Frontoparietal Tertiary Sulci: Functional Cognitive Networks?

Human brains contain ridges (gyri) and indentations (sulci) that other species do not have – especially in evolutionarily expanded neuroanatomical locations, such as association cortices like the lateral prefrontal (LPFC) and lateral parietal cortices (LPC; Zilles et al., 2013; Van Essen, 2007; Voorhies et al., 2021). Indeed, many LPFC and LPC neuroanatomical features are specific to the human brain. For example, recent research has revealed that hominoid-specific tertiary sulci in LPFC serve as functional landmarks (Miller et al., 2021a,b) and their morphological features are predictive of cognition (Voorhies et al., 2021; Yao et al., 2022). Nevertheless, a main limitation of this previous work is that it was restricted to LPFC. Here, we aim to overcome this limitation by shifting the focus from lobular (e.g., within LPFC) to network (e.g., between LPFC and LPC) relationships. We focus on LPFC and LPC due to previously published work in pediatric and adult cohorts. […]

...Read More about Jatin Batta
L&S Sciences

A Case Study in Taphonomy from the Phillips Coal Ball Collection

The Pennsylvanian (323–299 million years ago) is a very unique time interval in Earth’s history. The Pennsylvanian tropics have one of the best plant-fossil records due to coal balls. These are carbonate nodules containing anatomically preserved fossil peat—deposits of partially decomposed plant material (Schopf, 1975). The Phillips Coal Ball Collection (PCBC) is one of the largest paleobotanical datasets in existence, containing 50,000 coal balls and 500,000 coal ball peels—thin, acetate sheets. From the peels, 800,000cm2 of plant material have been microscopically analyzed and identified at a tissue/organ level. While these fossils have been studied extensively, the link between plant diversity and taphonomy—the process of fossilization—remains underexplored. My plan is to develop an index of preservation decay and apply it to a case study of peels, examining the link between preservation and diversity. I expect lower species diversity in highly degraded peels. Any correlation I find could have major implications for […]

...Read More about Sydney Booth
L&S Sciences

Reactive Oxygen in the Locus Coeruleus

Sleep is a fundamental aspect of human health. One way that our body regulates sleep is through sleep pressure, the balance between sleep and wakefulness. The dysregulation of sleep pressure is a common occurrence in patients with Parkinson’s disease, manifesting in sleep disturbances such as insomnia or excessive daytime sleepiness. It is undetermined if sleep problems and neurodegeneration have common mechanisms, but one potential area of research is in reactive oxygen species (ROS), which have been implicated in Parkinson’s disease. Emerging evidence indicates that ROS accumulate during steady activity of norepinephrine-releasing neurons in the locus coeruleus. These neurons are crucial for arousal and being in a state of wakefulness, and they are among the first to degenerate in Parkinson’s disease. In this project, I will use immunohistochemistry to investigate the specific type of ROS accumulation during prolonged locus coeruleus neuron activity, such as during sleep deprivation, and determine whether recovery […]

...Read More about Lillie Bui
L&S Sciences

The Effect of Deafferentation on the Sensorimotor System

Motor learning – the process of acquiring skilled movements – helps us learn to kick a ball and play piano. Among the many processes that enable motor learning, motor adaptation is of primary importance, enabling us to readily respond to changes in the body (e.g., muscle fatigue) and environment (e.g., a heavy jacket). A large body of work has emphasized how motor adaptation is driven by visual signals; however, the role of proprioception – one’s awareness about the location of the body – has been largely neglected. To fill this gap in the literature, I will examine the role of proprioception on motor adaptation. Through behavioral experiments (in-person and online), as well as a meta-analysis of the literature, I will compare motor performance between patients without proprioception – also known as deafferentation, an extremely rare neurological condition – with those of age-matched controls. These results will not only reveal how […]

...Read More about Anisha Chandy
L&S Sciences

Mitochondrial FNIP1 Recruitment in the Reductive Stress Response

Redox homeostasis is essential for cell health. It can be perturbed by an overproduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which leads to oxidative stress. The converse, reductive stress, is caused by mitochondrial inactivation and depletion of ROS. Persistent reductive stress impairs metazoan development and causes cancer, diabetes, and cardiomyopathy. Despite its central role in development and disease, how reductive stress is sensed and alleviated remains poorly understood. The Rape Lab recently identified the first pathway that can counteract reductive stress. Following reductive stress, the E3 ligase CUL2FEM1B marks the FNIP1 proteins for degradation at the outer mitochondrial membrane, which increases electron transport chain activity and resupplies cells with ROS. I hypothesize that localized FNIP1 degradation allows the reductive stress pathway to accurately sense mitochondrial ROS production. The primary goal of my SURF project is to determine how FNIP1 is recruited to the mitochondria. This is essential to understanding how a […]

