Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Isha Soni

My project is focused on characterizing the structure and function of ORF31, a protein involved in late gene expression of Kaposi’s Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus (KSHV). This project is one part of the Glaunsinger lab’s overall goal to characterize the structure and function of every protein within a viral complex that is essential for KSHV infectivity and late gene expression during infection. ORF31 is one protein that makes up this complex, but its structure and function are currently unknown. My research provides insight into KSHV’s replication cycle and paves the way for […]

Nathan Levy

“Alpha synuclein is one of the most commonly mutated genes found in Parkinson’s disease: the neurodegenerative disorder that is responsible for almost 15% of all dementia cases.[3] It is the main component of Lewy Bodies (LBs) in the form of protein aggregates in neuronal cells. Furthermore, the Braak Model states the stage of Parkinson’s Disease correlates to the distribution of LBs in the brain, suggesting the transmission of alpha-synuclein aggregates as the disease progresses. Uncovering these patterns of alpha synuclein secretion can provide insight on the pathogenesis of LBs and […]

Nam Dao

My project hopes to uncover a potentially novel method of chemotherapy by depriving cancer cells of copper, an essential nutrient that they depend on for survival! Since copper transport in all human cells (healthy or otherwise) is mostly mediated by the protein Ctr1, my research hopes to create a chemical probe that would selectively bind to this protein, preventing it from bringing copper into the cells. Ctr1 stands out in another way: it has by far the highest concentration of methionine out of all extracellular proteins within the human proteome. […]

Amir Balakhmet

Dengue virus (DENV) causes up to 390M infections annually, yet current vaccines present safety and efficacy concerns. Most vaccines work by eliciting antibody and memory B cell responses against a pathogen; for DENV, distinct subsets of antibodies and their parental B cells are known to be involved in both protection against and enhancement of future dengue disease. However, current methods for identifying DENV-reactive B cells are low-yield, non-specific, and labor-intensive, resulting in small samples lacking statistical power to overcome interpersonal variation and draw conclusions about immune dynamics. I aim to […]

Eunice Tsang

The marine carbon cycle plays a key role in regulating Earth’s global temperature and climate, as the largest reservoir of bioavailable carbon is stored in the ocean. In particular, marine particulate organic matter (POM) plays a crucial role in sequestering CO2 away from the atmosphere through their vertical transport of carbon from the surface ocean to the seafloor. While sinking, POM can be remineralized back to CO2 via microbial or animal heterotrophic processes, or they can disaggregate into smaller particles. Mechanistic understanding of the degradative processes acting on POM, and […]

Shakuntala Sadhu

Hormones play an important role in our body and its everyday functions, however it is not clearly understood how hormones relay information back to endocrine organs and the brain. Ménière’s disease is an inner ear disorder characterized by hearing and balance dysfunction. Patients with Ménière’s disease often appear to have elevated levels of the hormone vasopressin (AVP) in their plasma and exhibit distension of the endolymphatic duct and sac (EDS), a part of the inner ear which helps to regulate endolymphatic volume and pressure. By characterizing the AVP hormonal circuit […]

Kunal Puri

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (CNS), characterized by the infiltration of inflammatory immune cells into the CNS, leading to destruction of myelin sheaths of the nerves and subsequent development of lesions along the brain and spinal cord. Patients with MS are subject to cognitive and muscular dysfunctions that detrimentally progress overtime leading to debilitating loss of basic human functions. Treatments for MS are currently still limited in action and not comprehensive enough to provide definitive care towards effectively addressing MS.  During MS, activated […]

Wenqi (Ellen) Zuo

The innate immune responses are the first line of defense against invading pathogens. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) play crucial roles in the innate immune system by recognizing pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) derived from pathogens. A subset of endosomally restricted TLRs senses nucleic acids (NA), thus equipping immune cells with broad recognition of pathogens while also posing the risk of self-detection. Inappropriate activation of NA-sensing TLRs has been shown to drive pathological inflammation and autoimmune disease in various mouse studies and human patients. Several studies identify the trafficking chaperone Unc93b1 as a […]

Yutong Zhang

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia, constituting close to two-thirds of all dementia diagnoses; the urgency and importance of AD research thus needs no further explanation. While much of AD research is focused on hallmark pathologies, namely Aβ plaques and tau tangles, there are less focus on new potential molecular targets.  Previous research has shown the dysfunction of inhibitory network, and specifically the interneurons within it, as a key pathology in many AD mouse models, yet the underlying cause of their selective vulnerability remains unknown. Inhibitory […]

Nicole Xin

Lanthanides (Lns), part of the Rare Earth Elements, are critical minerals for clean energy, defense, and consumer electronics, but they are environmentally and financially costly to extract and purify. Methylotrophic bacteria naturally acquire and transport lanthanides for alcohol metabolism. The model methylotrophic bacterium, Methylobacterium extorquens AM1, accumulates low and high molecular weight Lns through growth with methanol, but our understanding of the constraints of their bioaccumulation is still limited. GLamouR is a synthetic fluorescent sensor for Lns that was designed for in vitro use, and as such, has only been […]