Exploring the Impact of Speckled Clonal Patterning in Skin Carcinomas

It has been shown that tumors are not simply genetically homogeneous collections of cells, but rather growths of evolving, genetically diverse populations that typically arise from a single mutant cell. As this mutant cell proliferates, its daughter cells naturally pick up more mutations due to a variety of factors, creating genetic heterogeneity. More and more studies have been published analyzing the possible interactions of these varied populations, ultimately suggesting that there may be cooperation that influences tumor growth. My lab at UCSF has developed a system using a 4-color confetti cassette to trace clonal growth of carcinogen-induced skin tumors. Using this model, there has been evidence of malignant tumors with a speckled pattern, a phenomenon in which there exists a dominant clone and scattered throughout are non-clustered cells of another minor clone. My project aims to study the impact of this pattern of heterogeneity and ultimately test my hypothesis that […]

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

Investigating Magnetism in FexWSe2

Electromagnetism is a fundamental physical phenomenon, but there is still much to learn about how and why it takes shape in solids, where the interactions between many atoms can create unique and unexpected magnetic and electronic features. This summer, my SURF project will be an investigation of magnetism in FexWSe2. WSe2 is a transition metal dichalcogenide (TMD), which are often layered, quasi-2D materials which are being studied widely due to their promise in revealing foundational aspects of physics in low-dimensional systems. Intercalating a TMD with a transition metal such as iron can introduce exotic magnetic and electronic structures to the system and create features which could be useful in technological applications. I hope to spend this summer synthesizing a high-quality bulk crystal of FexWSe2 and then characterizing its magnetic features in the laboratory. Additionally, I will be learning techniques to analyze magnetization data and make predictions about interesting properties that […]

...Read More about Meera Aravinth
L&S Sciences

Active Chromatin Marks Modulate the Activity of the Crucial Epigenetic Silencer PRC2

In mammals, Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2) plays a crucial role in maintaining the gene-expression patterns that enforce cell differentiation during embryonic development. Mutations in the core components of PRC2 or its associated cofactors result in early embryonic lethality. PRC2 represses transcription by mono-, di- and tri-methylating histone H3 at lysine 27 of nucleosomes, the smallest structural unit of chromatin. The molecular basis and mechanistic insight into the modulation of methyltransferase activity of PRC2 by the presence of other histone modifications remains poorly understood. Previous biochemical studies of PRC2 activity in the context of various histone modifications have given conflicting results. This project will carry out enzymatic assays to measure the kinetics of PRC2 activity using nucleosome substrates carrying different histone modifications. Furthermore, to investigate the underlying molecular mechanisms behind the trends we observe in our biochemical assays, we will use cryo-electron microscopy to directly visualize the interactions between PRC2 […]

...Read More about Curtis Beck
Rose Hills

Puzzling Proofs: Navigating Proof Construction and Communication in Middle School

Recent reforms in STEM education argue for students engagement in disciplinary practices, such as the construction and communication of a mathematical proof. Researchers have argued that some of the difficulties students face with proofs in particular, may stem from their limited opportunities to engage in productive disciplinary practices, such as successfully employing multiple forms of reasoning when constructing a proof (Boero, 1999; Pedemonte, 2007). In this project, my graduate student mentor and I will explore how educators can support proof construction and communication in middle school that may encourage the use of multiple forms of reasoning through non-linear explorations. Using qualitative methods, we will study young learners reasoning patterns and disciplinary practices as they participate in innovative puzzle-like proving activities. We will pay particular attention to the role of material and social configurations that may influence young students equitable opportunities for participation in productive disciplinary practices.

...Read More about Emma Bellman
SURF SMART

Is Sharing Caring? Investigating the Role of Horizontal Gene Transfer in Insect Fitness

You may have heard the phrase You look just like your mother, but how often have you heard You look just like a bacteria? The former is an example of the type of genetic inheritance most of us are familiar with, vertical, or inheritance from parents to offspring. This project, however, involves horizontal inheritance: that is, the exchange of genes between species, otherwise known as horizontal gene transfer (HGT). The project involves investigating how and why a horizontally transferred gene was transferred from viruses to insects several million years ago.

...Read More about Ashley Elizabeth Bendl
SURF SMART

Track-II Diplomacy in 21st Century Nuclear Non-Proliferation

The current decline of global institutions, breakdown of negotiations and treaties, and strong emergence of new nuclear energy sectors indicate major diplomatic efforts will be necessary to curb nuclear weapon proliferation. As government cooperation withdraws from these existential political crises, scientists, engineers, academic experts, and other non-state actors may increasingly fill in diplomatic roles. However, there is a lack of consensus on the future role and strategy of these civilian efforts known as track-II diplomacy. Under what conditions do track-II dialogues successfully contribute to non-proliferation success? Track-II diplomacy is championed for preventing loose nukes after the Soviet Union collapsed, but these efforts were carried out by autonomous scientists in a uni-polar world. This study evaluates track-II efforts in non-proliferation in an increasingly undemocratic and multi-polar world with declining global leadership. Past and current non-proliferation cases supplemented with participant anecdotes are analyzed to suggest policy for non-proliferation threats on the horizon.

...Read More about Anthony Benjamin
Humanities and Social Science

Symbolism and Globalism in Bronze Age Art

The world we live in today is shaped by globalism. There is more exchange of ideas, artwork, and technology than ever before. We travel, inspire each other and use symbolism to transcend language and cultural barriers. However, is this really a new phenomena? Archaeological research constantly uncovers more evidence that humanity has been doing this for millennia. The Eastern Mediterranean Basin had an extensive network for the movement of goods, people and ideas between the civilizations of the Near East since before the Bronze Age. My research investigates the affect of this rudimentary globalism on people, as expressed through art and symbolism left in the material record of the Early Bronze Age in Cyprus. Cyprus was a center of trade, and I predict that I will find evidence of differentiation between private and publicly used items which are reflective of a multicultural worldview. I will look for hints of individual […]

...Read More about Amaris Blasgen Morningstar
Humanities and Social Science

The Samoan Crisis and the Development of U.S. Imperialism

Among U.S. foreign policy historians, the Spanish-American War of 1898 marks a commonly accepted turning point for the course of U.S. expansion and the countrys status as a great power in the European-led international system. Newer scholarship, however, has reevaluated the wars centrality for American imperial ascendance, and this project seeks to contribute to these efforts by scrutinizing an earlier moment in American history. Through an analysis of a conflict which brought the Cleveland administration to the brink of war with Bismarcks Germany, I intend to examine the intellectual influences upon the evolving and centralizing American federal government. Such influences, evident in the response to the Samoan Crisis of 18871889, enabled the projection of American power overseasenabled, in other words, American imperialism. By examining the ideas circulating among legislators and government reformers at the time, this project strives to understand just how imperially-minded the U.S. was in the post-Civil War […]

...Read More about Sophia Brown-Heidenreich
Humanities and Social Science

Cumbias, Bombas y Bombas: The Intersection of Literature and Music and the Salvadoran Civil War

By examining the intersection of sound and image, this research will trace the convergence of popular music and Salvadoran literary and artistic traditions both at home and in the diaspora, with a particular focus on its engagement with images of violence. Drawing from the cultural production of the years of the Salvadoran civil war (1980-1992) and the postwar, I will track emblematic cultural objects that affront the reality of repression of the years leading up to the war, the bloodshed of the war, and the reverberations in the years that followed. From cumbia song lyrics in revolutionary poems, to musicalized poetry in folk music formats, to authoritarian party songs, these cultural objects formed a great part of the vestiges of a national identity in diasporic groups of war refugees. This investigation, then, will give insight into the formations of national identity in transborder populations, into ideas of belonging and its […]

...Read More about Bryan Chavez Castro
Humanities and Social Science

Investigating the Effects of Body Movement on Whisker Stimulus Detection in Mice

There is evidence that body motion can either improve (Gallero-Salas et al., 2020, Gilad et al., 2018 ) or inhibit (McBride et al., 2019) performance during head-fixed behavior in mice. Therefore, it is important to understand how body movements affect sensory detection performance in behavioral tasks. My research project will look closely at the effects of body movement on a mouses performance in a whisker-based sensory detection task. From previous literature, we know that body movements modulate sensory signals in cortical areas of mice. My research will involve using behavioral paradigms in which mice are head-fixed, which is necessary to keep the head stable for measurement of neural signals while the mouse is performing a sensory detection task. Specifically, I am going to design a video-based system to measure body movements in head-fixed mice performing a sensory detection task.

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

Holder-Brascamp-Lieb, Red-Blue Pebbling, and Communication-Optimal Algorithms

Numerical linear algebra underlies much of the modern world. It is essential to a wide variety situations, and as such, it is of great interest to analyze and optimize the underlying algorithms. In recent years, there has been an increased interest in optimizing algorithms to reduce communication, which is frequently many orders of magnitude slower than performing calculations. The Hlder-Brascamp-Lieb inequality and the Red-Blue Pebbling Game are two powerful approaches to theoretical analysis of communication, and both are used to derive communication optimal lower bounds. Once these bounds have been derived, the next challenge is to implement an algorithm that attains these minimums, and thus, is communication minimizing. Many currently implemented algorithms do not meet these bounds, and this is a matter of great importance, with large potential time and energy savings. In this way, our project has two broad goals. Our first is to implement a communication optimal algorithm […]

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

Uncovering the Role of C4 Enzymes in C3 Photosynthesis under High-Stress Conditions

The vast majority of plants and crops, used both for food and fuel, utilize a type of photosynthesis in which the enzyme RuBisCO catalyzes the primary assimilation of carbon dioxide into sugar, termed C3 photosynthesis. However, certain plant lineages have evolved both biochemical and anatomical alterations, called C4 photosynthesis, that allow the enzyme PEP carboxylase to perform the primary assimilation event of CO2. C4 photosynthesizers have both higher photosynthetic efficiency and lower rates of an energy-intensive process called photorespiration relative to C3 plants, especially under high-stress conditions. As the climate continues to become more unpredictable, the benefits of the adaptations of C4 plants over C3 plants, in particular for food and fuel production, will become ever more critical. A major hole in our understanding of how C4 photosynthesis evolved rests in the fact that while all the enzymes necessary to perform C4 photosynthesis are present in all C3 plants, their […]

...Read More about Lindsey Ching
Rose Hills

Nanoconfined Phase Change Materials for Aqueous Thermal Management

Over 40% of U.S. freshwater withdrawals are used for the generation of thermoelectric power: more than the amount withdrawn for agricultural irrigation and domestic use combined. Such high water demand can largely be attributed to waters critical role as an industrial coolant. Phase change materials can greatly decrease the volume of water required to cool thermoelectric power generators. PCMs work by absorbing heat through a phase transition, and can greatly increase the heat capacity of water. Sugar alcohols, like erythritol, are ideal phase change materials because they are cheap, widely available, non-toxic, and have very high latent heats. The Urban Group has developed a novel composite phase change material that is composed of sugar alcohols contained within the pores of metal organic framework. Their confinement within the MOF has been observed to depress their phase transition temperature by ~90C, making their use in cooling waters possible. The focus of my […]

...Read More about Kelly Chou
Rose Hills

Characterization of A. thaliana Transcription Activators

The field of metabolic engineering has expanded to utilize plants as an expression host in the biotechnology industry and current research. Transcription factors (TFs) are one of the many intriguing components in the plants metabolic pathways as they regulate the expression of the enzymes involved. While TFs are integral for control of gene expression, most TFs in plant systems are not characterized regarding their upregulation (activation) or downregulation (repression) of gene expression. In unpublished work my group has screened a library of 400 transcription factors from A. thaliana with a fraction displaying trans-activating patterns stronger than VP16, a commonly used strong trans-activation domain (TAD) from the herpes simplex virus. My goal for this project is to characterize the top 20 TFs of the previous work in their ability to activate gene expression according to their TAD. 1 I plan to apply these candidate TFs into published biological systems and hosts […]

...Read More about Jasmine Cisneros
Rose Hills

European and American Literary Realism: The Fictional Construction of Nation and Self

My research project will probe how the relationship between the protagonist and their society as illustrated within the 19th century realist novel functions as a reflective allegory for idealized national identity. I posit that the consolidation of recognizable cultural markers ,including language idiosyncrasies, geographic landmarks, and social traditions, connects character and setting in a unique way which sheds light on the idea of a singular national persona in literature; further, literary realism inevitably embodies a sense of cultural consolidation through the construction of a limited fictional setting, so as to reflect a picture of the real world as the reader imagines it. Scholars have defined cultural consolidation as the process of fortifying a collective identity toward the ultimate goal of successful-state building. Therefore, we must consider how protagonists relate to their social, spatial, and material surroundings as both individuals and generic representatives of national sentiment/ideals, and this is possible due […]

...Read More about Skylar Clark
Humanities and Social Science

Moving-Image Evidence in the Turn-of-the-Century Courtroom

New technologies such as police body cameras and deepfake algorithms have recently put questions of photographys value as evidence in the spotlight. However, photographic technologies have been part of the courtroom since the mid-nineteenth century. This project turns to the emergence of photography and cinema as evidentiary tools in the courtroom in an attempt to uncover the preconditions of our current moment of mediated justice. I will assist my graduate student mentor in advancing the larger project by constructing a newspaper archive for significant early court cases involving moving-image evidence, seeking to answer the question of how film entered American courtrooms. This will involve writing summaries of cases, compiling timelines of events, and identifying significant characters. The work will initially draw from campus collections and online newspaper databases. There will also be the opportunity to undertake further research at other local institutions in the Bay Area and Sacramento.

...Read More about Jesse Clements
SURF SMART

Can State Legislation Encourage Retirement Preparedness in Private Employees?

