The phyllosphere, the microbiome of the leaf surface, is a highly tractable model system, and is particularly adept for empirical studies on microbial ecological and evolutionary dynamics. One open question is how prior local adaptation on a plant host influences the efficacy of microbial biological control agents. Using an experimental evolution approach, in which changes in populations are measured over multiple passaging events, a naturally occurring, defensive phyllosphere bacteria, Pantoea dispersa, was evolved on tomato seedlings. Preliminary assays found that this bacterium has evolved increasingly negative effects on seedling health, suggesting a potential degradation of protective traits. Over the summer, I will help conduct dose-response assays on tomato seedlings to examine how the defensive ability of P. dispersa against the common plant pathogen, Pseudomonas syringae, has evolved over time. Understanding these ecological-evolutionary dynamics in the plant phyllosphere is critical for the implementation of effective biocontrols.
In 1996, the Museum of Art and Design in San Jos, Costa Rica curated MESTICA II Centroamrica re-generacin that featured both emerging and well established artists from Central America. The artworks in the exhibition were selected as a survey and investigation into the sentiments of regional artists in consideration of the earlier civil war era in Central America that lasted from the 1970s to the 1990s. A majority of the research for this project focuses on analyzing the archives from the exhibition and understanding the role of curatorial practice in the intervention of social and political issues, especially within its historical context. The project will be centered around the art of Patricia Belli and how her pieces are in conversation with the others in the exhibition. In researching the archives, we will also consider how the feminist perspective of Patricia Bellis work was an important influence on the production of […]
Metastasis, responsible for >90 percent of cancer-related deaths, is a highly complex process that involves the migration of tumorigenic cells from the primary tumor to the secondary, distant site. Cells face a rigorous journey, from invasion into the surrounding tissue, intravasation into the surrounding blood vessels/lymphatic system, survival through the external system, extravasation at the secondary site, and eventual colonization. To assist in this process, tumor cells can undergo phenotypic transformations. Cancer cells hijack canonical (native) developmental pathways, the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and the mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET) in order to gain phenotypic traits that are amenable to this metastatic process. My project will explore MET using triple negative breast cancer to model. I will employ a novel lithographic platform called high-throughput DNA-directed patterning (htDNA-dp) that enables spatial and temporal control of cells, ligands, and other biological species with high fidelity to explore various factors related to a number of ligands, […]
This summer, my mentor, Caleb Dawson, and I will explore what Black students and staff members at UC Berkeley hope to gain from their pursuit of higher education or career in higher education. Over the course of eight weeks, Ill be interviewing various students and faculty members to develop an understanding of what a quality education means to them. Well be exploring why Black students come to Cal and assume the responsibility of improving the student experience for other Black students. Additionally, well inquire if they would recommend Cal to younger Black scholars. Ill be using a qualitative data analysis software, and an ethnographic perspective, to comparatively study the responses of interview participants. In all, this is a qualitative research project aimed at discovering the desires of Black people at UC Berkeley. I hope to take what I learn from this fellowship and apply it to my work in the […]
Public procurement is an essential channel for government to buy items at the best possible price and quality. However, many developing countries lack a systematic track of public procurement, leaving space for wrongdoers to engage in improper behavior. Procurement expenditure contributes significantly to GDP, so it is vital to prevent corruption in public procurement and invest money wisely. This project aims to use econometric methodologies to highlight the existence of corruption and collusion problems in Chinese public procurement. This summer I will work under the supervision of Qianmiao Chen to detect the non-competitive behaviors of firms in public procurement in China and estimate the proportion of procurement in which the evidence of corrupt practice is present. I will collect and clean data on public procurement; investigate the relationship between procurement procedures and corruption indicators using regression analysis; and provide empirical evidence for future policy change in public procurement.
This summer, my graduate mentor, Taormina Lepore, and I will be working on a project aimed at understanding the effectiveness of inclusive design on disability perception in college paleobiology courses. Using student survey data collected from UC Berkeley and three other U.S. universities about experiences with an in-class digital inclusive design project, we will practice mixed methods of analysis with Microsoft Excel VLOOKUP functions, MaxQDA, and R-package software. For example, we will mark and code themes in a large body of survey response text and compile a thematic codebook product that can be used in peer-reviewed publications. The long-term goal of this project is to understand how inclusive, creative projects can help expand perceptions about disabled people in science, while at the same time also building skills in science pedagogy, disability advocacy, and education research. Throughout the summer, I will learn more about inclusive design methodologies and the impact of […]
The onset of neurodegenerative disease coincides with the destruction of synapses; simultaneously, endogenous self-correcting mechanisms are induced that turn up the gain of synaptic transmission, initially counteracting the effects of degeneration and preserving the flow of intercellular communication. This effect is termed homeostatic neuroprotection. Growing evidence has shown that homeostatic neuroprotection sustains neuronal structure and function, acting as a biochemical basis for cognitive resilience to degeneration and stress. Chronic stress is a major risk factor for the development of depression. The lateral habenula (LHb) has been implicated in the development of major depression; it has become recognized as the antireward center and targets all midbrain neuromodulatory systems, including serotonergic and dopaminergic circuits. Overall, this project aims to determine the therapeutic potential of homeostatic neuroprotection as a means to promote brain resilience by mitigating LHb hyperactivity, with direct relevance to the treatment of symptoms of neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression. There […]
With extreme wildfires plaguing California, examining Indigenous interactions with the environment over the past two thousand years is crucial for current land management and preparation for the future of the landscape and its residents. This summer, I will work with my mentor, Alec Apodaca, as part of an integrative historical ecology and archaeology project along the central California coast (Laguna Creek, Hastings Natural History Reserve, and San Vicente Redwoods). Through hands-on fieldwork, I will develop my skills in landscape surveying, data collection, and laboratory analytics of organic eco-archaeological remains. I plan to also use my background in art to document our team efforts, offering this scientific multidisciplinary work a humanistic, creative lens that encourages public awareness and engagement with the current field of archaeology and supports Indigenous leadership in natural resource management today.
This summer, I will be working one-on-one with my mentor, Michael Banerjee, a fourth-year graduate student here at UC Berkeley. Michael and I will spend the summer researching documents from the history of the UC system, mostly through UC Regents reports from as far back as 1868, in order to investigate and better understand the origin and power of the Constitutional University system. The goal of this research is to obtain a full understanding of this incredibly unique state-constitution based charter system that is only found in the Western United States. In doing so, I will be doing crucial research to assist Michael in writing his dissertation, but will also gain valuable experience in historical and bibliographic research. I will also have the opportunity to learn more about jurisprudence, a branch of history that I have not yet explored.
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 to […]