near-first generation to college STEM majors who attend community colleges. First-generation college students are only slightly underrepresented in terms of initial STEM enrollment, but much less likely to complete their degree. Near-first generation students are those who have a parent with a four-year degree, but who have little to no knowledge about success in higher education in the U.S. (e.g., foster children, children of immigrants). Students from both of these groups often lack the social capital (e.g., role models) to gain access to professional experience in their field and may have other burdens (e.g., financial struggles, family commitments) upon entering college. This project is grounded in the culturally inclusive Funds of Knowledge framework that draws on the lived experiences students bring to research and stands in opposition to […]

...Read More about Nancy Jauregui
SURF SMART

Transforming Melancholia: Depression and Female Coping in Beloved, The Color Purple, and Corregidora

My research project focuses on three major works of twentieth-century African-American literature: Toni Morrisons Beloved and Alice Walkers The Color Purple. I seek to explore how the female protagonists at the center of these narratives embody chronic depression. My research intends to validate the trauma these women undergo, as well as delineate the coping mechanisms they create in response to the physical, sexual, and psychological subjugation they face. These characters are not only linked by the oppressive structures they struggle against, but also by their roles as daughters who experience and respond to the effects of intergenerational trauma. For this project, I will conduct original content analysis and engage with criticism specific to each of these three novels. In order to understand how these texts function within their respective sociopolitical environments, I will engage with key works of Critical Race Theory and Postcolonialism, in addition to considering intersectional scholarship such […]

...Read More about Clara Jimenez
Humanities and Social Science

Investigating Changes in Gene Expression that Affect Heart Rate During Pregnancy

In normal pregnancies, cardiac output increases to accommodate increased metabolic demand. The fundamental mechanisms connecting changes in hormones to changes in gene expression in pacemaker cells are unknown. Understanding what increases heart rate in pregnancies could provide insight on preventing cardiovascular complications in pregnancies, and shed light on how the sinoatrial node (SAN) changes in response to physiological stress.This project will investigate heart rate changes in pregnancy by studying gene expression changes between pregnant, pseudopregnant, and non-pregnant mice. Pseudopregnant mice have the hormonal changes associated with pregnancy, but lack a developing fetus. It is unknown whether heart rate changes during pregnancy are due strictly to hormonal changes or to the presence of a developing fetus. Laser capture microdissection will be used to isolate sinus nodes, and RNA of pacemaker cells will be sequenced from pregnant, pseudopregnant, and non-pregnant mice to reveal differences in gene expression. The heart rates will be […]

...Read More about Catherine Jung
Rose Hills

Estimating Integrated Information from Non-Gaussian Multivariate Time Series

Information theory has been key to our understanding of the brain, by elucidating mechanisms of neural coding in the brains sensory periphery. Recent mathematical work has derived a new measure called integrated information, which can quantify how much information emerges at the level of an entire network. Integrated information has already been used to study how the structure of brain networks might underpin large-scale information flow and may help explain mechanisms of information processing in both healthy and pathological brain states. Currently, integrated information can only be calculated for neural time-series data if those data are multivariate Gaussian. This limits the application of integrated information to most types of neural data, which are typically non-Gaussian. I will verify a method I have developed to estimate integrated information from non-Gaussian time series simulated from brain-like networks. I will also use this method to test the long-held but unverified hypothesis that large-scale […]

...Read More about Helen Kang
Rose Hills

Constructions of French Colonial Urban Space: A Study of Pondicherry

My project focuses on the French colonial presence in South Asia, focusing on the coastal town of Pondicherry, which was established as a French trading post (factory) in 1674 and relinquished to the Indian government only in 1954. Studies on French India are notably sparse in comparison with the significant scholarly attention that has been paid to British India and to French colonial holdings elsewhere. Because of this, I aim to complicate the narrative of a monolithic colonialism in India. I contend that the architecture and urban form of a city is directly emblematic of its creators priorities and mission. Thus, in closely analyzing eighteenth-century French visual and textual records on colonial domestic forms in Pondicherry and scrutinizing the architectural form of extant buildings, I will ask how and to what extent a hybrid aesthetic was fostered in Pondicherry. I will juxtapose my study of Pondicherry with analyses of architecture […]

...Read More about Shreya Kareti
Humanities and Social Science

Ethnography of Material Culture and Commodity Exchange in Liangshan, China

Deng Xiaopings 1978 market reforms profoundly impacted the way Chinese people relate to their material surroundings. Some previously worthless objects (rare-earth metals, for example), gained newfound value as precious commodities. Other objects, before deeply cherished, became suddenly irrelevant through the process of commodification. In the frontier zones of the Chinese economysparsely-populated regions, ethnic minority areas, and border zonesthe transition of the social world of objects has been especially dramatic.I propose to study these dynamics from Liangshan Prefecture in Sichuan Provence, a rural, mountainous region on the southwest of the country, home to the Yi (Nuosu) ethnic minority. I will conduct a two-month ethnographic study in Liangshan, participating in everyday economic activities such as farming potatoes, butchering animals and manufacturing traditional lacquer-ware.My study will be part of a growing body of literature documenting Chinas historic economic transition towards what has been characterized as a modified, state-controlled form of capitalism. Through the […]

...Read More about James Kennerly
Humanities and Social Science

In Vitro Analysis of Cardiomyocyte Binucleation in H9C2 Cell Line

Although animals such as zebrafish and newborn mice retain the ability to regenerate the heart post-injury, adult mammalians have largely lost this cardiac regenerative capacity. Consequently, a patient will irreversibly lose as many as a billion cardiomyocytes following a heart attack and suffer from permanently reduced cardiac function. Today, nearly five million Americans live with heart failurethis underscores the significance of our inability to regenerate myocardial tissue. Most mammalian cardiomyocytes lose their proliferative and regenerative abilities because they undergo binucleation, terminal differentiation, and permanent withdrawal from the cell cycle postnatally. The mechanisms which control this transition, however, are still not fully understood. In fact, despite the amount of in vivo research, there is no in vitro model that has been comprehensively used to analyze endogenous regenerative mechanisms that partake in cardiomyocyte cell cycle arrest and binucleation. Thus, I plan to work with the H9C2 cell line to try to reproduce […]

...Read More about Shea Khyeam
L&S Sciences

Privacy, the Self, and the Problems of Third Party Disclosure

Much of modern life has become intertwined with disclosing personal information to third parties. Email, social media, GPS, search history, etc., all contain intimate parts of ourselves, but this information is under third-party control. Traditional Fourth Amendment guarantees of persons, houses, papers, and effects are increasingly more difficult to protect when the boundaries of self have evolved beyond our own individual body and belongings and into a digital space controlled by third parties. With this friction between between the limits of identity and third-party controlled personal information, individual privacy has found a loose foothold in the recently passed California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Nevertheless, the ability for companies to charge a fee for consumers opting out of data collection can affect how much digital personal information is valued, raising questions about the extent to which privacy is affected by cost barriers and third-party personal information disclosure. My research will explore […]

...Read More about Zoe Kiely
Humanities and Social Science

POWER of Investment: Chinese-State Influence on Energy Planning in Xayaburi Province, Laos

Western political scientists and multilateral development banks (MDBs) are speculating about the extent to which Chinese development finance (CDF), specifically via the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) may support or challenge the Western-led global economic order. To determine the extent to which Chinese-led projects may conflict with Western liberal policy agendas and the global economic status quo, as well as whether or not BRI actions may create a debt trap for borrowers, we need more data on how the Chinese conduct development infrastructure projects on the ground, and how they interact with project stakeholders. My research will provide MDBs and political scientists with a foundational case study to assist them in developing theories of Chinese influence on the global economic order. I will carry out an in-depth case study of China EXIM Banks $1.7 billion loan to Lao PDR to build Pak Lay Dam, in which I will identify Chinese […]

...Read More about Aaditee Kudrimoti
Humanities and Social Science

Cooling Electrons through Resonant Mode-Mode Coupling

Low temperature plasma physics is of importance to antimatter research, where sympathetic (collisional) cooling with a matter plasma brings energetic antimatter particles to a temperature at which creation of antiatoms is possible. Resonant cavity cooling, or cooling of a nonneutral plasma by coupling the radiation field with the electromagnetic modes inside a trap cavity, is a useful technique to cool plasmas to wall temperatures (10K) but may be difficult to perform due to plasma location or trap geometry. Therefore, understanding the effectiveness of mode-mode coupling in plasmas is essential; by coupling an easily cooled plasma to a mode, and the mode to another mode or plasma, a previously warm plasma may be cooled. Using the Fajans groups high resonance cavities in an electron trap, this phenomenon may be studied. Based off the results, using cavities or resonating circuits across electrodes may be used in conjunction with or in lieu of […]

...Read More about Huws Landsberger
Rose Hills

The Hydrological Legacy of Sugar Planting in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

