Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Aaron Agulnick

The phase problem is the central problem of crystallography. It arises from the inconvenient fact that an x-ray image of a crystal does not produce data sufficient to completely determine the structure. The data that is obtained is instead the so-called moduli of the Fourier coefficients of the function describing the crystalline structure, placing the problem squarely in the mathematical realm of Fourier analysis. One path towards resolution is offered by higher-order correlations, which generalize the Fourier coefficients while still being physically measurable. It has been shown that, in general, […]

Isha Soni

My project is focused on characterizing the structure and function of ORF31, a protein involved in late gene expression of Kaposi’s Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus (KSHV). This project is one part of the Glaunsinger lab’s overall goal to characterize the structure and function of every protein within a viral complex that is essential for KSHV infectivity and late gene expression during infection. ORF31 is one protein that makes up this complex, but its structure and function are currently unknown. My research provides insight into KSHV’s replication cycle and paves the way for […]

Nathan Levy

“Alpha synuclein is one of the most commonly mutated genes found in Parkinson’s disease: the neurodegenerative disorder that is responsible for almost 15% of all dementia cases.[3] It is the main component of Lewy Bodies (LBs) in the form of protein aggregates in neuronal cells. Furthermore, the Braak Model states the stage of Parkinson’s Disease correlates to the distribution of LBs in the brain, suggesting the transmission of alpha-synuclein aggregates as the disease progresses. Uncovering these patterns of alpha synuclein secretion can provide insight on the pathogenesis of LBs and […]

Nam Dao

My project hopes to uncover a potentially novel method of chemotherapy by depriving cancer cells of copper, an essential nutrient that they depend on for survival! Since copper transport in all human cells (healthy or otherwise) is mostly mediated by the protein Ctr1, my research hopes to create a chemical probe that would selectively bind to this protein, preventing it from bringing copper into the cells. Ctr1 stands out in another way: it has by far the highest concentration of methionine out of all extracellular proteins within the human proteome. […]

Amir Balakhmet

Dengue virus (DENV) causes up to 390M infections annually, yet current vaccines present safety and efficacy concerns. Most vaccines work by eliciting antibody and memory B cell responses against a pathogen; for DENV, distinct subsets of antibodies and their parental B cells are known to be involved in both protection against and enhancement of future dengue disease. However, current methods for identifying DENV-reactive B cells are low-yield, non-specific, and labor-intensive, resulting in small samples lacking statistical power to overcome interpersonal variation and draw conclusions about immune dynamics. I aim to […]

Yoomee Zeng

After stars die, they live long lives as stellar remnants: black holes, neutron stars, and white dwarfs. Our knowledge of these “compact objects” is limited, especially for those in binary systems with other stars. Diving into the studies of distant stars in the cosmos is essential to helping us understand how stars live and die in our own galaxy and catching a glimpse of the future our home is headed. My research aims to specifically focus on the characterization of an unusual ellipsoidal variable (ELL) binary star system: ASASSN-V J175037.30-213015.4 […]

Mingyu Yu

Shock waves occur when there is a sudden change in the flow velocity, pressure, or density in a compressible medium (such as a gas). Mathematically, shock waves are types of singularity formed in the solutions to nonlinear PDEs, where the spatial gradient of the solution becomes infinite in finite time. Although significant progress has been made in developing numerical schemes for capturing shock waves in conservation laws, recent mathematical advances can help formulate novel numerical schemes. This project aims to create a robust numerical scheme to understand the formation of […]

Santai Yang

Is magnetic switching in in-plane van der Waals magnetic thin films more energy-efficient than conventional magnetic materials with perpendicular magnetic anisotropy?  Despite that it is easy to read magnetic signals from magnetic materials with perpendicular anisotropy, writing information into the perpendicular magnetic films takes much energy due to the inefficient ways of generating magnetic fields or large current density to switch the magnetic domains. Moreover, the reading of in-plane magnetization switching of a single material has been challenging via electric methods.  Here I propose to investigate the current-induced magnetization switching […]

Mira McQuown

The project goal is to use microscopic approaches to statistically evaluate patterns in lithic resource utilization and obsidian sourcing using X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) on samples from two archaeological sites in the Santa Cruz Mountains. XRF studies have led to knowledge about how Native people had wide-spread networks of trade, since obsidian can be sourced to specific locations across the state. Examining lithic (stone tool) samples provide markers for social interactions and exchange, showing the patterns of source use before and during European contact. If Native people living in the mountains […]

Joshua Wong

The focus of my project is to study the connection between mating status (mated versus virgin) and bitter taste processing. It has been shown that there are taste processing modulations post-mating for females to uptake more protein, salt, and sugar for egg production. My project’s specific question is if bitter taste is also modulated when given a bitter/sweet mixture. I also want to look into the effects and functions of this behavioral change: one hypothesis we have is that flies use this taste mechanism for detecting the environment when wanting […]