Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Nicole Goldberg-Boltz

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We are frequently required to halt or alter ongoing actions when an unexpected event is presented. For example, when we start crossing the street and we see an unanticipated car, we have to suddenly halt. In neuroscience, this sudden suppression of movement is referred to as response-inhibition. Response-inhibition deficits have been linked to disorders such as ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and substance use disorders. However, the exact neural pathways engaged in response inhibition are undefined, which I am interested in uncovering. For my project, I will focus on three proposed areas […]

Michael Forsuelo

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A promising approach to generating clean and sustainable energy is artificial photosynthesis, which aims to mimic photosynthesis in plants or bacteria and improve upon its energy conversion efficiency. Charge separation is a key step in artificial photosynthesis, but its mechanism is not yet fully understood. Recent evidence for ultrafast (sub-picosecond) charge separation in a wide variety of organic donor-acceptor materials has revived interest in the topic. Since the timescale of ultrafast charge separation is comparable to typical decoherence timescales, quantum coherent effects may play a significant role in this process. […]

Kaylee Mann

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Many insects use ocelli to aid in determining their orientation in flight. Ocelli are a set of small eyes that are separate from the large compound ones on insects such as grasshoppers and dragonflies. We have designed a device that can be mounted on the head to optically stimulate these ocelli. Preliminary results show stimulation of these ocelli to be correlated with head movements. This summer, we will work to show that these movements correspond to a change in the insect’s perceived orientation and can be exploited to produce directed […]

Sara Ratican

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One of the fundamental aims of current neuroscience research is to understand how external sensory inputs and internal states are represented in the brain, and how neuronal circuits process these inputs to ultimately alter behavior. In order to decipher the underlying mechanisms behind this process, my research looks at how different tastes are distinguished by the brain in Drosophila Melanogaster. Calcium ions serve as a primary intracellular messenger in neurons. During electrical activity, intracellular calcium concentrations rise 10 to 100 times higher in active neurons. My project will use transgenic […]

Jimmy Yin

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With a prevalence of about 18% of the American adult population, anxiety disorders are an increasingly important focus of mental health research. Such disorders can severely diminish the quality of an individuals daily life. In both the animal and human literature, fear conditioning has provided an important model of the abnormal development of learned fear responses associated with anxiety disorders. One important question has been whether anxiety is characterized by greater generalization of fear responses. This is typically examined by testing stimuli that vary along some dimension in similarity from […]

Berk Brown

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In search of methods to best galvanize people into healthy action, our modern culture has turned health and fitness into an industry that focuses primarily on external factors such as weight, shape, and sex appeal. Though these aesthetics may work at getting people into the gym, they have not been as successful at helping them stick to their exercise routines. Statistics have consistently indicated that 50% of those who begin an exercise program abandon such regimens within three to six months. For this reason my research aims to identify which […]

Megan Fu

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Limited water availability in areas of drought can have implications on disease spread in crops. The goal of my research is to study water stress dynamics in grape plants and mealybugs, one of the major vineyard pests. Mealybug vectors transmit a family of viruses leading to Grapevine Leafroll Disease (GLD), causing uneconomical losses in vine health, grape quality, and yield. It is especially important to understand the effects of water stress on mealybug movement, as it may subsequently affect pathogen spread. I will be examining 1) mealybug settling preference between […]

Matthew Boggess

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Everyday actions require both the selection of the correct action and then the correct execution of this action. For example, when playing tennis, one has to both select the correct stroke to use and then correctly execute this stroke. The basal ganglia and cerebellum are two systems in the brain thought to be responsible for action selection and execution respectively. My research aims to develop a computational model of these two systems in order to investigate how they interact to produce complex motor actions. This model will be biologically constrained […]

Anneliise Rehn

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The pace and nature of language change has significant impact on everything from grammar textbooks to natural language processing. With the internet providing new and inventive avenues for this change, we have an opportunity and a necessity to study these avenues. My SURF project researches a new grammatical construction which has emerged on the internet wherein because can be followed by a single word, usually a noun, but in some cases an adjective or interjection. I will create a database with quantitative and qualitative data, a sub-corpus extracted from the […]

Jiahong (Benjamin) Zhang

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Epilepsy currently afflicts more than 50 million people worldwide. While anti-epileptic drugs are effective at treating 70% of this population, the rest have to resort to invasive surgeries to alleviate their seizures. The electrical interactions of neurons in the brain are described by a set of stochastic partial differential equations. Seizures can be thought of as electrical waves propagating on the brain. In this project, I intend to manipulate the mathematical model to develop a new noninvasive way to control seizures in conjunction with a concept from physics called localization. […]