Present-day residents of St. Croix (Crucians), many of whom are descendants of enslaved Africans, regularly endure droughts and lack reliable and safe drinking water. Moreover, several of the islands natural aquafers have become contaminated with salt water, while siltation from the islands eroding landmass continues to harm nearby critical coral reef ecosystems. More recently, it has also been made clear that this small Caribbean island is highly susceptible to intense tropical weather events, with many Crucians today still suffering from the extensive water damage caused by the two category 5 Hurricanes, Irma and Maria, that hit the U.S. Virgin Islands in the summer of 2017. Using multiple lines of evidence from the fields of history, archaeology, hydrology, and paleolimonology, this project will test the hypothesis that the rapid and unsustainable intensification of St. Croixs sugar-based monoculture between the 17th and 19th centuries led to the islands currently observable lack of […]

...Read More about Alexandra Langer
SURF SMART

Molecular Determinants and Mechanism of Flavivirus NS1-Induced Endothelial Permeability

A hallmark of severe dengue virus (DENV) infection is vascular leak. DENV non-structural protein 1 (NS1) directly triggers endothelial hyperpermeability and vascular leak via disruption of the endothelial glycocalyx layer (EGL). The EGL is a matrix of glycoproteins and membrane-bound proteoglycans lining the vascular endothelium, playing a protective role in maintaining endothelial barrier integrity. DENV NS1 binds to the endothelial cell surface through interactions with surface glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), such as heparan sulfate or chondroitin sulfate. However, the specific amino acid residues responsible for conferring cell binding specificity of various flavivirus NS1 proteins are not known. My project aims to investigate the molecular determinants behind NS1 recognition of endothelial GAGs by producing and evaluating NS1 chimeric proteins, which contain regions or specific amino acids of different flavivirus NS1 proteins into the backbone of DENV NS1. This summer, I will express and purify a panel of mutant NS1 proteins and evaluate their […]

...Read More about Jasmine Larrick
L&S Sciences

Thermal Metal-Insulator Transition in Single Layer 1T-TaSe2

Understanding the nature of insulating behavior in solids has long been an important problem in condensed matter physics and materials science. It is unclear how the electrons in many materials behave in their environment, where an atomic lattice and other electrons play a role in shaping their mechanics. As the use of insulators is commonplace, explaining their behavior will help us apply them in even more ways. Understanding the behavior of electrons in an insulator can additionally answer fundamental questions in physics, especially with regards to the quantum mechanics of interacting electrons.In materials called Mott insulators, which are materials expected to be metals in conventional theory but turn out to be insulating, thermal metal-insulator phase transitions have been theoretically predicted but are very rarely observed, making them poorly understood. Such phase transitions are typically accompanied by significant changes in the electronic structure of the material. By studying the electronic structure […]

...Read More about Ryan Lee
L&S Sciences

Extracellular Electron Transport in Listeria monocytogenes

Listeria monocytogenes is a Gram-positive pathogenic bacterium that causes the foodborne illness Listeriosis in humans. The Portnoy lab discovered that L. monocytogenes has the ability to do extracellular electron transfer (EET), which consists of transferring electrons from the inside of the bacteria to extracellular acceptors outside, using compounds called flavins. This process allows L. monocytogenes to grow on non-fermentable carbon sources, and strains lacking EET activity have been shown to have reduced viability in vivo. I will be studying the role of two proteins discovered to be essential for EET activity, EetA and EetB. Details of EET activity in L. monocytogenes have been largely unknown, perhaps due to the fact that L. monocytogenes lacks the conventional life cycle and genes common in other bacterium capable of doing EET. My project aims to expand our limited knowledge of EET by identifying the role of EetA/EetB in this process. By better understanding […]

...Read More about Frank Lee
Rose Hills

Secure Prediction for Neural Networks

Machine learning classification is growing increasingly important for a variety of industries and applications, including medical imaging, spam detection, facial recognition, financial predictions, and more. As understanding of these systems advances, so do attacks which seek to exfiltrate information from exposed models. These models are often trained on confidential data and leakscan compromise user privacy. Additionally, users may wish to receive classifications on a modelwhile keeping their own input secret from the service provider. To address these concerns, I introduce the concept of secure prediction. Secure prediction defines a joint computation between the user and service provider where the user receives the classification of their information on the providers model, but neither side learns anything about each others input. Generally speaking, secure prediction protocols incur huge penalties in either computation, bandwidth, or latency compared to traditional prediction. My work combines several techniques in a novel protocol which cleverly manages these […]

...Read More about Ryan Lehmkuhl
Rose Hills

Understanding Neuroendocrine Mechanisms Underlying the Impact of Stress on Pregnancy

Chronic stress has been shown to have lasting and damaging effects on an individuals physical and mental health. One of the avenues of life that stress can impact significantly is female fertility and reproductive success. Prenatal stress leads to lower birth weights of fetuses, decreased success rate of full-term pregnancies, and delayed development. Although studies have established the role in which cortisol, the main hormone released during stress, is secreted by the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and plays an integral role in the neuroendocrine stress response, little is known regarding how stress hormones interact with the neural pathways in the hypothalamus to negatively influence pregnancy outcomes. In the hypothalamus, RFamide-related peptide-3 (RFRP-3), inhibits gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons, providing a potential mechanistic link between stress and fertility outcomes. Through the expansion of preliminary findings of past projects in the lab, our focus is to uncover how chronic stress suppresses progesterone and hinders […]

...Read More about Diana Leslie Cornejo
Rose Hills

Application of the TES as a Radioactive Decay Detector

Neutrino-less double beta decay is a process that is forbidden in the current Standard Model of particle physics since it violates lepton number conservation. If observed, this type of decay can provide insight into fundamental neutrino properties, such as whether neutrinos are Majorana or Dirac fermions (i.e. whether they are their own anti-particles). This decay also provides information on the neutrino mass hierarchy and its mass scale. Cryogenic Underground Observatory for Rare Events (CUORE) is a leading experiment in this search and its successor, CUORE Upgrade with Particle ID (CUPID) will dive into unexplored regions of parameter space in neutrino physics. This project will model a novel bi-layer Ir/Pt Transition Edge Sensor (TES) and develop a feasible method of harnessing the advantages of TES to demonstrate a low noise light detector with time resolution on the order of micro-seconds. The addition of TES will provide a reliable method of separate […]

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

Development of a Novel Silicon Photomultiplier Telescope Camera to Search for Optical Counterparts to Fast Radio Bursts

Fast Radio Bursts (FRB) are high-energy millisecond duration radio signals of unknown astrophysical origins whose localizations are limited by the inherently low resolutions of radio telescopes. Recent theories propose that the origins of FRB may also produce nanosecond duration optical counterparts which, if observed with higher resolution optical telescopes, would allow astronomers to localize and identify the origins of FRB. Due to their extragalactic distances, optical counterparts to FRB can also be used to learn more about the fundamental properties and evolution of the Universe through probing the missing Baryonic matter in the Universe and the Epoch of Reionization. I will construct a telescope camera to search for these optical counterparts to FRB using state-of-the-art Silicon Photomultipliers (SiPM), which are p-n junction semiconductor photodetectors with nanosecond and single photon resolutions having significantly higher efficiencies, lower costs, and lower operating biases than traditional Photomultiplier Tubes. Upon completion, the SiPM camera will […]

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

Coordination of Organelle Inheritance During Polarized Cell Division

During cell division, many cellular materials cannot be produced de novo and therefore must be partitioned equally between the two daughter cells. In the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, material produced in the mother cell must be actively transported to the growing daughter cell during cell division. Molecular pathways of how individual organelles are transported to the daughter cell have been well characterized. However, recent studies have shown that cellular organelles are largely interconnected, suggesting that they exist more as an extensive network rather than independent entities. My research aims to determine how organelle positioning and inheritance are orchestrated in order to maintain higher order organellar networks. By monitoring the redistribution of organelles throughout division using live cell imaging, I will determine the precise order in which organelles are transported from mother to daughter cells. With a better understanding of the temporal division, I can then interrogate the molecular mechanisms underlying […]

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

The Effects of China's Two-Child Policy on Women's Labor Market Outcomes

In the past few decades, due to the strict implementation of the one-child policy in China, it had been almost impossible to conduct any research related to having a second child. However, China has been gradually relaxing this policy. Since November 2011, parents who are both the only child in their families may have two children. Since December 2013, couples in which only one parent is the only child may have two children. Finally, since October 2015, all couples are allowed to have two children. This policy change provides a unique opportunity to study the impacts of having (or hoping to have) a second child on Chinese women’s labor market outcomes, which is largely absent in existing literature.Therefore, my research project studies the effects of China’s two-child policy on women’s labor market outcomes. More specifically, how does having (or hoping to have) a second child impact women’s labor participation, income, […]

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

Investigating the Role of TREK1 Ion Channels in Social Memory

The firing properties of a neuron are not only influenced by the electrical and chemical signals it receives, but also by the physical properties of its environment. Their ability to detect stimuli such as pH, temperature, and mechanical pressure allows a neuron to change its excitability in response. Two-pore domain potassium (K2P) ion channels are of particular importance because they are crucial in hyperpolarizing and modulating the resting membrane potential. Deviations from normal resting membrane potentials lead to unexpected consequences, including mental illness.The purpose of this research project is to investigate the effects of the K2P ion channel TREK1, a mechanosensitive potassium channel in the hippocampus, and its influence on the social memory of mice. Over the summer, I will address these issues with behavioral assays testing the social memory of TREK1 knockout (KO) and wild-type (wt) mice and by measuring the electrophysiological properties of the hippocampus in these two […]

