Emily Nguyen

Behavior is the output of complex neural computations in the brain; however, our understanding of how the motor cortex controls movement is not yet fully understood. This project investigates the key gap of knowledge in this field by demonstrating through quantification general principles of motor learning and coordination in a systems-neuroscience paradigm. To achieve this goal, I will analyze the variability of high-dimensional behavioral data during a novel 3D rat-reaching task. No motor behavior, such as a reach for a glass of water, is ever the same. There is always variability. I hypothesize the variability of representative kinematics is structured, with variability increasing in the direction of the dimension of the task. Since animals behave in 3D, leveraging tools for better quantification of complex reaching behavior like 3D rat kinematics is important. This project seeks to provide a basis for understanding the link between neural systems and behavior.

Viktoriya Carpio

An Indulgence, a remission of temporal punishment of sin whose guilt has been already forgiven through the sacrament of confession, has played a major devotional role in the lives of all social classes in Late Medieval England. Although the Early Modern historiography and the negative portrayal in popular culture (Canterbury Tales by Chaucer) diminished the overall credibility of indulgences, I will try to discern the extent of Indulgence’s devotional and communal effects on the common English lives and people. By exploring their primary communal and religious context, I want to examine Indulgences not only as a religious insurance of temporal punishment but as a tool reinforcing communal solidarity through the use of secondary sources, and Indulgences in the National Archives, The British Library, Bodleian Library, and Borthwick Institute for Archives.

Ockemia Bean

We are embarking on the 100th anniversary of the decimation of the thriving African American community in Tulsa, Oklahoman, also known as “Black Wall Street (BWS).” Evidence suggests the destruction of BWS and its aftermath was meant to physically, psychologically, and economically impede African American prosperity (Messer, Shriver, and Adams, 2018). A psychological mechanism that has never been studied is: how much black wealth is “too much” in white and black Americans? Today, 100 years after BWS’s destruction, black wealth continues to suffer at the individual and generational level (Conley, 1999; Oliver & Shapiro, 1995). Putting aside systemic racism, red-lining, lending discrepancies, and other forms of black American suppression, looking at business ownership, control, and profitability alone tells a bleak story. My research seeks to test what the tipping point wealth number is leading to threat and implicit bias in black and white perceivers. My study aims to fill a […]

Da Eun Jung

In the United States, abortion has been legal since the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade (1973), but abortion restrictions have been gradually increasing since then. In contrast, the Republic of Korea overturned its anti-abortion legislation on January 1, 2021. This project uses in-depth interviewing to study Korean women’s perceptions on abortion, opinions on the future state of abortion policies in Korea, and interpretations of the U.S. abortion debate. This study will examine how a forthcoming abortion legislation will reflect women’s opinions of abortion, speculate on how the policy changes may actually impact the lives of women, and explore whether Korea may follow a similar political history as the U.S., wherein abortion is becoming more difficult to obtain.

Rastko Nastic

A memristor is a device with the property that its electrical resistance depends on the history of applied voltage, and changes with the amount of current that passes through it. This atypical property of history-dependent resistance is analogous to how memory functions. As a result, memristors have been used in applications ranging from non-volatile analog memory to synaptic analogs and neuromorphic computing. However, there is a lack of in-depth understanding of the atomic-scale behavior that causes this property. My project aims to understand how the dominant dynamics, electromigration and ion transport, result in the unique behavior of the resistance. This understanding is a necessary precursor to solving the two main challenges in the current field of memristors: large parameter variability and cycling endurance degradation. I will study the relationship between dynamical defect structures and 2D device behavior by using Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM) to directly image ion dynamics and measure […]

Aaron Kavaler

As processing power available to high performance computers has increased, the overall performance has bottlenecked due to the limits of data transfer and storage. For small and medium sized computational fluid dynamics (CFD) researchers, the size of generated data is becoming problematic. In particular, CFD data faces a large resistance to general compression algorithms such as Lempel-Ziv encoding found in .zip files. Applications in CFD including wind-turbine design and aeronautics demand accurate capture of fluid dynamics phenomena on complex geometries such as turbine blades or airplane wings. For these complex geometries, grid-like straight-edged meshes prove ineffective. Instead meshes which are both curved (referred to as “high-order”) and non-gridlike (referred to as “unstructured”) are gaining popularity. As such, research into a novel compression algorithm of CFD data on high-order unstructured meshes will help small scale CFD researchers efficiently store their data.

Max Litster

Understanding literary narratives requires a strong grasp of the underlying language: unlike text drawn from Wikipedia, social media, or the news, literary prose is ripe with embellished descriptions and figurative language. Plot points are revealed in the form of nuanced events rather than explicit recollections: we read about a character’s ‘final breath’ rather than their death. The success of attention-based neural networks on an assortment of semantic inference and interpretation tasks suggests that they provide an effective model of human language, but a noticeable drop in performance when applied to literary data has inspired a call for domain-specific systems. This work draws on equal parts natural language processing research and literary theory to develop such ‘born-literary’ NLP models, designed specifically for the task of narrative understanding. If successful in predicting plot outcomes, the representations learned by these models may capture some of the latent narrative structures that encode storytelling devices […]

Jianhua Lim

The human body experiences various mechanical loads which cells respond to correspondingly to maintain homeostasis. However, drastic stimuli changes might lead to various diseases and degeneration. To enable regenerative medical strategies, we must first understand the connection between cell and organ mechanics. With this motivation, my mentor is developing a deformable microfluidic chip that can apply these mechanical loads to a single layer of cells. Currently, the chip is tailored for loads in the annulus fibrosus of the spine, but other systems with similar loading could be considered. The current design is limited to testing one tissue sample and one stretching condition per cycle. We will create a new design that improves the chip’s ability to produce data by testing multiple stretching conditions and samples simultaneously. Specifically, I will employ finite element modeling and create a genetic algorithm to manipulate and optimize the chip design to match physiologically relevant, experimental […]

Amoolya Grandhi

Topological insulators, electronic materials that behave like insulators in their interior but can conduct current on their edges or surfaces, hold a lot of potential for improving the function and energy efficiency of various devices. These materials have unique electrical properties resulting from their conducting edge and surface states. Specifically, these states can transport charge with very low resistivity, leading to efficient conduction. Topological insulator materials are heavily influenced by the symmetry of their crystal structure─the pattern in which their atoms are arranged. For this reason, my project will investigate the effects of structural disorder─which breaks spatial symmetries─on the properties of a relatively new topological insulator with the chemical formula MnBi2Te4 (Manganese, Bismuth, and Tellurium) through computational quantum mechanical modeling methods such as Density Functional Theory. Namely, I will look at the effect of slightly distorting the crystal structure on the magnetism, electronic structure, and other properties of the material.

Cynthia Zhong

In our present world that faces an unprecedented amount of language contact, code-switching has become an increasingly common sociolinguistic phenomenon. In particular, code-switching between tonal and atonal languages poses interesting questions that are yet to be studied in tone research. In Mandarin Chinese, the negator “bu” is documented to change from a falling tone to a rising tone before another falling tone (Chao, 1965). Considering Mandarin syntax and the structure of Mandarin syllables, I propose the hypothesis that “bu” has a rising tone before monosyllabic English words and a falling tone before polysyllabic English words. A pilot study (2020) featuring four Mandarin-English bilinguals found results that didn’t perfectly match, but nonetheless support, the hypothesis. The goal of this project is to build on the pilot study, refining the experiment design, collecting additional data, and performing more rigorous data analysis. The results of this study could shed light on how tonal […]