Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Nader Morshed

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Construction of protein structures from X-ray crystallography data is a difficult, time consuming, and error-prone process. With of 90,000 protein structures currently deposited in online data banks, tools to automatically construct, analyze, and fix models is essential for correct scientific analysis. My research is to apply techniques from the machine learning field to identify elementary ions, such as zinc and calcium, in available data. These atoms are often essential to enzyme function, but their identification requires knowledge of esoteric rules, making it great ground for computational automation.

Scott Farley

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Wildfires annually burn hundreds of thousands of acres of the Western United States, forcing mass evacuations, burning residences and costing hundreds of millions of dollars. Using a Geographic Information System (GIS), my project aims to model the wildfire potential of the Angeles National Forest, a large and diverse natural area just outside the city of Los Angeles. Considering variables such as fuel type and moisture content, temperature, precipitation, slope, and winds, I will determine the areas of the forest most conducive to a destructive fire. Using these ‘hot spots,’ I […]

Mark Mullan

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Water injection into oil reservoirs is a commonplace practice used to increase oil production beyond primary yields. Seawater is most commonly used, which creates conditions conducive to the activity of sulfate-reducing microorganisms (SRM) within the reservoir. Once established, SRM can generate immense quantities of hydrogen sulfide as a metabolic byproduct, resulting in various oil recovery problems including oil reservoir souring, crude oil contamination, and metal corrosion that later leads to oil pipeline explosions. Overall, microbial hydrogen sulfide production poses numerous environmental and public health issues, and represents a multimillion dollar […]

Nadir Bilici

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Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) is an alternative semiconductor to silicon for photovoltaic applications. Its advantageous physical properties allow it to absorb an equal amount of light with a fraction of silicons thickness; this means lower material costs. However, lack of fundamental research renders this material less efficient than silicon. Recent attempts at reducing manufacturing costs of CdTe solar cells investigate solution deposited nanocrystal (NC) films, i.e.semiconductor ink. During solar cell fabrication, CdTe films must be exposed to CdCl2 and heated to improve device performance. My research will investigate the effect of […]

Parinaz Fozouni

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All animals share a common ancestor that underwent a transition to evolve multicellularity. To better understand this transition, we compare animals to choanoflagellates, their closest living relatives. Multicellular animals faced many challenges not shared by their unicellular ancestors. One such challenge was the evolution of mechanisms to defend against pathogens seeking to exploit the new niches present in a multicellular organism. My project aims to lay the groundwork for asking whether Toll-like receptors (TLRs), critical components of the innate immune system, evolved in the earliest animals to answer this challenge. […]

Julissa Muniz

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Today California has the largest womens prison population of the nation, with a population size of 6,409. Between 1972 to 2010, the number of women in correctional facilities nationwide increased by approximately 646%, the fastest growing prison group of the nation. In spite of these alarming numbers, little is known about the prison subculture that exists within California’s women correctional facilities. My research seeks to expand the male dominated discourse of incarceration by exploring how racial systems of social control operate within California’s correctional facilities through in-depth ethnographic research. The […]

Mathilde Bonvalot

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The reassertion of Catholicism’s essential principles after the Council of Trent had a major impact on religious art production in 16th century Italy. Consciously putting together reliques from the early years of Christianity with Rinascimento painting techniques, the new visual programs created within Roman churches became the place where sacred space and ideas could be rebuilt, generating a new meaning for the Catholic community. I will travel to Rome to investigate the emergence of the discipline of Archaeology as the crucial event that allowed early Christian antiquities discovered in the […]

Stephanie Fung

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The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) was established in 2003 with the goal of trying those responsible for the horrors inflicted upon Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge between 1975-1979. Two of the original four Accused in Case 002 are currently being tried at this Khmer Rouge Tribunal, and as part of my research, I will be monitoring these trials at the ECCC on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. By observing these trials and interviewing experts on the ECCC and the Democratic Kampuchea period, I intend to examine […]

Khashayar Nattagh

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The goal of radiation cancer therapy is to deliver a lethal dose of radiation to a tumor while sparing the healthy tissue along the beam path. My project studies the phenomenon of gold nanoparticle radiosensitization: where gold nanoparticles are used to increase the damage that a certain dose of radiation has to a tumor without increasing the damage to the healthy cells. Specifically, I am trying to determine why gold nanoparticles increase the effects of radiation, a question that scientists are debating today. I am investigating this by using cutting […]

Kamyar Jarahzadeh

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Turkey is home to a population of 17,000 Afghan refugeesa number which is projected to double by the end of the year. Afghan refugees travel to Turkey fleeing violence and economic hardships, only to find themselves struggling to subsist while navigating a convoluted resettlement process. My project is an ethnographic study of their experiences and interactions within their communities, and with state and non-state actors. Findings will be generated with participant observation and interviewing of Afghan refugees currently in Turkey. The project will explore what citizenship means for displaced peoples […]