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

Investigating the Immunological Effects of STING Pathway Activators in Spontaneous Tumor Models

One of the major hallmarks of cancer is the evasion of the immune system; thus, current cancer immunotherapies aim to modify the host immune system to specifically target tumor cells and repress tumor progression. Recent studies have investigated an immune pathway called the cGAS-Stimulator of IFN genes (STING) that is involved in the induction of an anti-tumor response. STING pathway activators, such as cyclic dinucleotides, (CDN) have been shown to result in stable regressions of established tumors. Currently however, researchers mostly rely on subcutaneous tumor models, which is a limited approach since it does not accurately simulate real-life progression of tumor growth. I am planning to test effects of CDN on a genetically engineered mouse model that gives rise to spontaneous tumors, which are more akin to naturally-developing tumors. My project aims to investigate the immunological differences between the conventional transplanted tumor model and the spontaneous tumor model before and […]

...Read More about Joy Li
Rose Hills

Regulation of Kinetochore Subunit Ndc80 During the Mitotic Cell Cycle in Yeast

Cell division is a highly regulated process through which organisms generate new cells. From a single fertilized egg, a whole organism is developed after many cell divisions have occurred. Since the majority of these divisions are mitosis, errors in mitosis can cause lethal embryos due to loss of genetic material. Therefore, it is crucial for a mitotic cell to propagate the genome faithfully. My research focuses on the machinery that distributes the genome during cell division. This machinery includes the kinetochore, the protein complex that connects chromosomes to microtubules during cell division. Specifically, I focus on the regulation of a kinetochore subunit called Ndc80. In yeast, the protein turnover of Ndc80 is highly regulated during meiosis, a specialized cell division that produces gametes. However, it is unknown whether the same type of regulation also occurs in the mitotic cell cycle. To investigate this question, I will assess when Ndc80 is […]

...Read More about Andrew Liao
Rose Hills

Investigating Root-Multiplicities of Kac-Moody Algebras

Over the summer, we propose to investigate the root multiplicities of (generalized) Kac-Moody Algebras. Our plan is to create an open-source computer package that allows for the computation of root multiplicities of Kac-Moody algebras, building upon the existing tools available to computational mathematicians, for instance, the popular library sage-math. Once we have developed and verified this package against known tables of root multiplicities, we aim to start investigating the root multiplicities of simple graphs, and attempt to address some outstanding conjectures on the distributions of root multiplicities. A greater understanding of the root multiplicities of Kac-Moody algebras would help with questions such as finding natural geometrical realizations of the algebras, and shed light on the connections that have already been found with mathematical physics. Some of these applications may include generalised knot invariants defined over Kac-Moody algebras rather than Lie Algebras, or the study of symmetries of systems and spaces […]

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

Schubert Calculus Through Toric Geometry

In our research, we will use toric geometry to study the cohomological structure of complex Grassmannians. The cohomology ring of a Grassmannian varieties is described by the Littlewood-Richardson rule. One of the main open questions in Schubert calculus concerns the generalization of the Littlewood-Richardson rule to flag varieties. Such a generalization is highly desirable, because it is a manifestly positive formula that can be applied to other areas: in algebraic geometry, it helps describe complicated intersections; in representation theory, it helps to find irreducible, direct-sum decompositions of tensor products; in physics, it can be applied to calculate certain physical quantities. Our research aims to give a new, geometric proof of the Littlewood-Richardson rule,by applying toric degeneration to Weyl-group-translated Schubert varieties. More specifically, we will study the intersection behavior of Schubert varieties, in terms of face-intersections of Gelfand-Cetlin polytopes. A new geometric perspective would help give a deeper understanding of the […]

...Read More about Yining Liu
L&S Sciences

Gender and Perceptions of Criminality

Empirical studies have revealed a wide range of racial and gender disparities in the American criminal justice system. People of color, specifically Black males, make up the majority of our prison population, but incarceration is vastly influenced by historical and societal ills that negatively impact minority groups. Through racial profiling and other forms of explicit and implicit biases, society creates and perpetuates stereotypes of people of color as deviant, dangerous, and criminal. Gender stereotypes also impact perceptions of criminality. Aggression in males aligns with masculinity and is consistent with the male gender stereotype. However, aggression in females suggests deviation from femininity, which breaks from the female gender stereotype. Implications and effects of these gender differences should be studied through an intersectionality approach, which my project aims to take. My experiment will manipulate gender (male or female) and type of crime (aggravated or non-aggravated robbery) to study the effects of gender […]

...Read More about Sabrina Lu
Humanities and Social Science

Investigating the Role of plk-2 in Regulating the Synaptic Checkpoint in Meiosis

Meiosis is an essential cell division process that involves the reduction of chromosome number, thus creating haploid cells from diploid cells. Since mistakes in this process can lead to aneuploidy and many genetic defects such as cancer, this division is highly regulated and consists of many regulatory checkpoints. One such checkpoint, referred to as the synaptic checkpoint, is necessary during the early stages of meiosis when chromosomes are paired with homologous partners prior to segregation. The specific mechanisms that are involved in regulating this particular checkpoint still remain unknown. Recently, Polo-like kinase 2 (plk-2), a protein involved in multiple stages throughout meiosis, has been determined to play a major role in the synaptic checkpoint. Newly developed technology such as the auxin based chemically induced proximity method, will allow us to study the exact process by which plk-2 regulates this checkpoint. By identifying the major players and pathways involved, we can […]

...Read More about Zoe Lung
L&S Sciences

A Novel Approach to Fluency Data Analysis to Improve Dementia Diagnosis

In 2018, an estimated 50 million people worldwide were living with dementia. However, there is currently no single, universal cognitive assessment to diagnose dementia. Many of the tests and metrics used are either too simple or take too long to administer in a clinical setting. Some common diagnostic screenings are also hindered by questionable validity and low sensitivity. Issues with these screening tests cause problems in clinical trials because they blur the line between the actual effects of treatment and the effects of an unreliable or poorly quantified test. I will be working on generating a more robust screening process for dementia, focused on quantifying memory decline. This project includes analyzing the psychometric properties of current diagnostic tests for these disorders to improve their efficacy. In particular, fluency tests are one common test for disorders affecting memory. Drawing on bioinformatics and recurrence quantification analysis concepts, I will be researching a […]

...Read More about Samira Maboudian
L&S Sciences

The Neural Basis of Choice Rejection

The capacity to reject potential choices is critical to everyday function and is a core issue for multiple behavioral disorders, particularly addiction. Though a wealth of research displays that the subcortical region known as the striatum is a pivotal site for enacting value-based decisions, the mechanism underlying choice rejection is significantly understudied. Current research assumes a go/no-go heuristic that divides the two pathways of the striatum into discrete roles, asserting the direct pathway initiates decisions and the indirect pathway initiates rejections. Though the simplicity of this go/no-go heuristic is attractive, the predictions this heuristic makes about selection and rejection initiation do not fully hold when tested empirically. Consequently, my project is designed to illuminate the neural basis of rejection decisions by recording and manipulating the direct and indirect pathways in mice as they perform a complex foraging task optimized to temporally isolate rejection decisions from accept decisions. Given that indirect […]

...Read More about Christopher Machle
Humanities and Social Science

Understanding the Genetic Regulation and Evolution of Heart Rate

The main goal of my project is to understand, genetically, how differences in heart rate have evolved such that large mammals have slower heart rates than smaller mammals. So far, I have found strong evidence that the activity of the pacemaker ion channel HCN4 in the sinoatrial node (SAN, the hearts natural pacemaker), correlates with the resting heart rate of different species. My central hypothesis for this heart rate scaling phenomenon is that differences in heart rates among different mammalian species are partially determined by sequence changes at HCN4 enhancer elements, non-coding DNA which controls gene expression. However in order for this hypothesis to be true, there must be a difference in the expression of HCN4 in animals which correlates with heart rate, rather than just a difference in protein activity. My goal is to measure the in-vivo levels of HCN4 mRNA in the SAN of many species to determine […]

...Read More about Ravi Mandla
Rose Hills

Impact of Baryons on Intrinsic Galaxy Alignments using Cosmological Simulations

One of the principal probes of cosmology is weak gravitational lensing whereby gravitational effects of mass bend the path of light. This causes small but correlated distortions in the images of distant galaxies which we can measure and then use to study the distribution of matter over cosmological distances and time scales. However, one of the fundamental assumptions of this method is that galaxy shapes (which we can model as ellipses) are randomly oriented in the universe, and that these distortions serve to align them. But what happens when the galaxies are already aligned before the distortion? My area of study is on these intrinsic alignments and how to disentangle their alignments from the alignments caused by lensing. My project involves working with data from large cosmological simulations to measure how the presence of nearby matter, especially gas and stars, causes the galaxy shapes to intrinsically align. The goal of […]

