Identifying Hormonal Factors and Response Elements Regulating GPR82 mRNA Expression

Calvin Tyi Hang : Molecular and Cell Biology

Mentor: Professor Gregory Aponte, Nutritional Sciences

The objective of Calvin’s study is to identify the hormonal factors and their regulatory mechanisms on GPR82 expression in the intestine. GPR82 is a recently identified orphan receptor whose ligand has not been found. Although little is now definitively known about this receptor, GPR82 may play important roles in the regulation of the GI tract. Its expression in peripheral tissues is the highest in the GI tract, and its mRNA level changes in response to the nutritional status in both a cell model and live rats. Calvin hypothesizes that GPR82 is transcriptionally regulated by hormonal factors responsive to nutritional status in the body. He will identify hormones that regulate GPR82 transcription, investigate the regulatory sites of target hormones by determining the response element in the promoter of GPR82, and determine the intracellular localization of GPR82. The proposed project will be part of Calvin’s senior honor thesis in Molecular and Cell Biology.(151)

Effects of Environmental Atrazine Contamination on Rana Pipiens Gonadal Development

Patricia Hom : Integrative Biology

Mentor: Professor Tyrone Hayes, Integrative Biology

Atrazine is the most widely used herbicide in the U.S., with over 76 million pounds of the active ingredient applied annually. Recently, atrazine has been shown to cause endocrine disrupting effects in many vertebrates. When treated with atrazine in the lab, male Rana pipiens develop pseudohermaphrotidic testes which produce oocytes instead of sperm. This phenomenon has been characterized in frogs from areas of known atrazine contamination. However, there is no evidence directly linking atrazine to these gonadal abonormalities in the wild. In this area-specific study, I will raise field-collected frogs in atrazine-contaminated water from their natal lay site, as well as clean water obtained from this site on a different occasion. I will thus be able to elucidate the differential effect of environmental atrazine contamination in a controlled setting, bridging the gap between the field and the laboratory. This project will culminate in the writing of my senior honor’s thesis in Integrative Biology. 

Nietzche on Our Passions

Jin S. Lee : Philosophy

Mentor: Professor Emeritus Wallace Matson, Philosophy

Why do we live? What is so profound about life that drives us to live? Western philosophy overwhelmingly suggests the answer to be reason. Like Nietzsche, I rather believe the answer has to do with our passions (i.e. emotions). I wish to substantiate this intuition by critically assessing Nietzsche’s main texts, as well as pertinent secondary texts. Based on these investigations, I propose to write an expanded honors thesis in Philosophy that will examine Nietzsche’s insights on the passions, the role the passions have in his overall philosophy, and the relationship between the passions and other important notions (e.g. will to power). The second phase of my project is geared toward moving beyond Nietzsche to examine other thinkers (e.g., Aristotle, Descartes, Spinoza, Hume, Wollheim, etc.) who have made significant contributions in this subject matter, and juxtaposing their thoughts to Nietzsche’s.

A Spot for Us in Every Home: Deciphering the Creation and Proliferation of Queer Culture in Mass Culture

Gary K. Li : American Studies/English

Mentor: Professor Anne Cheng, English

With an upsurge of homosexuals under the spotlight of popular culture, the inescapable visibility and representation of queerness leads to the crucial question of whether this ubiquity automatically denotes acceptance or even tolerance. Gary’s project, which will result in his Honors Thesis for American Studies, will delve headlong into the issues surrounding the representation of queerness in popular culture. Utilizing a wide array of theoretical texts—including queer theory, popular culture, and advertising theory— as his background, Gary will decipher and examine the sitcom Will and Grace and the reality series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, aiming to demystify mainstream media’s self-aggrandizing creation of “TV’s gay heat wave”: determining how alternative sexualities are in fact represented to the population and comprehending mass media’s new infatuation with hitherto marginalized alternative sexualities.

How (And Should) Government Regulate Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis?

Crystal Liu : Political Science/Molecular Cell Biology

Mentor: Professor Robert Kagan, Political Science

The aim of Crystal's project - the culmination of which will constitute her senior honors thesis in political science - is to discuss whether (and more importantly how) preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) should be regulated. Crystal will be traveling to Washington, DC to address whether the objections behind PGD can be practically dealt with through various types of regulation. By attending meetings for the President's Council on Bioethics and analyzing their most recent report, "Reproduction & Responsibility: The Regulation of New Biotechnologies," Crystal will be assessing the effectiveness of using government advisory committees to address the ethical implications of PGD. Crystal will also be interviewing experts from various backgrounds and disciplines to ask for their thoughts on the interim recommendations presented in the Council's latest report, as well as their thoughts on how to address PGD from a policy-making perspective.

