Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Andrew Whalen

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Culture has played a large role in human’s abilities to adapt to the environment. By learning from other people, novices are able to skip the steps of trial and error learning that may be costly, or even fatal. One of the primary ways that culture is transmitted between generations is through social learning. Beginning in the 1990s some scholars have noted that social learning may be disadvantageous if a majority of people have erroneous views about the environment. In this setup, populations may descend into rational “herds” in which people, […]

Bill Stewart

My research is concerned with understanding the construction and effectiveness of media-based HIV prevention information targeting African American Men, age 18-44, residing in Alameda County, California. African Americans face the most severe burden of HIV of all racial/ethnic groups in the United States with black men accounting for 70% of the estimated new HIV infections among all blacks in 2009 (CDC). Media-based HIV information is a strategy currently being used to encourage individuals to test for HIV and begin treatment as soon as possible. I will spend the summer interviewing […]

Ariella Aronstam-Powers

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The interplay of art and politics historically holds a distinct role in the City of Oakland, California. Since the 1960s, social activism has shaped and informed political art practices. Further, aesthetics and intertextuality continue to engage the issues of race, police brutality and economic marginalization as motifs and discourses for Oakland artists. Through primary and secondary archival sources, interviews, and participant observation, my project investigates how political art practices in Oakland operate as a context and product for social justice and community empowerment. I am looking at the work of […]

Minyu Feng

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Dark photon is a hypothesized gauge boson which behaves like a standard photon. It is called dark because it interacts very weakly with normal particles like electrons and protons, but instead interacts more strongly with dark matter. This makes dark photons escape previous detections easily. However, some unexpected radiation from the center of our galaxy implies the existence of dark photon. Therefore, we plan to produce dark photon by annihilation of a pair of particle and anti-particle with enough center-of-mass energy. We can look at the decay products of the […]

Henry Sweat

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Currently, many structural engineers do not take masonry (or more technically infill walls) into account when they design a structure. In other words, they assume that the masonry that goes in between the structure has no effect on the building. The problem with this approach is during an earthquake, the bricks can affect the fundamental manner in which the structure reacts because, contrary to the design philosophy, they carry load and increase the stiffness of the building. My research is based on using a computer simulation called OpenSees to discover […]

Abbey White

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For my research this summer I am participating in an archaeological excavation at the Classic Maya site of Chinikiha, Mexico. I am investigating gendered labor in the production and use of stone tools (lithics) in the Maya household by analyzing material remains There is a pervasive, but untested assumption that men were the producers and users of lithics, and as such, this is an area that has been underinvestigated in archeology. Looking critically at gendered labor will allow me to explore the effect that gender had on the Classic Maya […]

Tricia Ngoon

My research is about the efficacy of verbal retrieval practice, the act of verbally explaining or telling someone else about learned material. So much of academics is focused on studying or re-reading material when really, telling or explaining it to someone may be more beneficial for memory and comprehension. Along the lines of the testing effect, in which a student shows better memory for items that were tested as opposed to simply studied, verbal retrieval practice serves as a form of testing that may be in line with Transfer Appropriate […]

Viktoria Betin

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My project will study a bacterial-eukaryotic signaling interaction. Through the secretion of chemical signals, bacteria affect animal health and morphology. As the closest living unicellular relatives of animals, choanoflagellates are a good model system for the study of the evolutionary origins of long-standing partnerships between animals and bacteria. Choanoflagellates are single-celled eukaryotes that form colonies under certain conditions. A sulfonolipid molecule (a structural relative of the common cell signaling moleculessphingolipids) produced by the bacteria Algoriphagus machipongonensis triggers multicellular development in the colonial choanoflagellate Salpingoeca rosetta. This bacterial-eukaryotic biochemical signaling interaction […]

Matthew Melissa

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This summer, I will be using MATLAB to investigate the development of spatiotemporal dynamics in 8-week kittens and adult cats. Previously, the cats were presented with a series of visual stimuli, and electrode measurements were taken to identify the neurons receptive fields, which characterize the response of each neuron to each point in space and time. I will be applying various computational techniques to determine how these receptive fields change over short time intervals, providing insight into how course-fine tuning and binocular vision is achieved. By comparing these spatiotemporal dynamics […]

Alex Taitague

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The language of gutter punks and academic poets have something in common: their expressive natures are socially conscious, politically aware, and always new or challenging. My research outlines how exactly both punk music and and poetry use their material to enact change in both the social and political spheres. Punk has remained one of the largest cultural phenomenon of the last 50 years; its effects are still visible today: in the non-conformist attitude, the Do-It-Yourself ethic, the raw emotional and exclamatory lyrics (and you know…mohawks, tattoos, raggedy patches, etc). Poetry, […]