The Klamath Mountains are one of the many “suspect terranes” that comprise the West Coast of North America. Due to the increased tectonic activity of this region, the history and paleogeography of this Western Cordillera remain enigmatic. It is largely unknown whether or not these terranes originated in place or were accreted (delivered from off coast). This project uses paleomagnetism, the study of how rocks are altered by the magnetic field, to understand the rotational and kinematic history of the Baird Formation in the Klamath Mountains. When a rock forms or cools from magma, its ferromagnetic minerals align with the earths magnetic field like a compass. This property allows us to understand the orientation of the rocks with respect to the field at the time of formation. Upon collection of samples, variations in the rocks recorded magnetic field orientation and the current field orientation are oftentimes indicative of past tectonic […]
Increasing crop yields has always been a global issue. One of the largest studies of domestic hunger, Hunger in American 2010, reported, hunger is increasing at an alarming rate in the United States (Feeding America). My research this summer focuses on identifying a bHLH gene, ms32, which promotes fertility in maize (corn), the most widely grown grain crop. As the anther – the male reproductive organ in plants – matures during early development, five distinct layers are formed and required for meiosis to function properly. One of the five layers, the tapetal layer, is crucial for the development of pollen grains, which are the male gametes, and is regulated by the ms32 gene. A mutant in this gene causes excess cell division in the tapetal layer, causing pollen mother cells to collapse, rendering the plant sterile. A better understanding of this bHLH gene will prevent additional division in the layer […]
Patients who have experienced severe head trauma are in a state where their brain exhibits impaired glycolysis by a process that is currently not well understood. Because the brain relies on glucose metabolism for energy production, the obstruction of its supply can lead to loss of brain function. Lactate is the final step of the glycolytic pathway, and as a result there has been speculation that infusions of lactate into TBI patients could give the brain another potential source of energy by bypassing glycolysis. For my project this summer, I have the ability to quantify the level of carbohydrate metabolism in the brain through derivatization of the plasma samples from patients treated with isotopically labeled lactate and glucose. Thus, my project points to the possibility that lactate infusion could offer a future alternative form of treatment for TBI patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Dr. George A. Brooks, my […]
I am researching Gandhi’s nonviolent movement in India, particularly the importance that Gandhi subscribed to language and his belief that language too can be violent. If language does not merely describe the world as it is but is an active part of creating that very world and thus the possibilities for action, then how we choose and use our words is not trivial in the least but significantly influences the success of any political action. Moreover, as an extension upon language in general, I am exploring the narrative function in Gandhi’s movement. If we think of narratives as open-ended, on-going and composed of multiple voices and perspectives, then political action composed in a kind of ‘narrative imagination’ allows for an on-going process, a process that responds to movements of an individual situation and is not forever determined by a sound-bite slogan that slowly fades in meaning. Through a thorough analysis […]
Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) is an alternative semiconductor to silicon for photovoltaic applications. Its advantageous physical properties allow it to absorb an equal amount of light with a fraction of silicons thickness; this means lower material costs. However, lack of fundamental research renders this material less efficient than silicon. Recent attempts at reducing manufacturing costs of CdTe solar cells investigate solution deposited nanocrystal (NC) films, i.e.semiconductor ink. During solar cell fabrication, CdTe films must be exposed to CdCl2 and heated to improve device performance. My research will investigate the effect of CdCl2 on heated CdTe NCs films. I will first synthesize solution-stable CdTe NCs (i.e. ink), then modify the NC surface with CdCl2. Next, I will fabricate CdTe layers by heating solution-deposited CdTe NCs and evaluate the films electrical and optical properties. Ultimately, I strive to discover which deposition and CdCl2 parameters lead to the best film performances for solar cells.
My research this summer focuses on object recognition for robotics. The goal is to have a robot be able to look at several objects and be able to not only identify each object, but also figure out how each is positioned. I will apply deep learning algorithms that have proven useful in other vision tasks to this problem.
DEAD-box proteins are vital to the central dogma of biology. They are involved in all aspects of RNA biology including ribosome biogenesis, mRNA export, RNA-protein complex remodeling and much more. Since DEAD-box proteins have been implicated in pathways of viral infections, like HIV, and many types of cancers, they are critical to human health. The two most formidable hurdles in researching this family are their highly similar active sites and that most are essential for life. This makes studying individual DEAD-box proteins difficult, so many of their functions remain unclear. My project will focus on designing chemical inhibitors for a single DEAD-box protein in order to develop methods for further investigating the entire DEAD-box family. This work will reveal the potential of chemical inhibition of DEAD-box proteins for treating disease and shed light on the biological functions of specific DEAD-box proteins.
The Large Underground Xenon, or LUX, collaboration has spent the last few years constructing a dual-phase liquid xenon detector which is sensitive enough to detect weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs), the primary candidate for dark matter. The detector is finally running and has been taking data since February of this year. With the first round of data in hand, I will analyze LUXs current level of performance. I will look for unexpected drops in its photo-detection rates and other signs that previously unaccounted for factors are limiting the detectors efficiency. The ultimate goal is to determine whether the detector is running as well as it needs to before the second round of data is taken. If it isnt, I will make recommendations for methods of measuring and investigating the factors I have studied.
My primary work revolves around a eukaryotic pathway known as RNA interference (RNAi) where small RNA molecules regulate gene expression. As the main enzyme responsible for generating these small RNAs, Dicer measures and cleaves a diverse population of RNA molecules into mature fragments primed to control genes. The two main substrates are hairpin RNAswhich are cut into microRNAs (miRNAs)and long duplex RNAswhich are cut into small interfering RNAs (siRNAs). Although many studies have analyzed Dicers ability to cleave RNA, there are still many unanswered questions about how Dicer selects its RNA substrates, which can lead to large changes into which genes are eventually regulated. Dicer is a large protein composed of many distinct parts. One elusive part of the protein is the helicase domain, which is involved in the processing of specific RNA substrates. My research aims to examine how the Dicers helicase domain recognizes the RNA substrates to influence […]
I will be working with the Murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (MHV68), a member of the Herpesviridae family consisting of over one hundred viruses capable of infecting a wide array of hosts. My gene of interest, muSOX, is a viral gene that targets and cleaves cytoplasmic host mRNAs and is the mouse analog of the SOX gene in the human gammaherpesvirus. A former graduate student constructed an MHV68 virus that is defective for host shutoff (HS). The HS virus has a single point mutation R443I and is incapable of targeting and degrading host cytoplasmic mRNAs. This summer, my job will be to confirm that phenotypes observed in the HS virus are due to only absence of host shutoff activity and not an unintended consequence of the R443I mutation. To do this, I will be creating another MHV68 virus that is defective for host shutoff and contains a different point mutation, L132F.