More so than in other developed countries, United States adults are unprepared for retirement. Stagnating wages and the gradual death of defined benefit pensions in the private sector are largely responsible, as private employees are unlikely to have a guaranteed income stream in retirement beyond Social Security. These employees, however, often have access to defined contribution pensions (like 401(k)s) that allow them to contribute their own earnings to tax-advantaged accounts that can be accessed in retirement. In my study, I analyze the impact of state legislation on private employees decisions regarding their defined contribution pensions. Based on prevailing literature that has demonstrated the effectiveness of federal legislation, I hypothesize that state policy will have a pronounced impact on the investment habits of private employees. Using IRS pension data and macroeconomic information from the Federal Reserve, I hope to demonstrate that states have an important legislative role to play in strengthening […]

...Read More about Danny Cohen
Humanities and Social Science

Perceptions of Bias Faced by Lesbian, Bisexual, Pansexual, and Queer Women

Lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, and queer (LBPQ) women are in a unique position as members of two subordinated groupswomen and sexual minorities. However, common understandings of prejudice and bias may be failing to capture the unique experiences that stem from the intersection of these two groups. Specifically, peoples understanding of homophobia focuses on the struggles of gay men and overt legal forms of bias; and peoples understanding of sexism centralizes the experiences of cisgender, heterosexual women, despite evidence to suggest that LBPQ women face more severe forms of objectification and harassment. Thus, this research aims to bridge this gap by examining: LBPQ and gay, bisexual, pansexual, and queer mens (GBPQ) personal experiences with prejudice and bias; heterosexual folks perceptions of prejudice and bias facing GBPQ and LBPQ individuals; and the cultural mechanisms that help explain the discrepancy between lived experiences and perceptions of experience. Some mechanisms that will be examined as […]

...Read More about Gabby Collins
Humanities and Social Science

The Missing Link: The Absent Foundation of Support for First Generation Students Transitioning from High Schools to Four-Year Institutions

According to the Pell Institute, in 2012, only 25% of first-generation students attended four-year institutions. For my research project, I want to examine why this rate is so low. The existing literature focuses primarily on barriers to first-generation students once they attend college. Consequently, I want to examine barriers first generation students face when choosing to attend college in the first place. My research question for this project is: what factors dissuade first-generation students from transitioning from high school to four-year universities and how can high schools support these students in navigating this transition? To answer this question I will be conducting in-depth interviews with first-generation students from high schools and four-year colleges as well as school counselors between two schools of contrasting resources. This project will help me to provide important information on what needs to change to support a cohort of underserved students who are lost in the […]

...Read More about Romeo Connors
Humanities and Social Science

The Ecology of Antibiotic Production in Interspecies Interactions

The soil microbial community is rich with bacteria that provide an abundant source of medically valuable natural antibiotics and pharmaceuticals. In particular, Streptomyces padanus possesses antimicrobial activity and produces actinomycin D, an antibiotic with antitumor properties. However, there is a lack of understanding in the field regarding the ecology of antibiotic production in S. padanus — specifically how antibiotic products contribute to antimicrobial activity during microbial interactions. Preliminary data suggests that activity of actinomycin D inhibits growth of the fungus Metarhizium anisopliae during interspecies interactions. In my research, I will adapt an engineered CRISPR/Cas9 system to delete actinomycin D activity in S. padanus, which is a novel method for this species. I will then analyze whether Metarhizium is still inhibited by mutant S. padanus during interactions. This will confirm whether actinomycin D plays a significant role in this bacterial-fungi interaction. By creating mutant strains and testing their interactions with fungi, […]

...Read More about Aimee Cortez
L&S Sciences

Examining Human Toxicity of Agricultural Pesticide Use in California

Pesticide use trends in California have shifted drastically in recent decades. As neurotoxic pesticides-such as organophosphates and carbamates- have been phased out of agricultural use, they have been replaced by other pesticides such as pyrethroids, neonicotinoids, and glyphosate (the active ingredient in RoundUp). However, little is known about the relative toxicity of the pesticides that are currently being used most heavily in agriculture. No previous studies have evaluated total pesticide toxicity over time, including whether cumulative toxicity has shifted in conjunction with changes in the types of pesticides being applied. Additionally, no previous studies have assessed trends in use of organic pesticides and potential implications for toxicity. This project seeks to examine the total toxicity to humans of agricultural pesticide use in California and Monterey County from 1990-2017.

...Read More about Colette Cosyn-Kang
SURF SMART

Exploring Dispersal and Dopamine to Inform Adolescent Neurobiology from an Ethological Perspective

Adolescence is a time of increased risk taking, novelty seeking, and exploration. These behaviors may have an adaptive function to facilitate dispersal from the natal nest but may also have relevance to addiction and morbidity in adolescence. Dopamine(DA) in the striatum is a likely candidate mediating such behavioral changes. However, studies investigating dopamine systems have often focused on adult mice and consummatory behavior. My goal is to design a study to better isolate the role of dopamine in adolescent dispersal behavior. To do this I will study exploratory locomotion in large spaces in wild derived mice and measure dopamine using new imaging technologies. My study will inform adolescent neurobiology from a more ethological perspective, with the goal of explaining how dopamine release changes in the striatum during development and how changes in dopamine neurobiology may be related to the emergence of dispersal behavior. The questions I will pursue include:1.When does […]

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

Education and Linguistic Politics in French Revolutionary Thought

Between 1789 and 1799, the French Revolution shook the firm order of French politics, marking a new era in France and the world. The consequences of the Revolution cut across all aspects of French life. Ideological changes were rapid and ambitious, yet many were not immediately successful. My research will focus on the French Revolution as a benchmark in the development of public education. Leaders of the Revolution saw primary and secondary schools as essential instruments in the formation of a national identity, the diffusion of republican values, and the transformation of subjects into active citizens. A central problem for reformers was the diversity of language and dialects in France. I will use the city of Strasbourg, and the region of Alsace, as my focal point. As an oft-disputed border region between France and the German-speaking states, in the 18th century most Alsatians spoke little or no French, and many […]

...Read More about Louise Curtis
Humanities and Social Science

Seed Germination and Microbe Occupation: How Do Seed Microbe Communities Differ across Plant Species and What Does It Mean for Plant Health?

The development of seeds and seedlings represent perhaps the most critical stage of a plants life. Within and on seeds live a multitude of bacteria and microfungi that can either deteriorate (pathogens) or improve (mutualists) seedling health. Seed microbes can be transmitted from both the surrounding environment (horizontal transmission) as well as from their mother plant (vertical transmission). This maternal inheritance gives seed microbes priority in the colonization of plant tissue once germination occurs. This can significantly affect the trajectory for future adult plant microbiome composition and plant health. The larger project with which my research is affiliated is focused on this idea of seed microbe inheritance and looks to see how transmission of microbes differs across plant species. Overarching themes of the project include mechanisms of vertical seed microbe transmission (mother to offspring), seed microbe community assembly, and application of beneficial seed microbes to increase plant health. My specific […]

...Read More about Fernando Trent Diaz
SURF SMART

Spatiotemporally Mapping the CRISPR-CasX Binding and Repair of DNA

As a fellow, I will be working to develop a live-cell imaging platform to understand the mechanisms of the CRISPR-CasX endonuclease and its potential to be harnessed for gene-editing. More specifically, I will be looking at the length of the protein’s DNA binding and its rate of repair. My findings will provide a clearer understanding of CRISPR mechanisms in cells, and ultimately, how we could apply these interactions to treat human diseases in a timely manner.

...Read More about Davina Dou
Rose Hills

The Downstream Effects of Novelty: Did the Evolution of Scale-Eating Affect Mate Preferences in a Radiation of Bahamian Pupfish?

Novel traits (i.e. new traits or behaviors that allow organisms to perform a new function) have long fascinated biologists. Their evolutionary origins, however, are poorly understood and may involve changes in multiple behaviors and traits. The effects of these changes do not occur in a vacuum and may have downstream effects on other processessuch as the formation of reproductive barriers between groups. This research investigates the relationship between the evolution of novel traits and the formation of reproductive barriers using the scale-eating pupfish. Scale-eating is an example of a novel diet, and involves changes in multiple traits such as aggression, feeding behavior, and jaw morphology. Whether these changes affect the formation of reproductive barriers (i.e. mate preference) between scale-eating pupfish and other pupfish species is still unknown.

...Read More about Julia Dunker
SURF SMART

Exploring the Role of Belief in Dopaminergic Value-Based Decision-Making Computations

Our lives are defined by the ability to make decisions. This fundamental function hinges on complex computations emerging from the integration of sensory, motor, and value information. Decision-making computations are thought to be strongly modulated by dopamine in the dorsomedial striatum. I will measure dopamine release in the dorsomedial striatum during decision making and test if it follows predictions made by two reinforcement learning models. The first model, Temporal Difference (TD) theory, predicts that dopamine activity in mice will be a function of reward prediction error, which is greatest when rewards are unexpected. The second model adapted from Gershman & Uchida (2019), is an alternative version of TD, in which dopamine signal is computed from an inferred belief-state, reflecting the level of uncertainty in the environment. The purpose of my research is to test whether this new belief-state model predicts dopamine activity in the dorsomedial striatum better than the older […]

...Read More about Anthony Dunn
Humanities and Social Science

Investigating the Role of the Single-Stranded DNase Activity of CRISPR-Cas12a

CRISPR-Cas systems are indispensable tools in genome editing because they allow scientists to edit an individuals DNA to correct harmful mutations that cause disease. CRISPR-Cas systems are derived from bacteria and archaea where they act as an adaptive immune system of these organisms by targeting viral DNA and RNA for degradation and elimination. Recently, studies have shown that CRISPR-Cas12a can cut non-target sequences of single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) intrinsically. This information is exciting because cells that are constantly replicating, like cancer cells, have a lot of transiently exposed ssDNA which makes them good targets for Cas12as cleavage ability. We want to test whether Cas12a can cut transcriptionally active DNA in vitro using biochemical assays and investigate whether this cutting in vivo causes cell toxicity. This research could reveal unexpected connections between different CRISPR-Cas systems, lead to new ways of harnessing CRISPR-Cas systems with ssDNA-cutting activity for genome engineering, and potentially have […]

...Read More about Bayan Duwaik
Rose Hills

Investigating the Molecular Mechanisms of RME through NK Cell Receptors

Mammalian cells typically possess two homologous copies of each gene: one paternal and one maternal. Most developmentally regulated genes express both copies, but monoallelic (single copy) gene expression is a pervasive phenomenon. Some mitotically stable examples of this pattern have been described in autosomal genes and are often referred to as random monoallelic expression (RME). However, the molecular mechanisms of RME have been difficult to study in most in vivo contexts–due to limitations in tissue heterogeneity–and remain poorly understood. Natural killer (NK) cell receptor genes are expressed in an RME fashion and offer an excellent system for study that sidesteps these previous limitations. I seek to uncover the mechanistic details of this NK cell receptor expression pattern and extrapolate my findings to modeling RME systems broadly. Using F1 hybrid mice, next generation sequencing, and bioinformatics tools, I will quantitatively classify RME genes and study the molecular influences of genetic regulators […]

...Read More about Alec Ethell
Rose Hills

Queer/Trans Spaces in Los Angeles: 1847-1939

How do we imagine Queer and Transgender pasts? My project aims to investigate 19th century and early 20th century Queer and Transgender spaces in Los Angeles. I will be exploring the intersections of Decolonial and Queer theory to study the city of Los Angeles. I am exploring the Indigenous communities who preceded the city and understanding how their resistance to violence informs a Queer reading of the past. Using research on the colonization of the American West, I will begin by studying the formation of the city, then begin to investigate specific sites of Queer and Trans life. I am also researching the judicial and prison systems formation in Los Angeles, seeing how the city enacted violence onto Queer and Transgender people. How does class, race, and gender inform the experience of being Queer? Using archival material in Los Angeles, I want to map how Queer and Trans spaces changed […]

...Read More about Jacqueline Forsyte
Humanities and Social Science

Leaving the Faith: The Relationship Between Social Media and the Withdrawal of Jehovahs Witnesses

Jehovahs Witnesses, a small Christian religion, are discouraged from conducting outside research on their religious organization. JW.ORG, their online website, is their recommended source of information. Today, social media platforms are ubiquitous, and Jehovahs Witnesses are constantly exposed to apostate websites; Youtube, Reddit, and Facebook discuss the religious organization from a different perspective which may challenge a members beliefs. Thousands of Jehovahs Witness members exit the religious organization each year, losing their social ties during the process. Taken together, this raises the question: What role does exposure to social media platforms play in the withdrawal of Jehovahs Witnesses, and how does engagement in social media platforms offer a community that would otherwise be lost? I hypothesize social media platforms contribute to the withdrawal of Jehovahs Witnesses and simultaneously offer Ex-Jehovahs Witness members along with current members who are questioning their faith, a community of support, and acceptance. Because this population […]

...Read More about Deisy Garcia
Humanities and Social Science

Tuning the Catalyst Size of Helical van der Waals Crystals

This project is exploring the tunability of helical van der Waals nanowires. These nanoscale wires are made of layers of Germanium Sulfide stacked on top of each other, similar to graphite being made of stacked layers of graphene. However, in these nanowires, there is a literal twist running down the middle, resulting in a double helix structure that produces unique properties. This Eshelby twist links the twist rate of the nanowire with a dislocation in the middle of the nanowire, and the cross-sectional area. Through modulation of the catalyst size, the cross-sectional area, twist rate, and electronic properties of the nanowires can be tuned. Poly-l-lysine, a polymer, will be used to control the coalescence of the catalyst particles, allowing for the synthesis of thinner nanowires and altered properties.