...Read More about Hunter Martin
L&S Sciences

Perception of Prison with Experience: Volunteering for San Quentin News

If you turn on the television, chances are high that the news will be painted with violent criminals, Cops will be on all night, and Law and Order will be playing steady reruns. There is a plethora of scholarship investigating the ways media sensationalizes crime and portrays prison in a violent light; however, there exists a gap in research into understanding the ways in which people digest and make of use these images. People, whether they are affected by the criminal justice system or not, view fictitious media depictions that, in turn, inform their opinions about prison and criminality in reality. By interviewing people who volunteer at San Quentin News within San Quentin State Prison, my research attempts to answer the following question: in what ways do volunteers use their first-hand experience to understand media depictions of prison and criminality? My research is focused on San Quentin News volunteers’ meaning-making […]

...Read More about Elena Mateus
Humanities and Social Science

Site-Specific Modification of Virus-Like Particles for Cancer Drug Delivery

Common cancer therapies, such as chemotherapy, have harsh side effects because they damage both healthy and cancerous cells. Therapies that deliver drugs directly to cancer cells eliminate this issue. Protein nanocages, coupled with cancer targeting ligands, are attractive drug delivery vessels due to their biocompatibility and reduced toxicity. One such protein nanocage is the MS2 bacteriophage Virus Like Particle (VLP) coat protein. This 27 nm diameter protein shell has shown promise for delivery applications due to its thermostability and high modifiability. To be used as a drug delivery system, MS2 must be loaded with a cancer therapy and modified on the exterior with a cancer cell targeting ligand. One promising cancer therapy is Cyclic Dinucleotides (CDNs). When delivered to a cell, CDNs activate the STING pathway, which signals the immune system to destroy that cell. In my project, I will be modifying the MS2 coat protein with CDNs on the […]

...Read More about Zoe Merz
Rose Hills

Tempo of Cooling through the Middle Ordovician Using 18Ophosphate from Conodont Elements

The paleoclimate of the Ordovician period (485 to 444 million years ago) is of particular interest to geologists and paleontologists because of a great biodiversification event followed by a mass extinction associated with a global glaciation. To answer why there was such a drastic change in climate, we must first understand when these trends began. While it is well-established that the beginning of the period was characterized by a warm climate and the end of the period by a major glaciation, the trajectory of cooling is poorly known. For this project, I will be adding constraints to the 18O curve for the Middle Ordovician. By using 18Ophosphate from conodont elements in Ordovician limestones, I will interpret trends in seawater temperature at the time. By focusing on the Middle Ordovician, I will provide a better understanding of how the climate changed throughout the period which is essential for evaluating hypotheses of […]

...Read More about Fran Meyer
L&S Sciences

Expect the Unexpected: Reexamining Agency in Nineteenth-Century America

Have you ever fallen for a hoax? And if so, were you being exploited because of your gullibility or were you consciously or unconsciously complicit in your own beguilement? Who benefited from tricking you: the people who sold you the hoax, the audience, or the actors of the hoax itself? My research follows this line of questioning in an anthropological investigation into exploitation and agency in nineteenth-century America. Specifically, I will be examining hoax journalism and freak shows as avenues of mass media based exploitation. Through applying anthropological theories of power to primary and secondary sources, I will complicate modern conceptions of exploitation and agency in the Victorian Age. Who was tricking who into believing what? And why? Answering these questions will lead to a new understanding of the past that includes and emphasizes the agency of those whose stories have historically been ignored or belittled: the people who worked […]

...Read More about Josette Miller
Humanities and Social Science

Sulfur Abundance and Isotopic Composition Across the Terrestrial Cretaceous-Paleogene Boundary

The Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) mass extinction (~66 million years ago) is hypothesized to have been caused by environmental effects of the Chicxulub asteroid impact and/or Deccan Traps flood volcanism in India. Both potentially caused major climatic change through increased sulfate aerosol production, which would have caused significant global cooling and/or acid rain. Sulfur released by each of these events has a distinguishable isotopic composition. To characterize changes to the sulfur cycle across the K-Pg boundary and investigate the role each catastrophic event played in the extinction, I will measure sulfur abundance and isotopic composition of sediment across the K-Pg boundary in the Hell Creek region (Montana), at high-resolution over a longer interval than previously studied. This will allow us to test whether a reported increase in sulfur abundance and isotopic composition at the boundary is statistically unique and can be correlated to the Chicxulub impact, as well as identify any other […]

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

A State for Women: Sexual Politics and Radical Liberation in Kleist's Penthesilea

My research project will combine literary and historical analysis with feminist theory in order to engage with Heinrich von Kleists Penthesilea (1804.) One of his lesser-known works, Penthesilea retells the classical story of the queen of the Amazons in her battle with Achilles during the Trojan War. Simultaneously depicting grotesque sexuality and gendered battle between nation states, Penthesilea reveals the complicated understanding of womens power and liberation held by German writers in the immediate aftermath of the French Revolution. In my research, I intend to ask the following questions: What would define a state run by women? How does lust configure relationships between the sexes? What does the symbolism of classical mythology tell us about our societal constructions of gendered power? Uniting a close reading of Penthesilea with a robust theoretical understanding of mythology and feminist critical theory, I intend to interpret Penthesilea in light of theories of sexual politics.

...Read More about Iris Morrell
Humanities and Social Science

Obtaining Paleomagnetic Data to Understand Rotation of the Baird Formation

During their formation, all rocks are exposed to Earths magnetic field. The subsequent magnetization of their individual ferromagnetic minerals preserves a record of the field at that moment in time. Described as a rocks primary natural remanent magnetization (NRM), this property allows us to observe changes in the Earths geodynamo over the course of history by comparing data with modern magnetic orientations. However, variations between a rocks paleomagnetic direction and the current magnetic direction may also be due to tectonic disturbances such as geologic folding, seafloor spreading, or crustal block rotations, all of which can displace rocks from their original latitude. Therefore, the analysis of a rocks paleomagnetism can also provide insight into the way in which a given terrane has changed over time. My project will use paleomagnetic data to test whether the terrane of the Baird formation has rotated as a solid block or differentially due to internal […]

...Read More about Leyla Namazie
Rose Hills

The Role of Compassion in Decision-Making

Decision-making is a core aspect of the human experience, yet the mechanism underlying this process has not yet been fully understood, despite a long history of research in this field. There are many factors that play important roles in decision-making, such as outcomes, risk (probability of undesired outcomes), emotions, and interpersonal context. Early studies tended to focus on the effect of one specific factor on the process of decision-making, and disregarded others. Because of these studies, we have some understanding of how these factors affect decision-making. However, decisions in life are not so simple that one factor can determine everything. Thus, recent studies have shifted to focusing on the effects of multiple factors on decision-making. For my project, I will investigate the effect of compassion on decision-making in interpersonal contexts, in which the consequences faced by others depend on the decision-makers choice. Therefore, my study acts as a novel study, […]

...Read More about Duc Nguyen
Humanities and Social Science

The Grove, Los Angeles: a Study on Themed, Commercial, and Pseudo-Civic Spaces

The Grove has become one of Los Angeless main attractions, housing a farmers market, an assortment of shops, entertainment, and picturesque features, and attracting over 18 million visitors a year–on par with the holy grail of Los Angeles attractions, Disneyland. Yet, despite its prominence in Los Angeles urban leisure, little research has been devoted to this space. The Grove presents such an intriguing place as it does much more to immerse its visitors than the average mall; for one, it claims and boasts historical roots in its design and presentation–the most blatant example being its name, referencing the actual grove that preceded the commercial space. In essence, the Grove provides simulation in its architecture and control in its construction–a culturally and physically fabricated space that has very concrete effects on its visitors and city. My research aims to understand the Grove not just as a themed and immersive environment, but […]

...Read More about Calvin Nguyen
Humanities and Social Science

Investigating the strength of remote sensing technologies in analyzing wetland biodiversity

Wetlands are habitats valued for their ecosystem services, nutrient cycling abilities, biodiversity, and buffering capacity, but have been rapidly declining since the eighteenth century. Only recent efforts have attempted to address wetland decline, and such large-scale analyses of wetland composition face complications regarding the difficulty of site access and the impacts that direct field investigations can have on vulnerable species. To address these difficulties, remote sensing tools can be used to map and analyze wetland vegetation. However, wetland biodiversity indicators from remote sensing data remain limited in strength and are heavily context-dependent. My project will work to fill this gap by analyzing the effects of two important confounding issuesdominance of alien species and woody vegetationon our ability to predict wetland biodiversity using satellite images, focusing on a unique national-scale sample of 1138 USA wetland sites. Although previous work has shown that both factors may affect spectral properties of wetlands, their […]

...Read More about Metta Nicholson
Rose Hills

Social and Environmental Justice in the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement: The Shift to Agroecology

How does a modern social movement, dedicated to land reform in one of the worlds most inequitable societies, put its ecological and socialist ideology into practice in the Brazilian countryside? Through agroecology, the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement Movimento Sem Terra (MST) offers an alternative to conventional agro-industrial farming strategies that have marginalized rural workers; created dependencies upon cash crops and agro-chemicals with extensive ecological costs; and failed to solve the issue of global hunger. Agroecological farming systems operate in accordance with ecological principles in ways that are socially, environmentally and economically just, helping MST farmers take back sovereignty over their land, their food, their productive capacity, and establish a new relationship with nature (MST 2018). However, the vast majority of MST rural workers have not made the shift to agroecology. Over the course of two months in rural So Paulo, Brazil, I will attempt to determine what forces within socially […]

