Natalia’s Senior Honors Thesis in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology evolves out of her passionate commitment to contribute to the restoration of the environment, a matter she believes should be a priority for modern society. She will be investigating the molecular mechanisms of selenite detoxification in the bacterium Bacillus subtilis, focusing on the function of the proteins thioredoxin and thioredoxin reductase in toxic metal biotransformation. The results of her research will lead to improved bioremediation of selenite-contaminated soil and water and, more broadly, to a better understanding of the practical use of bacteria in bioremediation of environments contaminated by toxic metals.
Kaci’s project creatively links a study of contemporary intentional communities with the rich history of nineteenth century utopian experiments in the United States. Kaci plans a road trip this summer that will take her to five very different cooperative living communities in Los Angeles, Texas, Tennessee, West Virginia, Oregon and the Bay Area. In order to dispel the popular notion that the “commune” was born as a concept in the 1960s, Kaci will investigate our national two hundred year history of utopian experiments-both actual and literary-to place her participant-observation studies of young women’s socialization in these modern American utopias in context. Combining academic theory with personal narrative, Kaci’s Women’s Studies Senior Honors Thesis will be deeply grounded in her own personal commitments and experiences as a feminist active in the student cooperative movement.
Combining rigorous academic inquiry with the living practice of theater arts, Laura will be researching commedia dell’arte , a style of masked improvisational comedy that flourished in Italy during the Renaissance. She will devote herself to historical research and practical training this summer and will develop, rehearse and produce a commedia dell’arte production during the academic year, using a cast and crew comprised of Berkeley students. Laura plans to revive this dramatic art form in a historically informed way for the benefit of the entire University community, staging her production, along with a related panel presentation, at the Haas Spring Research Conference. As a further goal, she intends that the cast of the Commedia Workshop will continue to function as a UC Berkeley commedia dell’arte theater troupe after the conclusion of her Haas research project.
Melissa’s interdisciplinary inquiry into the destruction of pre-historic rock art sites in California promises to shed new light on a relatively new but important field of archeological preservation. Through a combination of library research and field work in Mexico and the United States, Melissa will attempt to account for the neglect of these visual images left by ancient hunter-gatherer societies and to argue for the importance of their conservation and preservation. In addition to launching her Anthropology Senior Honors Thesis this summer, Melissa will be acquiring skills in a variety of archeological field methods in preparation for a professional career as an archeological researcher and conservator.
Sean’s project addresses two major questions in biochemistry: what is the nature of antibody catalysis, and what is the nature of transiently formed refolding intermediates. He is investigating whether antibodies that have been shown to catalyze conventional chemical reactions can be made specifically to catalyze a protein folding reaction. His project is based on the hypothesis that antibodies can recognize, bind, and stabilize high-energy intermediates of the refolding process, thus accelerating the rate of refolding.
Mali will investigate how Latino seniors at an inner city high school in Oakland make decisions about applying to prestigious institutions of higher education such as the University of California at Berkeley. Mali’s project has evolved out of previous fieldwork, in which she uncovered unexpected data suggesting a pattern she terms “self-elimination”: Latino students who were qualified to apply to academically stronger institutions, nevertheless elected to apply to community colleges. In this follow-up study, Mali will use qualitative, “new ethnographic” research methods to gain insight into her student informants’ beliefs, behaviors and self-concepts regarding their higher education goals. The resulting Senior Honors Thesis in Anthropology will have important implications for public policy in the State of California.
Kabrina will undertake a field-study of the indigenous people of Taiwan, who were colonized by Han immigrants from mainland China in the late-seventeenth century, focusing specifically on their attitudes toward education. Using surveys and interviews with several targeted youth and adult populations in the city of Taitung, she will attempt to ascertain the factors that have impeded this minority group from using education as a means of improving their socio-economic status. She intends her research to provide information that will aid in the development of a new aboriginal education assistance program in Taiwan, as well as to shed light on the broader question of the factors which inhibit the integration of minority groups into modern mainstream societies.
Alison’s Peace and Conflict Studies Senior Honors Thesis will examine the specific coalition-building efforts that have taken place historically and in the present between Irish and Mexican peoples. Alison will travel this summer both to Mexico and to Northern Ireland in order to meet with Irish nationals who are involved in the struggle for indigenous people’s rights in Chiapas. In addition, she will be researching coalition work in the United States between Irish Americans and Mexican Americans, looking particularly at the San Patricios, an organization that commemorates Saint Patrick’s (San Patricios) Brigade, an Irish-American regiment in the American-Mexican War who deserted the U.S. Army to fight on the side of the Mexicans. Through this specific case of interethnic coalition-building, Alison hopes to uncover a useful paradigm for understanding how people of differing ethnic and racial backgrounds can find common ground through a strong civil society based on non-governmental organizations.
Sora’s project promises to provide an important corrective to the stereotype of the “model minority” by giving voice to a generally silenced segment of the Asian American community. Through oral histories of incarcerated Asian Americans, Sora seeks to create a more complete and heterogeneous picture of the economic, social, political and cultural issues facing Asian Americans today. Sora will supplement her use of oral histories with more traditional research methodologies, in order to investigate thoroughly the situation and position of incarcerated Asian Americans and to improve our understanding of their encounter with the United States criminal justice system.
The goal of Shahram’s Senior Honors Thesis in Molecular and Cell Biology is to obtain a detailed picture of the structure of a novel protein, called Acr A, that has recently been discovered to play an essential role in bacterial resistance to certain antibiotics. Using the technique of protein crystallography, Shahram plans to purify large amounts of Acr A protein from bacteria, crystallize the protein, and then study the chemical structure of this protein. His intention is to identify potential weak points that can be attacked by additional drugs, disabling the process by which the bacteria are able to maintain a high level of resistance to otherwise beneficial antibiotics. By discovering the relationship between the protein’s structure and its biochemical function, Shahram hopes to contribute knowledge that will have important applications in the development of medically useful drugs.