...Read More about Joelle Chuang
L&S Sciences

Probing the CP Properties of the Top-Higgs Interaction

What is the universe made of? This fundamental question haunting us for thousands of years has been answered by the Standard Model (SM), which gives us the results with unprecedented accuracy. The SM provides a set of rules that governs elementary particle interactions, but there must be something missing. A big hint here is that SM doesnt explain the asymmetry between matter and antimatter, the nature of dark matter, and the quantum behavior of gravity. Physics beyond the Standard Model (BSM) must exist. The ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) investigates a wide range of BSM physics. Measuring the properties of the Higgs boson is a powerful path. This project will focus on searching for single top Higgs production. Specifically, I will design analysis to measure the event rate of the tH process in which the Higgs boson has a high transverse momentum and decays to a pair […]

...Read More about Yuan Feng
L&S Sciences

Investigating the Synergistic Anti-tumor Effect of Akkermansia and ICI

The gut microbiota plays a salient role in mediating host physiology and immunity. Several studies link immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) efficacy in extraintestinal cancers to gut microbiota composition, with commensals, such as Akkermansia muciniphila (A. muciniphila). Recently, studies found that A. muciniphila treatment during anti-PD1 immunotherapy showed potential clinical relevance; however, the differential effects on antitumor responses by the different strains of A. muciniphila are not yet elucidated. Becken et al. (2021) genotyped 71 strains of A. muciniphila, together representing the Am (A. muciniphila) I, AmII, and AmIV clades, and identified clade-specific characteristics that may influence interactions with the host immune system in vivo. Using the collection of A. muciniphila strains from the Valdivia Lab, I will test the hypothesis that A. muciniphila clade-specific traits can lead to varied effects on systemic anti-tumor responses. I will first examine whether gnotobiotic mice colonized with representative A. muciniphila strains from each of […]

...Read More about Chen Kai Huang
L&S Sciences

Developing Analytic Tools for PDEs with Ideas from Geometric Flows

  Geometric flows, such as the Ricci flow, Yang-Mills flow, and harmonic map flow, are natural ways to smooth out geometric objects (metric, connection, and maps, respectively). In this project, we will explore the idea of using geometric flows to develop new analytic tools for studying geometric objects. A possible goal of this project is to use geometric flows to solve problems in dispersive PDEs that involve geometric objects.

...Read More about Yuming Huang
L&S Sciences

Impact of Sequences of Flavivirus Infections on Dengue Immunity

Dengue virus (DENV) is a viral disease endemic in subtropical and tropical regions that causes one of the most important mosquito-borne viral disease affecting humans, with around 50 million cases annually. Infections are caused by four genetically related but distinct serotypes, DENV1-4, which can lead to individuals becoming infected with multiple serotypes during their lifespan. Primary DENV or ZIKV infections generate antibodies that protect against infection from the same serotype, but they also lead to generation of cross-reactive antibodies that can increase the risk of a secondary symptomatic DENV infection and enhance dengue disease severity. Importantly, the mechanism by which the host immune response provides either protection or enhancement of subsequent infection is not fully understood. My research project aims to describe the complex profile of antibodies generated after primary DENV and ZIKV infection and fill important knowledge gaps regarding the understanding and prediction of epidemics and the development and […]

...Read More about Julia Huffaker
L&S Sciences

Gut microbiota for E. faecalis Infection Resistance in C. elegans

The animal gastrointestinal tract is colonized by diverse microorganisms collectively termed the gut microbiota, of which bacteria are the most characterized. Gut bacteria play numerous roles in host physiology, from development to immune homeostasis. In recent years, there has been a significant rise in interest in understanding the role of gut microbiota in protecting the host from pathogen colonization. Past research has uncovered that gut microbiota can prevent pathogenic bacteria from colonizing the host gut by competing for resources, enhancing host immunity, or directly inhibiting pathogen proliferation. Yet, more research is required to better understand the modes in which gut bacteria help their hosts resist infections. I will take advantage of the Caenorhabditis elegans model to identify specific gut bacteria that increase host resistance to the pathogen Enterococcus faecalis, a bacterium responsible for many human infections. I hypothesize that common C. elegans gut microbiota members will confer protection against E. […]

