Pollutant Effects on Reproduction in Frogs

I am investigating the impact of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) using African clawed frogs (Xenopus laevis). EDCs are chemical contaminants that interfere with hormone synthesis and function. This interference can alter reproductive physiology and reproductive behavior. We have studied the effects of many EDCs in the laboratory in African clawed frogs, an invasive species in California that can therefore also be studied in the wild. I will study differences between frogs that are exposed to chemicals and frogs that are not exposed in the wild, along with the impact of chemicals on hormone differences and subsequent effects on reproductive physiology and mating behavior. I will also learn mock-recapture techniques using microchipped frogs, blood sample collection, hormone analysis through radioimmunoassay, and statistical analysis using R.

...Read More about Malik Alhadi
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Bioarchaeology of Portuguese Medieval Funerary Practices

Through the bioarchaeological analysis of Medieval Portuguese skeletons, my mentor and I will investigate the relationship between religious burial practices and the preservation of human remains. We will utilize histology to analyze the levels of chemical and physical degradation of bone. Our investigation starts with the macroscopic analysis of the skeletal remains and then the development of microscopic slides to categorize the degree of taphonomic damage. Once prepared, we will gather qualitative and quantitative data for assessment. Our goal is to uncover how different religious communities interacted with death during the Medieval period. Our data will reveal how funerary practices impact the preservation of remains and how this analysis allows bioarchaeologists to infer the state of degradation of human remains still underground. The taphonomic research of bioarchaeological remains is a field still in development. Through our research being conducted this summer, I am very eager to contribute to the emerging […]

...Read More about Ashley Blake
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Mexican Migration in the 21st Century: Demographic Changes of Migrants

How has Mexican migration changed over time? This project will tackle this question by studying migrant characteristics and flows from specific origins and destinations. It will explore the spatial redistribution of migrant flows and consider the extent to which gender is a defining trait in migration patterns. I will conduct a literature review of social science research on Mexican migration to the U.S., focusing on how migration research treats gender. I will also produce a summary of how migration policies in the U.S. and Mexico have changed over time and whether specific policies have affected gendered and family migration. Finally, I will collect and clean data on migrant counts, as well as various characteristics of Mexican municipalities and U.S. states.

...Read More about Rafa Borisonik
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Bay Area Low-Income Suburban Households’ Housing and Transport Choices

I will work closely with my SURF-SMART mentor, Alex Pan, on her project “Qualitative Insights on the Housing and Transportation Choices of Low-Income Suburban Households in the San Francisco Bay.” While poverty has been a primarily urban issue, in recent years, focus has shifted to suburban areas. Suburban households under the poverty line face unique accessibility challenges, as they may be farther from employment opportunities and have fewer transportation options compared to urban areas. My mentor’s research uses a mixed-methods approach to understand the characteristics of households under the poverty line in suburban areas and the transportation and housing choices of the suburban poor. I will assist with qualitative data analysis of in-depth interviews and ethnographic shadowing fieldnotes. Working collaboratively, I will transcribe interview recordings, do qualitative coding, write coding memos, and compile a final written report. We will work closely in the qualitative data analysis process to interpret the […]

...Read More about Frida Calvo Huerta
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How Does Memory Capacity Impact Motor Learning?

How does our memory capacity impact our ability to learn new motor skills, like dancing or playing an instrument? Specifically, why is it harder to learn many new movement patterns at once? Is it better to learn new movements sequentially, or is it better to learn new movements in parallel? Throughout the summer, my mentor and I will ask how memory capacity impacts motor learning. To test this, we will use a wide range of behavior experiment designs, observing how participants acquire and adapt their movements in response to feedback using high-resolution motion tracking. In addition, I will draw insights from these kinematic data using software packages like R or Python. By the end of the summer, we hope to gain insights into the relationship between memory capacity and motor learning.

