Meire Mehare

Arsenic is a toxic carcinogen causing multiple forms of cancer and low IQ in children. In California, about 55,000 people are exposed to high levels of arsenic via their community water systems. As current technologies are too costly or complex to implement, the Gadgil lab is developing an affordable and effective technology, called Air Cathode Assisted Iron Electrocoagulation (ACAIE) at community scale. In this project, to test ACAIE outside of the lab, my graduate student mentor and I are working with an elementary school in Central California that is currently out of compliance in terms of the arsenic in their drinking water. The projects summer focus is on field implementation and engineering design to test the efficacy of ACAIE in removing arsenic from real California groundwater. I will assist our team in setting up the 6-week field trial in Central California, monitoring water quality parameters, and evaluating technology performance over […]

Kevin Yu

This project involves constructing an online database of metaphors in Akkadian, one of the main languages of ancient Mesopotamia. The work is part of my graduate student mentors thesis, which looks at distinctive literary features of Akkadian literature. We will both analyze the internal structure of these metaphors and their distribution within a corpus of cuneiform texts. The theoretical analysis of the metaphors will be based on George Lakoffs Conceptual Metaphor Theory, while the distributional analysis will use a data visualization program called Gephi. Our online database will be based on MetaNet, a project initiated by the UCB Department of Linguistics for understanding metaphors in English. Using an analysis template drawn from MetaNet, we will take Akkadian texts from Open Richly Annotated Cuneiform Corpus and identify the conceptual metaphors within them, noting such things as the source and target frames, hierarchical relationship with other metaphors, and whether the metaphor is […]

Daniel Khuu

Sierra Nevada snowmelt is predicted to occur up to two months earlier by 2080, but we do not know how aquatic food webs will respond. Changes in snowmelt timing could decrease stream insect abundance and biodiversity via increased temperature and duration of low flows. This project seeks to understand how extended low flows alter stream food webs. My graduate student mentor collected samples from nine artificial streams that had different durations of low flow this past summer. I will help sort and identify these samples, which will ultimately result in an extensive dataset that will include temperature, discharge, light, community composition, primary production, trophic position, insect community growth rates, body size, and emergence timing.

Lia Keener

Squirrels are extremely agile, comprise the second-most diverse group of rodents, and have colonized a wide range of environments across five of the seven continents, making them an ideal group in which to study the evolution of arboreal locomotion. My graduate student mentor and I are interested in understanding how their form (morphology), how they move (kinematics) and how they learn and adapt (cognition) help them navigate the complex environments they live in. Our research will involve designing and building jumping setups, field-trapping of chipmunks, camping in the Sierras, animal care, and high speed-videography and analysis.

Elisa Yang

Nest structures are widespread across animals and yet are one of the most understudied components of avian life history. Some of the most remarkable examples of elaborate nest design are within the Weaverbirds (Ploceidae), an Old World family of birds containing over 100 species, making them an ideal model system for studying patterns of biodiversity. While it is known that each species constructs a uniquely designed nest, the evolutionary factors that influence design are unknown. Research questions to address include: 1.) What are ancestral versus derived nest characters? 2.) Are architectural innovations in nest design related to species diversification within the Ploceidae? 3.) What role does bill morphology play in nest design? My primary goal with this project will be to collect essential morphological data from preserved specimens at the UC Berkeley Museum of Vertebrate Zoology (MVZ). In addition, I will provide laboratory assistance in the extraction of DNA from […]

Xiamara Martinez Peredia

This project will focus on transition-age youth (TAY) in the foster care system. TAY are among the most vulnerable young adults in our society and are at increased risk for various negative outcomes including homelessness and low educational attainment. Although the child welfare system is concerned with improving their outcomes, it has not considered how their histories of maltreatment and foster care may impact their self-love and their subsequent relationships with adults. This project will employ a mixed-methods approach and aims to: 1. Examine the impact of maltreatment and foster care on youths self-love and social networks. 2. Examine the impact of self-love and social network characteristics on youths outcomes.

Emma Bellman

Recent reforms in STEM education argue for students engagement in disciplinary practices, such as the construction and communication of a mathematical proof. Researchers have argued that some of the difficulties students face with proofs in particular, may stem from their limited opportunities to engage in productive disciplinary practices, such as successfully employing multiple forms of reasoning when constructing a proof (Boero, 1999; Pedemonte, 2007). In this project, my graduate student mentor and I will explore how educators can support proof construction and communication in middle school that may encourage the use of multiple forms of reasoning through non-linear explorations. Using qualitative methods, we will study young learners reasoning patterns and disciplinary practices as they participate in innovative puzzle-like proving activities. We will pay particular attention to the role of material and social configurations that may influence young students equitable opportunities for participation in productive disciplinary practices.

Stephen Gee

This project is exploring the tunability of helical van der Waals nanowires. These nanoscale wires are made of layers of Germanium Sulfide stacked on top of each other, similar to graphite being made of stacked layers of graphene. However, in these nanowires, there is a literal twist running down the middle, resulting in a double helix structure that produces unique properties. This Eshelby twist links the twist rate of the nanowire with a dislocation in the middle of the nanowire, and the cross-sectional area. Through modulation of the catalyst size, the cross-sectional area, twist rate, and electronic properties of the nanowires can be tuned. Poly-l-lysine, a polymer, will be used to control the coalescence of the catalyst particles, allowing for the synthesis of thinner nanowires and altered properties.

Kaamya Talwar Sharma

My research will examine queer subjectivity in urban India, focusing on the role of virtual spaces in the development of queer identities. Through interviews and virtual participant observation, my project will use a sociological, post-constructivist, post-colonial approach to explore what the process of realization of ones non-heterosexuality feels like in urban India. Specifically, how do globalization and class, as well as the associated language, discourses, and interaction with queer spaces, affect the queer urban Indians experience of sexuality? Related questions include how and why online and offline discourses on lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, hijra, kothi, plus (hereon referred to as LGBTQHK+) empowerment differ; how the post-colonial legacy of English speaking affects the process through which LGBTQHK+ individuals negotiate their identity, legitimacy, and visibility; and what the role of Hinglish is in this matter. My research will provide a perspective that is not centred in the West, and that resists […]

Amir Moayed

Filopodia are finger-like actin based extensions in migrating cells. These cytoplasmic projections are involved in perceiving the environment, interacting with extracellular particles for phagocytosis, anchoring the cell to the substratum, and responding to chemoattractants. In eukaryotic cells, proper actin organization and interaction with the membrane and binding proteins is crucial for filopodia function. Despite having a general understanding of the various functions associated with filopodia, there is not much known about how actin organization and interaction with the membrane at the leading edge allows the cell to carry out these processes. To address this question, I will use cryo-electron tomography to visualize the actin networks of mammalian cell filopodia. I will generate segmentation models highlighting actin filaments, actin bundling factors, the plasma membrane and potential actin-plasma membrane connections in the tomograms. Ultimately, I want to use subtomogram averaging on the bundling factors and actin membrane interactors to increase the resolution […]