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

Stress-Activated Transposable Elements in Mimulus guttatus

This project focuses on gaining a deeper understanding of transposable elements (TEs) within monkey flowers. Previously, TEs were thought to be virus-like, parasitic parts of genomes. With the use of supercomputers, we will compare the genomes of many monkey flower genome samples to a reference genome to identify variation that suggests adaptation. Our work will define the role of TEs more clearly, as many are associated with mutations and only arise during specific conditions, which suggests a form of adaptation.

...Read More about Victor Canta-Gallo

Investigating Flavivirus NS1's Role in Facilitating Viral Dissemination

Dengue virus (DENV) is a vector-borne virus that is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. Typically found in tropical and sub-tropical regions in the world, DENV can cause mild disease manifestations like dengue fever; however, cases of severe dengue disease exist and are characterized by vascular leakage and shock, which is triggered by virus infection and an overactive immune response. Medically important viruses like flaviviruses (dengue, Zika, West Nile, and yellow fever viruses, etc.) must disseminate from the initial site of infection into diverse tissues throughout the body to cause disease. Therefore, my summer research project will focus on the role of dengue virus NS1-mediated leak in virus infection and dissemination in vivo.

...Read More about Bryan Castillo-Rojas

Baba Canm (Daddy Dearest)

This project explores the transfer of knowledge within familial systems. In 2014, a traditionalist administration took power in Turkey. This marked a change in the socio-cultural environment and created an opportunity for stories to be altered and values to shift. What stories are shifted or lost in the transfer of knowledge across generations? Queerness has always been present, but how has its existence been impacted by the dominant culture in Turkey? What were queer stories like in Turkey before the political push to an Islamic state, and how have they changed today? The goal of this project is to examine these questions by immersing myself in the stories of my Turkish relatives and identifying how these stories shift when the perspectives of women and queer individuals are centered. The final aspect of the project will be a Super 8mm documentary film, which I hope will add a unique perspective to […]

...Read More about Alina Çelik

Piobaireachd, Clans, and Colonialism: The Decline of Highland Society

In 1746, the Battle of Culloden ended in a defeat of the Jacobites and quickly spelled the end for the unique Gaelic-speaking society that had developed in the Scottish Highlands. This is the common narrative for the decline of Gaelic-speaking Scotland and the clan system that was associated with it. My project seeks to investigate how this narrative might be complicated because of the ways in which Highlanders and their culture had become increasingly Anglicized since the reign of King James IV, the last Gaelic-speaking King of Scotland. One of the ways this cultural shift will be investigated is through the analysis of shifts in Highland bagpiping from a more Gaelic tradition to a more typical Western tradition.

...Read More about Colin Chamberlin

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

Using DNA-Directed Patterning to Study EMT and MET in Breast Cancer

Invasive breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women in the US, with over 270,000 new cases diagnosed annually. With significant advancements in diagnosis and treatment, approximatey 90 percent of deaths are related to metastasis, the migration of cancer cells from the primary tumor to peripheral organs. Here, a subpopulation of tumor cells relies on phenotypic transitions to gain traits that aid in migration and invasion. This rare population of cells exists on a spectrum of phenotypes and is more resistant to treatment, highlighting the importance of increased investigation. The goal of my study is to investigate these rare intermediate phenotypes that are induced by the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and reverse mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET). I will pattern tumorigenic, breast epithelial cells with other tumor microenvironment (TME) cells and determine which activate EMT/MET in tumor cells. Knowing what induces EMT/MET will allow me to control breast cancer cell phenotype and study specific […]

...Read More about Zahir Chaudhry

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

Social Modulation of Sickness Behavior in Prairie Voles

Challenges to the immune system mobilize immune resources to trigger physiological and behavioral changes in a host. Alongside fever and cytokine responses, organisms initiate “sickness behaviors” like lethargy, social withdrawal, and decreased food and water intake to facilitate recovery from illness and prevent disease transmission to conspecifics. Yet, some species mask their sickness behaviors in group contexts to take advantage of survival and reproductive benefits, a form of social modulation. Prairie voles are a unique model for human social behavior, as they form selective, enduring social preferences for opposite-sex mates and same-sex peers, unlike traditional laboratory rodents. However, little research has investigated sickness behavior in this species, particularly in its modulation by same-sex peers, who were previously shown to facilitate recovery from stressors. My research will investigate the extent to which a same-sex peer modulates sickness behavior in male and female prairie voles provide further insight into the impact of […]

...Read More about Diana Chernyak

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

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

Dance as a Tool for Building Healthy Communities

Research across artistic disciplines has demonstrated that participation in the arts has a profound positive impact on the life of an individual, and on communities at large. An ecological public health model even enlists access to the arts as a core factor in shaping an individuals response to their social determinants of health. The art form of ballet, however, is working against a 400-year history of exclusionary practices and elitism that challenges the its relevancy and solvency in contemporary society. Increasingly, ballet companies are designing programming to be accessible to more diverse populations, including neurodiverse communities; however, this is an understudied field. My research aims to fill this gap in knowledge with a specific focus on dance programs designed for neurodiverse communities. The goal of my research is to create a framework of practices, interventions, and strategies that can be adopted by ballet companies to increase accessibility of the art […]

