Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

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 […]

Hank Wang

Understanding the neurobiology of cue-driven behaviors is important given that they play a critical role in substance abuse and binge eating disorders, particularly with cues such as drug paraphernalia and palatable food. Previous research suggests that these environmental cues and outcomes of these actions are represented in cortical brain structures. Additionally, ventral tegmental area dopamine neurons are involved in assigning values to these cues, which also works in coordination with the prefrontal cortex, ventral hippocampus, and amygdala. The nucleus accumbens (NAc) is connected to all the aforementioned regions, utilizing its […]

Abby Wang

Microbiome editing is an emerging technology that has the potential to help us understand bacterial dynamics and interactions within diverse communities that were not previously accessible. This has many diverse scientific  and technological applications that include therapeutic and environmental interventions. However, editing the genome of targeted species within these communities is still nascent and limited. The Rubin Lab has developed DNA-editing all-in-one RNA-guided CRISPR–Cas transposase (DART) plasmid editing systems encoding CRISPR-associated transposons (CASTs) that are optimized for microbiome editing. DART currently does not work in all organisms and has limited […]

Bradley Vu

As we age, we are more at risk for permanent injuries to the central nervous system due to losing the ability to repair that damage. Most warm-blooded animals experience this issue, losing their remarkable early neural regenerative capabilities with age. This loss is characterized by a distinct decrease in neural stem cells, especially radial glia that play a role in stem cell migration towards injuries. As such, we must explore ways to maintain radial glial cell populations in older mammals. Prior research has demonstrated that novel adrenergic-thyroid hormone interactions involving […]

Daniel Voronel

Pseudomonas syringae Race 1 strain (R1T1) is one of the most prevalent plant pathogens and is known to cause severe loss in worldwide crop yield. In order to cause infection, P. syringae utilizes the type III secretion system to inject particles known as “effectors” into the host cell cytoplasm. The effectors work to suppress the immunity of the host cell and cause disease. For modern cultivars of tomatoes, resistance to P. syringae has been hard to come by. Many modern cultivars have been subject to genetic alteration and it’s possible […]

Michael Verdolin

The four dengue virus serotypes (DENV1–4) are the most prevalent arboviruses in humans and a major public health concern worldwide, responsible for over 100 million infections yearly, of whom 51 million will develop symptoms ranging from self-limiting dengue fever to fatal dengue shock syndrome. Infection generates antibodies (Abs) that can cross-react with another serotype, increasing the risk of subsequent symptomatic or severe DENV infection. Previous studies aiming at determining the Ab repertoire against DENV implicate the envelope protein’s fusion loop (FL) as an immunodominant epitope Anti-FL Abs are broadly cross-reactive […]

Jessica Vance

The ribosome decodes mRNA into a sequence of amino acids which form all of life’s proteins. However these protein’s structures are limited by the properties of the set 20 amino acids. My project, as a part of the Center for Genetically Encoded Materials, aims to engineer the highly conserved ribosome to incorporate amino acids with different chemical scaffolding than the canonical set. My project is based on data from the modeling of a Cryogenic Electron Microscopy ribosome which suggests deleting a nucleotide (U2585) in the catalytic center of the ribosome, […]

Aasha Turner

Regulation of protein homeostasis is essential to many cellular and organellar functions. Endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-associated protein degradation (ERAD) is a group of protein quality control mechanisms highly conserved among eukaryotes. Doa10 is an integral ER membrane E3 ubiquitin ligase responsible for ubiquitination and degradation of misfolded and mistargeted proteins in the cell. While the function of Doa10 is well documented, its exact substrate binding mechanism is unknown. From my project, I aim to answer the following question: which amino acid residues on Doa10 are essential for substrate binding and subsequent […]

Connor Tseng

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in older adults worldwide. The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), a layer of the retina, is the primary site of injury in AMD. Photoreceptor outer segments are constantly being renewed, so the RPE degrades the older outer segment tips in order to maintain photoreceptor health and vision. Lipofuscin bisretinoids (undigested vitamin A metabolites) disrupt autophagy in the RPE, contributing to macular degeneration pathogenesis. Interestingly, outer segment degradation is unaffected in AMD, suggesting that the outer segment clearance is regulated by a […]

Ryan Tran

Just over a decade ago, research in a revolutionary genetic engineering tool known as CRISPR-Cas (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) was pioneered here at UC Berkeley by the Doudna Lab. While the use of CRISPR in disease treatments has been well documented, much of the biology behind the diverse functions of CRISPR in their original hosts, bacteria and archaea, remain unknown. CRISPR-Cas (CRISPR-associated) systems are a type of bacterial immune system that can recognize and inactivate foreign genetic invaders. One fundamental question is how these CRISPR systems remember foreign […]