Disease Ecology Within the Pear Tree Phyllosphere

Microbial communities are essential for plant development, growth, productivity, and health. Aerial parts of the plant, referred to as the phyllosphere, consist of multiple habitats for microorganisms to thrive, including beneficial and pathogenic bacteria. The vast and dynamic interactions among bacteria in the phyllosphere microbiome have the potential to significantly affect the fitness of plant populations; therefore, studying these relationships serves as a strong indicator of plant health. This project seeks to identify culturable bacteria within the pear tree phyllosphere and assemble a map of interactions between different members of the community in order to gain insight into their dynamics and how these plant-microbe interactions shape plant health. In this project, I will analyze the relationship between the phyllosphere microbiome and notable phytopathogens, such as Erwinia amylovora and Pseudomonas syringae, using direct microbe-microbe interactions through culturable methods and a bioassay in pear slices. E. amylovora and P. syringae are pathogens […]

...Read More about Sydney Abelson

“Post-Colonialism”: Traditional Foodway Loss and Health in Puerto Rico

Colonialism has displaced traditional foodways all over the globe. Moreover, even though we are in a mostly “post-colonial” world, colonialism and its effects still impact many countries. In the Caribbean, many countries have become independent, but some continue to have relationships with their previous colonizers. Puerto Rico, specifically, is still a U.S. territory and has been since 1898. Since then, traditional foodways in Puerto Rico have transformed through the decrease of subsistence agriculture as a result of U.S. intervention in Puerto Rican businesses. However, an issue that has been left unanswered by scholars is: How did U.S. colonialism over Puerto Rican foodways affect the health of Puerto Ricans? This project will analyze the health effects of U.S. colonialism on Puerto Rico’s foodways by relating foodway changes with an increase of food-related diseases in the country. Specifically, it will link high rates of obesity, diabetes, and cancer on the island to […]

...Read More about Olivia Agnew

Pollutant Effects on Reproduction in Frogs

I am investigating the impact of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) using African clawed frogs (Xenopus laevis). EDCs are chemical contaminants that interfere with hormone synthesis and function. This interference can alter reproductive physiology and reproductive behavior. We have studied the effects of many EDCs in the laboratory in African clawed frogs, an invasive species in California that can therefore also be studied in the wild. I will study differences between frogs that are exposed to chemicals and frogs that are not exposed in the wild, along with the impact of chemicals on hormone differences and subsequent effects on reproductive physiology and mating behavior. I will also learn mock-recapture techniques using microchipped frogs, blood sample collection, hormone analysis through radioimmunoassay, and statistical analysis using R.

...Read More about Malik Alhadi

The Hidden Inheritance of Black Genealogies

The constellation of black genealogies begins and starts from black wombs. In essence, the womb provides safe incubation for a developing fetus and is, in essence, the location where you’re most connected with your source of life on a physical, emotional, and quantum spiritual level. The inhumane conditions of chattel slavery were rooted in control, regulation, and constant demand. The agents of white supremacy preyed on colonizing Black wombs by stripping autonomy, severing parent and child attachment bonds, surveillance, and assuming ownership of infants and children to supply the next generation of forced labor and enslavement. This constant supply and demand to restock plantation communities made Black wombs an inexhaustible commodity and money-making device. According to the statistics from the National Partnership of Women and their Families, “Black women are three to four times more likely to experience a pregnancy-related death than white women in 2019, and Black women are […]

...Read More about Jessica Allen

Reorienting the Art Gallery: Service Labor and Community Care

What are the purposes, possibilities, and limitations of the traditional gallery space? Through understanding who has been excluded from the gallery, we aim to rethink what an exhibition space can and should be. Through our research, we will stage our own space on campus that subverts gallery conventions. We will present an alternative functionality, proposing that the gallery space should offer tangible assets to its community. Our work is a collaborative art project situated in the history of service labor, endurance art performances, gallery culture, and the history of subversive art spaces. The summer research will culminate as an artist booklet to accompany our thesis exhibition in Fall 2022: we will stage an alternative gallery on and around the UC campus in service of the local community. Our installation will center the act of cleaning community members dirty laundry, using the exhibition as a form of service to the local […]

