Amy Wu

This research project examines the rich history and future of midwives of color in the Bay Area through the novel implementation of Science, Technology and Society (STS) frameworks. By defining the midwifery model of care conceived by Bay Area midwives of color as a complex sociotechnical system, the process by which midwives of color have created their models of care can be explored at the intersection of the nation’s capitalistic healthcare system, historic attempts to destroy the knowledge produced by grand midwives in the antebellum period and broader African diaspora, California’s legal history, and the Bay Area’s geographical and political history of social justice activism. This research will implement a holistic STS and social justice approach that recognizes the unequal treatment and distribution of resources of Black midwives and their strength as owners of solutions through the construction of oral histories and archival work. By recognizing the importance of midwives […]

Jianxiang Zhang

  Cataract, a clouding of the eye lens, is the leading cause of blindness worldwide. Periaxin (Prx) is a scaffold protein interacting with membrane/cytoskeletal networks in the lens and other cell types and has been implicated in cataract development. My project will investigate the functions of Prx variants in lens cells. Recent studies in the Gong Lab suggest that Prx is a genetic modifier regulating cataract severity in connexin 46 knockout (Cx46KO) mice. Four Prx missense variants have been identified between the 129SvJae (129) and the C57BL/6J (B6) mouse strains. Based on Prxs structural importance, I hypothesize that Prx variants interact differently with lens cytoskeletal proteins and subsequently affect their cellular distribution and lens cell structure integrity. I will determine how different Prx gene variants alter the distribution and function of cytoskeletal proteins in cultured lens cells, which will reveal new molecular information about how substituted amino acid residues in […]

Tania Sodhi

The spotted fever group Rickettsiae (SFGR) are a collective group of Gram-negative obligate pathogens from Rickettesia spp. Most bacteria in the SFGR use two effectors to mediate actin-based motility (ABM). This is in contrast to other intracellular pathogens, which utilize only a single effector for ABM. The goal of my research project is to understand how Rickettsia parkeri, a member of the SFGR family, regulates the expression of two effectors that mediate ABM: RickA and Sca2. While both effectors are involved in mediating ABM, the regulation for both effectors and the dynamics of their expression have not been fully characterized. In this project, I will explore the role of transcription of the rickA and sca2 genes with respect to ABM on a single-cell level using live-cell microscopy. To look at the role of translation and secretion in regulating gene expression and activity, I will explore the localization of RickA and […]

Jessica Stewart

My research focuses on a kinase in the MAPK/ERK pathway called BRAF, which is commonly mutated in cancer. This summer, I will isolate BRAF endogenously from 293FT cells and analyze their structure by native mass spectrometry and cryo-electron microscopy. This strategy differs from most conventional approaches, as I will not overexpress the protein. Rather, I aim to study BRAF isolated from its native stoichiometric environment, circumventing assumptions that must be made with overexpression. With this strategy, I seek to learn about BRAFs activation and native binding interactions. This knowledge could inform anti-cancer drug discovery by revealing new structure-informed strategies to inhibit BRAF and gain greater control over MAPK/ERK regulation. Considering that past attempts of BRAF inhibition have had mixed results clinically within the current constraints of structural understanding, BRAF poses potential as a hopeful drug target that has yet to be harnessed. Furthermore, the endogenous tagging approach being refined in […]

Alexander Richardson

Geometric flows, such as the Ricci flow, Yang-Mills flow, and harmonic map flow, are natural ways to smooth out geometric objects (metric, connection and maps, respectively). In this research project, we will explore the idea of using geometric flows to develop new analytic tools for studying geometric objects. A possible goal of this project is to use geometric flows to solve problems in dispersive PDEs that involve geometric objects.