Reward Motivation and Working Memory

Rahul Modi : Psychology

Mentor: Professor Mark D’Esposito, Neuroscience

For his senior honors thesis in Psychology, Rahul will use functional MRI to study how the human frontal lobes integrate information in order to guide motivated behavior. It is well established that the frontal lobes play a critical role in short term (working) memory, a function that enables the online maintenance and mental manipulation of information. This study will build on current knowledge about the human frontal lobes to determine how rewards affect the interaction of the frontal lobes with supporting brain regions, and to draw clear conclusions about the regional specificity of reward processing in the frontal lobes. The results of this study will further our understanding of how rewards influence brain function and the neurological basis of motivation in human memory tasks.

V-Src Regulation of Protein Kinase C-Zeta

David H. Nguyen : Molecular and Cell Biology

Mentor: Professor Steve Martin, Molecular and Cell Biology

Activation of the proto-oncogene c-Src, a tyrosine kinase, is evident in major cancers such as breast and colon. C-Src activates substrates that serve important roles in controlling growth, survival and motility of cells. Activation of c-Src is known to cause transformation, the process by which normal cells become cancerous. David seeks to elucidate how v-Src, a viral constitutively active form of c-Src, regulates Protein Kinase Cz (PKCz), which is a protein involved in control of growth and survival. The Martin lab has shown that v-Src can tyrosine-phosphorylate PKCz and that it increases its nuclear localization and kinase activity. David seeks to (1) find possible PKCz nuclear substrates by co-immunoprecipitation followed by protein sequencing, and (2) look for up-regulation of the transcription factor responsive elements known to be regulated by v-Src using luciferase reporter assays on cells transfected with a nuclear-targeted form of PKCz. This work will culminate in an honors thesis.

A Study of Selective Catalysis in Water

Andrew Pascall : Chemical Engineering

Mentor: Professor Alexander Katz, Chemical Engineering

With costly Superfund cleanups making headlines recently, companies have realized that the most financially prudent solution to dispose of hazardous waste is not to produce it at all. In order to reach this goal, new heterogeneous catalysts will need to be developed that have high selectivity and activity in non-hazardous solvents. Andrew’s project will focus on the Knoevenagel condensation, a reaction important to industries from food additives to textiles. Generally, this reaction is performed in an organic solvent, many of which are carcinogenic. Andrew’s research will focus on the design and production of imprinted silica-based heterogeneous catalysts that will catalyze the reaction in water, the most environmentally benign solvent known. He will attempt to determine the role played by factors such as the degree of hydrophobicity of the local catalytic environment in making a good Knoevenagel catalyst in water. His project will contribute to the growing field of “green chemistry.”

Interferon-Dependent Innate Mechanisms in Mice with Dengue Infection

Daniil Prigozhin : Molecular and Cell Biology/Mathematics

Mentor: Professor Eva Harris, Public Health

Dengue virus (DEN) causes the most widespread life-threatening arboviral disease in humans, with an estimated 2.5 billion people at risk worldwide. Despite the global morbidity and mortality, DEN specific vaccines and therapies currently do not exist, and both protective and pathogenic roles of the immune system in DEN infection need further investigation. The Harris laboratory has recently demonstrated that the interferon (IFN)-dependent immunity is essential and more important than T and B lymphocyte-dependent adaptive immunity in controlling primary DEN infection in mice. IFNs are proteins that are secreted by vertebrate cells. They act as intercellular mediators, and are best known for their ability to confer resistance to viral infections. Daniil will investigate how the IFN-dependent innate immune mechanisms resolve primary DEN infection in mice. Specifically, he will determine the major cellular sources of IFN-___ and IFN-___in T and B cell-deficient mice with primary DEN infection using a variety of immunologic techniques.

Orientalist Exposures: Image, Authority, and Empire in Gertrude Bell’s Photographic Archive

Jessica Stevenson-Stewart : History of Art

Mentor: Professor Darcy Grigsby, History of Art

Jessica will examine the travel writings and photographic works of Gertrude Bell, an Orientalist scholar who served British intelligence in the Middle East before and after World War I. Bell’s extensive imperialist project resulted in volumes of writings and photographs that document these archeological and diplomatic expeditions. Addressing how Bell used such representations to validate her scholarly authority, Jessica will study the problems of authorship peculiar to the photographic medium. Taking into account post-structural and post-colonial theories, Jessica will be asking how Bell utilized the mechanistic gaze of the camera to naturalize her own aesthetic judgments, and how her vision was informed by conventions of depicting empire. This project seeks to understand how Bell’s ‘objective’ photographic images were used to substantiate her written rhetorical claims, and perhaps how in documenting the people and places of the Orient, Bell may have inadvertently left a trace of herself in these images.

