Jennah Brown

Mitochondrial function and metabolic flexibility (the ability to switch back and forth between carbohydrate and lipid utilization in response to changing physiological conditions) degrade as a normal consequence of aging. Metabolic flexibility is regulated by several mechanisms that are affected by the capacity for lactate oxidation and, therefore, mitochondrial function. Previous studies have demonstrated that endurance training improves metabolic flexibility due to improvements in mitochondrial function and the capacity for lactate oxidation. The purpose of my research is to assess metabolic flexibility in older and younger, trained and untrained individuals by measuring blood lactate and substrate oxidation rates during postabsorptive rest. I will implement a resting oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) to analyze how blood lactate concentration interplays with carbohydrate and fatty acid oxidation rates as determined by gas exchange measurements. This method deviates from current methods of metabolic flexibility assessment by proposing a simpler and less invasive approach that […]

Malik Alhadi

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.

Lillie Bui

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 […]

Jessica Allen

The constellation of black genealogies begins and starts from black wombs. In essence, the womb provides safe incubation for a developing fetus and is, in essence, the location where you’re most connected with your source of life on a physical, emotional, and quantum spiritual level. The inhumane conditions of chattel slavery were rooted in control, regulation, and constant demand. The agents of white supremacy preyed on colonizing Black wombs by stripping autonomy, severing parent and child attachment bonds, surveillance, and assuming ownership of infants and children to supply the next generation of forced labor and enslavement. This constant supply and demand to restock plantation communities made Black wombs an inexhaustible commodity and money-making device. According to the statistics from the National Partnership of Women and their Families, “Black women are three to four times more likely to experience a pregnancy-related death than white women in 2019, and Black women are […]

Vivian Bui

Incidence and deaths due to non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) have been increasing globally, in part due to their intrinsic drug resistance. Mycobacterium abscessus (Mabs) is a pathogenic and clinically challenging NTM species, causing devastating pulmonary disease and tissue infection. Drug resistance of Mabs partly results from its unique mycomembrane, which is a formidable permeability barrier. While the inner leaflet primarily consists of mycolic acids, the outer leaflet is poorly characterized. Some mycobacterial membrane protein Large (MmpL) transporters export lipid components of the mycomembrane, but the substrates and functions of most MmpLs remain unknown. The high number of MmpLs in Mabs leads to questions about each MmpL’s function as a lipid transporter or drug efflux pump, as well as its contribution to virulence and antibiotic resistance. My project will investigate each MmpL’s role in these important traits. I will create MmpL knockouts and test the mutants to evaluate each MmpL’s function in […]