Sepanta Sarraf

The Sasanian Empire is known to have had a vast number of faiths within it. Despite this, most of the Persian sources of this time only refer to the known Zoroastrian elements of the royal pantheon. By studying these sources, as well as other records around this time, it is possible to learn if the majority of Iranian subjects held the same faith as their rulers, or if there was a difference. This topic will be approached in two major segments, which encompass the analysis of primary and secondary sources. Analysis of these sources will allow a final understanding of the Sasanian rulers’ religion relative to that of their subjects. The first step is to review primary sources created during the Sasanian Era. These sources mainly include the Sasanian Royal Inscriptions, rock reliefs, and Kerdir’s Inscriptions. The second step is to review secondary, scholarly sources about the Sasanian Empire, which […]

Ian Wong

In response to perceived violations of Hong Kong’s special autonomy, as enshrined in the “One China, Two Systems” framework, by mainland China, mass protests broke out in the city from 2019-2020. Viewing the city’s unique geopolitical position through cultural scripts, popular media framed the city’s pro-democracy movement in distinct ideological terms, stating that the residents of the financial hub were fighting for freedom and capitalism in the face of increased encroachment by “communist” mainland China. However, this tidy framework suggesting protestors took on right-leaning identities fails to account for the complex realities of organizing. Indeed, the recent movement showcased protestors choosing leftist tactics such as anarchist protest structures and unionization under the banner of Localism, an ideology calling for Hong Kong independence. Current scholarship however, ignores left-right ideologies in favor of the dominant pro-democracy versus pro-Beijing divide, despite the seemingly low predictive power of cultural scripts. My investigation thus fills […]

Eva Hannan

My project follows two trends that have developed since the 1970s and appear to converge on the site of the imprisoned female body. The first trend is the globalized “feminization of labor,” where large numbers of women join the workforce. The second is the increasing number of females incarcerated within the United States. Specifically, I want to examine the rhetoric of records and documents concerning the female prison laborer. I am interested to see how the language that dictates the subjectivity of women in prison has shifted, as its population has increased over time, and in comparison to their male counterparts. I will examine public records from government agencies and corporations, contracts for prison labor, news coverage and political messaging. I will look for patterns and trends in language that describe these women, their labor and their imprisonment.

Sulaiman Alvi

The question I aim to answer this summer is whether quantum machine learning can provide an advantage over classical machine learning techniques for certain high energy physics applications. Analyzing data from particle collider experiments involves distinguishing signal events, which correspond to the particle physics of interest, from background events. Currently, classical machine learning techniques are used to tackle many of these classification problems. However, these techniques often require large amounts of data to classify with a high degree of certainty. In the growing area of anomaly-detection searches, datasets may be small. This can lead to poor classification performance of classical machine learning models. Several recent results have shown that quantum machine learning can provide an advantage for data-limited classification problems. However, these works have applied quantum machine learning to situations where classical machine learning techniques are already sufficient. Over this summer, I plan to directly test the possibility for a […]

Gabriel Perko-Engel

Most iron, and much nickel-based superconductivity is found in the same region as a magnetically ordered state. The transition temperatures for these magnetic states have in turn been found to be strongly correlated with those of “nematic” phase transitions reducing the lattice symmetry from tetragonal to orthorhombic. Given the intersection between these nematically fluctuating regions and superconducting phases in so many unconventional superconductors, several questions naturally arise. This first of these is of course what connection exists between the nematic phase and superconductivity. But, beyond that, the origin of the nematic phase itself isn’t completely clear in and of itself. And the existence of the aforementioned magnetic phase creates a confounding variable, making it challenging to disentangle nematic from magnetic order in the effects on superconductivity. BaNi2As2 is a nematically ordered superconductor with no observed long-range magnetic order. Using resonant ultrasound spectroscopy (RUS), I hope to extract complete symmetry information […]