...Read More about Stephen Gee
Rose Hills

Supercrystal Self-Assembly of Quantum Dots

Quantum dot supercrystals hold a lot of potential for future nanophotonics due to their unique optical and electric properties. Quantum dots, which are semiconducting nanoparticles, can act like atoms and arrange into a crystal structure, forming something called a supercrystal. These supercrystals have been found to form interesting shapes such as spheres, rods, and various prisms. However, my research recently found that they can also take the shape of half-spheres or donuts, which has never been documented before. These new shapes both pack differently and likely have unique optical properties (the shape of a supercrystal has been found to affect its electromagnetic properties). My project aims to study the supercrystal formation of quantum dots on an air-liquid interface and investigate the effect of subphase surface energy and micelle formation on supercrystal size and shape. Understanding what controls the shape of supercrystals could enable the discovery of novel fabrication processes and […]

...Read More about Amoolya Grandhi
Rose Hills

Fish Foraging Behavior in Different Stream Habitats

Habitat diversity in a watershed can support diverse biological communities, as well as promote diverse traits and behaviors within a population. This project will investigate if juvenile coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) alter their foraging behavior in different stream habitats, using underwater video footage. This work will be part of a larger study that aims to understand whether diverse physical habitats within Lagunitas Creek, Marin County give rise to trait diversity within an endangered coho salmon population.

...Read More about Phoebe Gross
SURF SMART

Holder-Brascamp-Lieb, Red-Blue Pebbling, and Communication-Optimal Algorithms

Numerical linear algebra underlies much of the modern world. It is essential to a wide variety of situations, and, as such, it is of great interest to analyze and optimize the underlying algorithms. In recent years, there has been an increased interest in optimizing algorithms to reduce communication, which is frequently many orders of magnitude slower than performing calculations. The Hlder-Brascamp-Lieb inequality and the Red-Blue Pebbling Game are two powerful approaches to theoretical analysis of communication, and both are used to derive communication optimal lower bounds. Once these bounds have been derived, the next challenge is to implement an algorithm that attains these minimums, and thus, is communication minimizing. Many currently implemented algorithms do not meet these bounds, and this is a matter of great importance, with large potential time and energy savings. In this way, our project has two broad goals. Our first is to implement a communication optimal […]

...Read More about Mason Haberle
L&S Sciences

Holder-Brascamp-Lieb, Red-Blue Pebbling, and Communication-optimal algorithms

Numerical linear algebra underlies much of the modern world. It is essential to a wide variety situations, and as such, it is of great interest to analyze and optimize the underlying algorithms. In recent years, there has been an increased interest in optimizing algorithms to reduce communication, which is frequently many orders of magnitude slower than performing calculations. The Hlder-Brascamp-Lieb inequality and the Red-Blue Pebbling Game are two powerful approaches to theoretical analysis of communication, and both are used to derive communication optimal lower bounds. Once these bounds have been derived, the next challenge is to implement an algorithm that attains these minimums, and thus, is communication minimizing. Many currently implemented algorithms do not meet these bounds, and this is a matter of great importance, with large potential time and energy savings. In this way, our project has two broad goals. Our first is to implement a communication optimal algorithm […]

...Read More about Jon Hillery
L&S Sciences

Scanning Tunneling Microscopy on Multiferroic Thin Film Oxides

The recent interest in the properties of multiferroic materials is due to its proposed application in a variety of technologies such as sensors and data storage devices as well as its application in the miniaturization of technological devices. The scanning tunneling microscope (STM), with its capabilities to study materials on the atomic level, is a very useful tool that can be used to understand the nature of multiferroic materials. The majority of multiferroic materials, however, are oxides and STM study on multiferroic oxides is largely unexplored. This is due to the difficulty that most multiferroic oxides are insulators, and STM measurements typically require the sample to be conducting. As a result, this summer I will be exploring how well the STM can be used to study multiferroic thin film oxides.

...Read More about Jordan Huang
Rose Hills

Je Language Documentation: Xavante

My research involves the collection and analysis of linguistic data on the Central Je language Xavante, an Amazonian language of central Brazil. Like many Amazonian languages, Xavante is under-documented and undergoing major changes due to increasing contact with Brazilian government and society. It contains unique qualities that are of special interest to the research community, such as a lack of velar consonants (e.g. [g, k]) and the presence of glottal consonant clusters (e.g. [p]). Documentation of these characteristics is key to expanding the field’s understanding of what is possible within the world’s languages. This research is especially relevant in Brazil, where there exist 170 indigenous languages; as recently as 2001, however, only 28 are well-documented with full grammatical descriptions. In Summer 2019, I gathered data on lexical items during in situ fieldwork, and my research as a SURF fellow will consist of a phonetically informed description of Xavante using this […]

...Read More about Teela Huff
Humanities and Social Science

Differential Model Predictive Control for Autonomous Driving in Under-structured Traffic Environment

In recent years, rapid growth in self-driving vehicles was largely enabled by breakthroughs in computer vision and reinforcement learning (RL). Current research focuses on applications of RL-based, model-free methods through simulation rather than classical model-based optimization. However, model-free algorithms often fail to generalize beyond the environment in which it was trained. For instance, self-driving cars trained in a regular urban environment will suffer to drive safely and efficiently in road environments in developing countries where traffic signals do not exist, roads are under-structured, and drivers drive under implicit rules. Subsequently, for autonomous vehicles, navigating safely but efficiently in under-structured, under-regulated road environment has remained as a major challenge. Thus, deployment of self-driving cars in developing countries is challenging, as it is hard for RL models to find the sweet spot between ensuring safety and avoiding congestion or delays, in such a traffic environment, with insufficient training data and poor generalization. […]

...Read More about Minjune Hwang
L&S Sciences

Investigation of the Evolution of Pigment-Producing Genes of Theridiidae

The molecular basis of adaptation and differentiation is one of the most important, yet least understood, areas in evolutionary biology. Color polymorphic systems are a valuable, visual tool for such studies, allowing allele numbers, identities, and population frequencies to be estimated directly. In the spider family Theridiidae, discernible systems of discrete color polymorphisms have evolved independently across multiple taxa (Cotoras et al, 2017). Notably, both the Hawaiian Happy Face spider, Theridion grallator, and its fairly distant Californian relative Theridion californicum, have convergently evolved color polymorphism. For these spiders, apostatic selection maintains the spectrum of color morphs that are found within a population. This color mechanism provides an ideal system for contrasting the operation of different avenues of selection on the same color pathway between spiders within the same family, and potentially also identifying candidate genes for color expression in these spiders. This study will provide insights into the genomic underpinnings […]

...Read More about Sakina Isadibir
L&S Sciences

Characterizing the Relationship between Ecological Niche and Allopolyploidy in Plants

I am interested in the relationship between hybridization in plants and preferences those plants have for specific environments. When two plants hybridize, creating a new hybrid species, we often observe those new hybrids occupying broader ranges and being able to tolerate a wider array of environmental conditions. I am interested in how widespread this pattern is and will be creating species distribution models for hybrid plants and their parent species. I plan to do this with as many different species as possible to better characterize the relationship between ecological niche and hybridization. I also plan to finalize and publish the pipeline I have created for species distribution modelling with large datasets of many species. If hybrid plants really do have broader niches, this could have important implications for the role of hybridization in speciation. Once thought to be an evolutionary dead end because hybrids often times are rendered asexual, hybridization […]

...Read More about Abby Jackson-Gain
Rose Hills

Holder-Brascamp-Lieb, Red-Blue Pebbling, and Communication-optimal algorithms

Numerical linear algebra underlies much of the modern world. It is essential to a wide variety situations, and as such, it is of great interest to analyze and optimize the underlying algorithms. In recent years, there has been an increased interest in optimizing algorithms to reduce communication, which is frequently many orders of magnitude slower than performing calculations. The Hlder-Brascamp-Lieb inequality and the Red-Blue Pebbling Game are two powerful approaches to theoretical analysis of communication, and both are used to derive communication optimal lower bounds. Once these bounds have been derived, the next challenge is to implement an algorithm that attains these minimums, and thus, is communication minimizing. Many currently implemented algorithms do not meet these bounds, and this is a matter of great importance, with large potential time and energy savings. In this way, our project has two broad goals. Our first is to implement a communication optimal algorithm […]

...Read More about Rahul Jain
L&S Sciences

Urban Agriculture in the Bay Area: Politics, Praxis, and the Public Good During COVID-19 and Beyond

The impacts of COVID-19 on socioeconomic relations, spatial arrangements, and the role of government, have increased the precarity of life for poor and working class communities and communities of color, who are disproportionately impacted by the current crisis and pre-existing systems of exploitation. At the same time, this moment offers opportunities to develop networks of production and distribution that center justice and solidarity, reconcile the organization of our communities with the realities of the climate crisis, and realign public goals with public actions. This project aims to address a pressing contemporary contradiction of the situation of urban agriculture (UA) in the Bay Area. That is, existing research has elaborated how the benefits of UA extend beyond the confines of gardens themselves and provision for the general public on various scales of time and space, yet community-based UA efforts have been treated with a generally hands-off public sector approach and continue […]

...Read More about Aleah Jennings-Newhouse
Humanities and Social Science

Do CHD8 and Other CHD Family Proteins Interact With ELL2 to Control HIV Transcription and Latency

In this project, I want to find out if chromodomain helicase DNA bind protein 8 (CHD8) and other CHD family proteins, which are known chromatin regulators, will interact with the RNA polymerase II elongation factor ELL2. ELL2 is an important component of the Super Elongation Complex (SEC). SEC plays a very crucial role in HIV transcription and reactivation of HIV virus from latency. On the other hand, CHD8 is a member of the chromodomain helicase DNA-binding family, which consists of 9 protein homologs that are all chromatin remodeling factors. Chromatin remodeling factors regulate transcription by using their helicase/ATPase components to disrupt DNA base pairings, and they slide nucleosomes along the DNA to change chromatin structures. Our preliminary data indicate that CHD8 and other CHD family chromatin remodelers might interact with ELL2 and regulate transcription through their chromatin remodeling activity to alter chromatin structures. The potential interaction of CHD8 and ELL2 […]

...Read More about Yiyang Jin
L&S Sciences

The Role of Hybridization in Generating Weird Fish Faces in Caribbean Pupfish

While hybridization has historically been thought to hinder evolutionary processes, the idea that it might sometimes drive evolution instead has been gaining momentum in recent years, even in modern-day humans. Hybridization can sometimes result in extreme traits not observed in the parental species that allows hybrids to occupy new environments or eat new things. My graduate student mentor and I will address questions about how hybridization has impacted a group of Caribbean pupfish that have specialized on weird diets, like fish scales.

...Read More about Takao Kakegawa
SURF SMART

Reading Chaucer's Virtuous Women in Late Medieval and Early Modern England

My research examines the tensions between Geoffrey Chaucers canon and modern scholarships dismissive treatment of the Legend of Good Women (the LGW). My research will uncover the historical and cultural forces causing this minor poem to be overshadowed by the infamous Canterbury Tales, a foundational text in every undergraduate English department. Through a codicological approach (study of the book as literary artifact), I will revisit the original early modern print anthologies that first consolidated Chaucers literary authority in the emergence of print culture. The primary anthologies of Thynne, Speght, and Stowe contextualize how these editors posthumously canonized Chaucer to consolidate his literary authority through gender. The LGW is central to demonstrating how different editors framed this poem in connection to their own representations of the Chaucerian tradition, which implicitly informed a gendered readership. Ultimately, my research will combine attention to Chaucers early print editions and the 15th-century readership, while also […]

...Read More about Kamila Kaminska-Palarczyk
Humanities and Social Science

Fula Poetry in the Valley of the Senegal River

My research concerns the cultural identity of the Fula people in Mauritania and Senegal, West Africa. What does it mean to be Fula in this particular region of the world? To answer this question, I will explore two volumes of poetry, written in the Fula language by Ibrahima Moctar Sarr, a Mauritanian journalist by formation who became a civil rights leader and an advocate for the preservation of the Fula language. We have much to learn from the Fula history and culture. The Fula are rarely the dominant group in the countries in which they live. Despite facing assimilative forces, they find ways to fight back and save themselves from disappearing from the map. Learning about what constitutes their identity and everyday life through their poetry can help us design strategies to save other endangered languages. It is a way to lead by example by acknowledging the value of other […]

...Read More about Samba Kane
Humanities and Social Science

Comparative Jumping Biomechanics of California Squirrels

Squirrels are extremely agile, comprise the second-most diverse group of rodents, and have colonized a wide range of environments across five of the seven continents, making them an ideal group in which to study the evolution of arboreal locomotion. My graduate student mentor and I are interested in understanding how their form (morphology), how they move (kinematics) and how they learn and adapt (cognition) help them navigate the complex environments they live in. Our research will involve designing and building jumping setups, field-trapping of chipmunks, camping in the Sierras, animal care, and high speed-videography and analysis.

...Read More about Lia Keener
SURF SMART

Effects of Low Flow on Sierra Nevada Stream Food Webs

Sierra Nevada snowmelt is predicted to occur up to two months earlier by 2080, but we do not know how aquatic food webs will respond. Changes in snowmelt timing could decrease stream insect abundance and biodiversity via increased temperature and duration of low flows. This project seeks to understand how extended low flows alter stream food webs. My graduate student mentor collected samples from nine artificial streams that had different durations of low flow this past summer. I will help sort and identify these samples, which will ultimately result in an extensive dataset that will include temperature, discharge, light, community composition, primary production, trophic position, insect community growth rates, body size, and emergence timing.

