Emily Zhao

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  Understanding the genetic basis of organ regeneration remains a central challenge in the field of developmental biology. Teeth are a classic model for organogenesis, since many homologous ectodermal organs (e.g., teeth and hair) follow similar patterns of development and regeneration. Threespine stickleback fish are a powerful model organism for studying tooth regeneration in vertebrates because they possess the ancestral dental phenotype of polyphyodonty, in which teeth are continuously replaced throughout adult life. Past research has shown that Foxc1 regulates Bmp6, a gene important for viability, growth, and tooth patterning […]

Xiaozhou Zhang

The perception of a stimulus is strongly influenced by the background surrounding it. In mammals, this figure-ground perception to identify stimuli from the environment is crucial for survival, such as detecting predators. My project aims to explore the neural mechanisms behind figure-ground perception, especially focusing on the role of vasointestinal peptide positive (VIP) and somatostatin (SOM) interneurons in the primary visual cortex (V1). To explore the mechanism, I will first develop a novel mice behavioral task that can accurately quantify figure-ground modulation. Then, I will use optogenetics to activate or […]

Jianxiang Zhang

  Cataract, a clouding of the eye lens, is the leading cause of blindness worldwide. Periaxin (Prx) is a scaffold protein interacting with membrane/cytoskeletal networks in the lens and other cell types and has been implicated in cataract development. My project will investigate the functions of Prx variants in lens cells. Recent studies in the Gong Lab suggest that Prx is a genetic modifier regulating cataract severity in connexin 46 knockout (Cx46KO) mice. Four Prx missense variants have been identified between the 129SvJae (129) and the C57BL/6J (B6) mouse strains. […]

Britney Weng

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  In humans, Positive Transcription Elongation Factor b (P-TEFb) is an RNA Polymerase II regulator crucial for proper gene expression. To execute its regulatory function, P-TEFb itself is precisely regulated via reversible interactions with an snRNP complex. Using biochemical techniques, past studies have confirmed LARP7, HEXIM1, and BRD4 to be protein partners of P-TEFb. My project aims to study the dynamic regulatory role of known protein partners LARP7, HEXIM1, and BRD4 in P-TEFb regulation. I will apply a new technique called proximity-assisted photoactivation (PAPA) to single particle tracking (SPT) and […]

Katrina White

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  Psychedelics have been used medicinally for thousands of years by Native Americans, but research into their clinical effects and mechanisms was prematurely halted in the 1960s. Exploration of the effects of psychedelics is long overdue. Recent studies have found that single doses of psychedelics can have positive, long-lasting effects, but very few studies examine psychedelic effects on behavior. My project aims to discover how psychedelics influence associative learning behavior. Associative learning involves learning the association between a cue and an outcome. I hypothesize that mice treated with psychedelics will […]

Mihir Shah

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Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common and lethal primary brain tumor in adults. Although research has enhanced GBM diagnosis and clinical stratification, overall patient outcome has not significantly improved. This is because GBM is incurable with current treatments, which include surgery, radiation therapy, and Temozolomide (TMZ) chemotherapy. The development of CRISPR-Cas9 systems presents opportunities to study human diseases, and it can be leveraged to create therapeutics. Specifically, CRISPR interference (CRISPRi)-based screens help study GBM dependencies and growth vulnerabilities without DNA damage. I have assisted with in vivo and in vitro […]

Tania Sodhi

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The spotted fever group Rickettsiae (SFGR) are a collective group of Gram-negative obligate pathogens from Rickettesia spp. Most bacteria in the SFGR use two effectors to mediate actin-based motility (ABM). This is in contrast to other intracellular pathogens, which utilize only a single effector for ABM. The goal of my research project is to understand how Rickettsia parkeri, a member of the SFGR family, regulates the expression of two effectors that mediate ABM: RickA and Sca2. While both effectors are involved in mediating ABM, the regulation for both effectors and […]

Emilie Tu

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Contactin-associated protein-like 2 (CNTNAP2) mutations are strongly associated with autism spectrum disorder, which presents with repetitive behaviors. Research has shown that mice lacking CNTNAP2 exhibit decreased numbers of GABAergic interneurons throughout the brain, and that the number and function of these interneurons in the striatum are associated with the presentation of repetitive behaviors. Recent work has shown that enriched environment rearing restores GABAergic interneuron numbers in the striatum and rescues behavioral deficits in rodent models of neuropsychiatric disorders. I will be looking at how different rearing conditions affect striatal gene […]

Daniel Rostamloo

Algebraic geometry is a rich area of mathematics that investigates the properties of geometric objects (like a variety the solution set of a system of polynomial equations) using their underlying algebraic structure. The closely related field of homological algebra studies how mappings between algebraic spaces (e.g., collections of polynomials) can be understood in terms of more concrete representations with tools from topology and algebra combined to understand the geometric structure of varieties. One homological invariant is a table of numbers called the Betti table, which captures nuanced geometric information about […]

Jessica Stewart

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My research focuses on a kinase in the MAPK/ERK pathway called BRAF, which is commonly mutated in cancer. This summer, I will isolate BRAF endogenously from 293FT cells and analyze their structure by native mass spectrometry and cryo-electron microscopy. This strategy differs from most conventional approaches, as I will not overexpress the protein. Rather, I aim to study BRAF isolated from its native stoichiometric environment, circumventing assumptions that must be made with overexpression. With this strategy, I seek to learn about BRAFs activation and native binding interactions. This knowledge could […]