...Read More about Erika Page
Humanities and Social Science

Identifying Triterpene Derivatives for a New Generation of Non-Hormonal Contraceptives

According to a 2013 National Health Statics Report, 30% of American women discontinue using hormonal methods of birth control within their first year of use due to side effects. Conventional steroid-based contraception comes with a variety of side effects, such as anxiety, depression, and weight gain, and therefore creates a demand for non-hormonal contraceptive with minimal side effects. Sperm cells have a specific set of molecular targets, increasing the possibility of developing a contraceptive with high specificity and low side effects. Our preliminary data indicate that sperm motility and their ability to fertilize an egg could be prevented by targeting sperm surface protein ABHD2 with plant-derived compounds know as triterpenes. ABHD2 is a regulator of the sperm-specific calcium channel CatSper that is essential for sperm fertility. Working in the Lishko Lab this summer, we will explore the function of the related triterpenes to identify compounds that inhibit CatSper through ABHD2 […]

...Read More about Natalie Petersen
Rose Hills

Westphalia and the Myth of International Order

On October 24, 1648, Europe signed The Peace of Westphalia. This marked the end of the Thirty Years War, one of Europes bloodiest conflicts, which claimed the lives of more than eight million people. But perhaps more importantly, The Peace of Westphalia is remembered as the birth of what political scientists, politicians, and even your morning paper would come to know as modern international relations: a system of states, in which sovereign and independent nations exist in a chaotic realm of constant competition, locked in a balance of power in order to maintain independence and security. The only problem with this explanation is that no such genesis moment exists. The peace treaty was in fact little more than an armistice signed between Sweden, France, and the politically fragmented Holy Roman Empire. The idea that 1648 constituted something singularly remarkable, that it gave birth to an enduring system that still lives […]

...Read More about Nicholas Pingitore
Humanities and Social Science

Observing Histone Loss in Individual Nucleosomes through Mechanical Unwrapping

I will investigate how histones dissociate from the nucleosome during the process of unwrapping by using “Fleezers,” optical tweezers with the added capability of detecting single molecule fluorescence. In all Eukaryotic cells, DNA is packaged and compacted in the form of chromatin in the nucleus. The nucleosome, consisting of a histone octamer core wrapped by 1.7 turns of the DNA, represents the basic, repeating, unit of chromatin. Since the DNA is constantly transcribed, repressed, repaired or replicated in response to stimuli, nucleosomes and the superstructures they form must be highly dynamic and amenable to modification by chromatin remodelers, chaperones, and histone-modifying enzymes. During some of these processes, DNA unwrapping from the nucleosome core can cause histones to dissociate, producing hexasomes and tetrasomes. In order to study the process of histone disassociation, we will use optical tweezers to exert force on the DNA ends of individual nucleosomes and unwrap the DNA […]

...Read More about Andy Quaen Chen
Rose Hills

Competition Between Soil Methanogenesis and Iron Reduction Under Discrete Temperature and Redox Conditions

This research project will investigate the effects of redox conditions on temperature sensitivity of soil methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) respiration. Temperature and rainfall regimes are changing with climate change, which can create fluctuating redox dynamics in humid environments such as tropical forests and wetlands. This has global implications for ecosystem carbon (C) storage and loss. CH4 is a potent greenhouse gas produced under anaerobic conditions, and the effects of changes in temperature on redox and CH4 fluxes are not well understood. Fe-reducing microorganisms can contribute significantly to CO2 production under anoxic conditions, as they operate anaerobically in redox oscillating environments, but also competitively suppress methanogenic microbial access to soil acetate, an important soil C source for CH4 respiration. Fe pools and CH4 and CO2 fluxes will be measured in a humid tropical forest soil and a temperate wetland soil. Both contain Fe-reducing microbes that likely play a critical […]

...Read More about Nikhil R Chari
Rose Hills

3D Reconstruction of a Vocal Learning Neural Pathway in Rousettus Aegyptiacus

Vocal learning is a phenomenon specific to only certain species of animals, most notably humans. Vocal learning is the ability for an organism to use auditory feedback to produce vocalizations via imitation and modification of sounds from another organism. It is a unique type of learning that once understood in humans can provide valuable insight into how to help those who may have various speech disorders. In the Yartsev Lab, studies about such topics are performed on the Egyptian fruit bat (Rousettus aegyptiacus) an organism that also shares this ability and has a mammalian brain comparable to those of humans. There is a specific neural signaling pathway that has been the target of this specific type of learning, connecting the laryngeal motor cortex (LMC) to the nucleus ambiguus (N. Amb), which projects down to the larynx, the source of vocal activity. I will be furthering this research utilizing immunohistochemistry and […]

...Read More about Ashley Rakuljic
Rose Hills

Exploring Self Assembly and Optical Properties of Novel Nanocrystal Superlattices

Superlattices of colloidal nanocrystals are a new class of materials that have been made to self-assemble from a liquid suspension. Their high compositional tunability results in a range of electronic, optical, and mechanical properties. Strong coupling of nanocrystals in the superlattice – a very recent advance – leads to dramatic changes in their energy levels and, consequently, their optical properties. Particularly in semiconductor nanocrystal superlattices, understanding how the coupling of nanocrystals affects the optical gap will fine-tune these already promising optoelectronic materials for many applications. This, along with the comparatively basic equipment needed for synthesis, makes these superlattices optimal candidates for materials used in cost-effective solar cells or next-generation displays. However, there are no extensive optical characterizations of the newer strongly coupled superlattices, as they have only been synthesized in recent years. Therefore, my project aims to study the optical properties of these novel, complex materials and to also compare […]

...Read More about Namrata Ramesh
L&S Sciences

Investigating Root-Multiplicities of Kac-Moody Algebras

Over the summer, we propose to investigate the root multiplicities of (generalized) Kac-Moody Algebras. Our plan is to create an open-source computer package that allows for the computation of root multiplicities of Kac-Moody algebras, building upon the existing tools available to computational mathematicians, for instance, the popular library sage-math. Once we have developed and verified this package against known tables of root multiplicities, we aim to start investigating the root multiplicities of simple graphs, and attempt to address some outstanding conjectures on the distributions of root multiplicities. A greater understanding of the root multiplicities of Kac-Moody algebras would help with questions such as finding natural geometrical realizations of the algebras, and shed light on the connections that have already been found with mathematical physics. Some of these applications may include generalised knot invariants defined over Kac-Moody algebras rather than Lie Algebras, or the study of symmetries of systems and spaces […]

...Read More about Chris Randall
L&S Sciences

The Interplay of Linkage Disequilibrium Score Regression and Selection

The current method to estimate heritability based on genome-wide association studies (GWAS) summary statistics is to use Linkage Disequilibrium Score Regression (LDSC). Linkage Disequilibrium (LD) describes the association of genetic variants and LDSC makes use of the fact that variants which tag many other variants through high LD are more likely to tag a causal variant (Bulik-Sullivan et al. 2015). In fact, there is a linear relationship between the square of a variants normalized effect size and its LD score. Therefore, LDSC can be used to estimate both heritability and genetic correlations between traits by controlling for the effects of stratification in GWAS cohorts. A key assumption is that LDSC uses the independence of LD score and population differentiation. However, this assumption is violated when the model includes selection. This project aims to investigate the robustness of LDSC in scenarios involving varying types of selection, such as positive selection, background […]

...Read More about Courtney Rauchman
Rose Hills

Caesars and Subdivisions: The Urban Fabric of the Roman West in the Age of Augustus

The years 31 BC AD 14 saw the Western world undergo a great revolution in culture, politics, state, and society as the regime of Caesar Augustus dismantled and replaced the centuries-old republican system of government at Rome with an imperial autocracy. In the provinces of the Roman empire, the very fabric of the city provided a key platform for the promotion of the Augustan program. However, recent reassessments of the period have begun to suggest that many of the changes in urban form during this era may instead have been the culmination of longer-term, local, social and cultural trends, particularly in the Western Mediterranean. This project then aims to create a systematic approach to understanding the role of regional currents in this transformation of the cityscape through on-site research at the well-preserved early Imperial cities of Augusta Emerita, Nemausus, Ostia, Pompeii, and Herculaneum, with a focus on public spaces and […]

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

Investigating Allostery in the T4 Bacteriophage Clamp Loader

The AAA+ proteins (ATPases Associated with a variety of cellular Activities) are a highly diverse and ancient protein superfamily present in all organisms and are involved in such processes such as DNA replication, protein degradation, and metal insertion in protein synthesis. AAA+ proteins have some conserved features, including an oligomeric ring structure that exhibits inter-protomer cooperativitythat is to say, the hydrolysis of ATP in one subunit causes the preferential hydrolysis of ATP in the other subunits, making for a more efficient channeling of energy from ATP when switching states. While the existence of this cooperativity in AAA+ proteins is highly common, there is still little to no understanding about how the other subunits are able to detect the hydrolysis of ATP. In order to study allostery in AAA+ proteins, I will focus my research on one particular member of this superfamilythe T4 bacteriophages DNA clamp loader protein. Through computational and […]

