Decolonizing the Bancroft Library

Mark Johnson : Anthropology

Mentor: Jun Sunseri, Anthropology

Throughout the 1900s Berkeley Anthropologists documented the ethnographic information of many Native Californian tribes for fear that their lifeways and languages were soon to become extinct in the wake of the burgeoning United States. The Bancroft Library is now steward of these ethnographic collections. While the public institution is responsible to make the collections available to all without bias, one Native Californian community has protested that open access to these collections leaves their community vulnerable to multiple dangers such as misrepresentation in academic articles and potential looting of the sacred sites described therein. Mark’s research seeks to discover how public access to these ethnographic collections impacts the descendant communities and asks who has the right to access the ethnographic information of these Native Californian tribes? 

Mental for Mental Health Jails: A Critical Geography and Political Economy of Mental Health Jail Construction in California

Susan Kim : Geography, Global Poverty and Practice minor

Mentor: Victoria Robinson, Ethnic Studies and American Cultures

As the historic prison boom of the past thirty years comes to a halt in California, a nascent jailr boom has snuck onto the scene. Forty out of fifty-eight counties in California are in various stages of building or renovating jails, the most pronounced characteristic among these new jail projects being their emphasis on mental health treatment.  Susan will conduct secondary and archival research, interviews with various stakeholders, and observation of political events concerning jail expansion and mental health to investigate the political, economic, and social forces facilitating the newest expression of carceral expansion in California— the mental health jail. Her investigation comes during a unique window of opportunity to shift mental health and criminal justice policy due to declining incarceration and increased public enthusiasm for community-based alternatives to incarceration.   

Investigating Autism Spectrum Disorder Etiology Using CRISPR/Cas9 Genome Editing in Xenopus Tropicalis

Albert Kim : Microbial Biology

Mentor: Richard Harland, Molecular & Cell Biology

It is not yet known what causes autism spectrum disorder (ASD) on a molecular level, but recently, 65 ASD risk genes have been identified by a lab at UCSF. Albert is focusing on one of these genes, called Neurexin 1. He will be using CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing to knock out Nrxn1 in Xenopus tropicalis frogs and observing the phenotypic effects, such as increases and reductions in cell proliferation and differentiation as well as changes in regulation of other neural genes. Albert’s goal is to illuminate the roles of this gene in healthy neurodevelopment to gain insight into how a mutation can lead to ASD. This research project will develop the groundwork for investigating other autism genes, taking us closer to defining the molecular biological etiology of ASD. 

High Inequality, Low Creativity? Examining the Effects of Income Inequality on Regulatory Focus

Heather Kornblum : Psychology

Mentor: Serena Chen, Psychology

Income inequality is associated with deleterious economic, social, and health outcomes. These negative effects disproportionately affect the poor, but surface across all strata of society. Regulatory focus – being promotion or prevention focused – is the psychological mechanism that may account for these effects. Promotion focus involves living life through a lens of what one stands to gain, while prevention focus entails living life through a lens of what one stands to lose. Heather will examine income inequality’s effect on regulatory focus, shedding light on one psychological mechanism underlying the negative effects of inequality. Heather will conduct two studies; first examining the correlation between income inequality and regulatory focus on the macro level, and then, using an experimental design, examining the effect of income inequality on regulatory focus on the micro level.

The Permissibility of Using Coercion in Pediatric Healthcare

Diana Lutfi : Interdisciplinary Studies

Diana Lutfi Scholar in Action photo
Mentor: Jodi Halpern, Joint Medical Program, Public Health

Why is causing “harm” ethically justifiable? Diana has always been perplexed that a rational individual would compromise his/her bodily comfort in order to prolong life and create a culture where other people are forced to do the same for the sake of “health”. Although patient autonomy is legally protected in western healthcare institutions, individuals that are considered “minors” are not afforded these same autonomy rights. They are, instead, given rights of protection of best interest. This, however, can often create a dilemma when healthcare providers and legal guardians disagree about what constitutes the minor’s best interest. In her research, Diana will use qualitative analysis to examine this dilemma from the social, legal, and ethical standpoints of vaccine and chemotherapy refusals. 

#BlackGirlsMatterToo: Understanding and Disrupting the School to Prison Pipeline Among Black Girls

Shelby Mack : Legal Studies, Education minor

Mentor: Nikki Jones, African American Studies

Black girls are disproportionately impacted by school discipline policies and practices that render them vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and dehumanization. It has been shown in multiple studies that Black girls who are suspended or expelled are more likely to become incarcerated later. Shelby Mack’s research seeks to identify factors such as school discipline, criminalization and gender violence in order to understand how enrichment programs can disrupt the school to prison pipeline epidemic among Black girls in Oakland, CA. Her research will employ in-depth interviewing, purposive sampling and non-participant observation of Black girls who are a part of the African American Girls and Young Women Achievement Program (AAGYWA), and Black girls who are not a part of the program at West Oakland Middle School.

