Wendy Wan

Superconducting qubits, typically made from conventional metals such as aluminum or indium, are one of the best candidates for scalable quantum computing. However, these qubits are highly susceptible to environmental noise. To make the system more robust, scientists proposed to use topological qubits, a more exotic type of superconducting qubit made from a class of superconducting materials called spin-triplet superconductors. Due to the scarcity of naturally existing spin-triplet superconductors, the intrinsic properties thereof are largely under-explored, and there exist few good candidate materials for the next generation of quantum computers. In this project, I will investigate the physical properties of a novel metallic compound, nickel-intercalated tantalum diselenide, which has the potential to be a spin-triplet superconductor and used as a building block for error-resistant quantum computers. I will perform calorimetry measurements at cryogenic temperatures on grown samples in order to map out phase boundary lines as the nickel concentration of […]

Bradley Oh

Perivascular spaces are cerebrospinal fluid filled areas that surround the brain’s blood vessels and are involved in waste clearance and molecule distribution. When these perivascular spaces become enlarged (ePVS), they become visible on MRI and may represent a response to blood brain barrier pathology and neurodegeneration. Cerebral arteriopathy dominant arteriopathy with sub-cortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL) is an autosomal dominant inherited small vessel disease that causes deterioration of small blood vessels, strokes, and cognitive impairment as early as the fourth and fifth decades of life. Due to their presence along the brain’s blood vessels, ePVS may serve as a particularly relevant biomarker for understanding CADASIL disease progression and vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia. Despite their relevance to this disease, ePVS have not yet been rigorously quantified in CADASIL. My project aims to quantitatively characterize ePVS in CADASIL and test our hypothesis that ePVS load and spread are associated […]

Simon Han

Liver transplantation is currently the only treatment for end-stage liver disease, but engraftment of liver organoids holds promise as a viable approach to resolve the shortage of donor livers. While traditional organoid cultures take place atop two-dimensional (2D) plates, rotating wall vessel bioreactors (RWVs) can be used to culture three-dimensional spheroid organoids, augmenting cell-cell interactions through the low shear stress, low turbulence environment provided by RWVs. The use of human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) in organoids can further advance clinical translation, because using a transplant recipient’s own iPSCs may eliminate the need for life-long immunosuppression post-transplant. However, the precise functional qualities of RWV-grown, iPSC-derived organoids are not completely understood. Our lab’s preliminary data suggest that two genes, albumin and CYP1A1, are upregulated in RWV-cultured organoids compared to 2D cultures. My project aims to characterize the functionalities of RWV-generated, iPSC-derived organoids by investigating patterns of localization and expression for albumin […]

Shuka Park

Female reproductive health is a pervasive issue in the medical field as 16.2% of married women ages 15-49 are affected by infertility. Recent studies reveal that poor female reproductive health arises, in part, from circadian disruption. Due to modern lifestyles, humans lack exposure to natural sunlight during daytime and receive excess artificial lighting during nighttime, which disrupts circadian rhythms. COVID-19 quarantining has exacerbated this issue, and despite knowing how harmful circadian disruption is for female reproductive health, the anatomy and physiology behind how the circadian and reproductive systems communicate remain nebulous. This project will determine how the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), the master circadian clock of the brain, coordinates the activity of Kisspeptin (Kp) and RFRP-3 neurons (neurons that positively and negatively regulate reproduction, respectively) to allow for ovulation. Viral tract tracing in mice will determine the neurochemical pathway between the SCN and Kp/RFRP-3 neurons, and optogenetic techniques will determine how […]

Stacy Hu

All steps of female reproduction—including ovulation, fertilization, and pregnancy—rely on timed secretion of reproductive hormones, which are synchronized to external time by exposure to sunlight during daytime and darkness at night. Circadian disruption (ex. irregular work/sleep schedules) can lead to reproductive issues; thus, understanding how the circadian system controls reproductive hormones is critical for identifying potential therapeutic targets for treating infertility and other gynecological disorders, and could help develop safer and more effective contraceptives. The “master clock” of the body’s circadian system is the brain’s suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), which releases a variety of neurochemicals (e.g., VIP, AVP) to coordinate a surge in luteinizing hormone (LH) which triggers ovulation. Two neuronal cell types that mediate this pathway are kisspeptin and gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone (GnIH). To examine the role of AVP and VIP neurons in coordinating the LH surge necessary for ovulation, I will inhibit their communication to kisspeptin and GnIH cells using […]

