Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Urmila Vudali

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With over 39 million people living with HIV, it is one of the world’s foremost health challenges. While Antiretroviral Therapy has reduced HIV-related mortalities by suppressing viral replication, it fails to eradicate the virus, leaving a latent viral reservoir. Thus, identifying a marker of latently infected cells is the focus of many researchers. CD30, a transmembrane protein, is primarily found in tumor cells, such as Hodgkin and other lymphomas. It is found on a small percentage of healthy lymphocytes. However, the Henrich Lab has found enhanced CD30 in HIV infected […]

Yijia Wu

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My project aims to investigate neural circuits in the mammalian midbrain brain that involve the crucial neurotransmitters dopamine (DA) and acetylcholine (ACh). These systems are renowned for facilitating learning and motivation and are implicated in various psychiatric disorders including addiction. The role of DA in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) in encoding reward value has long been a focus of research. The role of ACh is less well defined, though previous studies note pauses in ACh signaling during DA release. Recently, studies have indicated NAc subregional variability of DA and ACh […]

Mingxuan (Grayce) Yang

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Autophagy is a crucial cellular mechanism that maintains homeostasis by forming an organelle known as an autophagosome. This double-membraned structure, originating from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), encapsulates and degrades cellular components, facilitating cellular survival under stress conditions such as organelle dysfunction and protein aggregation. Impairments in this process are associated with neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.This project aims to explore the role of the ATG13/101 subcomplex in initiating autophagy, with a particular focus on its membrane-binding function, which is critical for autophagosome formation.Through detailed analysis, we seek to understand […]

Kevin Yao

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Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is one of the most common diseases among American adults. As one of the essential organs to maintain life, deprived renal functions lead to disruptions of homeostasis and fatal failures of the body. The prevalence of CKD is associated closely with the lack of renal regeneration capacity in the adult human body. However, recent study has shown that this inability of regeneration is not innate but an acquired process in mammals like humans. Many newborn mammals are reported to have full renal regeneration capacity while such […]

Sanjana Shankar

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Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is a debilitating disorder that can lead to difficulty thinking, while also disrupting an individual’s ability to carry out bodily functions. With no known cure, those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s live an average of 4-8 years after detection of the disease. A mutation in a gene known as APOE4 has been implicated as a high risk factor for AD. Specifically, this genotype leads to higher risk of AD in women who are carriers of the gene. However, the mechanisms involved in differences between male and female patients is […]

Neeraja Sripada

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Chlamydia trachomatis (Ct) is the leading cause of bacterial sexually transmitted infections with over 131 million new cases occurring globally each year. This is due in part to unchecked transmission because ~50% of males and ~80% of females are asymptomatic and remain untreated. Recently, rectal Ct infections have been shown to be significantly more common than previously thought, especially among women. Little is known about rectal Ct infections in women and the immune responses to it that may drive or prevent infection. My project will therefore aim to elucidate the […]

Emma Teng

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Melanoma is an impactful disease that causes the death of two people in the United States every hour. Often, cancerous mutations occur in genes crucial for development. During gastrulation, the process that forms the primitive gut, several movements resemble those of melanoma cells. One of these events is the formation of teardrop-shaped bottle cells and tissue ingression towards the anterior end of the embryo. The actin cytoskeleton is known to be responsible for shape change (Lee & Harland, 2006) and intracellular effectors allude to the mechanisms involved (Popov et at., […]

Merut Shankar

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1 in 36 children are born with autism (ASD), characterized by challenges in social communication, mental cognition, and behavioral aspects. ASD is recognized to have a neurodevelopmental cause, making it crucial to study during early fetal brain development. Early ASD development remains misunderstood due to lack of a standard model. A critical transient region of early brain development is the medial ganglionic eminence (MGE), which produces most cortical interneurons (INs) that refine circuitry. My research aims to develop MGE organoids modeling in-vivo IN development of ASD, with the goal of […]

Tiffany (Ting-Wei) Pai

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Insect-borne viral diseases such as Zika and Dengue cause over 700,000 deaths annually (1). For transmission to occur, the virus must spread within the insect and evade an antiviral response from the insect immune system (2). While pathways of the antiviral response are known, the mechanisms by which insect immune cells migrate to infected cells are poorly understood, limiting our ability to identify molecular targets for controlling disease outbreaks. In this work, we will determine whether insect immune cells migrate to virus-infected cells by crawling or by transport in the […]

Erin Li

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Acetaldehyde is a highly reactive carbonyl species (RCS) found in the human body as a result of partial alcohol metabolism (1). Increased acetaldehyde levels are often associated with pathologies such as alcoholic liver disease and Alzheimers (2). Despite its toxicity, tools for monitoring acetaldehyde in live specimen are underdeveloped, and current methods rely on the processing and destruction of the intact specimen. My project aims to develop a dye-based probe that utilizes chemical reactivity with acetaldehyde to convert a homoallylamine-functionalized dye platform into its aldehyde conjugate, resulting in a shift […]