Projecting the Self: An Exploration of the Stakes of Metafiction in Ben Lerner’s 10:04 Within Realist Contemporary Literature

Sergio Mendez : English, Creative Writing minor

Mentor: Lyn Hejinian, English

Metafiction, or fiction that is aware of its own artificiality, is often dismissed as gimmicky postmodern narrative pyrotechnics—a narratological gamble for any writer wishing to be taken seriously. Ben Lerner’s latest acclaimed novel, 10:04, asks its readers to reconsider the value of metafiction as it follows a protagonist named Ben who tries to expand a successful short story into a novel. Sergio will be using literary theory and critical analysis in order to uncover what Lerner’s use of metafiction says about contemporary literature, but also how this style of narrative creates an emotional connection with readers. Sergio will also be writing his first novel: a metafictional account of Sergio, a Cal undergraduate who faces the difficulties and anxieties of being a “DACAmented” student during a xenophobic presidential administration.

Understanding Land and Value: the Cost and Benefits of the Oxford Tract in an Ecological Economics Framework

Allegra Saggese : Environmental Economics and Policy and Rhetoric

Mentor: Alastair Iles, Environmental Science, Policy & Management

Land serves as the primary source of energy in the world. UC Berkeley’s Oxford Tract is currently under consideration for development from a student garden and research facility to a student housing project. Allegra will create and subsequently critique a cost-benefit analysis of the proposed project versus its current use, bringing forward underlying assumptions which justify costs and benefits that both connect and avoid the relationships land use has to greater ecological systems and constraints. Comparing traditional techniques for economic and financial modeling deployed in land development with ecologically nested models of the economy, Allegra will drive towards defining value and its determination in the case of land use. She hopes to identify tensions between current economic methodology and ecological conceptions of value. 

Perceived Fairness of Death-Eligible Court Rulings in Triadic Racial Conditions

Brandon Shalchi : Interdisciplinary Studies

Mentor: Coye Cheshire, School of Information

Empirically, when there is a black defendant and white victim, U.S. judges and jurors believe the defendant to be guiltier than he/she actually is. Brandon is exploring how we can manipulate the race of the defendant and victim in death-eligible cases to hinder the onset of racially charged, implicit biases within court rulings. The methodologies used are online surveys via Amazon Mechanical Turk and semi-structured interviews. This is a first step in a larger virtual reality research agenda: how virtual reality could manipulate avatars—in terms of race—of the defendant and victim to counteract racially implicit biases. This research could contribute to more just rulings by identifying which racial manipulation is perceived to be the fairest. 

Motor Control in a Changing Environment

Alissa Stover : Psychology

Mentor: Richard Ivry, Psychology

Elucidating how organisms are able to flexibly move about in dynamically changing environments is a fundamental problem in psychology and neuroscience. Imagine a ballerina practicing in front of warped mirrors: her brain must continually recalibrate the motor commands sent to move the body based on sensory feedback. In this context, there is a mismatch between the distorted visual feedback from the mirror and her internal sense of body position (proprioception). Alissa will conduct a series of experiments that examine how sensorimotor recalibration occurs when there is a mismatch between proprioception and vision. This information should contribute to our understanding of how the brain controls movement, allowing us to produce skilled actions, as well as provide insights that can be used for the rehabilitation of movement disorders. 

Role of Motor Inhibition in Forced Reaction Time Tasks

Jeremy Teman : Applied Mathematics

Mentor: Richard Ivry, Psychology

Activities like driving demand the ability to respond quickly and accurately to changes in one’s environment. A fundamental scientific question concerns what neural processes determine response time (RT). A widely held assumption is that RT represents the aggregate time required to generate an accurate movement. However, recent research suggests that humans can be forced to accurately produce movements more rapidly than their fastest voluntary RTs. Inhibition of the motor system is known to be involved in motor planning processes during the performance of voluntary RT tasks, which raises the question: is motor inhibition absent during non-voluntary RT tasks? Jeremy aims to answer this question using non-invasive brain stimulation while participants perform RT tasks to record brain activity related to the presence, or absence, of motor inhibition.

Ancient Graffiti and Emulation of Moche Religious Wall Paintings

Gabriella Wellons : History of Art

Mentor: Lisa Trever, History of Art

In the Moche culture of ancient Peru (ca. 250–850 CE), graffiti markings have been discovered on the mural walls of the Huaca de la Luna archaeological site, a former Moche religious center in the Moche Valley of Peru. On spontaneous occasions of ancient graffiti, incised figural forms often emulate pre-existing imageries on painted murals and sculpted reliefs. Gabriella is using reconstructive software for rendering high fidelity photographs of individual graffito into 3D photogrammetric models. This procedure is advantageous for graffiti incisions, which are difficult to visualize in their standard 2D representations. This research project extends beyond canonical studies of Moche visual culture in acknowledging the agency of the graffiti-makers, as well as the constraints under which these individuals created pictographic images.

Beyond the Weird: A Cultural Analysis of the album Sailing the Seas of Cheese by Primus

Matthew Willett : American studies

Mentor: Scott Saul, English

American popular music went through a bohemian renaissance in the early 1990s. Major record labels were signing musicians who played unconventional music, and there was an American audience hungry for these new sounds. Matt will be analyzing the 1991 album Sailing the Seas of Cheese by the Bay Area band Primus in order to understand how the Bay Area art and counterculture communities influenced this acceptance of the “weird” during this time period. This album was a unique and innovative piece of art that merged groove and in your face satire. It had a genre and lyrical weirdness that represented a uniquely regional sensibility. Matt’s work intends to fill out a history of Bay Area bohemian culture, providing an evolution of these movements that continued beyond the stereotypical 1960s. 

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