Shan-Ying Li

This summer, I will be researching the narration of smallpox in Charles Dickens Bleak House. While much has been said about his influence on the literary development and the Victorian society, Dickens use of the medical motif is often undermined. In this project, I will focus my inquiry on smallpox. My research will be divided into two phases, one on the historical events regarding smallpox in England in the 1850s, and the other on the literary criticism of Dickens work. Within these two phases of research, I will try to register Dickens use of imagery, diction, tone and allusions to the historical events. Furthermore, I would like to explore the reasons why Dickens uses a disfiguring disease as his major motif in his well-received novel. I hope this research will ultimately develop into a senior thesis for the English major.

Han Amy Li

This research attempts to determine how the circadian system controls the timing of ovulation, a requirement for successful reproduction. Initiation of ovulation requires a signal from the brain’s master clock, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). This signal’s necessity in most mammals, including humans, is apparent as disruptions in circadian rhythms lead to reproductive deficits. Currently, the neural pathways and neurochemical mechanisms by which the SCN triggers ovulation remain uncharacterized. Previous work indicates daily rhythms of GABA and kisspeptin, neurotransmitters that inhibit and stimulate ovulation, respectively, are crucial for reproductive maintenance. We will explore the cellular and molecular pathways associated with the coordination of GABA and kisspeptin expression, as well as their roles in the timing of ovulation, using Syrian hamsters, a well-studied animal model of ovulation. This work will contribute to gaining more insight into and finding new treatments for current problems in health fields such as infertility and maternal-fetal health.

Morgan Lewis

My research will focus on the role of women in forming the gender and family politics of the New Right in the 1970s and 1980s and if their views differed from New Right men. I am also interested in complicating the idea of ‘traditional values’ by looking at how the privileging of certain issues and identities in fact represented a departure from the past.

Caroline McKusick

It’s easy to see video games as fantasy worlds designed for pleasure and escape. In this project, I plan to look further into the real-life implications of virtual worlds–specifically military first-person shooters. When we consume war as a source of fun, what happens? Military FPSes, such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, involve certain assumptions–not just about global questions of the role of the United States as a military superpower, but about small-scale questions of how we are embodied in the world. These games invite us into the bodies of anonymous supersoldiers who see the world through the technologized eyes of Predator drones and heartbeat sensors. What kinds of bodies and perception do these games take as natural? What global dynamics of war and power do they transform into play?

Niema Razavian

A major breakthrough in cancer research over the past 50 years has been the discovery of tumor viruses, or cancer-causing viruses. Thus far, six viruses have been causally linked to cancer (the best known being human papilloma virus and cervical cancer). This SURF project investigates bovine leukemia virus (BLV) and its role in breast cancer susceptibility. Previous research has demonstrated that BLV in breast tissue is significantly correlated with the breast cancer risk, and that humans have antibodies against BLV. Expanding on this, the goal of my SURF project is to determine whether a particular antibody profile correlates with BLV infection of breast tissue. From a public health prospective, such a profile could prove useful in breast cancer screening and prevention.

Akash Patel

My research this summer analyzes the effects of the 2010 World Cup on xenophobia and interethnic violence in Cape Town. Working in conjunction with the NGO Projects Abroad Human Rights Office, I will document cases of xenophobic violence from January to August 2010, graphing how rates of violence fluctuate in response to the Cup. I will supplement this evidence with informal testimony from a range of communities within Cape Town to see how different people view this international event as affecting levels of xenophobia in the city. In totality, the research is meant to explain the effect of this specific World Cup on the human rights situation in Cape Town, and to add to the larger body of research that studies how international events such as this alter the political economies of the regions in which they are held.

Carissa Pardamean

This summer, my research involves point mutations in genomic sequences encoding for the enzyme methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, which is a part of the neural tube formation pathway. The mutations cause spina bifida or neural tube defect (NTD), one of the most common neonatal defects in the US. A common method for NTD prevention is folate (vitamin B9) supplementation but this is not always effective. Thus, my hypothesis is that the success of the folate salvage depends on the type of point mutation that is present in the fetus. Additionally, though NTD is common, there is no universal agreement on the cause; there is a tug-and-war between genetics and environmental factors. Hopefully, this study will shed more light on how much genetics weighs into NTD incidence.

Derek Moriyama

My research is looking into the effects of chemical modification of the skeletal muscle protein troponin I. The troponin complex is composed of three subunits (troponin I, C, and T) that combine to regulate the strength of skeletal muscle contraction. Past research has shown that modification of troponin I by specific enzymes can increase the amount of force heart muscles produce. My project will focus on the effects of such enzymes in skeletal muscles. Because the structure of troponin I in skeletal muscle varies slightly from the structure found in cardiac muscle, we expect to see a deviation in the effects on force production. My findings could help provide insight on the mechanism by which Beta-blocking drugs reduce muscle strength. Over the summer I will be testing to see if specific enzymes have effects on skeletal muscle. If these enzymes do act on skeletal troponin I, then I will test […]

Emma Tome

Recent scholarship in social science is re-invigorating notions of ‘place’ as it relates to social process. My research asks: how do these notions help to explain or complicate the process of redevelopment at Alameda Point, on the site of the decommissioned naval air station? And how may a close study of one place illuminate the efficacy or inefficacy of these ways of thinking? Furthermore, how may we reconcile theoretical place and the ways place is explained though maps? To approach these questions, my research will involve a close study of historical maps of the former Alameda Naval Air Station, along with interviews and community mapping exercises. My hope is to ground a realm of critical thought in the reality of lived experience at the point.