Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Previn Ganesan

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In asthma, contraction of the airway smooth muscle leads to increased work of breathing and respiratory failure. Smooth muscle contraction is regulated by the GTPase RhoA, whose active form inactivates myosin light chain phosphatase. The inactivation of MLC phosphatase then sensitizes smooth muscle to Ca++ within the cytosol and leads to smooth muscle contraction. In preliminary data, we have found that IQGAP1 affects RhoA activity by acting as a scaffold for the recruitment of a known inhibitor of RhoA activityp190A-RhoGAP. This summer, I propose experiments that will further test the […]

Ron Cook

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Nearly all life on Earth depends on oxygenic photosynthesis, the process by which light energy is used to create sugars and oxygen from water and carbon dioxide. In plants and algae, it is carried out in organelles called chloroplasts, which are cousins of photosynthetic bacteria known as cyanobacteria. Both chloroplasts and cyanobacteria contain membrane-enclosed sacs called thylakoids, and the light-dependent reactions of photosynthesis take place in the thylakoid membrane. Here, light hits the protein complex Photosystem II (PSII), and this energy is used to split water into oxygen, protons, and […]

Louis Lau

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Despite the great burden of dengue worldwide caused by infection with the four dengue virus serotypes (DENV1-4), neither specific antiviral therapy nor vaccines for dengue are commercially available. Several vaccines are currently being tested in clinical trials; however, the first proof-of-concept dengue tetravalent live attenuated vaccine efficacy results have proven disappointing due to incomplete pan-DENV protection. The purpose of this study is to investigate DENV-specific serum IgG avidity generated against DENV following the clinical trial of a tetravalent DENV vaccination in humans, utilizing an in vitro ELISA-based system. This study […]

Alex Onishi

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Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide. 53% of all Americans over the age of 75 have cataracts or have had cataract extraction surgery. Connexin protein subunits form gap junction channels in the lens and transport metabolites required for lens transparency. Previous work has indicated that when connexin is knocked out in the 129SvJae mouse strain, severe cataracts results. Disruption of the same connexin in the C57BL/6J (B6) strain displays a mild cataract that is hardly noticeable. Several loci in the B6 background likely containing genes that function to […]

Surbhi Trivedi

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The goal of this research project is to investigate the genetic diversity profile of dengue virus populations within each human host. Dengue, like other RNA viruses, can evolve through the accumulation of genetic mutations that arise due to the error-prone nature of the replicase. This virus also undergoes population bottlenecks and genetic recombination that affect the viral diversity profile. During my 2013 SURF-Rose Hills experience, I processed pediatric samples of infected PBMCs (peripheral blood mononuclear cells) and serum (cell-free fluid separated from blood) using high throughput sequencing technology. We are […]

Jeni Hagan

Learning a motor skill takes a use of error-based learning to devise new strategies towards mastering that skill. Motor skills are perfected through attempting new solutions based on previous movement errors. The presence of motor noise, which is variability between repetitions of the same motor movement, can interfere with error learning as the previous movement error could be from incorrect planning or baseline motor noise. Past research on motor learning has found that while under certain conditions high motor noise is beneficial in learning during a motor task, it is […]

Dylan Grant

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My project explores the intersection of notions of precarious labor with the depictions of office culture in the work of Douglas Coupland and David Foster Wallace. My approach focuses on the simultaneity of multiple conflicting forces as the driver of anxiety, an affliction that, at its root, results from uncertainty. The “turn” from the road of an earlier generation to the office suggests a turn from a “free” or open-ended life to a static existence, but we find in Coupland and Wallace office workers who are mobile and uprooted. The […]

Dustin Cox

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Antagonistic Pleiotropy, an evolutionary theory of aging, states that traits beneficial early in life are selected for even if they become detrimental later in life. Very few molecular examples of Antagonistic Pleiotropy have been observed, but our lab recently discovered a protein in C. elegans that fits the proposed theory. This protein, KGB-1, protects developing worms from environmental stress, but sensitizes worms in adulthood to the same stresses shortening lifespan; the cause of this switch is unknown. An observed change in gene expression was the result of this age-dependent switch; […]

Grace Lee

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Retrotransposons are sections of our DNA that can replicate and insert themselves into our genome to create duplicates and invite mutations. They make up around 40% of our genome, yet their roles in most biological pathways is not yet completely understood. We see a significant derepression of certain retrotransposons when we analyze the expressions levels of retrotransposons in cancer cells. This derepression tells us that they are activated and take part in tumorigenesis, though the precise mechanism is unclear. To begin to understand these retransposons, we must first develop an […]

Jae Ho Paek

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Reactive oxygen speciesincluding hydrogen peroxide, superoxide, and hydroxyl radicalare commonly blamed for causing a variety of oxidative damages in cell. However, there are scientific papers published that suggest these reactive oxygen species actually play fruitful, not harmful, roles in cells. The increasing need for studying these reactive oxygen species calls for the development of tools that can be used for effectively detecting these reactive oxygen species in vivo. Hydroethidinethe reduced state of ethidium bromide, a common DNA dyeis recognized as a reliable superoxide probe. However, hydroethidine can be much improved […]