Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Abby Wang

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Microbiome editing is an emerging field that enables the genetic modification of bacteria within complex microbial communities and is a promising approach to tackle many scientific and technological questions in microbiology. The Rubin Lab developed a plasmid-based gene-editing tool (DART), encoding CRISPR-associated transposons (CASTs) capable of making species- and site-specific edits in a bacterial community. While DART can efficiently make targeted edits in model bacteria, the editing efficiency remains low across phylogenetically diverse bacteria, thus limiting the range of targets for community editing. Our current research used a genome-wide mutant […]

Meisen Wang

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The physiological blind spot is a region in the visual field that corresponds to the location of the optic nerve of an eye. The optic nerve is a bundle of nerve fibers that connect the eye and the brain. Because there are no photoreceptors (light sensors) in the optic nerve, this region is “blind” in that the brain receives no visual input from this location. However, as we do not see a black spot in the periphery of our vision even with only one eye, the lack of informational input […]

Jillian Wilson

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Multipotent neural crest cells have the capability to differentiate into derivatives. By studying the gene regulatory networks that precisely control their development, we can discover how these networks are utilized in repair mechanisms and how they malfunction in relation to disease. Using the chicken embryo as a model organism, I will focus on cells that migrate into the heart and study the role of transcription factor Egr1 in their development. Egr1 is a BMP-responsive gene, but how is it regulated in the neural crest? I will look at the gene […]

Jonanne Talebloo

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In today’s digital age, there is increasing worry about how children and adolescents are affected by their screen habits. Excessive screen time among them has been tied to various health issues like mental health concerns, physical ailments, obesity, sedentary lifestyles, and sleep disturbances. As parents play key roles during childhood and adolescence, parenting approaches, and home atmospheres have been recognized as influencers that may contribute to children’s screen use patterns. In general, more attentive parental supervision has been linked to reduced total screen usage among children and adolescents. Our purpose […]

Roma Nagle

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Structure determines function. This ground truth drives the exponential progress being made in biology. By understanding a molecule’s structure, scientists can harness its function for drug discovery, genetics, or even studying evolution. However, determining a molecule’s structure in the lab is not easy. Even with advancements such as cryoEM, there has been a significant push to computationally predict structures instead. This motivation is at the heart of my research in the Cate Lab. Can we use machine learning to predict the 3D structure of an RNA molecule from just its […]

Vivian Nguyen

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Over the past decade, CRISPR-Cas9 has emerged as an unparalleled tool for single-gene disease therapy. Yet, the vast majority of the genome is currently untargetable by Cas9 due to its strict requirement for a specific protospacer adjacent motif (PAM). While there have been attempts to engineer Cas9 with broader PAM recognition, these variants exhibit significantly lower on-target specificity and higher off-target activity compared to wild type Streptococcus pyogenes Cas9. To expand Cas9’s targetable genomic space without decreased on-target activity and increased off target editing, this research aims to engineer novel […]

Emilie Petit

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Endometriosis is a serious disease that affects 1 in every 10 menstruating individuals, causing painful symptoms that can lead to infertility. Despite this pain, 6 out of every 10 patients remain undiagnosed, as the current method of diagnosis is invasive laparoscopic surgery. This project works to directly address this healthcare disparity. Evidence has supported that endometrial cells have different physical and biological properties from healthy cells. Ongoing research from the Sohn Lab has created methods that can analyze cell properties to differentiate healthy and diseased cells. We intend to employ […]

Annelise Prince

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Cardiovascular disease is behind 1 in 5 deaths in the US due to muscle cells of the heart, cardiomyocytes, lacking regenerative abilities after injury leading to dysfunction. Understanding the composition of human heart tissue means there is a better model to understand the baseline regenerative potential of the human heart to eventually uncover novel therapeutic strategies to promote the regeneration of cardiomyocytes and decrease heart-related deaths. Inspired by a 2016 Nature paper that used thick histological samples of animal heart tissue, I will develop a procedure to estimate the true […]

Rohan Rattan

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The configuration of a plant’s root system is crucial in its inherent ability to access essential nutrients in soil and secure water. Furthermore, tuning root form has long been a goal in plant engineering. Plant synthetic biology now makes it possible to develop tools to reprogram root systems. However, this endeavor faces challenges, including the complexity of designing synthetic genetic programs and the intricate cross-talk between developmental processes. Type-B Response Regulators are a family of transcription factors in the two-component cytokinin signaling system that modulate the expression of genes involved […]

Ryan Read

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Subjective perceptions of risk can profoundly influence decision making. Recent work suggests that people perceptually inflate risks learned through experience compared to those learned through description. However, due the difficulty of neurophysiological recordings in humans the neural mechanisms underlying this description-experience gap (DE gap) remain unclear. To address this issue, Ryan will behaviorally explore whether the DE gap exists in non-human primates (NHPs) using behavioral tasks based on previous studies in humans. If NHPs display the same biases and follow a similar learning model it would indicate fundamental similarity in […]