Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Clara Jimenez

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My research project focuses on three major works of twentieth-century African-American literature: Toni Morrisons Beloved and Alice Walkers The Color Purple. I seek to explore how the female protagonists at the center of these narratives embody chronic depression. My research intends to validate the trauma these women undergo, as well as delineate the coping mechanisms they create in response to the physical, sexual, and psychological subjugation they face. These characters are not only linked by the oppressive structures they struggle against, but also by their roles as daughters who experience […]

Zoe Merz

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Common cancer therapies, such as chemotherapy, have harsh side effects because they damage both healthy and cancerous cells. Therapies that deliver drugs directly to cancer cells eliminate this issue. Protein nanocages, coupled with cancer targeting ligands, are attractive drug delivery vessels due to their biocompatibility and reduced toxicity. One such protein nanocage is the MS2 bacteriophage Virus Like Particle (VLP) coat protein. This 27 nm diameter protein shell has shown promise for delivery applications due to its thermostability and high modifiability. To be used as a drug delivery system, MS2 […]

Noah Epstein

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Iron sulfur enzymes perform some of lifes most challenging chemical transformations, but how these enzymes function is largely unknown. I will be researching the structure, reactivity, and reduction/oxidation properties of a particular iron sulfur enzyme, the hybrid cluster protein (HCP), whose physiological function is unknown despite its presence in all domains of life. One goal of my research is to investigate how the structure of HCP dictates its reactivity towards a variety of substrates. A hallmark of HCP is the presence of an atypical iron-sulfur cluster (dubbed the hybrid cluster) […]

James Kennerly

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Deng Xiaopings 1978 market reforms profoundly impacted the way Chinese people relate to their material surroundings. Some previously worthless objects (rare-earth metals, for example), gained newfound value as precious commodities. Other objects, before deeply cherished, became suddenly irrelevant through the process of commodification. In the frontier zones of the Chinese economysparsely-populated regions, ethnic minority areas, and border zonesthe transition of the social world of objects has been especially dramatic.I propose to study these dynamics from Liangshan Prefecture in Sichuan Provence, a rural, mountainous region on the southwest of the country, […]

Katie Shalvarjian

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Ralstonia solanacearum is a unique vascular plant pathogen that thrives in xylem sap. As a nutrient-poor but chemically complex environment, xylem sap provides distinct obstacles to bacterial growth, yet little is known about R. solanacearum within the framework of genome-wide fitness. Using a randomly barcoded transposon site sequencing (RB-TnSeq) mutant library, we can measure gene-specific fitness contributions to R. solanacearum in xylem sap, along with various growth media, to understand what genes drive its fitness in a natural context. As a causal factor of bacterial wilta disease that wipes out […]

Faisal AlZaben

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Finding the causal genetic basis of a complex trait is a challenge of biology. Current methods, such as GWAS and QTL analysis, can identify associations between variants and phenotypes, but this is limited to analysis within the species being investigated and not species-wide traits. Through a novel approach named RH-seq (reciprocal hemizygosity analysis via sequencing), causal variants that underlie interspecific differences can be identified, including those that are the basis of adaptive evolutionary changes. I will be investigating the genetic basis of the relative thermotolerance of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (budding yeast) […]

Ryan Lehmkuhl

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Machine learning classification is growing increasingly important for a variety of industries and applications, including medical imaging, spam detection, facial recognition, financial predictions, and more. As understanding of these systems advances, so do attacks which seek to exfiltrate information from exposed models. These models are often trained on confidential data and leakscan compromise user privacy. Additionally, users may wish to receive classifications on a modelwhile keeping their own input secret from the service provider. To address these concerns, I introduce the concept of secure prediction. Secure prediction defines a joint […]

Isabella Franchesca Shipley

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With well established evidence of the nuanced social and political aspects of environmentalism, it has become apparent that there is a need for a more compelling and holistic approach to discussing these issues. My research will document how art contributes to these conversations and explores the more human elements of environmental justice. The extent to which visual art can impact the formation of individuals’ opinions, motivations and curiosities with respect to the environmental movement will be explored through art practice. Informed by past works, this project will draw from art […]

Peter DePaola IV

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The current treatment for cholera infection is hydration with sanitary water and salts to replenish the nutrients and water lost through diarrhea. The World Health Organization estimates that 120,000 people die each year from cholera infection alone, with the majority of deaths in developing countries which have neither the infrastructure nor resources to treat patients. Current vaccines are ineffective; therefore, researchers are turning to alternative ways to stop the spread of cholera. While trying to understand a unique genetic island that Vibrio Cholerae uses to protect itself from viral infection, […]

Calvin Nguyen

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The Grove has become one of Los Angeless main attractions, housing a farmers market, an assortment of shops, entertainment, and picturesque features, and attracting over 18 million visitors a year–on par with the holy grail of Los Angeles attractions, Disneyland. Yet, despite its prominence in Los Angeles urban leisure, little research has been devoted to this space. The Grove presents such an intriguing place as it does much more to immerse its visitors than the average mall; for one, it claims and boasts historical roots in its design and presentation–the […]