...Read More about Lauren Anastasia

Ameliorating Alzheimer's Disease Effects via Novel Light Stimulation

Synchronous gamma wave brain oscillations, which oscillate at a frequency of 40 Hz, underlie healthy cognitive functioning and are disrupted in Alzheimer’s Disease, leading researchers to explore sensory stimuli delivered at 40 Hz as a potential therapy to resynchronize neuronal firing and thus slow cognitive decline. However, the stroboscopic nature of 40 Hz lighting makes it an unlikely treatment for humans. This project hopes to overcome the challenges posed by stroboscopic 40 Hz white-light by testing the efficacy of a novel invisible spectral flicker (ISF) light system, which masks the visible flicker of 40 Hz light by fusing two light waves together in antiphase. By examining the effects of ISF on cognition and microglia clearance of Aβ plaques, I hypothesize that ISF treatment will lead to synchrony of gamma oscillations in the brain, increased microglia activation, and a resulting decrease in Aβ concentration in our rodent models. Results from this […]

...Read More about Stephanie Ancheta

Gas Sensors: Identifying Electrical and Chemical Degradation Mechanisms

Chemiresistive sensors detect gas concentrations based on the change in resistance of a sensing material, providing low-cost detection in applications such as environmental monitoring. SnO2 is an industry-standard material system for chemiresistive sensing. SnO2-based sensors typically have high baseline resistance and slow dynamics at room temperature, and thus require on-board heaters to improve their sensitivity and response time. Although heating greatly improves the response of SnO2-based sensors, prolonged operation at requisite temperatures (200–300°C) results in baseline drift and changes in sensitivity over time. Such degradation is observed even in commercial SnO2-based sensors and is an open problem in chemical sensing. I propose to identify and characterize the mechanisms that underlie the degradation of SnO2-based sensors. Although the general mechanisms that govern how SnO2 responds to ambient gases, such as O2 and volatile organic compounds, have been studied, a definitive analysis that links the degradation of the electrical (i.e., chemiresistive) performance […]

...Read More about Veronica Arriaga

Inductive Coding of Provider Reports for the TranS-C Treatment Program

The specific question that my research investigates is how might we better understand and optimize implementation outcomes for a novel transdiagnostic sleep intervention designed for psychiatric populations. More specifically, the goal of this project is to inductively code providers evaluations of the Transdiagnostic Intervention for Sleep and Circadian Dysfunction (TranS-C), thus providing important insight into the efficacy of this sleep-focused program’s implementation. This project contributes new knowledge to the field of psychology by attempting to more deeply understand how to properly and effectively implement novel therapies, especially for those with severe mental illness (SMI) and in community-based health centers (CBHC). It is incredibly important to meet the needs of both patients and providers when creating and implementing a novel treatment, and this project aims to precisely understand to what extent the TranS-C program is doing so. Thus, my research will inductively code providers assessments of the TranS-C treatment for the […]

...Read More about Zia Bajwa

Tyrosinase-Mediated Oxidative Coupling

The purpose of this research is to identify tyrosinase enzymes that are able to carry out tyrosinase-mediated oxidative coupling. Tyrosinases have recently been identified as enzymes that are able to undergo oxidative coupling and are a much more efficient way to couple proteins, DNA, small molecule thiols, and difficult protein substrates. Previous methods produce unwanted by-products, are not site-specific in their targeting, and can result in unwanted protein degradation, which ruins the natural folding of the proteins. Tyrosinase-mediated coupling avoids such problems and allows the reaction to run in a short amount of time without complications. Specific tyrosinases are able to couple to different biomaterials and this diversity makes them integral in the development of drug therapeutics, especially antibody drug conjugates (ADCs). These can be used in cancer drug research and can allow patient-specific targeted therapeutics. The new tyrosinase species identified by this research can be used in the growing […]

...Read More about Nicole Balian

Frontoparietal Tertiary Sulci: Functional Cognitive Networks?

Human brains contain ridges (gyri) and indentations (sulci) that other species do not have – especially in evolutionarily expanded neuroanatomical locations, such as association cortices like the lateral prefrontal (LPFC) and lateral parietal cortices (LPC; Zilles et al., 2013; Van Essen, 2007; Voorhies et al., 2021). Indeed, many LPFC and LPC neuroanatomical features are specific to the human brain. For example, recent research has revealed that hominoid-specific tertiary sulci in LPFC serve as functional landmarks (Miller et al., 2021a,b) and their morphological features are predictive of cognition (Voorhies et al., 2021; Yao et al., 2022). Nevertheless, a main limitation of this previous work is that it was restricted to LPFC. Here, we aim to overcome this limitation by shifting the focus from lobular (e.g., within LPFC) to network (e.g., between LPFC and LPC) relationships. We focus on LPFC and LPC due to previously published work in pediatric and adult cohorts. […]

...Read More about Jatin Batta

How Much Black Wealth is “Acceptable” in America?

