Selena Valdez

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has been an engine of social mobility by negotiating high-paying jobs for its workers. But what happens when that social mobility is reserved for men? Nationally, of the 1.7 million full-time longshore workers, only 15.2% are women. Selena’s intention with studying the question, “What are the barriers women face in achieving upward mobility as longshore workers, and how can the ILWU better protect women?”, is to help labor organizers understand the underlying barriers and create solutions to improve women representation and upward mobility at the waterfront. Selena will make a documentary film to  present the (anonymous) interviews by women workers, survey findings, analysis on this labor market, and the history of women on the waterfront.

Sera Smith

Ntozake Shange’s 1976 choreopoem for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf is a work that many Black feminists continue to celebrate today. When Nzinga Stewart, a Black woman filmmaker, attempted to produce her 2006 adaptation of the play, she was directed to Tyler Perry, who rewrote the script and produced his 2010 film For Colored Girls.  Sera is studying Stewart’s unproduced adaptation to recognize Stewart’s intellectual contributions to Black feminism. She uses rhetorical analysis to study representations of healing in Stewart’s screenplay. The project involves examinations of materials at Shange’s archive, interviews with Stewart, and secondary sources about each work, healing and Black feminism. The findings of this research will culminate into Sera’s senior thesis in African American Studies.

Simran Kaur

The ongoing farmer demonstrations in India that erupted in late 2020 in protest of agriculture reforms passed by the Modi administration have become some of the largest seen in modern history. However, agrarian unrest in the Punjab region has been a persistent issue since the partition of India, with external pressures such as debt, water shortage, and expensive inputs forcing its farmers to consider suicide as the only option. Simran will be conducting a meta-analysis of economic research in Punjab to determine policy factors that have contributed to the ongoing protests. Alongside this, she will be gathering qualitative data in the form of informant interviews with Punjabi farmers to explore the motivations behind these protests. The culmination of this research will be in the form of a senior thesis in Public Health.

Yanying(Tiffany) Chen

Obesity constitutes one of the greatest public health challenges, having a high prevalence and increasing the risk of serious complications. Obesity is essentially caused by an imbalance of energy intake and expenditure, which is under the tight regulation of the nervous system. The goal of this project is to investigate the genetic causes of abnormal food intake and eating regulation, by studying the different mechanosensory and chemosensory receptors present in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster’s digestive system. Tiffany will perform immunofluorescent staining and imaging using confocal fluorescence microscopy to identify the specific neurons that are involved in gut-brain communication. Following identification, Tiffany will analyze the spatial distribution of neural innervation and characterize the physiological and behavioral functions of specific neurons. The outcomes will further the understanding of neuron function and feeding regulation mechanisms.

Christian Paul Nixon

Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) establishes lifelong infections and can cause various cancers in immunosuppressed individuals. KSHV lies dormant in infected individuals’ cells and reactivates intermittently to cause disease and promote transmission. Current scientific literature lacks an understanding of the KSHV gene open reading frame 69 (ORF69). In this project, Christian will employ a two-step mutagenesis technique in E. coli to generate ORF69 knockout and revertant mutants in a KSHV bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC). After transfecting a Kaposi’s sarcoma cell line with the BAC vectors, inducing lytic reactivation, and infecting 293T cells with supernatant from the induced cells, Christian will be able to determine if ORF69 is essential in the KSHV life cycle. The results have the potential to inform the development of novel drugs and immunotherapies for KSHV transmission and pathogenesis.

Jonah Lounds

This summer, Jonah will be exploring the available digital archives of the Russian National Library, US Library of Congress, Princeton’s Cotsen Children’s Library, and the Gosfilmofond in Moscow, in order to compile and analyze a vast collection of Soviet children’s books, films, and animations produced in the 1960s and ‘70s which display the trope of the personified and humanized animal. Lounds’ research is intended to illuminate any new cultural meanings produced by the common use of a trope that is so irreconcilable with traditional Marxist assertions of human exceptionalism and supremacy over the natural world. Such findings should offer an alternative to the common assumption that, with the waning political relevance of Marxism-Leninism in the USSR’s twilight years, the Soviet Union had become completely devoid of vision and thought.

Hector Lopez-Orozco

Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infects 60-90% of humans globally, and while infections are largely asymptomatic, they can be severe or fatal in immunocompromised persons. No vaccines exist to prevent HCMV infection due to an incomplete understanding of the viral mechanisms used to evade host immunity and establish lifelong persistence. Complement is a system of proteins present in blood that serves as an initial line of defense against microorganisms; however, little is known about the role of complement in protection against HCMV. For this project, Hector will investigate the role of MASP1 (a complement activating protein) in HCMV immunity using a yeast-two-hybrid approach to screen for protein-protein interactions against an HCMV gene library. Identification of novel HCMV-complement interactions has the potential to inform the development of vaccines and novel drugs.

Seung Won Lee

Seung Won will be studying the mechanism of acute myocardial dysfunction caused by a bacterial superantigen: staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB) using a rabbit model in an experimental ICU setting. While SEB is known to cause toxic shock syndrome, whether it causes a systemic inflammatory response or causes direct heart damage is unknown. Furthermore, SEB has been found to have a similar structure to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, suggesting similar superantigenic activity. Findings will hopefully provide new insights into therapeutics for SEB and SARS-CoV-2 induced myocardial dysfunction.

Jae Manion

Jae’s project will study how the shift to home and Zoom learning affected educational accessibility for UC Berkeley students with disabilities. She seeks to pinpoint some ways that the intersectionality of womanhood and disability has made this shift different for female-identifying students with disabilities. Jae will also focus on the differing experiences of students with disabilities of the body and those with disabilities of the mind. Jae will  conduct two quality of life surveys and a round of interviews that seek to allow students with disabilities to use their own voices and tell their own stories, and in so doing  give light to the unique and unexpected ways this shift has made educational access better or worse for them. Her goal is to create scholarship that can help create more equitable educational systems.

Eunice Elizabeth Paredes Zamudio

The Popol Vuh is a historical narrative recounting the traditional mythology and origin of the Mayan Kʼicheʼ people. Eunice’s thesis explores how this foundational book and its oral traditions contribute to maintaining the beliefs and culture of Mayan immigrant communities in the United States, specifically in East Oakland. Her work centers on oral interviews of immigrants from northern Guatemala, southern Mexico and parts of Belize, and will investigate how the tenets of the Popol Vuh resonate in these communities. This research helps us understand and interpret how Mayan families perceive and preserve their traditional customs and provides us a new way to understand and interpret the legacy of foundational narratives, such as the Popul Vuh, in the present day.