Elina Wells

Immunosurveillance is the immune system’s ability to detect foreign pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses, and cancerous cells in the body. Many cancers evade immunosurveillance, through the use of mechanisms, which allow them to exist and spread undetected. Checkpoint blockade therapy – an immunotherapy treatment method in part developed at Berkeley – counters the “breaks” of immunosuppressive cells, imposed on inflammatory immune cells within the tumor microenvironment. Many current immunotherapies use Listeria monocytogenes as a way to induce immune cells that were previously exhausted to regain their effector phenotype and control cancer. However, about half of the patients fail to respond to treatment. This may be because immunosuppressive cells within the tumor microenvironment dampen any immune response leading to unresponsive inflammatory cells. I propose that changing the injection method from intravenous (IV) to intratumoral (IT) injection will counter these shortcomings because an immune response will generate directly within the tumor. My […]

Diana Francis

Sleep behavior in Cassiopea, the upside-down jellyfish, challenges the common association between sleep and brain function. In lieu of a brain and centralized nervous system (CNS), Cassiopea has a decentralized net of ganglia that initiate pulsing activity at a slower rate during the night. My project seeks to understand how an animal that lacks a CNS undergoes a whole-body behavioral state change. More specifically, I will examine how this behavior affects the expression of several genes connected to sleep and activity using in situ hybridization and quantitative PCR. These genes encode an acetylcholine receptor subunit, choline acetyltransferase, a GABAergic receptor, a sodium-calcium exchanger, and a glutathione S-transferase. Characterizing the expression of these genes will help illustrate the connection between ganglion usage and sleep behavior. I will silence one gene of interest, the acetylcholine receptor subunit, using RNA interference, and compare the gene expression of sleep-deprived jellyfish to those of jellyfish […]

Justin Nelson

Fertility in women and across mammalian species requires a series of temporally coordinated neuroendocrine events by the circadian system in the brain. Disruptions to circadian timing across mammalian species from stress or environmental factors result in irregularities in the estrous/menstrual cycles, reduced fertility, and increased miscarriage rates. The proposed studies examine the role of neuroendocrine signaling events and circadian timekeeping in ovulation. Across mammalian species, ovulation requires timed neuroendocrine events organized by the master circadian pacemaker in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). Evidence points to E2-sensitive kisspeptin (Kp) neurons, potent stimulators of the reproductive axis that maintain their own circadian timekeeping, as the locus for estradiol (E2) and neuroendocrine signal integration. The preovulatory luteinizing hormone (LH) surge, the hormone signaling cascade required for ovulation, is triggered by timed neuroendocrine signals from the SCN to kisspeptin (Kp) neurons. Alterations in neuroendocrine signals to Kp neurons results in disrupted fertility. Findings from the […]

Allison Zau

Riparian meadows in the Sierra Nevada facilitate access to near-surface groundwater, a resource critical to sustaining the productivity and biodiversity of the larger montane ecosystems. Historically, the groundwater flow is consistently recharged by snowmelt percolating down from snowpack at higher elevation. However, climate change is depleting this critical snowpack, destabilizing the groundwater flow and consequently the ecosystem. Using seismic surveys I conducted last year, I will produce cross-sections of a characteristic meadow. These will provide information on the near-surface groundwater distribution and composition and geometry of the soil and rock bedding. I can then evaluate how the landscape affects the relative volume and movement of groundwater. Understanding these subsurface controls on groundwater availability will inform meadow conservation efforts.

Kenneth Trang

Bacteria inhabit almost every surface on Earth, from tabletop to hydrothermal vents. Thus, it’s unsurprising that a diverse community of microbes also thrives within the human gut. However, these residents aren’t stowaways, as strong evidence has emerged in the last decade that a well-balanced community of gut bacteria is indispensable to human health. And yet, our understanding of the genetic factors involved in selecting what gut microbes can colonize and persist remain limited. This summer, I research the effect of host genetics on the composition of the gut-microbiome, focusing on the effect of individual genes on compositional changes occurring during early development in the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans. This unprecedented work will not only constitute the first experimental investigation into the role of individual genes in the initial establishment of the gut microbiome composition of any animal host, but also contribute more generally to our understanding of the fundamental rules […]