...Read More about Peter Ren
L&S Sciences

Exploring the Genetic Factors Contributing to Resistance and Susceptibility of Listeria Monocytogenes to Phagosome-Mediated Killing

Listeria monocytogenes is a facultative intracellular pathogen that causes disease in immunocompromised individuals and pregnant women. Its life cycle is well characterized. The pathogen enters phagocytes of the immune system, including macrophages and dendritic cells. As seen from in vitro studies using macrophages, upon entry into phagocytes L. monocytogenes escapes the vacuole and grows in the cytosol thus avoiding phagosome-mediated killing. Mutants of L. monocytogenes in which the Listeriolysin O (LLO) gene has been deleted lack the ability to escape the phagosome into the host cell cytoplasm and are avirulent, suggesting that they die in the phagosome. Furthermore, these mutants are unable to induce adaptive immunity in the host. I hypothesize that L. monocytogenes does have to cope with initial phagosome stress before escape from the phagosome. Our current understanding of the amount of phagosome stress encountered in vivo is not complete, but it appears that L. monocytogenes may be […]

...Read More about Elise Rio
Rose Hills

Photoassociation and STIRAP on Ultracold LiRb Molecules

The experiment that I will be working on this summer is currently being set up to prepare lithium-rubidium ultracold molecules. Ultracold molecules are those whose kinetic temperature as a measure of their velocity distribution is close to zero Kelvin, the regime where quantum effects of matter dominate. An interesting property of this particular molecule is its intrinsically large permanent dipole moment, which allows it to strongly interact with neighboring molecules. Strong tunable interactions allow for the realization of quantum entangling operations, so understanding and controlling molecular systems contributes to both quantum information as well as quantum simulation. My project involves setting up a Titanium-Sapphire laser in order to identify an intermediate state for transferring a population between two molecular states with high fidelity. Namely, we will first use this laser on a cloud of lithium and rubidium atoms to drive transitions to electronically excited molecular states of LiRb. Once we […]

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

Knowledge and Attitudes Regarding Family Planning Options in Armenia

When looking into the topic of family planning in Armenia, I was disappointed to see the limited and outdated literature available. This data, nearly two decades old, indicated high abortion rates coupled with low modern contraceptive prevalence. Making this discovery ignited my interest in conducting survey-based research to assess Armenian womens knowledge and attitudes towards modern contraception; explore the barriers these women face in seeking contraception; and ultimately uncover why women in Armenia seem to use abortion as their main method of family planning. Studying womens sexual and reproductive health in Armenia is important because social stigma surrounding this issue may not only hinder women from gaining access to modern contraception, but also to education regarding their options. Additionally, recognizing that the existing peer-reviewed literature has not been recently amended or expanded, I will be analyzing how and if womens attitudes have shifted in the past 20 years, specifically following […]

...Read More about Lara Rostomian
Humanities and Social Science

The Role of Medullary GABAergic Neurons in Controlling Sleep

Because sleep makes up one-third of our lifespan, it is important to study its mechanisms so we can better understand its components and learn ways to curb consequences (e.g., cardiovascular disease and psychological disorders) related to insufficient or low-quality sleep. In mammals, sleep alternates between rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep. These sleep states are controlled by the neural circuits in our brain, which are mostly found in the hypothalamus and the brain stem. With regard to the medulla (also located in the brain stem), we know that activating the GABAergic neurons in the ventral medulla promotes REM sleep, but there are other medullary GABAergic neurons that remain unclear in their function as it pertains to sleep. To find the role of these medullary GABAergic neurons in controlling sleep, I will activate or inhibit different groups of GABAergic neurons in the medulla, optogenetically or chemogenitically, and determine their […]

...Read More about Mohammad Saffari Doost
Rose Hills

Schubert Calculus Through Toric Geometry

In our research, we will use toric geometry to study the cohomological structure of complex Grassmannians. The cohomology ring of a Grassmannian varieties is described by the Littlewood-Richardson rule. One of the main open questions in Schubert calculus concerns the generalization of the Littlewood-Richardson rule to flag varieties. Such a generalization is highly desirable, because it is a manifestly positive formula that can be applied to other areas: in algebraic geometry, it helps describe complicated intersections; in representation theory, it helps to find irreducible, direct-sum decompositions of tensor products; in physics, it can be applied to calculate certain physical quantities. Our research aims to give a new, geometric proof of the Littlewood-Richardson rule,by applying toric degeneration to Weyl-group-translated Schubert varieties. More specifically, we will study the intersection behavior of Schubert varieties, in terms of face-intersections of Gelfand-Cetlin polytopes. A new geometric perspective would help give a deeper understanding of the […]

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

Engineering Halogenase Enzymes for Selective Chlorination of Therapeutics

Halogens, a group of atoms with properties not commonly encountered in nature, can introduce unique chemical properties to small molecules that can create important interactions with biomolecules. It is thus reflective that halogens are found in roughly 25% of pharmaceuticals and have been playing a larger role in the development of agrochemicals. Unfortunately, modern synthetic techniques for adding halogens onto these molecules use harsh chemicals and are not selective. This is a problem which halogenase enzymes, enzymes that can add halogens, with their ability to react in mild conditions and have excellent control over both regio- and stereoselectivity, can easily solve. However, such enzymes are very rare and their substrates are limited to naturally occurring substrates. This summer, I hope to study these enzymes in order to gain a deeper understand of how they catalyze this selective chemical reaction. With this information, I will be able to generalize their selectivity […]

...Read More about Nikko Sambold
Rose Hills

A Hillslope Stability Analysis by Use of Soil Characterization and Pore Pressure Measurements

The unique site of Antelope Valley River near Williams, California has for a few years been a place of interest and research because of the distinct sedimentary layering and the very regular pattern of hills and hollows. In the winter of 2017, a huge storm came through the site and induced four hundred landslides. Another storm then followed in the winter of 2019 at a much lesser degree of strength compared to the 2017 storm; however, it caused only about a hundred landslides, but all in new regions. The seemingly random nature of these slides has spiked my interests and pushed me to try to understand and to answer why some parts of the hills are failing, while others are not. I will be focusing on one hill in particular – Rhondas Hill – where a 2017 failure and a 2019 failure site lay side-by-side. To characterize and differentiate the […]

...Read More about Maryn Sanders
L&S Sciences

Understanding Defensive Strategies: The Consequences of Losing Legs in Daddy Long-Legs

One crucial topic in ecology is understanding how animals respond to environmental pressures. My research aims to study the behavioral ecology of animal defenses in an evolutionary biology framework. Specifically, this project focuses on voluntary release of legs by arachnids. Although beneficial in the short term, this behavior can carry important negative consequences in the locomotion, physiology, and behavior of animals. Daddy long-legs are ideal for this research because of their unique morphology and behavior. Their accessibility also offers the possibility of performing extensive fieldwork and laboratory experiments in the Berkeley area.

...Read More about Palveen Sekhon
SURF SMART

Genome-Scale Fitness Profiling of Ralstonia Solancearum in Xylem Sap

Ralstonia solanacearum is a unique vascular plant pathogen that thrives in xylem sap. As a nutrient-poor but chemically complex environment, xylem sap provides distinct obstacles to bacterial growth, yet little is known about R. solanacearum within the framework of genome-wide fitness. Using a randomly barcoded transposon site sequencing (RB-TnSeq) mutant library, we can measure gene-specific fitness contributions to R. solanacearum in xylem sap, along with various growth media, to understand what genes drive its fitness in a natural context. As a causal factor of bacterial wilta disease that wipes out crops of small shareholder farmersit is important to understand R. solanacearum within the context of its natural environment in order to accurately represent its pathogenicity in planta. This study aims to develop a genetic understanding of R. solanacearum virulence in xylem sap, providing important information that can be used to develop a holistic understanding of its growth and spread.

