How does the brain represent concepts outside of perceptual experience? Relatively little is known about the neural mechanisms and brain areas involved in abstract thoughtthose enabling us to conceptualize domains for which we lack dedicated perceptual systems. Theories of embodied cognition suggest that understandings of such abstract domains are constructed from co-experienced perceptual input; for instance, Lakoff & Johnson (1999) have proposed that we build representations of time based on experiences of movement through space, as we consistently experience the passage of time while moving. This research seeks to determine if our sense of time arises in part from experiences of motion. Specifically, it asks whether judgments of temporal duration are altered by rTMS disruption of motion-selective visual areas in the medial temporal and medial superior temporal cortex.
The ultimate goal of my research is to identify the structure of the subunit of DNA polymerase III in Aquifex aeolicus (Aquifex) using X-ray crystallography. DNA pol III is the enzyme that is responsible for the majority of the DNA replication that occurs in this strain of bacteria. The the subunit of DNA pol III is responsible for the polymerase activity. To date, the structure of the replicative unit has only been determined in two gram-negative bacteria, Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Thermus aquaticus (Taq) (Lamers et al., 2006, and Bailey et al., 2006). While these structures have proved to be quite useful in furthering our understanding of DNA polymerases, much remains unclear. Solving the structure of the subunit in Aquifex will help to further our understanding by providing a third system to study.
Dance Learning and Situated Social Practice” examines how social position, culture, and community influence learning processes and outcomes in youth dance programs. In this investigation, I ask: How do interactions between identity, culture, and community mediate students’ learning experiences in dance programs across different genres? This summer, I will conduct an ethnographic case study at AileyCamp- a dance and youth development program for underprivileged middle school aged children. To focus on the sociocultural aspects of learning, I am using situated social practice theory as a conceptual framework to describe how community practice mediates adolescents’ experience of dance education.
My summer research involves analyzing old archaeological collections to study the meaning of a specific type of site unique to the San Francisco Bay Area and Delta regions, shellmounds, for evidence of craft production. I will be looking through lots of shell material and soil samples for evidence of stone tool and shell bead production, in the form of stone manufacturing debris and possibly drilled or shaped shell. Evidence of production in these sites can help establish the types of uses and meanings that shellmounds had in Californias prehistory as well as add information about the everyday activities of the Coast Miwok and Ohlone peoples in the Bay Region.
My research deals with a trend in American prose that, starting around the nineteenth century, led to an increasingly speech-based way of writing, called plain speech, characterized by simplicity in language, conciseness, and straightforwardness. Starting with Mark Twains Adventure of Huckleberry Finn, which was the first time that a serious work of literature maintained the use of a dialectical speaker throughout itself for a purpose other than humor, American literature entrenched itself in the vernacular, breaking with the verbosity and erudition of Anglo writers. I am tracing how, starting with the dramatic advent of Huckleberry Finn, American prose adapted the notion of plain speech into a literary form, culminating in the blunt and powerful prose of Ernest Hemingway. I also want to explore the implications of plain speech as an American form, in terms of its development on the frontier and its fixation on the common.
My research project focuses on elucidating the visual and cognitive abilities of Stomatopod Crustaceans through animal behavior experiments. Commonly known as Mantis Shrimp, these marine crustaceans comprise a family of 350 species, some of which evolved over 100 million years ago. As active predators, they need excellent eyesight to locate and attack prey in their underwater environments, where light is filtered and reduced. I am investigating Stomatopods ability to learn to respond to a particular visual stimulus, and how this relates to their eye structure and brain function. Through repeated tests in which the animal is rewarded with food when it chooses the correct shape, I hope to gain new insight into the visual world of these fascinating invertebrates.
My research explores three major works of Jane AustenNorthanger Abbey, Pride and Prejudice, and Persuasionwith an eye toward Austens development of ideological and formal features of the novel, as well as her attempts to coach her characters and, by implication, the reader, in how to understand these new features. By analyzing Austens presentation of characters engaged in reading texts as diverse as novels, sermons, conduct books, letters, poems, situations, and countenances, I hope to develop an understanding of the way in which Austen desired her novels to be read and to explore the implications of Austens theories of reading practice upon the rise in the respectability of the novel in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
The Naturalization Act of 1870 ushered in a wave of immigration during the turn of the 20th century which included many from the West Indies. While they sought the same opportunities as their European counterparts they often suffered from, and organized against, discrimination and Jim Crow segregation. Thus as activists, intellectuals, and parents, these immigrants paved the way for their children who went on to become such civil rights pioneers as W.E.B. DuBois, James Weldon Johnson, Shirley Chisholm, and Malcolm X. My research illuminates how these often overlooked immigrants helped sow the seeds of the Civil Rights Movement, by connecting their politics to those of their more well-known first generation American children.
Physicists can now readily cool atoms down to near absolute zero and exploit their quantum behavior that one does not see at everyday room temperatures. One such application of cold atoms is called atom interferometry. Typically, the experimental setup of atom interferometers are quite bulky and can fill up a room. However, at the cost of some sensitivity these setups can be scaled down to the size of a moving box. Since such a small atom interferometers can measure accelerations nearly as well as other cutting edge technology, a miniature version could have applications in navigation and geophysical measurements. My project this summer is to create a small trap to cool the atoms that can be later extended into a small atom interferometer.
It’s easy to see video games as fantasy worlds designed for pleasure and escape. In this project, I plan to look further into the real-life implications of virtual worlds–specifically military first-person shooters. When we consume war as a source of fun, what happens? Military FPSes, such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, involve certain assumptions–not just about global questions of the role of the United States as a military superpower, but about small-scale questions of how we are embodied in the world. These games invite us into the bodies of anonymous supersoldiers who see the world through the technologized eyes of Predator drones and heartbeat sensors. What kinds of bodies and perception do these games take as natural? What global dynamics of war and power do they transform into play?