Queenie Li

  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 […]

Agustin Guerrero

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, […]

Lucy Jiwu

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 […]

Frida Calvo Huerta

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 […]

Yifei Chen

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.

Ainsley Cunningham

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 […]

Anmol Desai

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 […]

Rafa Borisonik

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.

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.

Ashley Blake

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 […]