Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Justin Choe

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Despite the growing prevalence of diabetes, the exact biological mechanisms leading to the onset of this disease still remain painfully unclear. Type 1 diabetes in particular is caused by an autoimmune attack to an individuals insulin secreting beta cells; this cell population cannot be regenerated and an adverse condition known as hyperglycemia ensues. The immune cells and chemokines present in the pancreas at the onset of this autoimmune response are of interest when considering this disease. Recent studies have suggested that the activity of a particular G-coupled protein receptor may […]

Zeerek Ahmad

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Current robotic designs have limited movement because they involve rigid bodies and links that are connected through restrictive joints. Conventional actuation of these joints is usually achieved through motor and hydraulic control. In contrast, many macroscopic biological systems have evolved to produce locomotion through the actuation of tensile links to control their rigid counterparts. This allows for lighter and better dynamic systems that are capable of safer and more efficient motion. These biological systems can be modeled with a principle known as tensegrity, a combination of tension and integrity. A […]

Scarlet Cummings

How do issues of authorship and originality function within fine art and cinema? What are the similarities between painting and film? What are the fundamental differences, especially those relating to the meaning and worth of emulation within the two mediums? My research will attempt to answer these questions using two case studies: Orson Welles’ 1973 film F for Fake, and the paintings of the infamous Elmyr de Hory, Hungarian art forger extraordinaire who imitated the style of countless painters (Degas, Derain, Dufy, Matisse, Modigliani, Picasso, and Vlaminck to name a […]

Stephanie Chang

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Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic pathogen responsible for a significant number of antibiotic resistant infections. It can infect almost any site of the body, but typically targets damaged epithelial tissues such as corneas of contact lens wearers, potentially leading to blindness. P. aeruginosa uses a Type 3 Secretion System, a needle-like structure, to introduce bacterial exotoxins into host cells which can cause cell death. P. aeruginosa has also been found to replicate intracellularly and occupy protrusions in the plasma membrane known as blebs. Previous studies from the Fleiszig lab have […]

Billal Ahmed

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Natural Killer (NK) cells are an important part of the Innate Immune System, surveying the body to recognize and eliminate cells determined to be abnormal. NK Cells can be activated through ligands that bind to excitatory receptors on the cell. The most well-studied excitatory ligands have been the NKG2D family of ligands, which bind to NKG2D receptors on NK Cells. Im using MCMV, Mouse Cytomegalovirus, as a model to study NKG2D ligand regulation in cells infected by viruses. M18, a protein in MCMV, by itself is necessary and sufficient for […]

Leonardino Digma

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The leading hypothesis suggests that the progression of Alzheimers disease (AD), the major cause of dementia, is driven by the accumulation of misfolded amyloidB proteins into plaques within the brain. The presence of these plaques in some cognitively healthy adults has complicated our understanding of AD and has raised the question of what exactly triggers cognitive decline. Recent studies employing network theory have revealed that the answer may lie in the details of the disruption of the brain network by the amyloidB plaques. This summer I will use fMRI and […]

Amit Akula

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Using acquisition data from Diffusion Tensor Magnetic Resonance Imaging (DT-MRI), an MRI variant that can map the diffusion of water, medical researchers have been able to image neural bundles in the brain, known as white matter tracts. Fiber tractography has been used extensively for clinical diagnosis of many neurological disorders and is used by neurosurgeons for surgical planning. Dipy, an open source project, provides a rich suite of fiber tracking algorithms accessible to any medical center in the world. Computing the fiber tracks using its probabilistic models, however, are computationally […]

Jennifer Ding

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Speciation has long been studied in the field of evolutionary biology, but many questions remain regarding the specific genomic interactions between diverging species. To study the genetic events involved in the development of reproductive isolation and speciation, I will focus on the Drosophila nasuta fruit fly clade which is currently in the process of diverging. I will use molecular assays to characterize gene flow through experimental secondary contact between recently diverged Drosophina nasuta subspecies and draw conclusions about the level and type of reproductive isolation between the subspecies pairs. My […]

Brett Garabedian

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Plant biomass represents the most abundant collection of polymers on this planet. As a dominant carbon sequestration system, an upwards of 150 billion tons of biomass is produced worldwide each year, but humans currently utilize only 2% of this resource. Thus, there is a large margin to accommodate recent interests in lignocellulosic plant biomass as feedstock for biofuels and other commodity chemicals. A major bottleneck in the generation of commercially competitive biofuels from lignocellulosic plant biomass is the presence of acetate throughout the plant cell wall as this chemical hinders […]

Alexander Flores

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During the middle ages the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus was wildly popular throughout Europe, and was translated into nearly every vernacular language. This non-canonical religious text contained a piece of theology that has fallen into obscurity, Christs harrowing, or descent, into Hell. In Middle English the Harrowing of Hell occurs as a narrative poem in three manuscripts, spanning the late 13th century to the early 14th century. A striking aspect of these poems is that they appear to straddle the line between what we consider poetry and drama. The poems […]