Daniel Rostamloo

Algebraic geometry is a rich area of mathematics that investigates the properties of geometric objects (like a variety the solution set of a system of polynomial equations) using their underlying algebraic structure. The closely related field of homological algebra studies how mappings between algebraic spaces (e.g., collections of polynomials) can be understood in terms of more concrete representations with tools from topology and algebra combined to understand the geometric structure of varieties. One homological invariant is a table of numbers called the Betti table, which captures nuanced geometric information about the variety. Despite being an active area of research since the 1980s, the Betti tables of higher dimensional varieties (i.e., varieties having dimension greater than 1) remain poorly understood. This research seeks to extend the understanding of Betti tables by investigating interesting cases in which Betti numbers are nonzero, namely for projective varieties where each point represents a line through […]

Mihir Shah

Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common and lethal primary brain tumor in adults. Although research has enhanced GBM diagnosis and clinical stratification, overall patient outcome has not significantly improved. This is because GBM is incurable with current treatments, which include surgery, radiation therapy, and Temozolomide (TMZ) chemotherapy. The development of CRISPR-Cas9 systems presents opportunities to study human diseases, and it can be leveraged to create therapeutics. Specifically, CRISPR interference (CRISPRi)-based screens help study GBM dependencies and growth vulnerabilities without DNA damage. I have assisted with in vivo and in vitro parallel CRISPRi screens in combination with TMZ treatment in order to identify potential chemosensitizers for GBM. As a result, we identified multiple genes that warrant further study to determine if they can serve as therapeutic targets. I will begin with validating target knockdown in vitro using tissue culture and molecular biology techniques. Then, I will perform experiments with small molecule […]

Divij Sharma

Strong gravitational lenses (deflection of light into multiple images by gravitational field of mass concentrations like galaxies) have been used as cosmological probes. These techniques involve ratios of distances between the observers, lens, and source. DSPL systems involve two sources lensed by the same foreground mass concentration. They provide a unique cosmological geometric probe through distance ratios involving the source and lens. Cosmic acceleration has been described using a form of energy called dark energy. Previous work by my advisor has shown that the DSPL key distance ratio is nearly insensitive to lens modeling at low lens redshifts, unlike classic cosmological probes. This makes DSPL a great probe to study the dark energy equation of state, which determines the expansion history of the universe, at low lens redshifts. However, upcoming surveys, such as LSST and Euclid, are likely to find new DSPL systems at higher lens redshifts. Since no studies […]

Zhicheng Li

Data loss is a major issue in modern electronics. Charged-based devices are vulnerable to ionizing radiation, while ferromagnetic-based memory devices are susceptible to data loss from external magnetic fields. However, Antiferromagnetic (AFM)-based memory devices are robust to both charge and magnetic field perturbations. There exist a few materials whose AFM spin textures can be electrically switched”: an applied current induces a spin polarization, exerting a spin-orbit torque on the magnetic domains. This torque rotates the conductivity tensor, providing a switch between distinct resistance states. My research seeks to leverage the correlated behavior of transition metal dichalcogenides (TMD) that exhibit superconductivity, magnetism, charge density waves (CDW), and Mott physics. Magnetically intercalated TMDs can possess competing AFM orders, which can form a platform to build electrically switchable antiferromagnetic-based devices. Analogous to the AFM domains, we also seek to explore the possibility of electrically controlling the electronic charge order reconstruction of CDWs found […]

Cynthia Liu

This project aims to establish and characterize a novel mouse model for hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT). HHT is an autosomal dominant disorder known to be caused by mutations in the receptor activin receptor-like kinase (ALK1). Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are a hallmark of HHT, and brain AVMs (bAVMs) can be particularly risky as they can cause hemorrhagic stroke. HHT-bAVM formation mechanism is not well understood and there are no preventions or treatments. Animal models of Alk1 deficiency can facilitate the study of HHT-bAVM pathogenesis; however, existing HHT-Alk1 mouse models are limited in their ability to recapitulate clinical bAVM features. Thus, I propose to establish a superior HHT-bAVM mouse model, with genetics and symptoms closer to clinical HHT-bAVM and having high bAVM penetrance, as well as characterize the cellular parameters accompanying HHT-bAVM pathogenesis in these mice to better understand HHT-bAVM progression mechanism. Successfully completing this project will provide a crucial system and […]