Emmelyn Hsieh

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 […]

Mathilde Bonvalot

The reassertion of Catholicism’s essential principles after the Council of Trent had a major impact on religious art production in 16th century Italy. Consciously putting together reliques from the early years of Christianity with Rinascimento painting techniques, the new visual programs created within Roman churches became the place where sacred space and ideas could be rebuilt, generating a new meaning for the Catholic community. I will travel to Rome to investigate the emergence of the discipline of Archaeology as the crucial event that allowed early Christian antiquities discovered in the Catacombs to be reinvested in churches during the Counter-Reformation. My research will focus mainly on the modest basilica of Santi Nereo e Achillo where infamous scenes of Christian martyrdom are believed to have been composed by Renaissance painter Pomarancio to understand how this gruesome imagery participated in the establishment of the Roman Catholic Church’s claims for historical legitimacy.

Nadir Bilici

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.

Rami Ariss

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.

Pedro Amaral

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.

Rachel Agoglia

Understanding the genetic mechanisms that underlie morphological evolution is a long-standing goal in biology. The threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) is an emerging model organism with features ideal for studying the molecular basis of morphological evolution. Several stickleback populations display evolved differences in tooth number, likely adaptive to match different diets. These differences in tooth number are largely controlled by a Quantitative Trait Locus (QTL), a genomic region controlling a quantitative trait. This QTL is located on chromosome 21 and contains an excellent candidate gene: Bone Morphogenetic Protein 6 (Bmp6). I will use two approaches to test the hypothesis that Bmp6 underlies the chromosome 21 tooth QTL. First, I will use a reverse genetics approach with TALENs (TAL Effector Nucleases) to generate loss-of-function Bmp6 alleles to assess the role of Bmp6 in tooth patterning. Second, I will use a forward genetic approach of recombinant mapping to further fine-map the tooth QTL.

Jessica Chan

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 […]

Kendall Condon

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.

Derrek Coleman

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.

April Choi

Nor-1 is a protein that can promote death of CD4+ CD8+ double positive thymocytes, cells in the process of maturing into T cells. In the thymus, these double positive thymocytes undergo a process called negative selection, in which any thymocytes that recognize self-molecules that our own body produces are killed. This makes sure that our body mounts an immune response when it encounters a foreign pathogen. Failure during this negative process results in autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus (the go-to disease whenever someone is sick in the episodes of House), Graves’ disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Presently, the exact molecular mechanism of negative selection is poorly understood. Nor-1 can induce apoptosis (cell death) by assisting in translations of new proteins, but it can also promote cell death by moving into the mitochondria and turning on Bcl-2 into a pro-apoptotic molecule by exposing its killer BH3 domain1. The mechanism for […]