...Read More about Daniel Khuu
SURF SMART

In Silico Analysis of Bottle Cells, Fates, and Migration

During gastrulation in Xenopus, a specific group of cells located at the organizer, called Bottle Cells, undergo apical constriction and invagination, forming the dorsal lip of the blastopore. Immediately after, the neighboring cells involute inwards towards the anterior end of the embryo, forming the mesoderm and the archenteron. Although the behaviors of cells have been described, the genes that control the processes are only beginning to be discovered. The Harland Lab believes the process of Bottle Cells formation resembles aspects of cell invasion, metastasis, and immunological processes, so studying the underlying similarities may lead to new insights in the field. Through the use of various databases I will identify potential gene candidates that may be crucial in Bottle Cell migration, and I will carry out whole-mount in situ hybridization (WISH) and CRISPR/Cas9 experiments to validate my hypotheses, and hence identify the functions of these genes in relation to gastrulation and […]

...Read More about Damian Kim
Rose Hills

Characterizing Dynamics of Materials at High Pressure Using a Nanoscale Quantum Sensor

Solid-state defect centers such as the nitrogen-vacancy (NV) center in diamond are promising nanoscale quantum sensors capable of operating at extreme pressures and temperatures. Their sensitivity to magnetic field noise allows for the characterization of a wide range of dynamical phenomena arising from charge, spin, and phonon fluctuations in correlated matter. The frequency dependence of these fluctuations encodes unique information about the underlying physics processes that cannot be gleaned from the static signatures that are typically used in standard magnetometry. With NV centers, one could measure the magnetic response of materials at high pressures and also potentially explore for exotic phases of matter. My research project will investigate a variety of dynamical phenomena expected to occur at high pressure and make predictions about the expected spectral response in nearby solid-state defect centers. I will focus on the spectral response to high pressure structural phase transitions with relevance to geophysics and […]

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

Clathrin-Mediated Endocytosis in 3D Cerebral Organoids

Clathrin-mediated endocytosis (CME) is a critical process in cells that maintains the balance of signaling and receptor molecules on the cellular surface. This balance is critical in the development of the human cerebral cortex, during which neuroepithelial stem cells must choose to divide or differentiate. These cell fate decisions are dependent on the distribution of membrane signaling molecules and receptors, distributions we hypothesize are regulated by CME. However, technical limitations have, until recently, made it nearly impossible to study the dynamics of CME in the highly polarized NECs of a neuroepithelium within live tissue. Here, we seek to study CME in live tissues by culturing 3D cerebral organoids that capture the spatial organization and polarity of NECs during development. Using adaptive optics lattice light-sheet microscopy (AO-LLSM) and computational image analysis, we will observe the dynamics of CME in 3D, focusing on AP2, Dynamin2 and ArpC3, 3 key endocytic proteins that […]

...Read More about Jonathan Kuo
Rose Hills

Investigating inter-areal communication in the mouse visual cortex

The visual cortex is composed of several brain areas that are considered to give rise to different aspects of visual perception, and it is thought that these areas work in conjunction to give rise to the experiential percept of vision. In this project, I will aid in investigating the neurological circuitry in primary and higher visual areas in the mouse visual cortex while they are presented with visual stimuli. I will be conducting research on past experiments regarding feed-forward and feedback circuits in the mouse brain, which govern the processing and flow of visual information. I will later work on training mice to perform visual perception tasks and analyzing the data generated from the imaging experiments. We believe that in doing so we will learn more about the patterns of communication between different visual processing areas, which is key to understanding not only the biological basis of all visual experience, […]

...Read More about Leonardo Lahijani
Rose Hills

Characterization of novel genes involved in kidney development and function

Despite the ever increasing number of identified genetic diseases, many of the genes associated with these human disorders are still either poorly understood or have not yet been functionally described during development. My work will pursue the characterization of three genes: scinderin (scin), angiotensin-I-converting-enzyme (ace), and clustered mitochondria cluA homolog (cluh), which are all expressed in the kidney according to preliminary findings in the Harland lab. Using Xenopus as a model, I will study the role of these three genes in nephrogenesis and kidney function through a series of experiments including loss of function through CRISPR/Cas9 technology, gain of function through overexpression, and embryo transplants and in vivo imaging. Results of this research could provide a priori clues about the potential etiology of the human conditions they are involved in, and perhaps offer a model to further investigate unknown aspects and treatments of their associated diseases.

...Read More about Jenny Lai
L&S Sciences

Molecular Dynamics Simulations of a Molten Salt Double Layer

Molten salt reactors (MSRs) are an attractive source of nuclear power generation due to improved efficiency and negligible risk of meltdown. However, corrosion of reactor components by molten salt present a serious challenge to the reliability of MSRs. In order to make realistic estimates of reactor lifetimes, a kinetic model of molten salt corrosion must be developed. Central to understanding the kinetics of molten salt corrosion is the double layer parallel layers of charge surrounding an object immersed in fluid at the interface of a metal and a molten salt. This summer I will be using molecular dynamics to simulate the interface of a molten salt and a metal. I will then use the data recorded in this simulation to analyze the ordering of charge densities, in-plane chemical structure, and transport properties within the double layer. This work has the potential to reveal fundamental insights to the mechanisms of molten […]

...Read More about Luke Langford
Rose Hills

Analyzing neutron activation of materials following a nuclear explosion

If a nuclear weapon exploded in an urban environment, the effects would be catastrophic. Governments would want to quickly know what type of weapon it was, where it came from and who made it. One effect of the explosion is that it would expose many materials to large numbers of neutrons producing a variety of radioactive isotopes. When these isotopes decay, they produce characteristic gamma rays that allow them to be uniquely identified. My project will identify the radioactive species produced by neutron interactions with a wide variety of materials and determine which can provide the most detailed information on the type of weapon that exploded. I plan to conduct a thorough analysis of existing data and draft a report that will describe the gamma-ray signatures in terms of both their energies and time dependences that will provide details on the nature of the device. Through this, I hope to […]

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

Korean Diaspora Archaeology: Early Korean Diaspora Sites in the United States

Korean diaspora archaeology: Early Korean diaspora sites in the United States Have you heard of Korean diaspora archaeology in the United States? If you havent, thats completely normal! While Chinese and Japanese diaspora archaeology have been actively researched in the US, Korean diaspora archaeology has been facing a lack of research within the country. Korean diaspora archaeology studies the dispersion of Koreans from an archaeological perspective, which gives voice to people who were silenced in historical documents. My project focuses on the early Korean immigrant population and their settlements in the West and in Hawaii from the late 19th century to the early 20th century. My project will (1) research types of heritage artifacts associated with early Korean diasporic people (2) generate a list of early Korean diaspora sites and (3) explain the need for research in the field of Korean diaspora archaeology. The project will not include any excavations, […]

...Read More about Jiyoon Lee
Humanities and Social Science

Investigating Applicable Biotechnologies of Cyanobacteria with a Comprehensive Pangenome

This summer, I will be creating and analyzing a pangenome of cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria have long been of interest in the synthetic biology world because of certain traits, such as hydrogen and biopharmaceutical production. The pangenome will compare all of the genes of the sequenced cyanobacterial strains, not only allowing the construction of a phylogenomic tree but also illuminating which genes correspond to specific physiologies. Hopefully, this mapping will allow for optimization of biological processes through deletion of unnecessary steps, insight into which genes make some cyanobacteria filamentous, and enlightenment of the various functions of unknown genes.

...Read More about Anderson Lee
Rose Hills

Beach Flies of Hawaii

A provisional list of beach flies from Hawaii has been collected over this past summer. Improvement upon the phylogeny across Canacidae can be used as a hypothesis-testing framework on how flies have adapted to multiple ecological niches from saline environments to freshwater ecosystems. While many of these flies are found around the world, one lineage in the Hawaiian Islands has lost the ability to tolerate saline habitats and currently occupies high elevation freshwater streams. Organizing collection information, examining DNA sequences, and developing identification keys to this important group will bring my graduate student mentor and I closer to understanding the impressive biodiversity of these tropical islands.

...Read More about Irene Liang
SURF SMART

Exploring Methods for Reducing Uncertainty in Determining the Bulk Density of Soils

Human-induced climate change is a modern environmental challenge that poses serious threats to both natural ecosystems and human society as it exists today. As a result, scientists have examined carbon sequestration in soils as a climate mitigation strategy that could lower greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. This approach involves quantifying rates of carbon removed from the atmosphere by plants, and rates of plant carbon transferred and stored in soil. A key parameter used to determine soil carbon sequestration potential is soil bulk density, defined as the mass of a given soil sample divided by the volume of that sample. However, current methods used by soil scientists to calculate bulk density are often very inaccurate. My research project aims to build on the existing methodologies for bulk density calculation by finding ways to improve the equivalent soil mass method through a combination of field work and lab testing, as well […]

...Read More about Yuan Lin
Rose Hills

Investigating Variation in Bacteriophage Plaque Morphology

My research project stems from an early observation in our lab where a lytic phage called SHL created plaques (zones of bacterial clearance) with highly variable sizes. This is interesting because it is expected that a homogenous population would produce plaques of relatively similar sizes because they all have the same genetic makeup. Based on past experiments I have conducted and papers in the field, I hypothesized that the variation in plaque size could be the result of subpopulations within the SHL stock that have varying adsorption rates. Over the summer I hope to conduct a comprehensive literature review of bacteriophage phenotypic variation as well as analyze SHLs and other bacteriophages genomic sequences. The information I uncover will shed light on any genetic factors that might prompt phenotypic variation in bacteriophages and therefore the creation of subpopulations within a homogeneous stock. A thorough investigation of the mechanism behind bacteriophage phenotypic […]

...Read More about James Lu
Rose Hills

Why Self-Love & Connectedness Matters: Enhancing Positive Outcomes among Transition-Age Youth

This project will focus on transition-age youth (TAY) in the foster care system. TAY are among the most vulnerable young adults in our society and are at increased risk for various negative outcomes including homelessness and low educational attainment. Although the child welfare system is concerned with improving their outcomes, it has not considered how their histories of maltreatment and foster care may impact their self-love and their subsequent relationships with adults. This project will employ a mixed-methods approach and aims to: 1. Examine the impact of maltreatment and foster care on youths self-love and social networks. 2. Examine the impact of self-love and social network characteristics on youths outcomes.

...Read More about Xiamara Martinez Peredia
SURF SMART

Developing an Air Cathode Assisted Iron Electrocoagulation System to Remove Arsenic from Contaminated Drinking Water in Central California

Arsenic is a toxic carcinogen causing multiple forms of cancer and low IQ in children. In California, about 55,000 people are exposed to high levels of arsenic via their community water systems. As current technologies are too costly or complex to implement, the Gadgil lab is developing an affordable and effective technology, called Air Cathode Assisted Iron Electrocoagulation (ACAIE) at community scale. In this project, to test ACAIE outside of the lab, my graduate student mentor and I are working with an elementary school in Central California that is currently out of compliance in terms of the arsenic in their drinking water. The projects summer focus is on field implementation and engineering design to test the efficacy of ACAIE in removing arsenic from real California groundwater. I will assist our team in setting up the 6-week field trial in Central California, monitoring water quality parameters, and evaluating technology performance over […]

...Read More about Meire Mehare
SURF SMART

Assaying Protein-Protein Interaction of HCMV and the Human Immune Complement System

The complement system is a function of the innate immune system a group of proteins in the blood that target, mark, and destroy potential pathogens, as well as modulating the response of immune cells. Most viruses must interfere with its activity in order to infect someone, but the mechanism of interactions remains largely uncharacterized. My project seeks to specifically identify and characterize the interactions of Human Cytomegalovirus proteins with the complement protein MBL1 (Mannose-Binding Lectin) by use of a yeast-two-hybrid protein interaction assay. This assay can determine if a given two proteins physically interact, which provides further clues into how HCMV may evade or modulate the host immune response to evade detection. Understanding the techniques by which pathogens evade the host immune system can provide clues to treatment options, as well as how to better predict the targets of other pathogens.

...Read More about Miles Mellott
L&S Sciences

Cataloging the Water Sorption Properties of Metal Organic Frameworks

Approximately 785 million people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water. Though often ignored as a viable source of drinking water, Earths atmosphere contains 13 sextillion liters of gaseous water. In recent years, advances in materials science have bred a new class of materials, known as metal organic frameworks (MOFs). Upon judicious construction, MOFs can extract this watereven from low humidity air. Unfortunately, chemists interested in so-called water harvesting must comb through much literature in order to determine if a certain MOFs water sorption properties have ever been studied; to compare one MOFs performance to anothers; and to locate MOFs meeting specific criteria (e.g., optimal performance humidity). I propose to create a freely available database that catalogs all MOFs whose water sorption properties have previously been published. It is my hope that this database will facilitate the research of others by addressing the above challenges and by expediting researchers ability […]

...Read More about David Michael
Rose Hills

Understanding the effect of aging on the lactate receptor GPR81 and metabolic inflexibility

The primary objective of this research proposal is to examine the effect of aging on the lactate receptor GPR81 and metabolic inflexibility. GPR81 gets activated by lactate among the series of short-chain carboxylic acids and reduces intracellular cAMP levels that influence the inhibition of fatty acid transporter and lipolysis (Ahmed, Kashan, et al., p315). Metabolic flexibility is the cells’ ability to shift from one energy source to the next, for example, glucose to fat. With aging, there is a reduction in the ability to shift energy sources. The inability for old people to use fat as metabolic fuel is called metabolic inflexibility (Rooney and Paul, p1315). Therefore, understanding the role of GPR81 with aging is of importance. Hence, this research proposal seeks to bridge the gap of understanding the role of GPR81 and metabolic inflexibility with aging. The study will form the foundation for future researchers and scholars in the […]

...Read More about Marvin Miller
Rose Hills

Understanding Actin Dynamics and Organization in FIlopodia Using Cryo-Electron Tomography

Filopodia are finger-like actin based extensions in migrating cells. These cytoplasmic projections are involved in perceiving the environment, interacting with extracellular particles for phagocytosis, anchoring the cell to the substratum, and responding to chemoattractants. In eukaryotic cells, proper actin organization and interaction with the membrane and binding proteins is crucial for filopodia function. Despite having a general understanding of the various functions associated with filopodia, there is not much known about how actin organization and interaction with the membrane at the leading edge allows the cell to carry out these processes. To address this question, I will use cryo-electron tomography to visualize the actin networks of mammalian cell filopodia. I will generate segmentation models highlighting actin filaments, actin bundling factors, the plasma membrane and potential actin-plasma membrane connections in the tomograms. Ultimately, I want to use subtomogram averaging on the bundling factors and actin membrane interactors to increase the resolution […]

