Dayna Stimson

My research focuses on the growing recognition that the scientific study of consciousness is lacking in one crucial element: a rigorous methodology for examining the first-person, qualitative aspects of conscious states. While neuroimaging and computational cognition have greatly enhanced our knowledge of brain function, we are no closer to bridging the explanatory gap. That is, how does neuronal activity create the deeply complex, subjective, and personal world that each of us experiences? Though conventional scientific study does not currently recognize introspection as a valid method of inquiry, I will examine the ways in which Buddhist contemplative practices may be used to study consciousness directly, as they have been used for more than 2,000 years. I seek to define and develop a precise methodology of meditation techniques to be used in conjunction with neuroscientific studies to heighten our understanding of consciousness. I will spend my time perusing the literature on contemplative […]

Kaiji Gong

To judge whether an economic bubble would lead to a financial crash and to estimate the critical time of a crash are significant in financial areas. The Log-Periodic Power Law (LPPL) is an equation that describes how bubbles evolve and grow. By fitting the equation into a financial time series, it is possible to predict the event of a crash. The equation proves to be effective in predicting several financial crises, such as the one in 2008. My research will focus on extending the model to predict market behaviors after the crash. I will adopt some assumptions in LPPL (i.e., imitation behaviors among traders) as well as some more theories from other literatures, and follow the similar track to construct a model that predicts when the market will stop crash. I will then fit the model into financial time series to examine the accuracy of the model.

Angel Jung

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 […]

Maria Pizzano

Butterflies are known for the remarkable patterns and colors of their wings. There are precisely arranged rows of microscopic single-cell scales across the wing surface. The color of scales can result from either the biosynthesis of pigments within the scale, or from structural coloration (sometimes both). Structural colors, such as iridescence, are of particular interest because they originate from the interaction of light with complex nanostructures that are found within or at the surface of each scale. A remarkable example of iridescence is seen on the wings of the Gulf Fritillary butterfly, Agraulis vanilla, where spots appear silver and almost reflective as a mirror. I am interested in how scale stacking contributes to overall reflectivity, and how actin contributes developmentally to the particular structure, and therefore iridescence, of a silver scale. I will be looking at Gulf Fritillary butterfly wings at the larval, pupal, and adult stages. My work will […]

Nare Janvelyan

Metalloporphyrins are found in various different organisms ranging from humans to plants. Metalloporphyrins consist of a porphyrin macrocycle with a coordinated metal atom at their center. They are part of many biological systems such as chlorophyll, vitamin B12, cytochrome P-450, and hemoglobin. Synthetic metalloporphyrins are used as commercial dyes and catalysts in the design of solar cells, molecular electronics, and supramolecular building blocks. The metalloporphyrins interaction with light plays a critical role in many systems therefore it is important to characterize the molecules interactions with light. The goal of my research project is to investigate the molecules interaction with light by studying the ionization of the ground and excited state using a femtosecond laser to conduct a pump-probe experiment. Metalloporphyrins of various metal centers and substituent groups on the porphyrin macrocycle will be studied in order to find how each variable affects the ionization process and excited state dynamics.

Elaina Marshalek

With a rapidly increasing amount of tropical forest threatened by logging and land conversion, there is growing concern about retaining species diversity, and in turn, ecosystem sustainability. My research uses methods from the Operations Research field to incorporate ecological considerations for strategic planning in multi-use tropical forest landscapes. While past research has primarily focused on identifying sites for placing permanent reserves, my research develops optimization tools to create algorithms that apply principles of ecological sensitivity to both reserve patterns and harvest scheduling at once.I am utilizing recent advances in numerical optimization of integer programming problems to include spatial and temporal factors that until recently were difficult to solve with such precision. Varying harvesting patterns in response to species-specific spatial and temporal patterns in addition to reserve planning represents a promising new method inform future sustainability standards for forest management, thereby helping to conserve species diversity and maintain ecosystem function.

Rotem Aboody

Why do children spend so much time engaged in pretend play, imagining fictional scenarios? Could children actually be learning new things through this process, exploring new possibilities inaccessible to them in daily life? My SURF project seeks to explore whether imagination can indeed enable children to learn about and successfully intervene on novel causal structures, even in the absence of a demonstration of the structures. Children will be introduced to a novel causal structure, and will be asked to choose one of three possible interventions on the structure to produce the highest probability of a desired result. Will the process of imagining outcomes produce higher accuracy in the absence of a demonstration of a novel causal system? This project not only serves as my honors thesis in Psychology, but also explores the little-understood relationship between imagination and probabilistic causal learning in preschoolers.

Marissa Teitelman

Certain histories have been ignored that are incredibly important to understanding self-identity. The Dutch West India Companys (WIC) history epitomized trans-Atlantic diaspora, creating unique cultures all over the world and intensifying identity transformations. I will examine the extent of the Dutch role in producing identity transformation and cultural diaspora along the 17th century WIC slave route from Amsterdam, to Ghana, to Curaao, and finally to New Amsterdam. I will draw on publications from experts in the field such as Paul Gilroy, Kwesi Yankah, and Linda Heywood. Looking at tales, traditions, and legends from Ghana, the Caribbean, and New Amsterdam will synthesize the extent of cohesion among trans-Atlantic cultures spread by the Dutch slave trade. Highlighting the influence of cultural material and folklore could provide a greater understanding of the under-examined Dutch role in the Atlantic slave trade, and insight into the extent of cultural cohesion and distinction across the Atlantic.

Tricia Ngoon

My research is about the efficacy of verbal retrieval practice, the act of verbally explaining or telling someone else about learned material. So much of academics is focused on studying or re-reading material when really, telling or explaining it to someone may be more beneficial for memory and comprehension. Along the lines of the testing effect, in which a student shows better memory for items that were tested as opposed to simply studied, verbal retrieval practice serves as a form of testing that may be in line with Transfer Appropriate Processing. My research will explore quantitatively how much verbal retrieval practice may affect memory more than studying or re-reading alone.

Josephine Juanamarga

In my research, I aim to explore the mechanisms behind why Asians experience more difficulty in disclosing personal problems and approaching others for help in various situations (especially emotionally) than when compared to Westerners. Do different styles of communication (indirect vs. direct) or differences in the implicit sense of power status (high vs. low) moderate this interaction? Might Asians show preference seeking certain people to whom they disclose their problems or seek help from? I hope that this research could help shed light on the acculturation process and success of Asian immigrants in flexibly adjusting to the host culture. In addition, I also hope that exploring the reasons why Asians have a harder time seeking others help could give mental and physical health professionals some insights on how to face Asians and give them better treatment methods. Lastly, I hope this research could give a better understanding to people of […]