...Read More about Katie Shalvarjian
Rose Hills

Assessing Privacy and Security Approaches to Regulating Abuse in P2P Fintech Markets of Indonesia

Indonesias governance of fintech remains nebulous and lacks the capacity to safeguard the integrity of data, algorithms, and platforms. Last year, reports surfaced of abuse by debt collectors, ranging from the dissemination of personal information, to intimidation, to sexual harassment. As a growing number of Indonesias unbanked turn to alternative lending platforms, these concerns are especially pertinent. I will be investigating the current regulatory frameworks governing peer-to-peer (P2P) lending in Indonesia. Situating these predatory interests that emerge from distributed innovation as products of market-driven tactics, I will examine the marked tension between innovation and privacy within the context of global neoliberal financialization. Employing interviews, focus groups, and ethnography, I will explore local concepts of privacy and other values enshrined in data protection including dignity, identity, and autonomy. I will investigate alternative approaches to privacy, challenging the efficacy of the informed consent model while accounting for modern data collection practices and […]

...Read More about Alicia Sidik
Humanities and Social Science

Investigating the Role of YY1 in Transcription Regulation

The physical organization of chromatin in the nucleus plays a crucial role in the coordination and regulation of gene expression. Long-distance interactions between DNA regulatory elements called enhancers and promoters are important for establishing cell type-specific gene expression programs. Dysregulation of enhancer-promoter interactions can lead to aberrant gene expression and thus promote developmental abnormalities and tumorigenesis. Yin Yang 1 (YY1) is a ubiquitously expressed transcription factor in mammalian cells that has recently been implicated in coordinating enhancer-promoter interactions, thus facilitating transcription activation during embryonic development. However, it remains unknown how YY1 can selectively mediate these chromatin interactions. Coupling CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing with live-cell fluorescence imaging, I will investigate the hypothesis that YY1 displays selective protein-protein interactions with protein complexes that regulate chromatin organization and transcription. Understanding the dynamic role of YY1 in regulating transcription may shed light onto the drivers of aberrant gene expression implicated in diseases such as cancer […]

...Read More about Elena Slobodyanyuk
Rose Hills

Tracking Non-Markovian Quantum Dynamics of a Superconducting Qubit via Deep Learning Filters

Theoretical and experimental evidence suggests harnessing quantum mechanics to execute algorithms on qubit-based quantum hardware may allow for computation exponentially more powerful than is possible with classical computers. Characterizing how qubit states evolve in time is imperative for benchmarking quantum hardware; however, this 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). The time-evolution of qubits exchanging information with their environment over long time scales is not well understood, but must be characterized to implement efficient algorithms on a quantum processor. I propose to use weak measurement and deep learning models as filters to characterize the time-evolution of a superconducting qubit exchanging information with a simplified environment. My project will contribute to the fields ongoing research in determining […]

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

The Political Implications of the Religious Aspects of The Eumenides by Aeschylus

My project explores the political implications of the religious aspects of The Eumenides by Aeschylus. The play was written circa 458 BC, a time of significant change for Athenian religious practice as democratization reached the cults of the city and control of religious rituals moved from old cultic families to civic oversight. The politician Kimon was able to orchestrate the foundation of a cult to the hero Theseus, and even established a cult family of the type that was now falling out of power. This exception speaks to the relationship between political power and religious practice in Athens and the context in which The Eumenides was written. The Erinyes (or Furies) that Aeschylus tames in The Eumenides were deities of vengeance associated with a curse on (Kimons rival) Pericles family that was used by the Spartans. My research will explore the ways in which Athenian politics played out in religion […]

...Read More about Ian Stratford
Humanities and Social Science

Perception of Spatial Design in Healthcare Facilities Using an Immersive Experience

Are you excited by Virtual Reality (VR) and Immersive Experiences (IE)? Do you like 3D modeling and simulations of the built environment? How about preparing content to set up a lab experiment involving aspects from all of these? Virtual Reality (VR) is an interactive three-dimensional computer-generated experience that takes place within a simulated environment that can be explored through a variety of peripheral devices such as VR headsets. We will use an evidence-based design (EBD) approach, of basing decisions about the built environment on credible research to achieve the best possible outcomes, to test spatial experience in-virtuo. This study is proposed as a preliminary study on spatial perception and design. The purpose of the study is to assess perception, behaviour and user experience in-virtuo in comparison to in-vivo to understand any relationship between spatial design and experience, and how they differ between a physical and virtual space.

...Read More about Emma Tao
SURF SMART

Investigating Park-Driven Displacement of Traditional Fishers in Coastal Colombia

Largely understudied, small-scale fisheries are critical to coastal livelihoods in the global south, yet are poorly represented in conversations about development, food security, human rights, and gender equity. The creation of marine-protected areas and parks along coastal regions with marine biodiversity in mind has displaced the livelihoods of traditional fishers. I will be investigating reactions and adjustments to this displacement along the caribbean coast of Colombia.

...Read More about Sylvia Targ
Humanities and Social Science

CRISPR-Mediated Genetic Diversification in Yeast

Directed evolution takes advantage of repeated Darwinian cycles of genetic diversification and artificial selection to engineer novel biomolecular and cellular function. In the wet-lab, its success and extent is heavily dictated by the size of the genetic library that can be synthesized and transformed, in combination with labor, cost, and time. Therefore, traditional methods relying on ex-vivo diversification and in-vivo selection are highly limiting. By addressing these problems, methods for targeted, continuous in-vivo mutagenesis are extremely valuable. Recently, our lab group developed one such system termed EvolvR – an HDR-independent, multiplexable, targeted genetic diversifier that localizes error prone DNA polymerases to user-defined loci via CRISPR-guided Cas9-nickases. Prior work was carried out in E. coli; however, EvolvR holds immense promise as a species-independent technology whereby genes of interest can be evolved in a native or more suitable context. Thus, translating EvolvRs utility to yeast holds vast potential in directing the evolution […]

...Read More about Connor Tou
Rose Hills

Laboratory Earthquakes: Direct Observation of Stick-Slip Fault Behavior

Laboratory seismology uses a scale-model approach to complement the wealth of research on in situ earthquakes that cannot be observed directly. A simple mechanical system applies shear stress to two blocks with a roughened interface, such that it produces stick-slip behavior with energy signatures matching in situ earthquakes. Lab scale seismic sensors allow us to apply typical seismological analyses. Additional instruments provide measurements not available in the field, which are used to expand our understanding of the underlying processes as well as the results and limits of the seismological methods.

...Read More about Nikolay Velkov
SURF SMART

Automated Probe Station with Machine Learning Technique & Heterostructures' Moir Pattern Investigation

My research topic is inspired by the recent discovery of some novel properties in superconductivity and mott-like insulating behavior of twisted bilayer graphene (TBG). In general, there exist a variety of twisted systems that may exhibit similar behavior as TBG (such as -RuCl3). My goal is to test different twisted heterostructures optical and transport properties with a standardized exfoliation/ transfer method. Since making the twisted angle heterostructure is difficult to achieve accurately by hand, the first phase of my research is to motorize the transfer stage with full control of the software. Popular machine learning analytic technique (such as Penalized linear regression) may be used to boost flake identification speed and accuracy. The second phase of my research will be focused on optical characterization and low temperature transport. We will employ optical spectroscopy methods (such as Raman, photoluminescence and Near-field infrared optical spectroscopy), which are important to identify the heat […]

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

Evaluating the 3,4,3-LI(1,2-HOPO) Chelator as a Gadolinium Decorporation Agent

Gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs), consisting of a chelating agent and gadolinium metal (Gd(III)), have been used to enhance magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast for the last 30 years, with over 300 million procedures to date. Because of the electronic magnetic moment of the gadolinium and nearby water molecules, gadolinium can be imaged accurately when exposed to strong electromagnetic fields like those created by MRI machines, improving the image clarity of the bodys structures. Accurate diagnosis scans allow for the detection of inflammation, tumors, blood vessels, and blood supply, all of which are crucial in detecting life threatening illnesses. Unfortunately, recent studies suggest that the in vivo instability of GBCAs has led to the dissociation of Gd(III) from their chelated complexes. In addition to accumulating in patients bone and brain tissue, free Gd(III) damages kidneys and compromises renal functions. With a more stable Gd(III)-chelate complex, the free Gd(III) could be reduced, […]

...Read More about Elizabeth Wang
Rose Hills

Disrupted Synaptic Remodeling Due to a Loss of Interleukin-33 Signaling

Interactions between neurons and glia are required for healthy synaptic remodeling, the formation and removal of synapses, and in developing a mature neural circuit. Neurodevelopmental disorders like autism and schizophrenia are devastating outcomes as a result of faulty circuit and synapse formation. Recently published work from the Molofsky lab has shown that developing astrocytes release an innate immune molecule, interleukin-33 (IL-33). This molecule signals to microglia to remove excess synapses from neurons. But it is unclear how circuits and neuronal activity are affected when the receptor for IL-33 (ST2) on microglia is lacking. We hypothesize that microglia lacking ST2 will have abnormal synaptic remodeling. To investigate this further, we will modulate the exposure mice have to light stimulus during the critical period of development for the mouse visual system. The amount of light that a mouse sees during this critical period will result in different rates of synaptic remodeling and […]

...Read More about Brigita Widiarto
Rose Hills

Identifying a Mitokine Factor Involved in Cell-Non-Autonomous UPRmt Signaling

Several age-related neurodegenerative diseases are a result of a decline in protein homeostasis as organisms age. Mitochondria, a vital organelle in the cell, is especially susceptible and thought to be a sensor of proteotoxic stress. Understanding how mitochondria communicate stress and recover homeostasis is therefore fundamental in developing novel treatments for age-onset human diseases. One way that mitochondria communicate stress is through the mitochondrial unfolded protein response (UPRmt). Important work has shown that stress can be communicated between tissues, such as from neurons to intestinal cells, called the cell-non-autonomous UPRmt. However, how stress is communicated is not entirely known. It is postulated that an unknown factor termed mitokine is responsible for the stress signal communication. My project will identify a mitokine factor in cell-non-autonomous UPRmt using an EMS mutagenesis forward genetics screen in Caenorhabditis elegans. I hypothesize that an identified mitokine will be both necessary and sufficient to specifically induce […]

...Read More about Iris Wu
L&S Sciences

Modeling and Testing of Eco-friendly Piezoelectret Sensor for Anthropocentric Pressure Measurements

The ability to measure vibrations is a vital engineering problem. From measuring pulse for health diagnostics to sensing pressure on a touch screen for a smart phone, the applications vary far and wide. In our group we study the use of polymer-based devices called piezoelectrets to measure pressure signals for a variety of applications. Our microfabricated polymer approach yields superior flexibility, piezoelectric coefficients, and costeffectiveness when compared to traditional ceramic material competitors. The devices themselves also vary in material composition and geometry depending on the application. In this project we explore the potential of using environmentally friendly materials for the fabrication of a piezoelectret pressure sensor without compromising performance.