...Read More about Amir Moayed
L&S Sciences

Schwarzschild Orbit Superposition Modeling of Galaxies and Supermassive Black Holes

Observations have demonstrated that almost all large galaxies contain a supermassive black hole in their centers. Although supermassive black holes constitute only a small fraction of their host galaxys total mass, their mass correlates strongly with features of their host including morphology and galactic structure, so they have long been objects of interest for astrophysicists. The mass of a supermassive black hole can be estimated through studying stellar orbits within the galaxy. However, especially in the most massive elliptical galaxies, these dynamics can be extremely challenging to model. One promising technique resolving some of these challenges is the Schwarzschild method, which is advantageous because it is less computationally complex than other methods, and more easily adaptable to galaxies lacking simplifying symmetries. This work will consider a variety of possible improvements to simulation code that implements the Schwarzschild method, ranging from theoretical adjustments in how stellar orbits are generated and sampled […]

...Read More about Shaunak Modak
L&S Sciences

Analyzing the Association Between Impulsivity and Reinforcement Learning

Previous research has identified reinforcement learning (RL) as a cognitive process that uses rewards to help us learn which actions will yield better results over time. This process is influenced by decision making which allows us to maximize our rewards and minimize our punishments. The neural aspects of RL are well studied and can be linked to various brain regions such as the prefrontal and orbitofrontal cortex. Currently, it is unknown whether RL is impacted by impulsivity. Impulsivity plays a major role in the understanding of personality traits and refers to actions that are poorly thought out or expressed in an untimely matter. Those with impulsive traits may experience difficulty inhibiting automatic responses; this is thought to interfere with goal driven behavior and is associated with decreased higher order activity such as learning. My research focuses on analyzing the potential association between impulsivity and reinforcement learning and understanding the implications […]

...Read More about Daniela Muoz Lopez
Humanities and Social Science

On the Fifth Force: Laboratory Test for Chameleon Dark Energy

Dark Energy is an unknown quantity responsible for the observed acceleration of our expanding universe. It constitutes about 70% of the universe, yet defies scientific explanation of its origin, properties, and the exact form. Among many proposed theories of Dark Energy, there is a group of theories which approach this problem through gravitational theory: with an additional field that describes Dark Energy, they introduce the fifth fundamental force to the universe. Chameleon theory is a subset of such theories, and it postulates the existence of particles that change their own mass in response to ambient mass density. Although many studies of Chameleon theory appear in scientific literature, few connect this theory to real-world experimental and observational results. To fill this gap, we will perform numerical simulations of the Chameleon Field, and compare the results to the existing and mutually disagreeing measurements of the Newtonian gravitational constant. By checking whether Chameleon […]

...Read More about Yukei Murakami
L&S Sciences

CRISPR-Cas9 mediated knockout of the tax region of bovine leukemia virus in cell culture

Bovine leukemia virus (BLV) is a retrovirus that is present in 84% of dairy and 38% of beef cattle in the USA [Buehring]. Even more threatening is the discovery that humans are also infected with BLV and the frequency of BLV DNA in mammary epithelium from women with breast cancer (59%) was significantly higher than in normal controls (29%) [Buehring]. This association of BLV with breast cancer motivates research toward generating a treatment. In my research project, I will attempt to knock out the essential tax region of the BLV genome in infected fetal lamb kidney (FLK) cells using CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing. I hypothesize that this will prevent viral DNA replication without affecting the health of the host cells. Multiple attempts to develop a vaccine for bovine leukemia virus have not been successful because extracellular virus particles are not produced. A successful CRISPR knockout of the tax gene could open […]

...Read More about Jasper Murphy
L&S Sciences

Paleomagnetism of the Klamath Mountains

The Klamath Mountains are one of the many “suspect terranes” that comprise the West Coast of North America. Due to the increased tectonic activity of this region, the history and paleogeography of this Western Cordillera remain enigmatic. It is largely unknown whether or not these terranes originated in place or were accreted (delivered from off coast). This project uses paleomagnetism, the study of how rocks are altered by the magnetic field, to understand the rotational and kinematic history of the Baird Formation in the Klamath Mountains. When a rock forms or cools from magma, its ferromagnetic minerals align with the earths magnetic field like a compass. This property allows us to understand the orientation of the rocks with respect to the field at the time of formation. Upon collection of samples, variations in the rocks recorded magnetic field orientation and the current field orientation are oftentimes indicative of past tectonic […]

...Read More about Leyla Namazie
Rose Hills

Guns Arent Nice: Preschool Teachers Perceptions and Policing of Black Boys Play

Play is a central component of childhood development, yet previous research on play largely neglects the role of racism and prejudice in childrens play, and in the way their play is perceived by adults. Were left with all these unanswered questions: How do teachers impose their own values onto students play? How do teachers perceptions of play affect the way they regulate or police it? In what ways are certain groups marginalized, stifled, or supported through the treatment of their play? Drawing from observations in a preschool classroom and data from existing literature, I aim to describe how the play of preschool students, Black boys in particular, is surveilled, regulated, and evaluated by teachers in order to help untangle the relationships between race, education, and play. In doing so, I hope to provide a framework for teachers to re-evaluate their perceptions of students play with the goal of creating a […]

...Read More about Jack Nelson
Humanities and Social Science

Elucidating Genetic Interaction Networks of Post-Transcriptional Regulators in Yeast

Post-transcriptional regulation is vital for cell survival and proliferation in diverse environments, but little is understood about the underlying regulatory networks or their mechanisms. Regulation of mRNA expression is an essential process in cells that involves RNA binding proteins targeting mRNAs to change their localization, expression, and stability. These RNA binding proteins do not act in isolation; they are often involved in various pathways that also regulate their function. Our lab group has designed and performed numerous high-throughput screens to collect data about genes and proteins involved in post-transcriptional regulation on the genomic level in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. One such screen is a CRISPR interference (CRISPRi) screen, which inactivates genes on a genome-wide scale to reveal how each target gene affects a specific biological process, such as the activity of a particular RNA binding protein. The goal of my project is to synthesize the data from these high-throughput screens, formulate a […]

...Read More about David Noble
Rose Hills

The Monoculture Effect Host Genetic Diversity and Infectious Disease Evolution

Interactions between infectious diseases and their hosts underpin a vast array of ecological and evolutionary dynamics. These host-parasite interactions are thought to contribute to the maintenance of genetic diversity in animal, plant, and insect hosts. One important factor in this is called the monoculture effect where genetically homogenous host populations may select for more virulent pathogens. This project seeks to test the monoculture effect in the Boots labs Plodia interpunctella (Indian Meal Moth) and granulosis virus model system.

...Read More about Marina Norfolk
SURF SMART

Characterizing Photomultiplier Tube Nonlinearity for Radiation Detection

In the radiological sciences, photomultiplier tubes (PMTs) are often used for measuring scintillation, light emitted from certain materials in the presence of radiation. For example, the neutron response of organic scintillating materials is currently being measured at LBNL using photomultiplier tubes. When incident neutron radiation strikes an organic scintillator, the fast neutrons interact with the nuclei present, primarily through elastic scattering. The recoiling nuclei move through the medium causing excitation and ionization of the scintillating molecules. These molecules de-excite through the emission of light and this light can then be measured with a PMT. Ideally, PMTs would behave linearly–where the current output they produce is proportional to the light input. However, in certain operating regimes, such as at low bias voltage, previous measurements have shown nonlinearity of the PMT response. Thus, to effectively use a PMT in radiation detection measurements, one must first understand its response. Given current limitations on […]

...Read More about Allison O’Brien
Rose Hills

Investigating the antiviral effects and mechanism of action of cyclodextrins against SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis

The recent COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), has catalyzed a global public health crisis, and effective therapeutics as well as a deeper understanding of the mechanism of severe disease induced by SARS-CoV-2 infections are desperately needed. Severe cases of COVID-19 are associated with vascular leak in the lungs of infected individuals, a similar pathology to that of flaviviruses, for which preliminary research has shown that synthetic sulfated glycans may function as potential antivirals. In particular, cyclodextrins, a family of cyclic oligosaccharides with potential use as active pharmaceuticals, are promising candidates for efficacy against SARS-CoV-2 infection and vascular leak. Coronaviruses interact with heparan sulfate-containing proteoglycans on the surface of susceptible cells, which serve as non-specific attachment factors. Specifically, the SARS-CoV-2 S protein binds heparin on the host cell surface, making this cellular attachment stage a potential target for antiviral therapeutics before pathology is triggered in the lungs. This […]

...Read More about Trishna Patel
Rose Hills

Disentangling the Contributions of Reactive and Proactive Cognitive Control to Impulsivity

Impulsivity as an individual behavioral trait is a hallmark of externalizing disorders including ADHD, oppositional defiant, and conduct disorders. Impulsive individuals are thought to lack cognitive control (i.e., the ability to behave according to ones goals), which has been found to operate via two distinct modes: reactive control (i.e., goal information is triggered by a stimulus) and proactive control (i.e., goal information is sustained over time). While many studies have indicated that dysfunction of the lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC) is implicated in poor cognitive control, the temporal dynamics of LPFC cognitive control in impulsivity remain unclear: Do both proactive and reactive cognitive control representations in LPFC contribute to impulsive behavior? By analyzing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data from an emotional decision-making task, I will investigate the specific contributions of both cognitive control types to individual variation in impulsivity using multivoxel rule representations in LPFC. This project will fill an […]

...Read More about Audrey Phan
Humanities and Social Science

Conceiving of the Climate: Conceptual Metaphor in Ecopoetics

Research in conceptual metaphor has established that, far from being a decorative flourish, metaphor is integral to human reasoning: we extrapolate from our immediate experience to make sense of abstract objects and processes. Climate change is such a process, happening on spatial and temporal scales far beyond our perceptual horizons. While metaphor is indispensable in every genre of climate discourse think greenhouse gas, carbon footprint, and tipping points poetry is a particularly rich generator of innovative metaphoric framings. In this project, I will put insights from cognitive linguistics in conversation with traditions in literary and aesthetic theory to analyze a selection of poems dealing with climate change, from contemporary ecopoets including Juliana Spahr, Jane Hirshfield, Ed Roberson, and Cody-Rose Clevidence. Ill explicate the conceptual mappings that metaphors in these poems generate and consider their broader cognitive, affective, and imaginative effects to explore the question: how might ecopoetic metaphor influence our […]

...Read More about Sonnet Phelps
Humanities and Social Science

Does Speaking More than One Language Make it Easier to See More Than One Perspective?

Understanding linguistic subjectivity means recognizing that two speakers of a language can disagree about what counts as beautiful, or tall.” Adults can understand and easily accept when people disagree on subjective properties of the world; however, children seem to fail to do so until much later. On the other hand, when exposed to two subjective opinions, children often assert that only one opinion could be correct. In turn, my research question asks whether or not bilingual children are more likely to be able to understand and acknowledge that two people can disagree about a subjective property. In knowing two different languages, bilingual children have been found to exhibit increased executive functioning and metalinguistic awareness skills. In better comprehending how children come to accept subjectivity in language, we can better support children’s social development and understand how we come to cooperate with each other as adults.

...Read More about Jacqueline Phuong Nguyen
Humanities and Social Science

Constraining the assembly of North America ca. 1.85 billion years ago

The geological core of North America, known as Laurentia, is a product of a collision that occurred some 1.85 billion years ago. The Superior Craton of eastern Canada collided with the Hearne and Wyoming Cratons to the west, creating the Trans-Hudson Orogenic Belt and the foundation for Earths putative first supercontinent, Nuna. As igneous rocks form, they record the direction and magnitude of Earths magnetic field as remanent magnetism. Ferromagnetic minerals, such as magnetite, align their magnetization in the direction of the prevailing magnetic field. After collecting samples that date to the creation of Laurentia, a magnetometer will be used for thermal demagnetization, a procedure that detects the magnetic moment (direction and magnitude) of the magnetization preserved in the sample. Measuring this magnetic imprint will allow me to reconstruct the movement of these cratons through time and better understand the Trans-Hudson Orogen and the assembly of North America.

