Alexander Kim

Cancer refers to a group of currently incurable diseases characterized by the unchecked proliferation of abnormal cells in the body, resulting in the growth of tumors. Today, cancer remains the second leading cause of death in this country. Most current cancer therapies are highly toxic and often only partially effective, highlighting the need for a greater understanding of this disease in order to inform new therapies. Immune cells, including natural killer (NK) cells, possess the innate ability to identify and destroy tumor cells via specific interactions between cell surface receptors and antigen in the tumor microenvironment, a process called immunosurveillance. However, some of these interactions between NK cell receptors, namely NKG2D, and specific ligands on non-tumor cells, can de-sensitize NK cells, allowing unchecked tumor growth. RAE-1 is one such ligand that appears to inhibit NK cells ability to eliminate tumor cells when it is expressed on non-tumor cells in the […]

Leo Steinmetz

Cosmic inflation is a theory that expands on the Big Bang model of the early universe to explain some confusing astrophysical observations. A major next step for physical cosmology is to find direct evidence of inflation. Theoretical cosmologists predict that inflation left patterns in the oldest light in the universe, the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), so the CMB measurement community is attempting to detect and characterize these patterns with a new generation of CMB telescopes such as LiteBIRD and CMB-S4. In order to detect this pattern we need to develop extremely sensitive detectors. The satellite telescope LiteBIRD will use detectors called Transition Edge Sensor (TES) Bolometers, operating at a temperature of 100 mK, just 0.1 degrees above absolute zero. Over the next few years, we will be developing the detection electronics for LiteBIRD, and we’ll need to thoroughly test many prototypes. To that end, I’m working on a few different […]

Sally Littlefield

My summer research seeks to understand how American culture conceives of adolescent female sexuality through analyzing popular film. Looking at American teen films from the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, I will explore when, how, and by whom it is considered acceptable or problematic for teenaged women to engage with their sexuality. Once I’ve conducted a thorough film analysis, I’ll be able to explore what effects these cultural beliefs have on teenaged girls through collecting oral histories of young women in the fall. My finished project will tie these two pieces together, looking to uncover the relationship between our culture’s perceptions of teenaged girls and American teenaged girls’ perceptions of themselves, their bodies, and their sexualities.

Alison Lafferty

World War II, one of the most significant global events of the 20th century, still has not faded from our societal memory. Specifically in the western world, this war has been moralized as an Allied victory against the grips of fascism, but recent representations of World War II events challenge these accepted moral perceptions. The representation of World War II in contemporary (post-1999) literature is not only unusual when considering that this literature was written over fifty years after the events being described, but also has potential consequences for the ways we perceive these events. My research asks, how do contemporary narratives based on the events of the Second World War change the moral relevance of those same events through sentimentalization or normalization? While sentimentalization tends to encourage the moralization of an event, normalization discourages it by rendering the event unremarkable. In my research, I will investigate these two concepts […]

Sarah Bhattacharjee

The field of fetal surgery, though it remains the best hope for expecting parents whose child might have dangerous complications, is impeded by the amniotic sac’s inability to heal following rupture. The Messersmith Group, in which I work, has proposed both a sealant, which draws inspiration from the chemical properties of the adhesive secreted by mussels to attach themselves to their surroundings in the underwater environment, as well as “presealing,” an innovative manner of delivering the sealant to the surgical area. This summer I shall be developing a benchtop method of fetal surgery presealing in order to accurately characterize candidate adhesives in a manner that reflects the failure mechanisms that would occur during surgery. Specifically, I will test this protocol on a selection of tissue samples to determine the tissue type and testing conditions that best replicate the the properties of the amniotic membranes.

Sarah Alsamman

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic pathogen that most commonly causes infection in immunocompromised individuals or compromised epithelial surfaces such as the cornea. This infectious agent is the leading cause of contact lens-associated microbial keratitis, which sometimes results in vision loss or blindness. I am interested in the mechanisms through which P. aeruginosa causes infection. P. aeruginosa is considered an extracellular pathogen known to utilize a type-III secretion system, a needle-like macromolecular structure implemented by the bacteria to inject toxins into the cytoplasm of a target cell without ever entering the cell. However, it has been shown by the Fleiszig lab and a few other researchers that P. aeruginosa does not always use its T3SS to infect extracellularly, but can enter the cell making it more difficult to kill. I am specifically interested in developing an assay that quantifies how often P. aeruginosa enters the cell in order to gain insight […]

Eena Kosik

We live in a world of noise and therefore, one of the most important functions in the brain is the ability to make predictions. Prediction is the result of using previous expectations of our surroundings to create possible interpretations of this noise. Because of the complexity of prediction, it makes sense that it has very complicated neural correlates in the brain. The literature shows mixed understandings of the neural mechanisms of prediction when paired with other factors, such as behavioral relevance. Some scientists argue that there is a prediction suppression effect, while others believe the opposite. In this project I will study the role of sensory adaptation as a result of making predictions using electroencephalography (EEG) while subjects perform tasks intended to isolate the mechanism of prediction. Because this study has not been performed previously, I hope to explain inconsistent findings in past experiments and achieve a conclusive understanding of […]

Saman Arfaie

Mehdi Akhavan Sales is regarded as one of the most celebrated contemporary poets in modern Persian Literature. My research aims to shed light on Akhavans viewpoint on history and historical consciousness along with its trajectory of development. Namely, I am curious to understand what form historical consciousness is manifested in and whether its development can be described as a linear progression, evolutionary or one marked by abrupt changes. This analysis will examine historical events as early as Irans 1953 coup d’etat (28 Mordad) to post 1979 Iranian Revolution while paying close attention to a selection of his works as sources of collective awareness: Arghanun (1951), Zemestan (1965) and Akhar-e Shahnamah (1959). Akhavans poetry is eclectic with its epic themes alluding to the style Ferdowsi, the free verse like that of Nimais poetry in the manipulation of rhythm and rhyme and yet being so descriptively symbolic. Because of his intellectual complexity […]

Peter Alexander

400 years after William Shakespeares death, debates on Elizabethan staging methods remain fresh. My SURF L&S research will explore the unknown mechanics Elizabethan staging. I will specifically do so by examining Elizabethan era resources (such as actual, annotated rehearsal scripts from Elizabethan theatre companies) on Shakespeares Henry IV, Part I. Henry IV, Part I stands as an anomaly amongst other Shakespearean plays because it does not adhere to the conventional scene-to-scene structure that most of the other Shakespearean plays follow. Unlike most scholars (who almost exclusively study conventionally structured plays), I believe that closely examining a play with unique structure gives me the best chance to discover new information about the still uncertain methods of Elizabethan staging. Attempting to answer this question is relevant and necessary because major theatres and theatre companies (E.g. Shakespeares Globe in London) continue to emulate Elizabethan staging, yet unlike theatre companies from 1616, modern companies […]

Nickolas Gable

The common imagination casts Medieval Europeans as victims of an era without skepticism in which the average person accepted superstition as fact. My research looks into the Early Medieval period in England and analyzes how various kinds of readers approached, questioned, and subsequently either accepted or refuted incredible claims. By looking at textual evidence within accounts of miracle as well as items of dubious canonicity, the intent is to expose and understand the multifaceted belief system of the Medieval Christian: one which allows for degrees of truth in miracle, doctrine, and scripture. The ultimate goal is to learn when and how Anglo-Saxon readers would have engaged in critical reading. This opens the door for further study of the ways in which texts can be understood from a broader Medieval perspective, and there are also implications for literary criticism as a whole, especially regarding the epistemological origins of the reader as […]