...Read More about Yifei Chen
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Unearthing Deep Histories of Salt Using Online Archives

History critically enables us to go back into the past and recover the essential context necessary to understand our present, despite and in defiance of established colonial narratives that often seek to disperse and bury the truth. This project will explore the centrality of salt as a material, cultural, and political resource in North American Indigenous society, and the ways in which salt reserves became highly contested sites as European colonizers attempted to co-opt the body of profound environmental knowledge harbored by the Indigenous cultures with which they came into contact in an attempt to command control over this resource. Our research will draw on a range of archaeological, geological, and ethnographic materials to inform a more complete understanding of how salt was transformed into a tool for political power in mid-sixteenth-century North America. Throughout this project, with the guidance of my mentor, I will develop the ability to practice […]

...Read More about Ainsley Cunningham
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Investigating Stellar Mass vs. Rotation Period Using K2 Space Telescope

The K2 telescope observed over half a million stars in the night sky. Some of these stars are in dense open clusters,” and all of the stars in an open cluster are assumed to be the same age. K2 generated composite images of these open clusters, and in this project we will analyze an open cluster called Ruprecht 147. The goal of this project is to measure how rapidly the stars in Ruprecht 147 are rotating and compare this to how massive they are. Then we will look at how this relationship between mass and rotation for the stars in Ruprecht 147 compares to those for other open clusters of different ages. This will tell us about how stellar populations change over time. The project involves generating time-series data from telescope images and searching for periodic signals in this data, querying a large database to extract stellar masses, and quantitatively […]

...Read More about Anmol Desai
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Challenging Immigrant Detention: Race, Class, and Collective Action

The United States has increasingly relied on human confinement and incarceration to manage immigration, despite a large body of evidence showing that it inflicts a wide degree of violence and harms upon our noncitizen community members and their families. How can we challenge this inhumane system? This summer, my mentor and I will try to answer this question. With a focus on the American electorate as a key mechanism for policy change, we will examine the social forces driving mass detention and explore actionable, evidence-based solutions intended to mitigate harm. Community-based case management alternatives offer a realistic pathway that may reshape the current system characterized by ineffective notions of punishment and deterrence that produce a profound human cost. The main study utilizes a nationwide survey experiment that examines whether race-class fusion communication strategies can spur collective action among the electorate in pursuit of an immigration system that preserves liberty, dignity, […]

...Read More about Agustin Guerrero
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Improving Cognition in Alzheimer's Disease through Light Stimulation

In Alzheimer’s disease (AD), there is a clear relationship between reduced cognitive ability, asynchronous brain wave oscillations, and neuroinflammation. Microglia, the immune cells of the central nervous system, no longer efficiently target and clear amyloid-beta, leading to an accumulation of plaques that disrupt neuronal communication. This summer, my mentor and I are interested in manipulating oscillatory activity at the gamma wave frequency associated with optimal cognition (40Hz), as a target for therapeutic intervention. We will test a new invisible light-flicker technology on a mouse model of AD that pilot data suggests will synchronize brain wave activity and neuronal firing to induce healthy neuroimmune system functioning. We predict that with 40Hz stimulation, microglia will better function in clearing amyloid-beta plaque accumulation and improve cognition. By employing quantitative PCR, we will isolate microglia and characterize their cytokine profiles to increase our understanding of how non-invasive sensory stimuli can induce large-scale changes in […]

...Read More about Lucy Jiwu
SURF SMART

The Multiscale Impact of Spaceflight on the Human Intervertebral Disc

As NASA prepares to send astronauts on long-duration space flight missions, it is critical that protocols are developed to mitigate the damaging effects of spaceflight on the human body. One area in need of development is spine health, as astronauts are three- to four-times more likely to experience a herniated disc than the general population. Using spaceflight and ground-based mice from the Rodent Research-10 spaceflight mission, this research project will investigate the multiscale effects of spaceflight on the intervertebral disc. Over the course of the project, skills will be practiced to characterize the material properties of the discs, examine bone microstructure, and complete an RNA sequencing analysis of the caudal discs through microCT analysis of rodent bone microstructure and mechanical testing of mouse intervertebral discs. Thus, the effects of space flight will be studied in the spinal discs of rodents to better understand the connection between spine health and space.