...Read More about James Pierce
L&S Sciences

Social and Environmental Influences on Diabetes Management for Low-Income San Franciscans

While it is well-established that the social determinants of health play a monumental role in patients management of their health, there is more to be learned about how a deeper understanding of the social and physical environment can be applied to shape beneficial interventions. Learning how a patients neighborhood affects their ability to visit the doctor in their area or have access to a caregiver can inform the design of technological tools that address these pain points along a patients journey to access quality healthcare. This summer, I will be working with the Lyles Lab at UCSF. My research will determine the interplay of individual, interpersonal, and neighborhood-level influence on diabetes self-management tasks for low-income individuals in San Francisco, through the lens of qualitative inquiry supplemented with geospatial analysis. Through my research, I hope to better understand how qualitative research on social and environmental factors can be translated to the […]

...Read More about Kameswari “Kamu” Potharaju
Humanities and Social Science

Investigating Molecular Mechanisms Behind the Loss of Mammalian Heart Regeneration

Any significant damage to our heart tissue results in permanent scarring and irreversible loss of function, but animals like newts and zebrafish can naturally replace the lost tissue and recover to a healthy state. Looking at trends between species, it appears that mammals may have evolved to lose regenerative potential as they acquired endothermy. Interestingly, we can see a similar trend in a single mouse. In its neonatal stage, a mouse can regenerate functional heart tissue, but loses this ability within a few days as its body temperature increases. This suggests that mammals may have an innate regenerative potential that is lost as the metabolic rate increases to meet the demands of endothermy. To explain the link between metabolism and regeneration, I will be identifying and analyzing potential molecular mechanisms that mediate crosstalk between the heart and thermogenic brown adipose tissue, alongside other metabolic organs. In parallel with this molecular […]

...Read More about Nevan Powers
Rose Hills

Found Identity: A Study of Ocean Vuong's "On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous"

My research focuses on Ocean Vuong’s 2019 novel “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous.” Vuong incorporates the epistolary form–narrated by his protagonist, Little Dog, to his mother–to elucidate how Little Dog explores his identity in 21st-century New England as the son of a Vietnamese immigrant. My research will consider how Vuong’s novel integrates scholarship from post-colonial studies, queer and gender studies, and most notably, studies of the novel form. By examining the novel through this diversified lens, I will argue that its contents mimics the social conditions we see in America today and how its ethics creates an affective location for future readers to judge its success. Because the novel involves experiences of Little Dog’s exploration of his sexuality, masculinity, hereditary trauma, and the American-immigrant experience, the novel carries political weight and allows for a reexamination of what we expect from “The Great American novel.” This process will develop into how […]

...Read More about Anthony Principe-Contreras
Humanities and Social Science

Exploring cool things about the hottest matter in the universe

Nuclear physics aims to understand the properties of the strong force which describes how quarks and gluons, the constituents of protons and neutrons in the nuclei of atoms, interact with each other. It is one of the four fundamental forces. This force can be understood by studying a state of matter known as the Quark-Gluon Plasma (QGP) which is created by colliding nuclei at very high energies. My project aims to measure correlations between particles formed with the QGP. I will analyze data produced by the ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment) detector at the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) to study partonic energy loss in heavy-ion collisions and how the QGP affects fragmentation of high energy quarks and gluons. I will specifically study collimated sprays of particles called jets to understand how particles lose energy as they traverse the medium produced in heavy-ion collisions.

...Read More about Stuti Raizada
L&S Sciences

BRCA1 and BRCA2 High-Throughput Mutation Classification

Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women – as high as 25%, while ovarian cancer accounts for 2.5% of cancers in women. Women who carry BRCA1 or BRCA2 non-functional mutations are predisposed to early onset of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. There are many variants of uncertain significance (VUS) in the population, which are limiting the clinical utility of genetic information – they might not be sensitive to the current clinically used therapeutic drugs. PARP inhibition (PARPi) is currently the only therapeutic drug that is used for patients with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations. The lack of other therapeutic approaches currently prevents a comprehensive drug sensitivity annotation. It is important to understand which type of mutations are PARPi sensitive in order to optimize the choice of therapeutic strategy of patients carrying different BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations. I aim to address the clinical challenge of BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation […]

...Read More about Alma Rechav Ben Natan
L&S Sciences

RNA-seq analysis of Mimulus guttatus copper tolerance

Populations of Mimulus guttatus commonly known as yellow monkeyflower, have rapidly adapted to grow on soils contaminated with high levels of copper in regions of Northern California. Im interested in better understanding the evolutionary mechanism that allowed this organism to adapt so quickly to these extreme conditions at a genetic level. Using RNA sequencing data from copper tolerant and non tolerant lines of M. guttatus I will be able to look for genes that are differentially expressed between the two different lines of plants in order to get a better picture of what genes may help contribute to this copper tolerance adaptation. There are a few genes that are suspected of contributing to this process already like Multi-copper oxidase (MCO) and copper ion ATPase transporter (COP), but there are likely many others. It is important to investigate this rapid adaptation in particular because it gives us a chance to get […]

...Read More about Alex Ripperton
Rose Hills

Latinx Scholar-Ballers: The Educational Experience of Latinx Student Athletes Across Varying Institutional Settings

Have you ever heard of Joe Kapp? Aside from being a NCAA Men’s Basketball champion, the last Cal QB to play in the Rose Bowl and the head coach during “The Play” Kapp was a Latinx student-athlete. Joe Kapp and Latinx student-athletes, are easy to recognize anywhere they go because of the value placed upon athletics in society. For this reason, their ability to succeed or not in higher education impacts how people from Latinx communities view the potential of higher education. While Latinx student-athlete graduation rate is below the national NCAA average, there is a push Universities, like Cal, to become Hispanic Serving Institutions to meet the rising demand of a growing Latinx student population. A (HSI) Hispanic Serving Institution is an accredited, degree-granting, public or private institution of higher education with 25% or more full time hispanic student enrollment. With this push in mind, I will analyze & […]

...Read More about Ladislao Rodriguez
Humanities and Social Science

Relative impacts of ecological and evolutionary feedbacks on tripartite Lepidoptera community structure

My research aims to understand the impact of invasive plant species on multi-level ecological relationships i.e. how do (or dont) invasive plants change the relational landscape of a region? To address this question, Ill be looking at the tripartite relationships between 1) native and non-native plant species, 2) butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera), and 3) the microbiota that live within butterfly and moth guts. Each of these relationships has coevolved through time, and I am curious to see how changing species assemblages impact not just individuals, but the tightly woven networks they are part of. My field research will take place in Point Reyes, CA, a landscape that is very dear to my heart. During my research process, I aim to think critically about what it means to work with native landscapes as a settler in the United States. I hope to collaborate with the Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo (now […]

...Read More about Katherine Roger
L&S Sciences

Probing Ferroelectric Phase Transitions using the Nitrogen-Vacancy Color Center in Diamond

The Nitrogen-Vacancy (NV) Color Center in Diamond is an optically active defect that has been demonstrated to be an effective nanoscale sensor of external electric and magnetic fields. Crucially, unlike other such sensors (such as SQUIDs or Mossbauer spectrometers), the NV center is capable of in situ, or local, imaging of these external fields. Moreover, for NVs in a diamond anvil cell (DAC) setup, one can perform in situ measurements of electric and magnetic fields in materials at very high pressures. This opens up the possibility of using the NV center to study the behavior of electric fields associated with the transition between a paraelectric and a ferroelectric. In my project, I plan to theoretically investigate the feasibility of studying the ferroelectric transition via the NV center. This will be done by theoretically computing dipole correlations in paradigmatic models of the ferroelectric transition and then characterizing the NVs response to […]

...Read More about Rahul Sahay
L&S Sciences

Investigating How 3D Mechanical Forces influence Neuroectoderm Specification in Human Embryonic Development

Stem cells have been heralded as the future of medicine for their ability to develop into new tissues, repair regions damaged by disease or injury, and give rise to entirely new organisms. However, in order to fully harness the power of stem cells, we must first understand the environmental cues responsible for the cells behavior. Evidence is accumulating that the fate of stem cells is tightly controlled not only by biochemical signals but also by biophysical cues within the tissue microenvironment. This finding is particularly pertinent in human embryonic development during which these mechanical cues are believed to play key roles in the regulation of several phenomena including migratory events as well as cell specification. By engineering a novel three-dimensional matrix that closely resembles the implantation niche of embryonic stem cells, we will be able to investigate this link and specifically explore how mechanical forces from the extracellular matrix influence […]

...Read More about Mason Sakamoto
Rose Hills

Classifying the origins of uplift at the Mendocino Triple Junction

My project will try to address the possible hazards associated with the Mendocino Triple Junction, where the Pacific, North American, and Gorda plates meet. This project will use Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) and python programs to measure and model ground deformation in order to further understand the uplift that results from the intersection of the three tectonic plates. These deformation models are a novel approach to characterize whether faulting, aseismic deformation, or deeper mantle processes cause uplift in different parts of the region. From this characterization, this project aims to estimate fault location and movement, leading to quantification of locking depth and earthquake potential on the faults. By analyzing the processes which cause deformation near the triple junction, I hope to gain a better understanding of the magnitude, location, and hazard of future earthquakes in this area.

...Read More about Lucy Sandoe
L&S Sciences

Pre-Inca Household Archaeology in the Mantaro Valley

I will be comparing and contrasting data from across several different households that were excavated during the Upper Mantaro Archaeological Research Project (UMARP) in Jauja, Peru. My area of focus will be Pre- Inca households from the Umpamalca region. I will be comparing and contrasting findings from the inside area of the households against the patio areas of the households. Then, I would like to compare and contrast spatial distribution of artifacts and densities found across households in the area. This will give a clearer picture of what the activity areas in the household were and how they compare to other households that were excavated in the same area. My research questions are: How does artifact/ecofact distribution differ across households, and how does that distribution inform us about the daily operations of the study area? These findings will then be compared to findings in households from other nearby regions where […]

...Read More about Karla Saracay
Humanities and Social Science

The Flow of SoundAn Exploration of Computer Music

How can I insert computer music into the intersection of improvisation and composition? My research will explore the ways in which I can use the computer as an instrument in itself and, conversely, as a medium between instrument and sound production. Computers enable a constant and spontaneous flow of information between the musician and the digital soundscape. Learning how to control this flow will let me bring composition and improvisation into a modern context without losing the integrity and intricacies of live performance. My project will be to create a computer music program that musicians can use to alter the soundscape created by their traditional instruments. For example, how can a string quartet modernize their sound without losing their authenticity? Can I create a feedback loop between computer and musician in which the musicians playing affects the output of the computer and the computers output influences the musicians playing? My […]

...Read More about Gabriel Sarnoff
Humanities and Social Science

Microscopic interaction between localized f-electrons and conduction electrons

In a crystalline solid, the constituent atoms electron orbitals overlap, forming energy bands which allow electrons to travel through the solid as waves. The interaction between local electrons in f-orbitals and delocalized, wave-like band states of the conduction electrons underlies several areas of contemporary, fundamental research in solid state physics. In my SURF fellowship I will research Cerium-Bismuth (CeBi), a crystalline solid similar to the well studied Cerium-Antimony (CeSb). These compounds are part of a larger family of materials called the cerium monopnictides. CeBi and CeSb share the same crystalline structure and similar complex magnetic phase diagrams at low temperatures, but they differ qualitatively in the nature of their magnetic states. I aim to investigate why these qualitative differences arise, revealing the interactions between f-electrons and conduction electrons. Theories of these interactions have had profound impacts on modern solid state physics, including the discovery of superconductivity in f-electron systems and […]

...Read More about Sarah Schwarz
Rose Hills

Mechanistic Characterization of Candidate Cold Tolerance Proteins in Freshwater Tardigrade Hypsibius Exemplaris

Tardigrades are frequently studied for their profound ability to withstand environmental stressors, but the mechanisms and degree to which they survive these conditions have been demonstrated to differ between species. This project explores how one freshwater tardigrade species, Hypsibius exemplaris, tolerates subfreezing temperatures by an apparently unique method that avoids desiccation. Existing literature suggests that the remarkable cold tolerance of this species is due to cold tolerance protein expression in response to slow cooling of their environment. However, the precise biochemical and biomolecular mechanisms underlying this cryobiotic ability in H. exemplaris remains unexplored. We aim to shed light on these mechanisms and the proteins involved by isolating candidate cold tolerance proteins in H. exemplaris, characterizing their structures, and performing selective mutations on these proteins to explore potential mechanisms of action. If we are able to identify and characterize the cryoproteins responsible for cold tolerance in this species of tardigrade, these […]

...Read More about DJena See
Rose Hills

Examining Queer Subjectivity in Urban India

My research will examine queer subjectivity in urban India, focusing on the role of virtual spaces in the development of queer identities. Through interviews and virtual participant observation, my project will use a sociological, post-constructivist, post-colonial approach to explore what the process of realization of ones non-heterosexuality feels like in urban India. Specifically, how do globalization and class, as well as the associated language, discourses, and interaction with queer spaces, affect the queer urban Indians experience of sexuality? Related questions include how and why online and offline discourses on lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, hijra, kothi, plus (hereon referred to as LGBTQHK+) empowerment differ; how the post-colonial legacy of English speaking affects the process through which LGBTQHK+ individuals negotiate their identity, legitimacy, and visibility; and what the role of Hinglish is in this matter. My research will provide a perspective that is not centred in the West, and that resists […]

...Read More about Kaamya Talwar Sharma
Humanities and Social Science

Identifying and Modelling Strong Gravitationally-lensed Systems using Neural Networks

The mystery of dark matter and the nature surrounding the cosmic expansion rate (H0) are among the most fundamental questions in physics today. Dark matter outweighs ordinary matter (which stars and planets are made up of) by a ratio of 5:1, and yet much surrounding dark matter is unknown. H0 dictates the expansion rate of the universe, and yet the two current methods of measuring H0 are discrepant at a statistically significant level.Gravitational Lensing is a rare phenomenon that plays a critical role in addressing both of these problems. The matter in a massive galaxy acts like a lens by bending the light from another galaxy, if it is almost directly behind it, creating distorted images of the background galaxy. By training neural networks to both identify and model these incredibly rare phenomena, we can better understand the mystery behind dark matter substructures and may provide a far more accurate […]

...Read More about William Sheu
Rose Hills

Investigating the role of how S1PR3 promotes the release of CGRP

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes skin cells to grow at an abnormal rate. This disease leads the skin to develop red bumpy patches covered with white scales. Itchiness, burns, and stings are common discomforts associated with the disease. Psoriasis affects 8 million Americans and 125 million people worldwide. Currently, antihistamine does not treat psoriasis. Our lab has been exploring non-histamine dependent pathways of itch. Recent work in the Bautista Lab (Hill et al., 2018) identified Sphingosine 1-Phosphate Receptor 3 (S1PR3) as a key signaling molecule that promotes itch-evoked scratching behaviors in mice. However, it is still unknown if S1PR3 activation promotes the release of inflammatory mediators that trigger itch and inflammation. Calcitonin Gene Related Peptide (CGRP) is one inflammatory mediator elevated in Psoriatic skin that recruits and activates immune cells. My research will seek to identify the role of how S1PR3 promotes the release of CGRP from itch […]

