Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Miriam Alvarado

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This summer, I will be in Mumbai, India, researching the effects of behavior change approaches to public health issues. As a member of Haath Mein Sehat (HMS), a water and sanitation-based student organization, I will be an active participant in the creation of an intervention intended to increase rates of handwashing amongst children in slum communities. My research will focus on assessing the consequences of HMS focus on behavior change, and how this approach is perceived by the communities in which HMS works. Through this analysis, I intend to address […]

Shauna Peterson

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To the European mind, conditioned by the Renaissance ideals of linear perspective, the two-dimensional patterns of the indigenous people of colonial-era Peru proposed a very different conception of space. In an attempt to qualify a process that defies traditional Renaissance visual standards, art historians termed the indigenous artists conversion of three-dimensional forms into flat patterns planimetricism. Through an examination of a colonial Peruvian tapestry and its relationship with Inca textiles and contemporary colonial church faade decoration I will address both pre-Conquest and European influences and ultimately, suggest that these two-dimensional […]

Jonathon Atkinson

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Friedrich Nietzsche wrote that his was a nihilistic age, one in which the question why, in relation to issues of morality, ethics, and meaning, finds no answer. Using Nietzsche as well as Martin Heideggers writings as points of departure, I will consider the following questions, among others: In what sense might our age be understood as nihilistic? How did this come to be? What can or should be done to cope with this situation? In so doing, I will bear two considerations in mind: First, what it would mean to […]

Erik Petigura

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Oxygen is the third most abundant element in the universe behind hydrogen and helium. However, measuring its abundance in stars is surprisingly difficult. This is because oxygen transition lines are weak, hard to model, or contaminated with other lines. Recently, new techniques for measuring the oxygen content from stellar spectra have been developed. I will apply these techniques to the nearest 1000 solar-type stars and measure their oxygen content. The oxygen content in stars plays an important role in planet formation. Specifically, the ratio of carbon to oxygen is critical […]

Robert Bellerose

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Biofuels have received much attention lately as the need for a renewable and carbon-neutral source of energy becomes increasingly important. We have assembled a biosynthetic pathway in Escherichia coli that produces butanol, a second generation biofuel, in six overall steps. However, there is a significant bottleneck at crotonyl-CoA reductase (Ccr) in the pathway that limits butanol production, which may be attributed to the observation that Ccr suffers from low solubility. The overall goal of my project is to carry out directed evolution of Ccr and generate a library of mutants […]

Roxanne Rajaii

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Cell responses are mediated by signal transduction pathways that involve protein and lipid kinase cascades. One of the two essential PtdIns 4-kinases in the budding yeast (S. cerevisiae), encoded by the PIK1 gene, localizes both to the Golgi and in the nucleus and has an essential function in both compartments. Pik1 in the Golgi functions in regulating secretion from the Golgi to the cell surface, but the processes that Pik1 helps regulate in the nucleus are not well understood. In an effort to understand the essential role of Pik1 in […]

Sarah Carlson

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This summer I will be exploring the origins of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender community spaces in the Bay Area. I am exploring primary sources such as newsletters and organizational records as well as doing oral history interviews with people closely involved in these centers. My study will span from the early 1950s, when many of the first homophile organizations opened offices in San Francisco, to the early 1980s, when local groups opened community centers throughout the Bay Area. Through this research, I hope to better understand the community wide […]

Joo Yeon (Jenny) Ryu

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9-cis-retinoic acid (9cRA) is one of the many derivatives of vitamin A. Although vitamin A derivatives are most known for their involvement in sight, they are involved in many physiological process such as the immune response, the development of many organs, and the maintenance of normal internal conditions like blood glucose. Normally, glucose levels are closely regulated by hormones of the pancreas such as insulin and glucagons. However in the case of diabetes, this tight regulation collapses. 9cRA has shown potential in correcting the hormonal imbalance characteristic of diabetes. How […]

Elizabeth Castle

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My current research takes advantage of the empathic, approach-oriented facets of compassion to investigate the broader concept of prosociality. My SURF project explores the neural basis of prosocial emotion by examining individual differences in dispositional traits in context of both central (with functional brain imaging) and peripheral (with measurements of vagus nerve activity) nervous system response to compassion inducing stimuli. The ultimate goal of my research is to identify both the dispositional traits that influence compassion, and the physiological factors that support prosocial behavior, and study how impaired compassion can […]

Stephanie Tjho

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Circadian rhythms, generated in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in the brain, are found in a wide range of organisms, and play an important role in the generation and maintenance of many biological processes. Chronic disruption of the circadian rhythm, as seen in flight attendants and other shift workers, has been found to be correlated with increased cancer rates. My project will examine the impact of jetlag on immune function, and use cell sorting methods to examine whether there is a change in the amount produced or time of production of […]