Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Alec Ethell

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Mammalian cells typically possess two homologous copies of each gene: one paternal and one maternal. Most developmentally regulated genes express both copies, but monoallelic (single copy) gene expression is a pervasive phenomenon. Some mitotically stable examples of this pattern have been described in autosomal genes and are often referred to as random monoallelic expression (RME). However, the molecular mechanisms of RME have been difficult to study in most in vivo contexts–due to limitations in tissue heterogeneity–and remain poorly understood. Natural killer (NK) cell receptor genes are expressed in an RME […]

James Pierce

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The geological core of North America, known as Laurentia, is a product of a collision that occurred some 1.85 billion years ago. The Superior Craton of eastern Canada collided with the Hearne and Wyoming Cratons to the west, creating the Trans-Hudson Orogenic Belt and the foundation for Earths putative first supercontinent, Nuna. As igneous rocks form, they record the direction and magnitude of Earths magnetic field as remanent magnetism. Ferromagnetic minerals, such as magnetite, align their magnetization in the direction of the prevailing magnetic field. After collecting samples that date […]

Romeo Connors

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According to the Pell Institute, in 2012, only 25% of first-generation students attended four-year institutions. For my research project, I want to examine why this rate is so low. The existing literature focuses primarily on barriers to first-generation students once they attend college. Consequently, I want to examine barriers first generation students face when choosing to attend college in the first place. My research question for this project is: what factors dissuade first-generation students from transitioning from high school to four-year universities and how can high schools support these students […]

Takao Kakegawa

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While hybridization has historically been thought to hinder evolutionary processes, the idea that it might sometimes drive evolution instead has been gaining momentum in recent years, even in modern-day humans. Hybridization can sometimes result in extreme traits not observed in the parental species that allows hybrids to occupy new environments or eat new things. My graduate student mentor and I will address questions about how hybridization has impacted a group of Caribbean pupfish that have specialized on weird diets, like fish scales.

Kelly Chou

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Over 40% of U.S. freshwater withdrawals are used for the generation of thermoelectric power: more than the amount withdrawn for agricultural irrigation and domestic use combined. Such high water demand can largely be attributed to waters critical role as an industrial coolant. Phase change materials can greatly decrease the volume of water required to cool thermoelectric power generators. PCMs work by absorbing heat through a phase transition, and can greatly increase the heat capacity of water. Sugar alcohols, like erythritol, are ideal phase change materials because they are cheap, widely […]

Kamila Kaminska-Palarczyk

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My research examines the tensions between Geoffrey Chaucers canon and modern scholarships dismissive treatment of the Legend of Good Women (the LGW). My research will uncover the historical and cultural forces causing this minor poem to be overshadowed by the infamous Canterbury Tales, a foundational text in every undergraduate English department. Through a codicological approach (study of the book as literary artifact), I will revisit the original early modern print anthologies that first consolidated Chaucers literary authority in the emergence of print culture. The primary anthologies of Thynne, Speght, and […]

Michelle Tampa Flores

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This project asks, how can agriculture work for both people and in the environment? Through field, greenhouse, and lab work, this research explores how diversified farming practices influence soil health, particularly arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) and wild bee communities. In the field, my graduate student mentor and I are working with small-scale farmers of color embedded in the monocultural landscape of Californias San Joaquin Valley and investigating how their farming practices influence soil and pollinator health. In the greenhouse, we are conducting greenhouse experiments to determine the mechanistic connection between […]

Victoria Vo

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All steps of female reproduction, including ovulation, fertilization, and pregnancy, rely on timed secretion of reproductive hormones. The release of hormones in our bodies coincide with our exposure to the natural light and dark cycle. In women with poor sleep hygiene and irregular work schedules, circadian desynchronization has been shown to negatively impact different stages of the reproductive cycle, leading to irregular menstrual cycles, decreased fertility, and increased miscarriage rates. Additionally, with the rise of modern technology, exposure to artificial light from laptops and phones at night poses an even […]

Luke Langford

Molten salt reactors (MSRs) are an attractive source of nuclear power generation due to improved efficiency and negligible risk of meltdown. However, corrosion of reactor components by molten salt present a serious challenge to the reliability of MSRs. In order to make realistic estimates of reactor lifetimes, a kinetic model of molten salt corrosion must be developed. Central to understanding the kinetics of molten salt corrosion is the double layer parallel layers of charge surrounding an object immersed in fluid at the interface of a metal and a molten salt. […]

Bayan Duwaik

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CRISPR-Cas systems are indispensable tools in genome editing because they allow scientists to edit an individuals DNA to correct harmful mutations that cause disease. CRISPR-Cas systems are derived from bacteria and archaea where they act as an adaptive immune system of these organisms by targeting viral DNA and RNA for degradation and elimination. Recently, studies have shown that CRISPR-Cas12a can cut non-target sequences of single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) intrinsically. This information is exciting because cells that are constantly replicating, like cancer cells, have a lot of transiently exposed ssDNA which makes […]