Eric Lu

Many eye diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, and macular edema, are caused by the abnormal development of retinal vasculature. My project aims to better understand the signaling network that regulates this process by examining the function of two key molecules: Very LowDensity Lipoprotein Receptor (VLDLR) and Low Density Lipoprotein Related Protein 5 (LRP5). Previous studies have demonstrated that VLDLR promotes vessel growth while LRP5 inhibits it. Additional studies done by the Gong lab suggest that LRP5 plays a more dominant role in this process. In order to further characterize how and when LRP5 and VLDLR influence retinal vessel development, the lab has generated various mutant lines with the Sca1-GFP transgene, which allows for the direct visualization of endothelial cells lining blood vessels via green fluorescent protein (GFP) signal. Using fluorescence microscopy to examine and compare these endothelial cells of the retinal vasculature in wild-type and mutant mice, […]

Shan-Ying Li

This summer, I will be researching the narration of smallpox in Charles Dickens Bleak House. While much has been said about his influence on the literary development and the Victorian society, Dickens use of the medical motif is often undermined. In this project, I will focus my inquiry on smallpox. My research will be divided into two phases, one on the historical events regarding smallpox in England in the 1850s, and the other on the literary criticism of Dickens work. Within these two phases of research, I will try to register Dickens use of imagery, diction, tone and allusions to the historical events. Furthermore, I would like to explore the reasons why Dickens uses a disfiguring disease as his major motif in his well-received novel. I hope this research will ultimately develop into a senior thesis for the English major.

Han Amy Li

This research attempts to determine how the circadian system controls the timing of ovulation, a requirement for successful reproduction. Initiation of ovulation requires a signal from the brain’s master clock, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). This signal’s necessity in most mammals, including humans, is apparent as disruptions in circadian rhythms lead to reproductive deficits. Currently, the neural pathways and neurochemical mechanisms by which the SCN triggers ovulation remain uncharacterized. Previous work indicates daily rhythms of GABA and kisspeptin, neurotransmitters that inhibit and stimulate ovulation, respectively, are crucial for reproductive maintenance. We will explore the cellular and molecular pathways associated with the coordination of GABA and kisspeptin expression, as well as their roles in the timing of ovulation, using Syrian hamsters, a well-studied animal model of ovulation. This work will contribute to gaining more insight into and finding new treatments for current problems in health fields such as infertility and maternal-fetal health.

Morgan Lewis

My research will focus on the role of women in forming the gender and family politics of the New Right in the 1970s and 1980s and if their views differed from New Right men. I am also interested in complicating the idea of ‘traditional values’ by looking at how the privileging of certain issues and identities in fact represented a departure from the past.

Niema Razavian

A major breakthrough in cancer research over the past 50 years has been the discovery of tumor viruses, or cancer-causing viruses. Thus far, six viruses have been causally linked to cancer (the best known being human papilloma virus and cervical cancer). This SURF project investigates bovine leukemia virus (BLV) and its role in breast cancer susceptibility. Previous research has demonstrated that BLV in breast tissue is significantly correlated with the breast cancer risk, and that humans have antibodies against BLV. Expanding on this, the goal of my SURF project is to determine whether a particular antibody profile correlates with BLV infection of breast tissue. From a public health prospective, such a profile could prove useful in breast cancer screening and prevention.

Akash Patel

My research this summer analyzes the effects of the 2010 World Cup on xenophobia and interethnic violence in Cape Town. Working in conjunction with the NGO Projects Abroad Human Rights Office, I will document cases of xenophobic violence from January to August 2010, graphing how rates of violence fluctuate in response to the Cup. I will supplement this evidence with informal testimony from a range of communities within Cape Town to see how different people view this international event as affecting levels of xenophobia in the city. In totality, the research is meant to explain the effect of this specific World Cup on the human rights situation in Cape Town, and to add to the larger body of research that studies how international events such as this alter the political economies of the regions in which they are held.

Carissa Pardamean

This summer, my research involves point mutations in genomic sequences encoding for the enzyme methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, which is a part of the neural tube formation pathway. The mutations cause spina bifida or neural tube defect (NTD), one of the most common neonatal defects in the US. A common method for NTD prevention is folate (vitamin B9) supplementation but this is not always effective. Thus, my hypothesis is that the success of the folate salvage depends on the type of point mutation that is present in the fetus. Additionally, though NTD is common, there is no universal agreement on the cause; there is a tug-and-war between genetics and environmental factors. Hopefully, this study will shed more light on how much genetics weighs into NTD incidence.

Derek Moriyama

My research is looking into the effects of chemical modification of the skeletal muscle protein troponin I. The troponin complex is composed of three subunits (troponin I, C, and T) that combine to regulate the strength of skeletal muscle contraction. Past research has shown that modification of troponin I by specific enzymes can increase the amount of force heart muscles produce. My project will focus on the effects of such enzymes in skeletal muscles. Because the structure of troponin I in skeletal muscle varies slightly from the structure found in cardiac muscle, we expect to see a deviation in the effects on force production. My findings could help provide insight on the mechanism by which Beta-blocking drugs reduce muscle strength. Over the summer I will be testing to see if specific enzymes have effects on skeletal muscle. If these enzymes do act on skeletal troponin I, then I will test […]

Briana Robertori

For 10 weeks, I will be living up the mountainous rural coffee growing area of Matagalpa, Nicaragua studying the tourism that I myself will be a part of. I will be studying how the UCA San Ramon coffee cooperatives agroeco-tourism project is affecting the families and communities of the mostly female tourist hosts. To survey both the positive and negative effects, I will be distributing a questionnaire to all of the forty host mothers, or alojadoras. I will also be conducting between eight and ten filmed interviews with alojadoras, tourist guides, community members, and one interview with the director to assess the tourism projects historical impact. When I return to Berkeley, I will make a documentary for my Anthropology honors thesis.