...Read More about Ricardo Silva
Rose Hills

Investigating the Enhancer Environment Through Proximity Labeling with TurboID

Embryos begin development using maternally-deposited RNA, but at a critical point in development, embryos begin to transcribe their own genomes. In Drosophila melanogaster, the maternally-deposited transcription factor Zelda is a key regulator of this transition. It binds to non-coding regulatory sequences known as enhancers to regulate the activity of early expressed genes. While the presence and actions of Zelda are known, details regarding its mode of enhancer activation and interactions with other proteins are still not well understood. My goal is to identify proteins that Zelda interacts with with the expectation that this will fill missing information about the mechanism of its activity. In order to further understand the mechanism of enhancer activation during early embryogenesis, I will use proximity labeling to identify proteins that associate with Zelda. This process involves introducing TurboID and miniTurboID enzymes that will attach a small molecule label, biotin, to nearby proteins to fly lines. […]

...Read More about Ruchika Singla
L&S Sciences

Untapped Potential: A Comparative Approach Between Traditional and Continuation High School

I intend to produce a comparative study between first-generation, low-income, Latino and African-American males attending continuation high schools and those attending traditional high schools. I will conduct twenty qualitative interviews consisting of ten participants who have attended continuation high school and ten participants who have attended traditional high school- all of whom have attended their respective school within the last ten years. Although there is literature on the school environment and the challenges that students face, I aim to explore the factors that lead students to either continue into higher education, or take an alternative trajectory. I will be paying special attention to the participants’ social networks, school resources, and their criminalization. From my findings, there will be further implications for a better educational curriculum along with providing administrative staff with student narratives. Documenting the students’ lived experiences can be utilized to highlight their needs and in turn could be […]

...Read More about Aaron Solorio
Humanities and Social Science

Characterizing Single Cell Motility in Bacterial Biofilms

Research on bacterial antibiotic resistance evolution has primarily been carried out in liquid culture; however, many infections are in the form of biofilms. Biofilms are composed of bacteria embedded in a complex matrix that protects pathogenic bacteria making them highly virulent, much more difficult to treat in patients, and an important focus of medical research. One interesting characteristic of biofilm growth is that genetically-identical cells can differentiate into multiple cell types, such as motile cells, which can swim within the biofilm. It is unclear how much these swimming cells can disrupt the spatial organization within the biofilm and change the evolutionary outcome for antibiotic-resistant mutants that arise. I will be characterizing single cell motility in the model biofilm Bacillus subtilis. I will use fluorescence microscopy and genetics to quantify the lengthscale of passive motion due to diffusion and active movement due to swimming exhibited by single cells in the biofilm. […]

...Read More about Megan Sousa
L&S Sciences

Comparison of conditions supporting coral reef structure in islands throughout the Pacific

Global change occurs at unprecedented rates within the Anthropocene and the drastic changes to coral reef ecosystems around the globe are unparalleled. Long-term ecological monitoring datasets from coral reefs in the Carribean and Indo-Pacific regions contain key information for assessing modern changes to tropical reef ecosystems. Abundant data on oceanographic conditions and organismal density hold the key to examining relationships between the biotic and abiotic factors that have changed coral reef community composition in the recent past. This project will use long-term ecological monitoring datasets from tropical islands in the Indo-Pacific and the Caribbean to investigate the impacts of changing water temperature, nutrient availability, and geomorphology on organismal community assemblages. These oceanographic and biological relationships have the potential to reveal key impacts of anthropogenic activity on these extremely productive, yet rather fragile ecosystems that support such a large percentage of marine life. This project hopes to investigate the effects of […]

...Read More about Blake Stoner-Osborne
Rose Hills

The Role of Exosomes in Human SK-N-SH Neuroblastoma Cells During Neural Differentiation

Exosomes were initially thought to act as cellular waste compartments because of their extrusion from the cell. It was only recently discovered that exosomes contain not only cellular proteins, but also act as natural carriers of nucleic acid material, playing an important part in communication in the brain. Previous studies have demonstrated that exosomes play a role in processes that have long been hypothesized to be involved in psycho-pathology of mental disorders, such as neuroinflammation, neurogenesis, and neuro plasticity. Currently, little is known about the secretion mechanisms of extracellular vesicles in differentiated human neuroblastoma cells. We plan to establish a differentiation system in human neuroblastoma cells in order to make comparisons with its undifferentiated and differentiated state. Once we expand these cells and collect the vesicles, we will analyze its extracellular markers distribution to give us a better sense of its secretion mechanisms. We hope that establishing a differentiation system […]

...Read More about Angela Sun
Rose Hills

Undergraduate Research in Soil Health and Agroecology

This project asks, how can agriculture work for both people and in the environment? Through field, greenhouse, and lab work, this research explores how diversified farming practices influence soil health, particularly arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) and wild bee communities. In the field, my graduate student mentor and I are working with small-scale farmers of color embedded in the monocultural landscape of Californias San Joaquin Valley and investigating how their farming practices influence soil and pollinator health. In the greenhouse, we are conducting greenhouse experiments to determine the mechanistic connection between AMF and bees. In the lab, we are processing samples collected from the field and greenhouse to determine microbial composition of soil samples using molecular methods and nutrient properties of soil and plant samples.

...Read More about Michelle Tampa Flores
SURF SMART

Interpreting Longitudinal Neuronal Atrophy Patterns for Multiple Sclerosis Patients in a Clinical Context

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic and currently incurable neurodegenerative disease of the central nervous system. While whole brain atrophy for multiple sclerosis cohorts are on average more pronounced than the healthy population, thenatural change due to aging and inherent morphological variability of the human brain has remained a persistent barrier in interpreting whether significant percent variable change in an individual patient is diagnostically relevant. Using FSLs SIENAX/SIENA toolkit and UCLs SPM toolkit on over 10,000 patients and over 50,000 anatomical magnetic resonance imaging scans, we hope to break this barrier by sensitively mapping the natural variability in brain morphological over the human lifespan and the cross-section variability to recognize a patients unique morphological context. Via state of the art cluster techniques, we aim to construct a sensitive diagnostic test that can delineate between healthy aging and pathological processes.

...Read More about Paulina Tarr
L&S Sciences

Unraveling Novel Mechanisms of Dengue Virus RNA Capping and Immune Evasion

Mosquito-borne diseases are a major burden to public health systems, especially in developing countries. It is estimated that about 3.9 billion people worldwide are at risk of infection with dengue virus, with 50-100 million cases per year1. Nonetheless, safe vaccines and therapeutics for dengue are not available. Transmission occurs through the bite of female Aedes mosquitos infected with one of four antigenically related dengue virus serotypes (DENV1-4). Infection with one serotype may confer temporal protection or, conversely, enhance disease of a subsequent infection with a different serotype, suggesting an important role for immune responses in driving the outcome of the disease24. The mechanisms that govern DENV replication and its interplay with the immune system are a major knowledge gap in the field. Here, we address this issue by investigating the viral non-structural protein NS5, known to be involved in both viral replication and immune evasion mechanisms. In particular, we aim […]

...Read More about Hunter Thornton
Rose Hills

Investigating the Infertility Phenotype of Rpl41 Knockout Mice

I am investigating the gene Rpl41 in a mouse model. Rpl41 is a ribosomal protein coding gene of the large ribosome subunit. It is one of 80 highly conserved ribosomal genes. In literature, mutations to the ribosomal protein genes have resulted in drastic phenotypic differences in even heterozygous individuals, many resulting in embryonic lethality. Rpl41 is a highly conserved gene so the existence of our knockout Rpl41 mice is surprising. Rpl41 knockout mice are phenotypically different from wildtype mice in two important aspects. While the knockout ovaries show evidence of ovulation, structurally, the knockout ovary shares little anatomical similarities with the wildtype littermate control. Importantly, these knockout females are infertile while a significant number of males die of hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in the brain, and are potentially infertile after one litter. I am investigating these phenotypes through histological and molecular biology approaches to fully characterize and quantify the […]

...Read More about Kristy Tjokro
Rose Hills

Monte Carlo Simulation of FeCoNbS2's Magnetism

For my research, I will use a computer simulation to predict the macroscopic behaviour of a material, FeCoNbS2, by making assumptions about its microscopics. To do this, I will use the Monte Carlo method to simulate FeCoNbS2’s magnetism. The Monte Carlo method is a random sampling algorithm that has been applied to everything from investment banking to climate change models. Magnetism is a fundamental physical phenomena that has vast implications in computer and circuit technology. Thus, studying magnetism using the Monte Carlo method is a pretty interesting task which combines two relevant scientific topics. Studying FeCoNbS2, in particular, will yield new insight into a previously unstudied material and potentially offer direction for future studies on the practical application of this material. When I am able to return to on-campus work, my ultimate goal will be to physically grow FeCoNbS2 and measure its magnetic propertiies and compare these results to my […]

...Read More about Susana Torres-Londono
L&S Sciences

Ecological niche modeling of Loranthaceae aerial haustorial morphology across Australia

While most famously a holiday symbol of love and affection, mistletoe plants also play an indispensable role in the balance of global woodland ecosystems, providing birds with shelter and nutrition, while also replenishing soil nutrients and carbon via high leaf shedding rates. In fact, experiments have demonstrated that the removal of mistletoe populations can lead to a dramatic loss in species diversity. Therefore, though often criminalized for its parasitic nature, in reality mistletoe plants serve as an ecological Robin Hood effectively stealing from the rich to give to the poor. Excited by this unique lifestyle, my research focuses on exploring the underappreciated relationship between parasitic tissue structure and the types of environments each structural type can inhabit. To do this, Im employing statistical concepts like maximum entropy and non-metric multidimensional scaling to create ecological niche models. Ultimately, I hope to demonstrate that mistletoe with more recently evolved parasitic structures can […]

...Read More about Kenneth Trang
Rose Hills

Pasolini's Lyric

In the realm of poetry, lyric, as a noun, signifies a category of poetic form, as an adjective, abstract subjectivity. The Italian poet, screenwriter, film director, and essayist-critic Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975) takes up these definitions of lyric and through a diversity of mediums expands them beyond poetry, and beyond mere signification: articulating a possible critical consciousness of the concept itself. Pasolinis poetry and films are conceived through a lyric style or form that actively connects sensuality, rigorous thought, intellectual and political critique, experience of contradictionand in terms of the relation of the individual to societyan individually accessed sense of collectivity and the potential meanings of political and ethical commitment. Through meticulous formal consideration, Pasolini imbues the relationships stated above upon the lyric subjectivity of his work to critique and reimagine the rapidly changing and increasingly disjointed world he confronted and create an art which aids in constructing alternative ways […]

...Read More about Giancarlo Tucci-Berube
Humanities and Social Science

Stabilization of Crystalline Catalysts for Olefin Epoxidation via Hydrophobic Surface Groups

This summer, I will be working on developing highly efficient and stable catalysts for the production of propylene oxide (PO), a chemical used in construction, upholstery, and automobiles. The instability of the current industrial amorphous catalyst causes numerous shutdowns per year during production and creates unnecessary waste, including 750 thousand tons of carbon dioxide, and costs $930 million dollars to manufacturers per year. In my research, I will modify current crystalline catalysts to become more stable by avoiding polymerization side reactions that are initiated by small amounts of water on the catalyst surface and that are known to cause catalyst deactivation. My hypothesis is that this can be avoided by making the surface of the material hydrophobic, or water repellent. During this project, I will synthesize several crystalline catalyst candidates, modify them with different surface capping methods, and test them for long-term stability. My work will contribute to the reduction […]

...Read More about Victoria Venardi
Rose Hills

Understanding Neuroendocrine Control of the LH Surge

All steps of female reproduction, including ovulation, fertilization, and pregnancy, rely on timed secretion of reproductive hormones. The release of hormones in our bodies coincide with our exposure to the natural light and dark cycle. In women with poor sleep hygiene and irregular work schedules, circadian desynchronization has been shown to negatively impact different stages of the reproductive cycle, leading to irregular menstrual cycles, decreased fertility, and increased miscarriage rates. Additionally, with the rise of modern technology, exposure to artificial light from laptops and phones at night poses an even more pronounced disruption to the circadian rhythm. In the Kriegsfeld lab we study how the brain’s master circadian clock (SCN) controls areas of the brain associated with reproduction. In my research project, with the guidance of my graduate student mentor, I aim to understand how specific SCN neurochemicals coordinate the activational state of kisspeptin and GnIH neurons to allow for […]

...Read More about Victoria Vo
Rose Hills

Investigating the Role of RFamide and Taurine Neuromodulators on Cassiopea Behavior

The upside-down jellyfish, Cassiopea, is a model organism for sleep despite its decentralized nervous system (DNS). The nervous system consists of radially spaced, interconnected motor control nerve clusters, ganglia, that control Cassipeas pulsing behavior. Preliminary research indicates that a unique subset of these ganglia may command pulsing for days to weeks at a time instead of random command that current literature suggests. My research will be focused around answering the question: what molecular differences cause morphologically identical ganglia to have activity differences? RFamide and Taurine are neuromodulators known to exist in the ganglia and to be involved in behavioral control in other animals. By comparing quantitative antibody stains of these modulators to behavioral data I will attempt to determine whether or not these modulators are necessary and sufficient for ganglial control. Together, this will gain insight into the behavioral control of Cassiopea, building a foundation to understand why ganglia specialization […]

...Read More about Konnor von Emster
L&S Sciences

Searching for New Superconductors: Transition Metal Oxides

Superconductors are materials where quantum mechanical interactions between the constituent electrons induce a state with zero electrical resistance. They are often used in MRI machines and precision magnetometers. However, their applicability is hindered by the requisite cryogenic temperatures. Therefore, the discovery of novel superconductors that operate at higher temperatures is of tremendous fundamental and practical interest. This project focuses on inducing superconductivity in a class of materials called the delafossites, some of which have been theoretically predicted to host superconductivity under certain conditions. I will work closely with my graduate student mentor at Lawrence Berkeley Lab, where we will systematically develop a growth recipe for delafossite oxides by iterating on published techniques in the literature. I will learn the physics behind each of our characterization tools (magnetization, x-ray diffraction, resistivity, etc.) and the microscopic insight each of them provides. I will also gain practical experience with single crystal synthesis.