After embarking on the 100th anniversary of the decimation of the thriving African American community in Tulsa, Oklahoma, also known as “Black Wall Street” (BWS), I was inspired to explore historical and modern wealth thresholds for Blacks/African Americans, leading to perceived threat or bias. My study aims to fill a gap in the literature by testing an unresearched inclination that “black wealth” is an aversive concept to white and perhaps also to black Americans.

...Read More about Ockemia Bean

Bioarchaeology of Portuguese Medieval Funerary Practices

Through the bioarchaeological analysis of Medieval Portuguese skeletons, my mentor and I will investigate the relationship between religious burial practices and the preservation of human remains. We will utilize histology to analyze the levels of chemical and physical degradation of bone. Our investigation starts with the macroscopic analysis of the skeletal remains and then the development of microscopic slides to categorize the degree of taphonomic damage. Once prepared, we will gather qualitative and quantitative data for assessment. Our goal is to uncover how different religious communities interacted with death during the Medieval period. Our data will reveal how funerary practices impact the preservation of remains and how this analysis allows bioarchaeologists to infer the state of degradation of human remains still underground. The taphonomic research of bioarchaeological remains is a field still in development. Through our research being conducted this summer, I am very eager to contribute to the emerging […]

...Read More about Ashley Blake

Decadent Conservatism and Queerness in T. S. Eliot's Writing

In 1947, T. S. Eliot announced to his epistolary companion, Emily Hale, that heterosexual sex was revolting. This may be incongruous with Eliot’s advocacy for a Christian conservative society, since, in the past fifty years, heterosexuality and political conservatism in the United States have become strongly associated. American conservatives hold political institutions and the reproductive family to be sacred. Conservative forefathers, however, do not consistently align with such political and sexual traditionalism. T.S. Eliot, a cornerstone of Anglo-American conservatism, combined traditionalism and the exploration of sexual deviance and celibacy. This study will examine how queer affect and conservatism intersect in Eliot’s writing, before America’s hardening as a “straight state” after World War II. I will read a selection of Eliot’s works and correspondence, hypothesizing that there is an unexplored realm at the intersection of queer theory and the history of conservatism. This project examines how sexual deviance and political conservatism […]

...Read More about Katherine Booska

A Case Study in Taphonomy from the Phillips Coal Ball Collection

The Pennsylvanian (323–299 million years ago) is a very unique time interval in Earth’s history. The Pennsylvanian tropics have one of the best plant-fossil records due to coal balls. These are carbonate nodules containing anatomically preserved fossil peat—deposits of partially decomposed plant material (Schopf, 1975). The Phillips Coal Ball Collection (PCBC) is one of the largest paleobotanical datasets in existence, containing 50,000 coal balls and 500,000 coal ball peels—thin, acetate sheets. From the peels, 800,000cm2 of plant material have been microscopically analyzed and identified at a tissue/organ level. While these fossils have been studied extensively, the link between plant diversity and taphonomy—the process of fossilization—remains underexplored. My plan is to develop an index of preservation decay and apply it to a case study of peels, examining the link between preservation and diversity. I expect lower species diversity in highly degraded peels. Any correlation I find could have major implications for […]

...Read More about Sydney Booth

Mexican Migration in the 21st Century: Demographic Changes of Migrants

How has Mexican migration changed over time? This project will tackle this question by studying migrant characteristics and flows from specific origins and destinations. It will explore the spatial redistribution of migrant flows and consider the extent to which gender is a defining trait in migration patterns. I will conduct a literature review of social science research on Mexican migration to the U.S., focusing on how migration research treats gender. I will also produce a summary of how migration policies in the U.S. and Mexico have changed over time and whether specific policies have affected gendered and family migration. Finally, I will collect and clean data on migrant counts, as well as various characteristics of Mexican municipalities and U.S. states.