...Read More about Alexandra Cunningham

Dark Matter Blob Signal Analysis

Currently, the nature of dark matter is a fascinating question for the field of physics. One promising candidate about the nature of dark matter is axions, which is a theoretical, lightweight particle filling all of space. According to theory, these light, axion-like particles behave like a field that oscillates at particular frequencies. However, this frequency can change over space, forming regions bounded by so-called domain walls. This year, I have been working on the Global Network of Optical Magnetometers for Exotic physics (GNOME) station at Berkeley, which uses optical techniques to measure the magnetic field in a vapor cell. According to theory, when the Earth crosses one of these axion domains, an effective magnetic field coupling will be detected in the magnetometer, so the presence of axions can be determined by analyzing the signal. To reduce noise, the GNOME collaboration operates multiple, independent magnetometers across the Earth, jointly analyzing the […]

...Read More about Nicholas Cutsail

The Role of the Sorghum Circadian Clock in Blue Light-Mediated Growth

Sorghum bicolor is a biofuel feedstock and staple food crop. My research focuses on understanding the role of a core circadian clock component, Sorghum bicolor Gigantea (SbGI), in modulating sorghum sensitivity to cryptochrome signaling at different times of the day. In related grasses, cryptochromes, activated by blue light, upregulate active gibberellin degradation genes to strategically cease plant elongation. Importantly, the SbGI mutant has a severe stunted-growth phenotype relative to the wild type, and preliminary protein interaction results suggest that SbGI and cryptochromes interact. These observations inform my hypothesis that SbGI is necessary for blocking cryptochrome activity to allow for active gibberellin to accumulate in a time-specific manner to drive diurnal growth. The confirmation of this mechanism would be the first documentation of a Gigantea-cryptochrome interaction and would inform us about how the circadian clock directly coordinates daily growth. If it is known when, under what conditions, and how growth is […]

...Read More about Samuel De Riseis

Rates of Chlamydia (Ct) and Gonorrhea (Ng) Within the Fijian Population

This summer, I will be traveling to Suva, Fiji with a research team from UCSF led by Dr. Deborah Dean. As part of a longitudinal study started in 2018, we aim to identify Ng antibiotic susceptibility patterns and determine current rates of resistance to antibiotics. With this in mind, we are also looking to determine the association of antibiotic resistance (AR) Ng strains with clinical signs and symptoms. In addition, we are looking at current Ng-Ct co-infection rates, in order to determine the longitudinal prevalence of Ng and STIs and other vaginal co-infections in Fiji, whose total healthcare expenditure is only 4.5% of GDP. Previous research has shown high rates of asymptomatic Ng and Ct infections and no diagnostic testing, indicating a high risk for transmission. My team’s research will be crucial in helping the Fijian Ministry of Health to develop interventions and treatment to advance antibiotic stewardship, and to […]

...Read More about Madison de Vere

Fluorescence Labeling Gut Commensal Bacteria of C. elegans

Our lab is working to understand the effects of host-microbe interactions in the powerful model organism C. elegans. In order to quantify the microbiome, we have previously used a single fluorescent bacterial strain that is a known gut commensal. However, only having access to this single strain limits the types of experiments we can do, as we are forced to include this strain in studies hoping to understand colonization levels in the worm gut. In order to remedy this issue, my project will attempt to introduce a fluorescent plasmid into the chromosome of other bacterial strains we are interested in studying. This will allow us to study the effects of these strains in the gut microbiota more effectively, while also clarifying the protocol for creating fluorescent bacteria in different families.

...Read More about Ethan Deller

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

Provocative and Fun: How Social Factors Influence Video Game Design

Children who are facing structural disadvantages such as poverty or racism are often left with few opportunities for change. This may result in consequences that directly impact their lifelong economic mobility and opportunities. Interventions such as cognitive behavioral-therapy (CBT), a form of therapy supporting change in thinking and behavior, are effective; yet, the success of these interventions relies entirely on engagement. For children, CBT may be found to be boring, consisting of homework, and not fun to participate in. By creating a video game as a novel form of intervention for behavioral challenges in “heated” (provoking) situations for children, these digital natives can be reached in their preferred medium: fun and engaging video games. But what in-game mechanics and social context are necessary for a game to achieve this? I aim to identify the elements that will be used to guide the development of a novel intervention through co-design playtests […]

...Read More about Valerie Ekko

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

Gene Silencing with a Novel RNAi Method in the Cassiopea Jellyfish

At night, the Cassiopea jellyfish slows its activity and enters a sleep state. Because sleep research focuses on models with centralized nervous systems, the sleep behavior of this brainless, decentralized jellyfish exposes a gap in the field that my project will address. In particular, I plan to test our novel RNA interference (RNAi) technique and use it to characterize the molecular mechanisms of sleep in Cassiopea. My lab recently developed the first RNAi protocol for jellyfish, a significant feat given that standard techniques are not easily applied to this nontraditional organism. First, I aim to develop positive control RNAi constructs to provide confidence in our future knockdowns. The constructs will target genes whose knockdown can be screened by eye: sphingosine kinase and microophthalmia-associated transcription factor. Second, I aim to silence an acetylcholine receptor subunit connected to sleep and activity using our method in sleep-deprived jellyfish. I will compare the resulting […]

...Read More about Diana Francis