Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Kevin Yao

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is one of the most common diseases among American adults. As one of the essential organs to maintain life, deprived renal functions lead to disruptions of homeostasis and fatal failures of the body. The prevalence of CKD is associated closely with the lack of renal regeneration capacity in the adult human body. However, recent study has shown that this inability of regeneration is not innate but an acquired process in mammals like humans. Many newborn mammals are reported to have full renal regeneration capacity while such […]

Urmila Vudali

With over 39 million people living with HIV, it is one of the world’s foremost health challenges. While Antiretroviral Therapy has reduced HIV-related mortalities by suppressing viral replication, it fails to eradicate the virus, leaving a latent viral reservoir. Thus, identifying a marker of latently infected cells is the focus of many researchers. CD30, a transmembrane protein, is primarily found in tumor cells, such as Hodgkin and other lymphomas. It is found on a small percentage of healthy lymphocytes. However, the Henrich Lab has found enhanced CD30 in HIV infected […]

Mingxuan (Grayce) Yang

Autophagy is a crucial cellular mechanism that maintains homeostasis by forming an organelle known as an autophagosome. This double-membraned structure, originating from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), encapsulates and degrades cellular components, facilitating cellular survival under stress conditions such as organelle dysfunction and protein aggregation. Impairments in this process are associated with neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.This project aims to explore the role of the ATG13/101 subcomplex in initiating autophagy, with a particular focus on its membrane-binding function, which is critical for autophagosome formation.Through detailed analysis, we seek to understand […]

Shuangyue Li

Embedded within the intricate tapestry of cardiovascular diseases lies the cornerstone of vascular health. Arteries are vital conduits responsible for delivering oxygenated blood away from the heart and to the body. It is known that Notch signaling is crucial for the mature development of vascular identity and network, and previous research on loss-of-function Notch receptors demonstrates impaired artery growth and remodeling. Previous research at the Wang lab has shown that pan-endothelial constitutive expression of Notch4 causes enlarged arteries, but it cannot exclude the role of hemodynamic perturbations. My summer project […]

Erin Li

Acetaldehyde is a highly reactive carbonyl species (RCS) found in the human body as a result of partial alcohol metabolism (1). Increased acetaldehyde levels are often associated with pathologies such as alcoholic liver disease and Alzheimers (2). Despite its toxicity, tools for monitoring acetaldehyde in live specimen are underdeveloped, and current methods rely on the processing and destruction of the intact specimen. My project aims to develop a dye-based probe that utilizes chemical reactivity with acetaldehyde to convert a homoallylamine-functionalized dye platform into its aldehyde conjugate, resulting in a shift […]

Yijia Wu

My project aims to investigate neural circuits in the mammalian midbrain brain that involve the crucial neurotransmitters dopamine (DA) and acetylcholine (ACh). These systems are renowned for facilitating learning and motivation and are implicated in various psychiatric disorders including addiction. The role of DA in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) in encoding reward value has long been a focus of research. The role of ACh is less well defined, though previous studies note pauses in ACh signaling during DA release. Recently, studies have indicated NAc subregional variability of DA and ACh […]

Tony Kim

Fatty liver disease is a global burden for public health, and is commonly associated with obesity and type-2 diabetes. Fatty liver mainly results from an impaired lipid metabolism in livers, showing reduced fatty acid oxidation and ketogenesis. However, the exact mechanism behind this phenomenon is not well understood. Our body begins producing ketone bodies by breaking down fatty acids during extended fasting, which are used as a substitute for glucose. However, one problem with studying ketogenesis is that ketogenesis is not well observed in hepatocytes isolated from an organism. A […]

Kevin Li

Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2) is a key epigenetic regulator complex that acts as a gene silencer to maintain cell identity, depositing the repressive histone H3 K27 trimethylation mark at target genes. Faulty PRC2 regulation is involved in developmental disorders and cancer development, but mechanisms that direct PRC2 activity to target genes are poorly understood. Recent structural findings show PRC2 binding through its catalytic lobe, but do not provide a mechanism to explain how PRC2 localizes to target sites in vitro without its catalytic lobe. To address this knowledge gap, […]

Viktoriya Georgieva

With the current state of escalating climate emergency, generation of plants with improved ability to sequester carbon is of high priority. The Rieske subunit of the cytochrome b6f complex is a known rate-limiting step in photosynthesis. This protein, encoded for by the PetC gene, is found to increase photosynthetic efficiency upon overexpression in plants, demonstrating potential for increased carbon sequestration. However, due to current restrictions on GMOs, overexpression needs to be achieved nontransgenically to create a practical impact. Given that this has yet to be attempted, this project aims to […]

Nishita Belur

In patients with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), repeated activation of dopaminergic neurons facilitates associative learning, as patients associate reward-predictive contexts with reward delivery, in this case, drug administration. AUD is difficult to treat because of the possibility of relapse, which can be modeled as reacquisition of a previously extinguished behavior in a reward learning context. Our focus is the “savings effect”, in which some “original memory” is “saved”, making reacquisition much faster than initial acquisition. The dominant model of reward learning, the Temporal Difference Reinforcement Learning model, relies on prospective […]