...Read More about Wendy (Fanghui) Wan
SURF SMART

Mussel-Inspired Polymers for Mucosal Drug Delivery

Mussels have the ability to adhere to wet surfaces through the byssus, a collection of protein-based threads, that are formed by the mussels foot. My graduate student mentor and I will investigate the use of mussel-inspired adhesive moieties to enhance contact and retention of polymers on mucosal tissues. In particular, I plan to use our mucoadhesive drug-loaded particles to explore the new concept of drug-induced regenerative medicine, wherein adult mammals are able to regenerate tissues in a scarless manner. The resulting mucoadhesive polymers will be useful in the future for treating ocular and oral diseases.

...Read More about Maple Wang
SURF SMART

Chemosensory Adaptation to Host Specialization in Herbivorous Drosophilidae

Herbivory is a key innovation that accounts for half of all insects and one-third of all living orders. It is believed that loss-of-function in chemoreceptor genes is the driving force behind the transition to herbivory in insects, but the underlying mechanisms are still poorly understood. One such chemoreceptor gene within the ionotropic receptor (IR) family, IR92a, mediates behavioral attraction of amines in microbe-feeding flies and mosquitoes through a population of olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs). I will investigate the hypothesis that in herbivorous flies, this chemoreceptor protein has diminished sensitivity toward amines, and that the number of OSNs expressing this chemoreceptor is lower than in microbe-feeding flies, due to olfactory specializations that entail greater emphasis on the detection of volatiles from living plants rather than on by-products of fermentation. Understanding whether S. flava has decreased sensitivity to volatile amines will shed light onto how the losses of chemosensory genes sensitive to […]

...Read More about George Wang
Rose Hills

Examining the morphological development of a new tripartite landmark in human posterior cingulate cortex

The human cerebral cortex contains ridges (gyri) and indentations (sulci) that other species do not have especially in locations that are expanded in humans such as the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC). In PCC, there is confusion regarding sulcal definitions and nomenclature, which affects interpreting sulcal-functional correspondences. Recently, we reduced confusion by performing a systematic investigation of sulcal identification in adult human PCC (Willbrand et al., 2020). We discovered that a new shallow sulcus in PCC, the inframarginal sulcus (IFRMS), is a tripartite cortical landmark identifying a functional region involved in cognitive control and transitions in macroanatomical and microanatomical gradients. Here, I aim to build on this empirical foundation by addressing two main questions for my SURF project: Is the IFRMS identifiable in children? and Do morphological features of the IFRMS and surrounding PCC sulci develop from childhood to adulthood? As the IFRMS was only identified as a critical cortical landmark […]

...Read More about Ethan Willbrand
Rose Hills

Investigating Lithium Plating Detection in Graphite/NMC Lithium-Ion Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries are a prominent energy storage technology with widespread applications in electronics and electric vehicles. Using Li-ion batteries in electric vehicles is especially attractive to decrease reliance on fossil fuels for transportation, but slow charge times dissuade consumers from purchasing them. A barrier to faster charging is a phenomena that occurs at high charge rates at the graphite electrode called lithium plating, which reduces the amount of energy the battery stores after charge and in extreme cases can short the battery. Being able to detect the occurrence of lithium plating without having to disassemble the battery is of great interest for application in electric vehicles that will make extreme fast charging more feasible. My SURF project will assess the capabilities of a lithium plating detection technique that uses only voltage and time data. Using this technique, I will study extreme fast charging and determine how fast Li-ion batteries can […]

...Read More about Brendan Wirtz
Rose Hills

Spatiotemporal dynamics of type II actin nucleation-promoting factors at clathrin-coated pits

Clathrin-mediated endocytosis (CME) is a conserved cellular pathway that internalizes receptors from the cell membrane that is coordinated by a wide assortment of proteins. This process is crucial for cellular growth, maintenance, and nutrient uptake. Nucleation of actin proteins has been shown to provide crucial forces for the internalization process. While well-studied and well-characterized in yeast cells, the exact roles of actin in mammalian CME still requires further investigation. Using CRISPR/Cas9 genome-edited human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs), I will study the spatiotemporal regulation of branched actin network assembly by the type II actin nucleation promoting factors, ABP1 and CTTN. Elucidation of these spatiodynamics will provide a fundamental and deeper understanding of the crucial process of CME, specifically in mammalian cells.This summer, I will work closely with my mentor in learning data analysis skills for live-cell imaging. In parallel, I will also design a methodology for generating a knockout hiPSC […]

...Read More about Amy Yan
Rose Hills

Evolution of Elaborate Design in Weaverbird Nests

Nest structures are widespread across animals and yet are one of the most understudied components of avian life history. Some of the most remarkable examples of elaborate nest design are within the Weaverbirds (Ploceidae), an Old World family of birds containing over 100 species, making them an ideal model system for studying patterns of biodiversity. While it is known that each species constructs a uniquely designed nest, the evolutionary factors that influence design are unknown. Research questions to address include: 1.) What are ancestral versus derived nest characters? 2.) Are architectural innovations in nest design related to species diversification within the Ploceidae? 3.) What role does bill morphology play in nest design? My primary goal with this project will be to collect essential morphological data from preserved specimens at the UC Berkeley Museum of Vertebrate Zoology (MVZ). In addition, I will provide laboratory assistance in the extraction of DNA from […]

...Read More about Elisa Yang
SURF SMART

Adaptive Radiations in Turtle Skulls

This research seeks to understand the morphological relationship between the bony and keratinous portions of the turtle feeding apparatus, as well as their relationship to diet and habitat. I will focus on a subset of these turtles to test hypotheses at a finer taxonomic level with the goal of exploring the morphological variation within this taxon. To identify variation in skull shape, I will select appropriate specimens from institutions across the Bay Area, such as the UC Museums of Paleontology and Vertebrate Zoology and the California Academy of Sciences, and learn to collect scientifically useful photographs and detailed notes for use in later analyses. Additionally, some of these specimens will be brought to the Berkeley Preclinical Imaging Facility for computed tomography (CT) scanning. With the observational data collected from photographs and CT scans, I will use visualization software to digitize and analyze turtle specimens.

...Read More about Danielle Yang
SURF SMART

Investigation of Therapeutic Efficacy of EGFRvIII-targeting CAR-NK cells against Glioblastoma in vitro and in vivo

Glioblastoma (GB) is the most common and aggressive brain tumor in adults, composed of a microenvironment that suppresses the defense function of T-cells and Natural Killer (NK) cells. Chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) have recently become a robust form of adoptive cell therapy, also known as cellular immunotherapy. Studies on GB treatment using CAR-NK cells have identified epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFRvIII) as a target which distinguishes GB cells from healthy brain cells. Currently, there is a lack of CAR-NK cell mouse models. My project will seek to fill the gaps by developing EGFRvIII-targeting CAR-NK cells to treat glioblastoma and to test whether CAR-NK cells have a better cytotoxic effect on killing tumor cells in vitro and solid tumors in vivo. The data from the mouse models will allow us to investigate the clinical aspect more closely and will show whether CAR-NK cells traffic to the tumor, persist in the tumor […]

...Read More about Ashley Yang
Rose Hills

Running out of Continent": "Automobility" in the California Imaginaries

...Read More about Angela Yin
Humanities and Social Science

A Corpus Analysis of Akkadian Metaphors

This project involves constructing an online database of metaphors in Akkadian, one of the main languages of ancient Mesopotamia. The work is part of my graduate student mentors thesis, which looks at distinctive literary features of Akkadian literature. We will both analyze the internal structure of these metaphors and their distribution within a corpus of cuneiform texts. The theoretical analysis of the metaphors will be based on George Lakoffs Conceptual Metaphor Theory, while the distributional analysis will use a data visualization program called Gephi. Our online database will be based on MetaNet, a project initiated by the UCB Department of Linguistics for understanding metaphors in English. Using an analysis template drawn from MetaNet, we will take Akkadian texts from Open Richly Annotated Cuneiform Corpus and identify the conceptual metaphors within them, noting such things as the source and target frames, hierarchical relationship with other metaphors, and whether the metaphor is […]

...Read More about Kevin Yu
SURF SMART

Detecting Aquifer Characteristics of Groundwater-Dependent Meadow Ecosystems in the Northeastern Sierra Nevada

While riparian meadows encompass

...Read More about Allison Zau
Rose Hills

Investigating the role of the SIR complex in heterochromatin formation in yeast

The precise regulation of gene expression programs is fundamental for all cellular processes. The control of gene expression involving transcriptional activation and/or transcriptional repression is achieved by highly specific protein complexes. The aim of my work is to understand the mechanistic details of the yeast transcription repressor, the SIR complex, which is made up of three proteins: Sir2, Sir3, and Sir4. The SIR complex is critical for the epigenetic regulation of gene expression and the maintenance of chromosome stability. The comparative analysis of the different mechanisms of transcription repression processes between humans and S. cerevisiae will give a better understanding of how deregulation of SIR proteins and their conserved human homologs (Sirtuins) play a role in diseases such as diabetes and Alzeheimers. Specifically, since the mechanism of recruitment of SIR complex to specific genes has not yet been determined, I will investigate the mechanisms involved in the formation of the […]

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

The Cognitive Processes Underlying Modal Reasoning

My research project investigates the cognitive processes underlying peoples modal reasoning. Modal reasoning concerns the possibility and probability of events. It is linguistically expressed by modal words such as certainly, probably, and might. As an example, if you see a person running on the street, you can reason about the scene and infer that he or she might be catching a bus. This kind of reasoning is prevalent in everyday life. Thus, modal reasoning is an interesting topic for cognitive scientists, and studying the use of modal words can reveal how people deal with certainty and uncertainty. My project will collect and analyze behavioral data about how people judge the acceptability of propositions modified by modal words. It contributes to two specific topics in cognitive science. (1) There is a long-standing debate about whether there are two distinct processes for inductive and deductive reasoning. Using modal reasoning as a case […]

...Read More about Cedegao Zhang
Humanities and Social Science

Data Driven Approach to Uncertainty Quantification and Numerical Stochastic ODEs

From modeling cardiovascular circulation, to designing power grids or complex financial derivative products, the study of how noise influences a probabilistic system’s state is vital for successful financial, biological and physical models. Uncertainty quantification aims to explore how uncertainty is propagated throughout computational models via constitutive laws of dynamics. Building upon previous literature, I start by focusing on coupled stochastic balance laws on each edge of a network, whose numerical characterizations of the solution can be achieved with the PDF method. On the other hand, the derivations are problem dependent and at times present computational difficulties due to numerical instability. Therefore, the main focus of my project is to develop a general data-informed solver based on Newtonian relaxation, nonlinear multiple regression and neural network learning. The data-driven approach has potentially two implications in advancing the field: To provide an optimized alternative to Monte Carlo simulations; To design a strategy for […]

...Read More about Hongli (Bob) Zhao
L&S Sciences

The Role of Tox3 in the Neurodegeneration

Neurodegenerative disorders, caused by abnormal death of neurons, manifest in incurable and debilitating conditions. Ataxia, the loss of muscle coordination of voluntary movements, is a hallmark symptom of neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinsons. Various genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have pointed to Tox3s crucial role in neurodegenerative diseases, but current knowledge on its relationship with ataxia is limited. Tox3 is a transcriptional coactivator that confers protective anti-apoptotic effects in the brain, with the highest level of expression in cerebellar Purkinje cells. Our preliminary data show that mice with Tox3 deletion show signs of ataxia and cerebellar atrophy. My proposed project aims to further investigate the ataxic effects of knocking out Tox3 specifically in the nervous system of mutant mice through various behavioral tests. Due to limited access to university laboratories during the Covid-19 pandemic, I will also be writing a review paper on the role of Tox3 in the central nervous […]

...Read More about Amy Zhong
L&S Sciences

Dopamine Modulation of Striatal Pathways in Choice Rejection

The Striatum plays a critical role in decision making and action outcome evaluation. It is primarily composed of two distinct pathwaysdirect and indirect that receive excitatory inputs from the cortex and the thalamus and are differentially modulated by dopamine signals from the midbrain. There has been a wealth of experimental and theoretical work on how the dichotomy of these striatal pathways mediates choice selection. The classic go/no-go model proposes that these pathways play discrete roles in choice selection, with the direct pathway fires to select a rewarding option and the indirect pathway fires to reject the rest. However, predictions made by this model are at odds with empirical findings. More recent studies show that these striatal pathways encode opposite value variables and are co-activated during choice selection, suggesting that they play opponent rather than independent roles in choice rejection. Using a serial decision-making task that isolates choice rejection and selection, […]

...Read More about Lexi Zhou
L&S Sciences

Molecular weight dependence of plastic (PCL) degradation by an embedded enzyme-RHP complex

The environmental plastic problems that plague our planet have become increasingly threatening and an urgent need to solve this epidemic has arisen. Efforts to mitigate this damage have been made but recycling approaches are inefficient and do not eliminate microplastics and enzymatic plastic degradation is costly and diffusion limited. We have proposed a nanoscopic dispersion of enzyme in plastic complexes, creating fully functional materials that have programmable degradation and do not create microplastics. While these complexes are effective in eliminating microplastics, the mechanism in which they do so is still disputed. The characterization of this complex is crucial in understanding its mechanism and whether it can be tuned to cater towards different environmental conditions. By changing the plastic(PCL) matrix chain length, we add another tunable factor as well as allowing us to gather important information on the mechanism behind its binding and degradation. Insights gained here can provide a general […]

...Read More about Kyle Zolkin
Rose Hills