...Read More about Rachel Kui
SURF SMART

Collaborative Eco-Archaeology: Indigenous Natural Resource Stewardship

With extreme wildfires plaguing California, examining Indigenous interactions with the environment over the past two thousand years is crucial for current land management and preparation for the future of the landscape and its residents. This summer, I will work with my mentor, Alec Apodaca, as part of an integrative historical ecology and archaeology project along the central California coast (Laguna Creek, Hastings Natural History Reserve, and San Vicente Redwoods). Through hands-on fieldwork, I will develop my skills in landscape surveying, data collection, and laboratory analytics of organic eco-archaeological remains. I plan to also use my background in art to document our team efforts, offering this scientific multidisciplinary work a humanistic, creative lens that encourages public awareness and engagement with the current field of archaeology and supports Indigenous leadership in natural resource management today.

...Read More about Marissa Lee
SURF SMART

Constitutional Universities

This summer, I will be working one-on-one with my mentor, Michael Banerjee, a fourth-year graduate student here at UC Berkeley. Michael and I will spend the summer researching documents from the history of the UC system, mostly through UC Regents reports from as far back as 1868, in order to investigate and better understand the origin and power of the Constitutional University system. The goal of this research is to obtain a full understanding of this incredibly unique state-constitution based charter system that is only found in the Western United States. In doing so, I will be doing crucial research to assist Michael in writing his dissertation, but will also gain valuable experience in historical and bibliographic research. I will also have the opportunity to learn more about jurisprudence, a branch of history that I have not yet explored.

...Read More about Ben Leong
SURF SMART

Using CRISPRi to Investigate BBSome Proteins in MC4R Neurons

  The melanocortin 4 receptor (MC4R) in neurons is critical for managing appetite and energy expenditure. Specifically, leptin, a hormone that suppresses appetite, signals to POMC neurons, which then activate MC4R neurons that induce satiety and increased energy usage. Disruptions in the MC4R pathway are known to cause dysfunctions in body weight management and lack of satiety. In fact, loss of function mutations in the MC4R gene is the leading cause of monogenic obesity. Our research project focuses on the location of MC4R on the primary cilium of neurons. Bardet-Biedl Syndrome (BBS) is a genetic disorder characterized by early-onset severe obesity. BBS is caused by malfunctions in the BBsome protein complex, which disrupts protein trafficking at the primary cilia. Our research lab hypothesizes that mutations in BBSome genes impair localization of MC4R, resulting in obesity. My project aims to use CRISPRi technology to turn off BBSome genes in MC4R-expressing neurons […]

...Read More about Queenie Li
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The Impact of Inclusive Design on Perception of Disability in Courses

This summer, my graduate mentor, Taormina Lepore, and I will be working on a project aimed at understanding the effectiveness of inclusive design on disability perception in college paleobiology courses. Using student survey data collected from UC Berkeley and three other U.S. universities about experiences with an in-class digital inclusive design project, we will practice mixed methods of analysis with Microsoft Excel VLOOKUP functions, MaxQDA, and R-package software. For example, we will mark and code themes in a large body of survey response text and compile a thematic codebook product that can be used in peer-reviewed publications. The long-term goal of this project is to understand how inclusive, creative projects can help expand perceptions about disabled people in science, while at the same time also building skills in science pedagogy, disability advocacy, and education research. Throughout the summer, I will learn more about inclusive design methodologies and the impact of […]

...Read More about Jenny Lu
SURF SMART

Using Homeostatic Plasticity for Mitigating Neuropsychiatric Disease

The onset of neurodegenerative disease coincides with the destruction of synapses; simultaneously, endogenous self-correcting mechanisms are induced that turn up the gain of synaptic transmission, initially counteracting the effects of degeneration and preserving the flow of intercellular communication. This effect is termed homeostatic neuroprotection. Growing evidence has shown that homeostatic neuroprotection sustains neuronal structure and function, acting as a biochemical basis for cognitive resilience to degeneration and stress. Chronic stress is a major risk factor for the development of depression. The lateral habenula (LHb) has been implicated in the development of major depression; it has become recognized as the antireward center and targets all midbrain neuromodulatory systems, including serotonergic and dopaminergic circuits. Overall, this project aims to determine the therapeutic potential of homeostatic neuroprotection as a means to promote brain resilience by mitigating LHb hyperactivity, with direct relevance to the treatment of symptoms of neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression. There […]

...Read More about Peridot Park
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UC Berkeley and the Realization of Black (Educational) Desires

