There is a wealth of literature documenting the asymmetric role of the two cerebral hemispheres in different aspects of cognition. Although this has been most exhaustively studied with respect to language and spatial cognition, robust laterality effects are also present in emotion. Experiments performed on right-handed subjects associate the left hemisphere with approach-based behavior and positive emotional states and the right hemisphere with withdrawal and negative emotions. Right-handers, along similar lines, are quicker to respond to stimuli of positive valence when they are presented on the right side of space and to negative stimuli when on the left. Left-handers, however, show the opposite pattern. Geoff will compare the neurophysiology of affective processing in right- and left-handers in order to determine whether or not this behavioral result is neurologically substantiated.
In remote Kosovo camps and villages, Roma are isolated from government-run medicine, relying on their own traditions for common sickness. Conversations with Kosovo Roma and field experts indicate some Roma are practicing traditional medicine undocumented in scientific literature. Sina will travel to Kosovo, distributing questionnaires and engaging in interviews with Roma folk to understand which plants are used in healing, and how they are used. There is little academic literature on Roma – mostly on history and music – and less in scientific journals. Sina’s hope is that this project will bring to the surface centuries of old medical modality and will also widen the scope of research done on Roma, in part by creating links of trust between Roma and science. With permission, a paper will be submitted for publication.
Sonia Fleury’s project will primarily address notions of history and its construction in art and contemporary cultural media–newspapers, magazines, and political/popular prints–during the 1848 revolution in France. Receiving special attention will be the artwork of the 19th century realist painter Gustave Courbet, whose Burial at Ornans challenged traditional notions of history painting in its depiction of provincial bourgeois at a funeral. Does Courbet’s assertion that history painting is by its very nature contemporary parallel broader shifts in conceptions of history during this radical revolutionary moment, whereby history was seen as residing in the present? Sonia will travel to France to visit archives in Paris; to the Muse de lImage in Epinal; and to Montpellier, where the largest retrospective exhibit of Courbet’s work in thirty years is currently displayed.
A renewable energy source is becoming a necessity as fossil fuel reserves dwindle. Using microbial fermentation processes, it is possible to harvest plant biomass and convert it into second-generation fuels. Current industrial focus has been placed on ethanol production. However, this compound is not ideally suited for a liquid fuel replacement. A biochemical pathway has been expressed in Escherichia coli that produces 1-butanol, a much more suitable fuel source in terms of both transportation ease and energy density. Experiments have shown that the pathway is active, but there is a bottleneck in the last enzymatic step. Kyle’s project centers on elucidating the molecular aspects of this bottleneck in biochemical detail and resolving it to increase 1-butanol production.
While Orientalism in French art has been extensively studied, its relevance to British art has received less attention. Jaimee seeks to fill this void by analyzing British paintings of Egypt during the colonial age. Her study involves face-to-face visits to the actual Cairene monuments and to their illustrated counterparts in English institutions. It will investigate the inclusion of Arabic script and details of Islamic art within select paintings as to determine cultural sensitivity or ignorance given the political climate. She anticipates that as time and cultural contacts progress, the art signals a shift in social relations that hybridizes East and West, with increased attention to understanding the Other. The result will combine Orientalism, Islamic art and architecture, and the Arabic language by evaluating their confluence within British Orientalist paintings.
In order for synthetic biology to overcome the limitations of using only naturally-derived biological activities, tools for developing and identifying engineered genetic components with desired biochemical, enzymatic, or regulatory properties are greatly needed. Samantha is building a genetic threshold-gated memory selection circuit incorporating positive/negative selections and an irreversible Cre recombinase excision circuit in the E.coli genome. With this device, bacteria will exist in one of two mutually exclusive antibiotic-resistant states depending on whether or not they exhibit a desired activity, and Cre recombinase expression will serve as the switch between the positive and negative states. Linking desired activities to Cre expression will allow for efficient selection of new promoters and proteins, making this genetic selection device a valuable foundational technology with a wide variety of applications in genetic engineering.
The field of quantum mechanics has produced many technological breakthroughs including the MRI scanner and Scanning Tunneling Microscope. However, probing the dynamics of particles such as electrons, which are best described by quantum mechanics, on a reasonable time scale has been a long term challenge. James Lee’s project aims to manipulate and measure the spin of electrons on a microsecond timescale. This will be accomplished through the Single Bohr Magneton Detector (SBD) project, under development in the Quantum Nano Lab at UC Berkeley. The SBD is a superconducting device that aims to efficiently couple to the magnetic field from a single spin. The ability to quickly measure small numbers of spins will enhance physicists understanding of quantum systems, and perhaps be a foundation for the building of novel quantum systems.
Although protein translocations across cellular membranes are vitally significant, the biophysical mechanisms underlying such processes remain obscure. Nevertheless, methods exist for studying translocation processes. In particular, anthrax toxins movement across cellular membranes provides a model for studying general translocation mechanisms. Allen’s specific interest lies in elucidating the steric effects that particularly bulky, hydrophobic amino acid side-chains have on anthrax toxins translocation. By investigating translocation rates of anthrax toxin, Allen hopes to provide a deeper understanding of the toxins mechanism for cell entry. In addition, this study may provide implications for our overall understanding of the mechanisms that hinder protein translocation across membranes, perhaps leading to insight into the synthesis of effective counter-toxin drugs.
Throughout the Sierra Leone conflict, many girls and young women are abducted and sexually abused. The result of the abuse and suffering is often pregnancy. Especially after the end of civil war in 2002, young mothers who return to their communities confront social stigmatization. This has had marginalizing effects for both mothers and their children. Eva Holt-Rusmore’s research will address the effects of community stigmatization on the children of young mothers. Ethnographic observation of these children’s lives through participation in a Freetown school, as well as informal interviews with individuals and their mothers will provide insight into the construction of post-conflict community and peace reconciliation. Additionally, various development workers and field experts will be consulted in order to bridge information gaps between policy, academia and the reality of childhood in Sierra Leone.
Muscle stem cells, or satellite cells, are located in muscle fibers and are responsible for muscle repair in mammals throughout adult life. As individuals age, the capability of satellite cells to repair muscle dramatically declines. The loss of such capabilities can be related to the host environment, in that extracellular niches provided by old hosts hamper their ability to regenerate muscle, regardless of the origin of the cells themselves. Say Tar hypothesizes that this can, at least in part, be linked to their reduced ability to repair DNA in an unfavorable extracellular environment generated by the host. He will try to draw this potential link by characterizing DNA damage repair ability in muscle stem cells, subjecting them to various culture environments, derived from differently aged animals and different stress conditions