Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Jewelia Yao

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The human brain is characterized by ridges, or gyri, and indentations, or sulci. Individual differences in sulci have been shown to be related to aspects of cognition, which is important for our everyday functioning. Despite these findings that a) sulci develop and b) individual differences in sulci are linked to cognition in adults, no study has yet examined the relationship between the development of sulci and the development of an essential cognitive ability known as working memory. Working memory is the ability to maintain and manipulate information. It develops over […]

Christopher Machle

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The capacity to reject potential choices is critical to everyday function and is a core issue for multiple behavioral disorders, particularly addiction. Though a wealth of research displays that the subcortical region known as the striatum is a pivotal site for enacting value-based decisions, the mechanism underlying choice rejection is significantly understudied. Current research assumes a go/no-go heuristic that divides the two pathways of the striatum into discrete roles, asserting the direct pathway initiates decisions and the indirect pathway initiates rejections. Though the simplicity of this go/no-go heuristic is attractive, […]

Curtis Beck

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In mammals, the Polycomb Repressive Complexes 1 and 2 (PRC1, PRC2) play crucial roles in maintaining gene expression patterns that enforce cell differentiation during embryonic development. Both complexes silence genes by post-translationally modifying the histone tails of nucleosomes, the smallest structural unit of chromatin. PRC1 plays a role in chromatin compaction by histone ubiquitination, whereas PRC2 reduces expression at the transcriptional level by histone methylation. The importance of these two complexes is emphasized by the fact that mutations in either complex results in embryonic lethality. While PRC1 and PRC2 are […]

Ravi Mandla

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The main goal of my project is to understand, genetically, how differences in heart rate have evolved such that large mammals have slower heart rates than smaller mammals. So far, I have found strong evidence that the activity of the pacemaker ion channel HCN4 in the sinoatrial node (SAN, the hearts natural pacemaker), correlates with the resting heart rate of different species. My central hypothesis for this heart rate scaling phenomenon is that differences in heart rates among different mammalian species are partially determined by sequence changes at HCN4 enhancer […]

Elizabeth Wang

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Gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs), consisting of a chelating agent and gadolinium metal (Gd(III)), have been used to enhance magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast for the last 30 years, with over 300 million procedures to date. Because of the electronic magnetic moment of the gadolinium and nearby water molecules, gadolinium can be imaged accurately when exposed to strong electromagnetic fields like those created by MRI machines, improving the image clarity of the bodys structures. Accurate diagnosis scans allow for the detection of inflammation, tumors, blood vessels, and blood supply, all of […]

Connor Tou

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Directed evolution takes advantage of repeated Darwinian cycles of genetic diversification and artificial selection to engineer novel biomolecular and cellular function. In the wet-lab, its success and extent is heavily dictated by the size of the genetic library that can be synthesized and transformed, in combination with labor, cost, and time. Therefore, traditional methods relying on ex-vivo diversification and in-vivo selection are highly limiting. By addressing these problems, methods for targeted, continuous in-vivo mutagenesis are extremely valuable. Recently, our lab group developed one such system termed EvolvR – an HDR-independent, […]

Hannah Cox

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My research will serve as an inquiry into the particular language of the prosaic and poetic works of Armenian-French writer Shahan Shahnour, nom de plume Armen Lubin. Shahnour was a part of the Menk generation (so named after the Armenian word for “We”), a literary group of Armenian migrs living in Paris in the 1920’s, having survived the Armenian Genocide and fled the Ottoman Empire. Within the frame of exile and mourning a lost homeland, Shahnour’s novel in Armenian and Lubin’s later poems in French illuminate a unique language space […]

Ian Stratford

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My project explores the political implications of the religious aspects of The Eumenides by Aeschylus. The play was written circa 458 BC, a time of significant change for Athenian religious practice as democratization reached the cults of the city and control of religious rituals moved from old cultic families to civic oversight. The politician Kimon was able to orchestrate the foundation of a cult to the hero Theseus, and even established a cult family of the type that was now falling out of power. This exception speaks to the relationship […]

Elena Mateus

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If you turn on the television, chances are high that the news will be painted with violent criminals, Cops will be on all night, and Law and Order will be playing steady reruns. There is a plethora of scholarship investigating the ways media sensationalizes crime and portrays prison in a violent light; however, there exists a gap in research into understanding the ways in which people digest and make of use these images. People, whether they are affected by the criminal justice system or not, view fictitious media depictions that, […]

Christopher Hall

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Adolescence has been defined as a transitional period characterized by physical, cognitive, and socioemotional changes while the brain goes through a parallel process of circuit refinement. It is also a window of vulnerability for the development of disorders like schizophrenia and addiction. However, our understanding of the role of puberty, and the coincident surge in gonadal hormones, in brain and behavioral development is still incomplete. Multiple studies have shown both testosterone- and estrogen-dependent modulation of reward-related behaviors and its circuitry. However, there are yet to be studies that test the […]