The Land Story

The Doctrine of Discovery precluded any non-Christian individual from having a legal claim to land under European colonial law. In the Spanish occupation of California, this Doctrine led to the establishment of the Mission system intended to indoctrinate the native people of California into becoming “responsible Christian landowners.” But, after the Mexican and then American occupation of California, these religious doctrines were largely abandoned. Yet, after each successive change in governance, control over land was redistributed. I will spend the summer examining documents housed at the Bancroft and State Library Archives and related to land claim disputes during early American occupation (1850–1870) in order to understand the causes, justifications, and circumstances by which native people were continually dispossessed, and by which land ownership was so radically altered between successive governmental regimes.

...Read More about Joshua Kay
L&S Arts & Humanities

A Duopoly of Violence: Conflict and Competition in Canada's Fur Trade

For two hundred years, the Hudson’s Bay Company exercised de facto colonial rule over most of central and western Canada. While many concessionary regions monopolizing extractive production have experienced negative developmental outcomes, Canada is one of the world’s most prosperous countries, and has a less negative record of native persecution. I seek to analyze whether this paradoxical result can be in part explained by the HBC’s competition with the French and several independent British firms during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, which may have created “outside options” that increased indigenous bargaining power.

...Read More about Davis Kedrosky
L&S Social Sciences

Media as a Mother: Representations of Queerness in Children's Media

While many know the wicked sea witch Ursula from Disney’s The Little Mermaid, few understand that she was based on the drag queen Divine. Ursula is only one of a myriad of representations of queerness in children’s media. My project explores the evolution of queer representation in children’s media and the role it plays in transforming mainstream cultural norms, working as a tool to socialize children. From the demonization of queer characteristics resulting in queer-coded villains to same-sex kisses on animated television shows of the 21st century, queer representation in children’s media has evolved significantly since the mid 1900s. By critically engaging with representations of queerness in children’s media, my research will uncover the mechanisms by which media can more inclusively portray the complexities of sexual orientation and gender identity. Positive and explicit depictions of queerness can normalize gender fluidity and same-sex attraction, leading to identity affirmation in children. My […]

...Read More about Caitlin Keller
L&S Arts & Humanities

Blindness and Brilliance: Homer's Disability, Landscapes, and Language

Working from the traditional canon of Homeric work and analysis, this project will explore the implications of disability, particularly blindness, and its relationships to the landscapes and language of Homer. After broadly defining the classical interpretations of disability, the project will explore how blindness is linguistically represented in Homer’s work and analyze, through research, his life and the landscapes he occupied and illustrated. The project will employ the concept of enargeia, a Homeric idea translated by Alice Oswald as “bright unbearable reality,” to contextualize the representation of blindness as divinely manifested, physically mapped, and linguistically metaphorized in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, keeping in mind the likely apocryphal tradition of Homer as a blind poet. As the project analyzes Homeric simile and its relationship to physical landscapes and environments, it will attempt to edify the intersectionality of landscape, language, disability, and the navigation between them, both metaphorically and literally.

...Read More about Eva Kerins
L&S Arts & Humanities

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

Diagnosis and Treatment of Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy

Cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) is a degenerative change that occurs in the cervical spine and causes compression of the spinal cord. Patients with CSM can experience a wide range of symptoms, including weakness and numbness in the hands and arms, loss and balance and coordination, and neck pain. CSM is the most common spinal cord dysfunction in older persons and is likely to increase in incidence as the number of older persons in the United States increases. My research will focus on the diagnosis and treatment of CSM. More specifically, I will participate in data collection and analysis of CSM patients undergoing surgery at UCSF. I will also compare clinical outcomes and complications with various approaches, including anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF), posterior cervical fusion (PCF), and laminoplasty. Ultimately, the findings from this research will hopefully help reveal the correct surgical technique that ensures the optimal clinical outcome for […]

...Read More about Jaeson Kim
Rose Hills

Identification of a Novel Antimicrobial Compound from S. sasae

  Many of the antibiotics used today are natural products of bacterial secondary metabolism. Streptomyces spp., in particular, have been found to produce many secondary metabolites, including antifungals, antibiotics, antivirals, and antitumorals. The modern age is facing a problem of rapidly increasing antibiotic resistance coupled with a lack of discovery of new antimicrobial compounds. This project seeks to identify and investigate the spectrum of action of a potentially novel antifungal compound produced by a Streptomyces sasae isolate from burned soil plots in the Blodgett Research Forest. This compound has been shown to inhibit growth of the pyrophilous fungus Pyronema omphalodes, and preliminary investigation has found that it is likely a novel compound. Through purification and identification of this antifungal compound, my project has the potential to aid in the discovery of a novel antimicrobial, as well as expand our knowledge of metabolites produced specifically in burned-soil ecosystems.

