Scott Farley

Wildfires annually burn hundreds of thousands of acres of the Western United States, forcing mass evacuations, burning residences and costing hundreds of millions of dollars. Using a Geographic Information System (GIS), my project aims to model the wildfire potential of the Angeles National Forest, a large and diverse natural area just outside the city of Los Angeles. Considering variables such as fuel type and moisture content, temperature, precipitation, slope, and winds, I will determine the areas of the forest most conducive to a destructive fire. Using these ‘hot spots,’ I will analyze the resource allocation of the fire fighting units surrounding the forest. By the end of my project, I intend to have developed a model capable of incorporating future climate scenarios and being applied to other areas of the state.

Hai Hoang

What will happen if Myspace use can increase your narcissism? What will happen if Facebook use can increase your self-esteem and decrease your self-control? What will happen when only ten minutes of using Facebook may make you more willing to purchase online products? Those are some of the questions I want to answer in my study considering it is impossible to deny the great influence of online social network on our daily lives. More specifically, I want to examine if peoples personality and self-control may change after using Facebook, and if the reduced self-control can lead to higher purchase intention. The findings of this study may help explain the enormous growth of electronic commerce worldwide. Online businesses can also take advantage of this outcome to promote their sales.

Soo Yeon Han

In todays culture, the east is often defined as archival and conservative, the west being its modern progressive counterpart. Nevertheless, the patriarchal dominance had significant influence in both hemispheres. Of the same nationality yet of contrasting environment, Korean and Korean American poets maintain similar yet different perspectives. How do contemporary Korean women poets express themselves differently from their mothers who suffered oppressions? Furthermore, how would the Americanized daughters of the Korean mothers develop similar thematic approaches as part of their poetics? As my senior thesis, I intend to analyze the issues of representations of female sexuality, the female body, and the forms of resistance taken to gender stereotypes in the works of Korean and Korean American women poets. I will approach this by analyzing the rhetoric used by these poets to portray womens experience, observing the poets’ identity as women and artists.

Christopher Hansen

Dengue (DENV) is a mosquito-borne viral illness that is endemic to many areas around the world, including Central and South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia, and affects approximately 300 million people per year. The current gold standard in vitro assay uses cell lines such as Vero or BHK that are not natural targets for DENV and lack several important co-receptors and FcRs that modulate DENV infections. My project will test cell lines that express the major co-receptors involved in DENV infection and will develop a new, robust, high-throughput in vitro assay that will provide a better tool for studying the natural course of DENV infection and could be used for vaccine and treatment studies.

Fikreselam Habebo

In 2009 the country witnessed a spate of suicides among foreign maids, and last year a 33-year-old Ethiopian woman [Dechesa] killed herself shortly after being filmed being beaten by a Lebanese man on a Beirut street. With increasing reports of immigrants and abuse of domestic workers in the Gulf countries, the conditions of these migrant women need to be closely studied. My research question asks: 1) How is domestic work in Beirut, Lebanon racialized and gendered and 2) How do Ethiopian domestic workers in Lebanon experience race? I will approach this in 3 ways: 1) By examining the role of Islam and Christianity in migrant labor discourse; 2) By exploring two types of interpersonal relationships: the personal (among migrant workers) and the romantic; and 3) By investigating what resources of support and assistance are available for Ethiopian immigrant workers. To accomplish this, I will travel to Beirut, Lebanon to examine […]

Robert Gleichman

Currently, it is difficult for robots to manipulate deformable objects. This is because deformable object’s plethora of states make it is difficult for the robot to figure out what next action will get it closer to its goal. One solution to this problem is to use human demonstrations. The robot can currently tie knots when given a demonstration of a knot tying sequence. This is done by finding a transformation from the rope state at test time to the rope state at the beginning of a demonstration. This transformation is then applied to the motion of the robot’s grippers recorded during the demonstration to create a motion of the arms that will work for the new rope state. This summer, I hope to extend upon this capability by allowing the robot to choose the best out of many demonstrations, and teaching the robot how to fold towels and garments.

Kamyar Jarahzadeh

Turkey is home to a population of 17,000 Afghan refugeesa number which is projected to double by the end of the year. Afghan refugees travel to Turkey fleeing violence and economic hardships, only to find themselves struggling to subsist while navigating a convoluted resettlement process. My project is an ethnographic study of their experiences and interactions within their communities, and with state and non-state actors. Findings will be generated with participant observation and interviewing of Afghan refugees currently in Turkey. The project will explore what citizenship means for displaced peoples in an increasingly globalized world. I hope to reveal how international refugee policy affects lives on the ground, and reveal how state and non-state actors interact when dealing with a single population.

Xuchen Hu

Desiccation tolerance is an organisms ability to withstand removal of as much as 95% of its intracellular water and be able to resume normal metabolism upon rehydration. However the molecular basis for tolerance is not completely understood. Budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is one of the rare species that exhibit this amazing trait and is an excellent organism to study desiccation tolerance. Upon desiccation, yeast, like other desiccation tolerant organisms, accumulates the disaccharide trehalose. However, mutants that are unable to make trehalose exhibit significant tolerance, suggesting the existence of other molecules that help promote tolerance. My project this summer is to identify additional molecules that cooperate with trehalose and to examine the roles of these genes in desiccation tolerance. This research will provide an understanding of the molecules necessary for tolerance, which can used in biomedical applications, like safely desiccating red blood cells for long term transportation and storage.

Nada Hosking

Research related to prehistoric image-making is constructed around a patriarchal scientific tradition of discourse. In 2007, archaeologists once more imposed vulva symbolism on an abstract engraving on a rock at Abri Castanet, perpetuating the assumption that Upper Palaeolithic societies perceived the world through a similar cultural screen to our own. Using the so-called vulva engravings as an example, my project asks: How can contemporary patriarchal values that have been dominating the interpretation of pre-historic imagery be re-evaluated? My project culminates in a senior honors thesis that aims at re-examining the dominant narrative imposed on Upper Palaeolithic engravings, and sparking alternative interpretations that would take our archaeological mind out of the vulva.

Jonathan Ho

A particularly notable obstacle to the adoption of robotics in the everyday household is the difficulty of teaching robots to execute new tasks in unforeseen environments–this is currently a task only approachable by those with plenty of time and technical expertise. I am working on a system that aims to make teaching robots as simple as providing human demonstrations. It will use ideas from artificial intelligence to enable robots to generalize demonstrations to new situations and learn from failures as they interact with the world. My work will focus on deformable objects, such as rope and cloth, which are among the most difficult for robots to reason about and manipulate.