Anushree Shirish Gupte

We have seen that acute inactivation or intermittent optogenetic silencing of the visual cortex of the brain results in behavioral deficits. On the other hand, permanent lesioning or chronic silencing results in mice recovering their ability to perform the detection task. In this paradigm, the mice have been habituated to the task over a certain period of time and thus have learnt it. To put it simply, in spite of deactivating the visual cortex required for task performance, mice are capable of recovering and using other processes to conduct the task. My question is whether this chronic deactivation would allow the mice to learn the task in the first place, i.e. during habituation. If the mice are able to learn the detection task without the visual cortex, it would suggest that there is some other pathway that comes to play upon the deactivation of the visual cortex. By comparing the […]

Reshma Kodimerla

Chlamydia trachomatis (Ct) is the leading bacterial cause of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) worldwide with over 130 million people newly infected each year. Among Fijian women, Ct is hyperendemic—17.85% are infected whereas the global prevalence is 4.2%. There is growing concern that antibiotic treatment for Ct may contribute to an imbalance in the vaginal microbial composition which increases the risk of STIs like Neisseria gonorrhoeae (Ng), herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), human Papillomavirus (HPV), HIV-13 and possibly reinfection with Ct. My research will elucidate the effects of Azithromycin treatment on the vaginal microbiota among Fijian women with Ct at baseline who clear or do not clear their infection at follow-up compared to age-matched women who are uninfected and who either remain uninfected or develop Ct infection. This will help reveal the role antibiotic treatment plays in the vaginal microbial diversity, imbalance, and disease pathogenesis and the beneficial microbiota that […]

William Lin

The cataract, or clouding of the lens of the eye, is the leading cause of blindness worldwide. Currently, the only effective treatment to remove cataracts is surgery, which costs $6.8 billion annually in the United States. Understanding the underlying mechanisms that cause cataracts may lead to new therapeutic strategies to prevent or delay the progression of cataracts, thereby alleviating the need for surgical intervention and possibly saving billions of dollars. Gap junctions are membrane channels that connect adjacent cells, allowing the transfer of metabolites, ions, and other small molecules for maintaining normal transparency of the lens. Previous research from the Gong Lab has shown that the deletion of alpha3 connexin, a primary component of lens gap junctions, results in severe cataracts in the 129SvJae (129) mouse strain but displays mild cataracts in the C57BL/6J (B6) mouse strain. My research project seeks to identify and characterize a novel genetic modifier on […]

Tara Najafi

Motor adaptation comprises the essential processes which allow us to adapt to new environmental demands. Recent work has shown that motor adaptation includes both an explicit and implicit learning component. Explicit learning is strategic and utilizes performance errors, while implicit learning is unconscious and driven by motor execution errors. The cerebellum is central to generating these error signals, as has been shown extensively through the impaired adaptation of patients with cerebellar degeneration when completing visuomotor perturbation tasks. However, findings regarding the function of the cerebellum in implicit adaptation to varying error sizes remains unclear, as paradigms using larger error sizes are often confounded with explicit strategy. The role of the basal ganglia is further ambiguous, as a consensus has not yet been reached regarding its involvement in implicit adaptation. Through the use of the “clamped feedback” method, my project will isolate implicit adaptation, such that I will be able to […]

Ruoyi Yin

Probing core-exciton dynamics and its coupling behavior with carriers and optical fields by utilizing nonlinear wave-mixing spectroscopy can uncover the fundamental electronic and optical properties for materials and provide insights for electronic device manipulation. The nonlinear attosecond Four-Wave-Mixing (FWM) spectroscopy, using one extreme ultraviolet (XUV) light pulse followed by two optical pulses with controllable delays, has recently been used to evaluate gas-phase and condensed-phase materials. My project aims to use this technique to explore the core-exciton absorption in tungsten disulfide, a two-dimensional semiconductor and transition metal dichalcogenide. Photon energy range of the XUV pulse is suitable for exploring core-level spectra, while the optical pulse probes the core-exciton state evolution and decoherence through decay. During this project, the absorption spectra, population decay time, and core-exciton state evolution can be displayed experimentally, while the corresponding core-exciton wave function in real space and oscillator strengths between the bright and dark excitonic states can […]