...Read More about Nicole Kim
Rose Hills

Dirt, Concrete, and Shifting Inequities on Bay Area Highways, 1910-2020

Since their inception, the role and cultural significance of highways have aligned with contemporary issues of inequity and have been vectors of harm. I will analyze the history of the Bay Area’s highways and examine the inequity that shaped and was built into the public understanding of the highways, as well as the structures themselves. Three main eras I will focus on are: 1910–1940, when highways were novel and their place in culture was being constructed; 1941–1980, when they were used as a tool to reshape communities and the dynamics of urban-suburban relationships; and 1980–present, when the adverse consequences of living near highways has come to be more recognized, which increasingly informs attitudes toward them, particularly in the Bay Area. Using Geographic Information Systems tools, I will investigate the impacts freeways have on quality of life and compare those to the demographics most affected by highways today to understand current […]

...Read More about Silas Kirsch
L&S Social Sciences

Determining if T2 Diabetes Predicts an Increase in Cortical Porosity

It is increasingly being recognized that diabetic bone disease, associated with an increased risk of bone fractures, cannot be detected effectively using traditional detection methods for osteoporosis. This is because patients with Type 2 Diabetes (T2D), despite having normal or even high bone densities, are still prone to fractures. The Bone Quality Research Lab at UCSF has established that deficits in the cortical bone structure are associated with T2D and the increased fracture potential found in those with T2D. My research will further develop this finding by determining if T2D status, marrow, or vessel metrics predict longitudinal increase in porosity and decrease in strength. This work will contribute to further understanding of whether cortical pore content can be used as a predictor for cortical degradation, as well as furthering our understanding of how such degradation takes place and what potential targets exist for future therapeutic studies. With the number of […]

...Read More about Pranav Kolluri
Rose Hills

Significance of Unique Rhamnolipid Production in Paraburkholderia sp.

I am interested in learning more about the unique rhamnolipid methyl esters (RMEs) produced by the pyrophilous bacterium Paraburkholderia sp. F3 and RMEs’ ecological significance. Previous endeavors in this project have uncovered the production of the unique RMEs by P. sp. F3, which first attracted attention due to its antibiotic activity against a pyrophilous fungus (Pyronema omphalodes) found in the same environment as P. sp. F3. After purification and identification of these antibiotic compounds, the RMEs were identified as analogs of the rhamnolipids produced by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a biosurfactant with applications in agricultural, pharmaceutical, food, cosmetics, and detergent industries. The small differences in the structures of the Pseudomonas rhamnolipids and the RMEs suggest that RMEs are stronger surfactants. If this is the case, learning more about RMEs and how to produce them could play a very important role in formulating better fire recovery strategies and also developing more effective surfactants […]

...Read More about Sara Koupaei
Rose Hills

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

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

Development of Difluorobenzyl Synthons for Cross-Coupling Chemistry

The benzylic methylene unit (Ar-CH2-R) is a common motif in drug candidates and pharmaceuticals. However, the propensity of its C-H bonds toward oxidation creates the challenge of metabolic stability. One solution is the substitution of this motif with the benzylic difluoromethylene or difluorobenzyl units (Ar-CF2-R), wherein the reactive C-H bonds are substituted with metabolically more stable C-F bonds. However, despite the potential advantage of such an approach, few pharmaceuticals containing this motif have been commercialized. This project focuses on the development of novel Ar-CF2-M synthons for C-C cross-coupling chemistry. First, the substrate scope of the difluorocarbene insertion into Au(I)-aryl bonds will be investigated. We envision that a variety of aryl and heteroaryl-Au(I) species can undergo the difluorocarbene insertion. Secondly, conditions to couple these synthons with sp2-electrophiles will be screened and optimized. Lastly, the mechanism of the formal difluorocarbene insertion and the stability of the new aryldifluoromethyl-Au(I) species will be investigated […]

...Read More about Alexander Kvitsinski
Rose Hills

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

Understanding Coexistence of the Hawaiian Tetragnatha Spiders

Understanding niche differentiation is fundamental for comprehending the complicated process of adaptive radiation, a process characterized by the rapid formation of many ecologically different species from a single ancestor. However, the way in which niche differentiation is achieved during the early stage of adaptive radiation is still highly debated among evolutionary biologists. On the one hand, through the process of character displacement, natural selection could facilitate differentiation and diversification between closely related species where they co-occur with no need for prior niche differentiation at the time of secondary contact. Alternatively, enough niche differentiation between species can be achieved in isolation, before range overlap, facilitating coexistence and reducing the chance for competitive exclusion. Therefore, the goal of this project is to conduct a comparative analysis between sympatric and allopatric populations of the two species of the green ecomorphs of Hawaiian Tetragnatha spiny-leg spiders (T. waikamoi and T. brevignatha) to answer how […]

...Read More about Jennifer Lee
Rose Hills

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

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

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

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