...Read More about Yuniba Yagues
SURF SMART

Algorithms in High Dimensional Statistics with Low Dimensional Models

The explosively growing size of data in cyberspace with low-value density creates a pressing need for data processing, information extracting, and knowledge refinement. Many applications thus appear, such as personalized recommendation and pinpointing advertisement, by exploring hidden value behind massive amounts of data. More concretely, my project considers the problem of learning a complete (orthogonal) dictionary from sparsely generated sample signals. Unlike conventional methods that minimize one norm to exploit sparsity and learn the dictionary one column at a time, we propose an alternative sparse promoting operator to learn the entire dictionary over the orthogonal group in a holistic fashion. We give a conceptually simple and yet effective algorithm to justify the proposed formulation, and by combining tools from high dimensional statistics, optimization, and unexpectedly, algebra, we show that it recovers the correct dictionary in fairly very broad conditions, well beyond current theoretical bounds.

...Read More about Zitong Yang
L&S Sciences

Copper Catalyzed SN2 Functionalization of Fluoroalkylated Alkenes

The introduction of fluorinated moieties into pharmaceuticals can often predictably improve the lipophilicity, metabolic stability, and the conformation of drugs. A fluorinated functional group of interest is the (Z)-fluoroalkene, a non-hydrolyzable isostere for peptide bonds. Many methods used to prepare fluoroalkenes, including Wittig-type olefinations, Shapiro reactions, and bromofluorination/elimination reactions often provide olefins in low stereoselectivity. Herein we will present a copper-catalyzed SN2 substitution of fluoroalkylated alkenes to prepare a variety of (Z)-fluoroalkenes in excellent stereoselectivities.

...Read More about Jonathan Yang
Rose Hills

The Relationship Between Brain Anatomy and Working Memory in Childhood

The human brain is characterized by ridges, or gyri, and indentations, or sulci. Individual differences in sulci have been shown to be related to aspects of cognition, which is important for our everyday functioning. Despite these findings that a) sulci develop and b) individual differences in sulci are linked to cognition in adults, no study has yet examined the relationship between the development of sulci and the development of an essential cognitive ability known as working memory. Working memory is the ability to maintain and manipulate information. It develops over childhood and has important implications for language comprehension, arithmetic skills, and educational achievement. Maintenance of working memory demonstrates activation in a brain region known as the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, whereas the manipulation aspect of working memory exhibits activation in a region known as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. In my research, I propose to look at sulcal depth in these areas […]

...Read More about Jewelia Yao
Humanities and Social Science

Exploring Belief: Conversion and Deconversion in the Mormon Church

This year, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon Church, announced a worldwide membership of more than 16 million followers and growing. Their proselytizing efforts can be seen by the thousands of young men and women between the ages of 18 and 25 that devote 1.5 to 2 years of missionary service all over the world. These missionary efforts provoke a change in belief in many people which leads them to renounce old religious or secular beliefs, along with some personal freedoms in exchange of promised exaltation. Those wishing to be baptized and become full-fledged members are required to declare they believe the Mormon Church is the only true church. However, many new converts also experience a process of deconversion, in which they either withdraw from church attendance and practice, or completely abandon Mormon beliefs. My research is aimed at exploring and identifying common […]

...Read More about Emma Yataco
Humanities and Social Science

Exploring the Role of Gustatory Sensory Neurons in Mating Status Dependent Nutrient Consumption in Drosophila

In invertebrates and humans alike, the nervous system fundamentally serves to detect sensory inputs and generate appropriate behavioral outputs. However, despite its ubiquity, our understanding of how this phenomenon occurs at the level of single neurons is far from complete. In the insect model Drosophila melanogaster, previous studies have provided some insight into how neural circuits govern various simple behaviors. For example, populations of neurons have been identified that control feeding and drinking – homeostatic processes conserved among a wide range of organisms. However, how this circuitry is modulated to produce need-relevant behaviors remains to be answered. Previous work in the lab regarding internal state dependent behavioral changes has found that mated female flies eat more and drink less than their virgin counterparts. However, attempts to identify neurons involved have not been conclusive. This study will utilize CaMPARI, a recently improved non-invasive in vivo calcium imaging technique, to identify neural […]

...Read More about Emily Ye
Rose Hills

Investigating the Regulation of Tau Levels

Tau is a microtubule-associated protein that ordinarily regulates cytoskeletal stabilization, but is abnormally hyper-phosphorylated and acetylated in neurodegenerative diseases classed as tauopathies. Although little is known about how tau becomes pathological, previous studies showed that the over-activation of the mTOR pathway could be implicated in tau pathogenesis. Multiple essential cellular functions are regulated by the two different mTOR-dependent pathwaysmTORC1 and mTORC2. These are distinguished from one another by pathway- specific proteins Raptor and Rictor, respectively. To understand which mTOR pathway is responsible for tau pathology, I will generate stable cell lines overexpressing Raptor and Rictor to analyze the effect of upregulation of each independent pathway on tau levels. Understanding tau accumulation mechanistically may help in developing treatments that decrease tau levels and ultimately slow, or even block, neurodegeneration.

...Read More about Kirsten Young
Rose Hills

Development Of the Digital Acoustic Noise Cancellation System

My research will focus on the development of a digital acoustic noise cancellation system. The system will be capable of taking recorded data, that has some amount of noise due to acoustic interference on it, and removing said noise from the data without affecting the data in any other way. This type of system is widely applicable to work done in many different STEM fields, but has particular importance in the field of physics. Many research projects in the field use some form of measurement of energy deposited into a system as a way of data taking. However, those results can be affected by unwanted deposition of energy by sound waves striking the measurement apparatus. As a result, the data taken may have false signals present due to these acoustics. Thus, the aim of my project is to find a simple and effective way to remove this noise from the […]

...Read More about Jaime Zendejas
L&S Sciences

Schubert Calculus Through Toric Geometry

In our research, we will use toric geometry to study the cohomological structure of complex Grassmannians. The cohomology ring of a Grassmannian varieties is described by the Littlewood-Richardson rule. One of the main open questions in Schubert calculus concerns the generalization of the Littlewood-Richardson rule to flag varieties. Such a generalization is highly desirable, because it is a manifestly positive formula that can be applied to other areas: in algebraic geometry, it helps describe complicated intersections; in representation theory, it helps to find irreducible, direct-sum decompositions of tensor products; in physics, it can be applied to calculate certain physical quantities. Our research aims to give a new, geometric proof of the Littlewood-Richardson rule,by applying toric degeneration to Weyl-group-translated Schubert varieties. More specifically, we will study the intersection behavior of Schubert varieties, in terms of face-intersections of Gelfand-Cetlin polytopes. A new geometric perspective would help give a deeper understanding of the […]

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

Understanding the Directed Outgrowth of the C. elegans Hermaphrodite-Specific Neurons

Directed cell migration and axon guidance are critical for the assembly and connectivity of nervous systems. How neuronal cells are able to establish precise connectivity is a major challenge in developmental neurobiology. Caenorhabditis elegans is an excellent model to address this question due to the simplicity of its nervous system and a well-characterized cell lineage. I will focus on the Hermaphrodite-Specific Neurons (HSN), which undergo extensive migrations during development. Proper navigation of the HSN growth cones, the structures that navigate through the nervous system to reach their targets, relies on their selective adhesion to pre-established neuron tracks. This selectivity is mediated through the cell adhesion molecule, FMI-1, an ortholog of the atypical cadherin family. How this navigation is mediated in a selective manner is unknown. I will investigate what neurons the HSNs use for specific contacts in order to migrate properly. Identifying the mechanisms that enable the HSNs to establish […]

...Read More about Sijia Zhang
Rose Hills

I Regret to Inform You That Your Private Information Has Been Compromised

Privacy is one of the central issues of our time. All things being equal, we assume that most people prefer privacy; it is a foundational right enshrined in the penumbras of the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 9th, and 14th amendments of the U.S. constitution as well as in several state constitutions (including those of California, Massachusetts, and Washington) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Despite our appreciation of privacy, police officers wear body cameras, customer loyalty programs track purchases, and the Transportation Safety Administration performs full body scans. This paradox illuminates the deep ambivalence in modern American society about privacy, and a largely untapped area of research in sociology. This research seeks to understand the deeper cultural logics inherent in shifting views on privacy in the modern world as well as the evolution of its meaning historically in the U.S. context.

...Read More about Seth Zhao
SURF SMART