...Read More about Rafa Borisonik

Silver Screen Sex Work: Depictions of Prostitution in 1960s Cinema

Films are cultural timestamps constructed to reflect the interests and beliefs of their audiences. The 1960s revolutionized the United States in more ways than one, and movies were not exempt from these changing tides. Over the course of the decade, sex work became a normalized narrative convention of several films, including Butterfield 8, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Walk on the Wild Side. This research project will seek to contextualize and explain this change in the cultural zeitgeist by examining the sociopolitical policy surrounding sex work at that time, in tandem with shifting understandings of gender and power in American society during this iconoclastic era. By understanding the changing social and legal realities of women and sex workers, these films can be understood as not only works of art, but as devices in a specific moment of cultural production that make larger arguments about women and labor. This project will draw […]

...Read More about Cassandra Branch

NMR Optimization and Application to MOFs

In the Ajoy Lab, we use a custom nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) apparatus that uses high-powered lasers and microwaves to hyperpolarize samples for signal enhancement. My project will work to optimize the microwave frequency, sweep rate, and bandwidth of our apparatus to increase the lifetime of a nanodiamond sample. Increasing the lifetime of the nanodiamond sample is beneficial to resolution, as it increases the amount of time we can collect data from milliseconds to minutes. This is relevant to the field as the optimization of the nanodiamond sample, and increase in the sample lifetime, improves resolution. This increased timescale is paramount in the field of NMR. While we currently work exclusively with nanodiamonds, we aspire to expand to other materials, such as pentacene-based metal organic frameworks (MOFs). MOFs are used frequently due to their ability to be easily tailored with different metals and different linkers. For this expansion, I will […]

...Read More about Samantha Breuer

The Regulation of Metabolic Flexibility in Aging

Mitochondrial function and metabolic flexibility (the ability to switch back and forth between carbohydrate and lipid utilization in response to changing physiological conditions) degrade as a normal consequence of aging. Metabolic flexibility is regulated by several mechanisms that are affected by the capacity for lactate oxidation and, therefore, mitochondrial function. Previous studies have demonstrated that endurance training improves metabolic flexibility due to improvements in mitochondrial function and the capacity for lactate oxidation. The purpose of my research is to assess metabolic flexibility in older and younger, trained and untrained individuals by measuring blood lactate and substrate oxidation rates during postabsorptive rest. I will implement a resting oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) to analyze how blood lactate concentration interplays with carbohydrate and fatty acid oxidation rates as determined by gas exchange measurements. This method deviates from current methods of metabolic flexibility assessment by proposing a simpler and less invasive approach that […]

...Read More about Jennah Brown

Reactive Oxygen in the Locus Coeruleus

Sleep is a fundamental aspect of human health. One way that our body regulates sleep is through sleep pressure, the balance between sleep and wakefulness. The dysregulation of sleep pressure is a common occurrence in patients with Parkinson’s disease, manifesting in sleep disturbances such as insomnia or excessive daytime sleepiness. It is undetermined if sleep problems and neurodegeneration have common mechanisms, but one potential area of research is in reactive oxygen species (ROS), which have been implicated in Parkinson’s disease. Emerging evidence indicates that ROS accumulate during steady activity of norepinephrine-releasing neurons in the locus coeruleus. These neurons are crucial for arousal and being in a state of wakefulness, and they are among the first to degenerate in Parkinson’s disease. In this project, I will use immunohistochemistry to investigate the specific type of ROS accumulation during prolonged locus coeruleus neuron activity, such as during sleep deprivation, and determine whether recovery […]

...Read More about Lillie Bui

MmpL Transporters in M. abscessus Virulence and Impermeability

Incidence and deaths due to non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) have been increasing globally, in part due to their intrinsic drug resistance. Mycobacterium abscessus (Mabs) is a pathogenic and clinically challenging NTM species, causing devastating pulmonary disease and tissue infection. Drug resistance of Mabs partly results from its unique mycomembrane, which is a formidable permeability barrier. While the inner leaflet primarily consists of mycolic acids, the outer leaflet is poorly characterized. Some mycobacterial membrane protein Large (MmpL) transporters export lipid components of the mycomembrane, but the substrates and functions of most MmpLs remain unknown. The high number of MmpLs in Mabs leads to questions about each MmpL’s function as a lipid transporter or drug efflux pump, as well as its contribution to virulence and antibiotic resistance. My project will investigate each MmpL’s role in these important traits. I will create MmpL knockouts and test the mutants to evaluate each MmpL’s function in […]

...Read More about Vivian Bui