...Read More about Da Kyung Jung
L&S Sciences

Investigating Genetic Determinants of Growth in C. aerofaciens

The gut bacteria Collinsella aerofaciens has two coexisting growth phenotypes in culture, and my research will identify genes driving these phenotypes. C. aerofaciens is a large component of the human gut microbiome, and is able to ferment and metabolize different carbohydrate sources, making it a crucial part of human nutrient metabolism. Looking at variation in growth (pellet versus suspension) will allow me to better understand the ways in which the bacteria respond to different growing conditions. We will use a combination of gene expression analysis and a forward genetic screen to identify the genetic loci that are responsible for the observed differences in growth. This project will contribute new information regarding C. aerofaciens’ growth as a bacteria crucial for metabolism and digestion of certain compounds, and for repression and modulation of pathogenicity in the human gut. Understanding bacterial growth in the gut will provide information as to the role of […]

...Read More about Haaris Kadri
L&S Sciences

Mechanics and Defensive Functions of Gastropod Shell Ornamentation

Mollusk shells have been objects of fascination throughout human history, in part due to their striking ornamentation in the form of knobs, ridges, and spines. These elaborate structures are hypothesized to be so prevalent among mollusks because they protect against breakage by shell-crushing predators. However, the mechanisms by which ornamentation contributes to defense remain largely unknown. This project will use compression tests of 3D-printed shell models to study the mechanical behavior of spines in gastropod mollusks, in order to better understand how spine morphology affects resistance to forces such as those applied by predators. Using 3D prints eliminates many of the confounding factors that typically accompany studies of biological specimens, allowing the influence of morphology to be isolated and investigated. These results will contribute to our understanding of the selective pressures driving mollusk evolution on geologic timescales and help to explain the high morphological disparity observed today. Knowledge of how […]

...Read More about Leah Kahn
L&S Sciences

Understanding Mechanisms Behind Memory Cells in PTSD Susceptibility

Memories in the brain are encoded in specialized neurons called “engram cells,” which are active during an initial event and the recall of that event. Little is known about how these cells form, but exposure to traumatic stress has previously been linked to an increase in the number of engram cells. The goal of my research is to examine the formation of engram cells in multiple areas of the brain after exposure to stress and determine if the increased presence of these cells results in PTSD-like behavior in mice. Understanding the beginning of engram formation will allow for a better understanding of how individuals respond to stress and the neural mechanism that results in maladaptive methods of handling stress. Over the summer, I will subject mice to stress by exposing them to a chronic social defeat stress paradigm, performing a series of behavior tests, and comparing the molecular markers for […]

...Read More about Ria Khera
L&S Sciences

Geometric Flows

Geometric flows, such as the Ricci flow, Yang-Mills flow, and harmonic map flow, are natural ways to smooth out geometric objects (metric, connection, and maps, respectively). In this project, we will explore the idea of using geometric flows to develop new analytic tools for studying geometric objects. A possible goal of this project is to use geometric flows to solve problems in dispersive PDEs that involve geometric objects.

...Read More about Jacob Krantz
L&S Sciences

Front Limb Functional Morphology of Fox Squirrels During Landing

The ability to reliably leap and land on unfamiliar and unstable surfaces is instrumental to squirrels’ survival and navigation of arboreal environments. In previous studies, squirrels quickly learned to modify impulse generation upon repeated leaps from unfamiliar, compliant beams and rapidly adjusted foot placement to compensate for rotating rods. Understanding how squirrels adjust to unexpected landing conditions could not only help us better understand their morphological adaptations but could also provide innovative solutions in developing bio-inspired robots. Current jumping robots, such as UC Berkeley’s SALTO, are only capable of using their point foot to land on flat surfaces. Biological systems like squirrels can help inspire robots that can land on complex terrains. My study aims to quantify the key metrics in squirrel landing foot placement, in particular paw placement angles, contact area, front limb stance width, and toe span over different gap distances and landing rod diameters. By studying prominent […]