This summer, my mentor, Caleb Dawson, and I will explore what Black students and staff members at UC Berkeley hope to gain from their pursuit of higher education or career in higher education. Over the course of eight weeks, I’ll be interviewing various students and faculty members to develop an understanding of what a quality education means to them. We’ll be exploring why Black students come to Cal and assume the responsibility of improving the student experience for other Black students. Additionally, well inquire if they would recommend Cal to younger Black scholars. I’ll be using a qualitative data analysis software, and an ethnographic perspective, to comparatively study the responses of interview participants. In all, this is a qualitative research project aimed at discovering the desires of Black people at UC Berkeley. I hope to take what I learn from this fellowship and apply it to my work in the […]

...Read More about Sydney Roberts
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Corruption in Collusion: Evidence from Public Procurement in China

Public procurement is an essential channel for government to buy items at the best possible price and quality. However, many developing countries lack a systematic track of public procurement, leaving space for wrongdoers to engage in improper behavior. Procurement expenditure contributes significantly to GDP, so it is vital to prevent corruption in public procurement and invest money wisely. This project aims to use econometric methodologies to highlight the existence of corruption and collusion problems in Chinese public procurement. This summer I will work under the supervision of Qianmiao Chen to detect the non-competitive behaviors of firms in public procurement in China and estimate the proportion of procurement in which the evidence of corrupt practice is present. I will collect and clean data on public procurement; investigate the relationship between procurement procedures and corruption indicators using regression analysis; and provide empirical evidence for future policy change in public procurement.

...Read More about Zan Song
SURF SMART

Curatorial Interventions: Mapping MESÓTICA II at the MADC

In 1996, the Museum of Art and Design in San José, Costa Rica curated MESÓTICA II Centroamérica re-generación, which featured both emerging and well-established artists from Central America. The artworks in the exhibition were selected as a survey and investigation into the sentiments of regional artists in consideration of the earlier civil war era in Central America that lasted from the 1970s to the 1990s. A majority of the research for this project focuses on analyzing the archives from the exhibition and understanding the role of curatorial practice in the intervention of social and political issues, especially within its historical context. The project will be centered around the art of Patricia Belli and how her pieces are in conversation with the others in the exhibition. In researching the archives, we will also consider how the feminist perspective of Patricia Belli’s work was an important influence on the production of contemporary […]

...Read More about Katarina Vallero
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Understanding How Solid-Phase Ligands Influence MET

Metastasis, responsible for >90 percent of cancer-related deaths, is a highly complex process that involves the migration of tumorigenic cells from the primary tumor to the secondary, distant site. Cells face a rigorous journey, from invasion into the surrounding tissue, intravasation into the surrounding blood vessels/lymphatic system, survival through the external system, extravasation at the secondary site, and eventual colonization. To assist in this process, tumor cells can undergo phenotypic transformations. Cancer cells hijack canonical (native) developmental pathways, the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and the mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET) in order to gain phenotypic traits that are amenable to this metastatic process. My project will explore MET using triple negative breast cancer to model. I will employ a novel lithographic platform called high-throughput DNA-directed patterning (htDNA-dp) that enables spatial and temporal control of cells, ligands, and other biological species with high fidelity to explore various factors related to a number of ligands, […]

...Read More about Chris Yi
SURF SMART

Biocontrol Evolution in Tomato Seedlings

The phyllosphere, the microbiome of the leaf surface, is a highly tractable model system, and is particularly adept for empirical studies on microbial ecological and evolutionary dynamics. One open question is how prior local adaptation on a plant host influences the efficacy of microbial biological control agents. Using an experimental evolution approach, in which changes in populations are measured over multiple passaging events, a naturally occurring, defensive phyllosphere bacteria, Pantoea dispersa, was evolved on tomato seedlings. Preliminary assays found that this bacterium has evolved increasingly negative effects on seedling health, suggesting a potential degradation of protective traits. Over the summer, I will help conduct dose-response assays on tomato seedlings to examine how the defensive ability of P. dispersa against the common plant pathogen, Pseudomonas syringae, has evolved over time. Understanding these ecological-evolutionary dynamics in the plant phyllosphere is critical for the implementation of effective biocontrols.

...Read More about Luyang Zhang
SURF SMART