...Read More about Duyi (Tina) Kuang
L&S Sciences

Neural Mechanisms of Recovery from Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and strokes are ongoing public health crises, taking millions of lives annually and leaving survivors chronically disabled. They commonly affect the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), an integrative center for the brain’s reward and decision-making circuit. Thus, damage to the OFC can cause behavioral deficits, including impulsivity and impaired decision-making. My research examines the brain’s capacity for compensatory and functional reorganization in intact tissue following injury or lesion, which is crucial to furthering the clinical potential of neurorehabilitation. Previous analyses done by the D’Esposito Lab have found that connectivity between two other subcortical reward regions, the midbrain and hippocampus, mediates impulsivity in OFC lesion patients. However, a baseline analysis with healthy subjects is needed to clarify whether these changes in hippocampal-subcortical connectivity are a direct compensatory response to OFC lesions or just spontaneous variations, which is the purpose of my research. If my hypothesis is correct, the relationship […]

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

Paralog-Specific Functions of Rab27a and Rab27b in Exosome Secretion

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are membrane-bound compartments that are exported out of cells. There are two major subpopulations of EVs: microvesicles and exosomes. Exosomes have garnered particular interest in the scientific community due to recent studies suggesting a role for exosomes in intercellular communication in both normal and disease states. Additionally, exosomes can be utilized as diagnostic biomarkers for a variety of disease conditions. Despite broad interest in exosomes, little is known about how their release is regulated. Rab27a and Rab27b are two very closely related proteins that regulate different steps of exosome secretion. How such similar proteins can control separate steps of this pathway is not well understood. My proposed research aims to characterize the distinct mechanisms by which Rab27a and Rab27b control exosome secretion using both genetic and biochemical approaches. Obtaining a more comprehensive understanding of how Rab27a and Rab27b regulate exosome secretion will provide insight into how exosomes […]

...Read More about Isabelle Lehman
L&S Sciences

Quantum Material Study of Spintronics

Data loss is a major issue in modern electronics. Charged-based devices are vulnerable to ionizing radiation, while ferromagnetic-based memory devices are susceptible to data loss from external magnetic fields. However, Antiferromagnetic (AFM)-based memory devices are robust to both charge and magnetic field perturbations. There exist a few materials whose AFM spin textures can be electrically switched”: an applied current induces a spin polarization, exerting a spin-orbit torque on the magnetic domains. This torque rotates the conductivity tensor, providing a switch between distinct resistance states. My research seeks to leverage the correlated behavior of transition metal dichalcogenides (TMD) that exhibit superconductivity, magnetism, charge density waves (CDW), and Mott physics. Magnetically intercalated TMDs can possess competing AFM orders, which can form a platform to build electrically switchable antiferromagnetic-based devices. Analogous to the AFM domains, we also seek to explore the possibility of electrically controlling the electronic charge order reconstruction of CDWs found […]

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

Establishing a Mouse Model for Brain Arteriovenous Malformations

This project aims to establish and characterize a novel mouse model for hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT). HHT is an autosomal dominant disorder known to be caused by mutations in the receptor activin receptor-like kinase (ALK1). Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are a hallmark of HHT, and brain AVMs (bAVMs) can be particularly risky as they can cause hemorrhagic stroke. HHT-bAVM formation mechanism is not well understood and there are no preventions or treatments. Animal models of Alk1 deficiency can facilitate the study of HHT-bAVM pathogenesis; however, existing HHT-Alk1 mouse models are limited in their ability to recapitulate clinical bAVM features. Thus, I propose to establish a superior HHT-bAVM mouse model, with genetics and symptoms closer to clinical HHT-bAVM and having high bAVM penetrance, as well as characterize the cellular parameters accompanying HHT-bAVM pathogenesis in these mice to better understand HHT-bAVM progression mechanism. Successfully completing this project will provide a crucial system and […]

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

Modeling Diagenetic Effects on Marine Carbonate Clumped Isotope Values

The stable isotopic composition of marine carbonates is an exemplary standard for reconstructing past Cenozoic climate. But, a fundamental question is whether these carbonates faithfully record their original isotopic composition, and to what extent have they been modified during burial. The relative abundance of isotopologues of carbonate with two rare isotopes (clumped isotopes) is a function of formation temperature and is leveraged to understand how carbonate samples were formed and modified through time. Recent work to reconstruct paleotemperatures from carbonate clumped isotopes found that samples from below 1,000 meters below the sea floor appear to record either a warmer past or a more significant role of diagenetic alteration. My study will focus on measuring carbonate clumped isotopes in an ocean core from the Rio Grande Rise in the Atlantic Ocean. Alongside the measurements, I will also work on a model that characterizes how diagenetic alteration affects the isotopic composition of […]

...Read More about Forrest McCann
L&S Sciences