Subcellular Targeting of the p21-activated Protein Kinase, Cla4

Lorraine M. Wang : Molecular and Cell Biology

Mentor: Professor Jeremy Thorner, Molecular and Cell Biology

The ability of cells to respond to extracellular signals is mediated by signal transduction networks that almost invariably include a cascade of protein kinases. One family of protein kinases that is universally conserved in eukaryotes is called the p21-activated protein kinases (PAKs). The genome of Saccharomyces cerevisiae has revealed a closely related PAK-type protein kinase called Cla4. Cla4 is required for the proper assembly of a novel cytoskeletal structure that is essential for cytokinesis thereby providing an important checkpoint in the highly regulated cell cycle. Lorraine will be investigating the specific roles of each of the known domains in Cla4 in order to fully understand when Cla4 gets localized to specific subcellular destinations, which domains are responsible for this targeting, and when Cla4 commences specific phosphorylation of critical subcellular substrates. By clarifying the role of Cla4 in the cell cycle checkpoint pathway, Lorraine's studies may provide valuable information for the development of more effective anti-cancer chemotherapies.

Urban Mediation Committees in a Modernizing China

Kangying Connie Wu : Political Economy of Industrial Societies

Mentor: Professor Thomas Gold, Sociology

Twenty-five years of reform in China have impacted virtually all corners of social life. During the Mao era, urban neighborhood mediation committees helped to resolve disputes and conserve social harmony and stability in the cities. Today, the physical and social structures of China's cities have changed dramatically, raising questions about whether these remnants of the Mao era can continue to play the same role as before. Connie Wu’s research will explore this question by comparing the present role of the mediation committees in traditional, “Maoist,” and modern neighborhoods of Beijing. Connie will analyze how factors like history, spatial and physical layout of the neighborhood combine with residents' social class and community ties to affect the residents’ attitude towards the mediation committees, and the role of mediators in shaping urban life. Connie’s research will shed light on the relationship among extra-legal bodies, social networks, and the development of China's legal system.

Shaping a Nation: Middle Class Mobilization in Caracas

Laura Alarcón : Anthropology

Mentor: Laura Nader, Anthropology

Neighborhood associations in east Caracas have been pivotal in organizing the large demonstrations, an average of five per week, that have characterized public protest against Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez during the last year. Laura’s project, which will constitute her senior honors thesis in anthropology, will examine how two middle class neighborhoods in east Caracas exercise power against Chavez’s administration, and how this exercise of power affects other sectors of society. Through participant observation, in-depth and key informant interviews in two east Caracas neighborhoods (Chacao and California Norte) that are specifically active in the movement, Laura will explore how neighbors organize and mobilize in the city: how and where people meet, what kind of rhetoric they use, and why they mobilize. This study will help to understand the socio-political implications of movements led by the middle class. 

The Interplay Between Local Organization and Activity of a Heterogeneous Base Catalyst

Sandra Anderson : Chemistry

Mentor: Alex Katz, Chemical Engineering

Sandra’s project addresses the synthesis and characterization of imprinted heterogeneous catalysts with local organization at the active site, consisting of hybrid organic-inorganic sol gel materials. One of the challenges facing mankind is the cost effective production of chemicals with less waste to meet the societal needs of an ever-growing population. This requires new heterogeneous catalysts, the most predominant type of catalyst utilized in industry, which are able to conduct chemical reactions with both high activity and selectivity. Biological catalysts, enzymes, are excellent paradigms of controlling catalyst activity and selectivity via the precise placement of functional groups. Translating the efficiency of biological systems to synthetic ones involves tailoring the environment surrounding a catalytically active site on the nanoscale. This can be achieved with the technique of imprinting, which allows control of catalyst structural features including shape, degree of hydrophobicity, and local organization, all of which can significantly affect catalyst performance.

Role of Interferons in Primary Dengue Infection in Mice

Manasa Basavapatna : Molecular and Cell Biology/Social Welfare

Mentor: Eva Harris, Public Health

A Molecular and Cell Biology major, Manasa will study the Dengue virus (DEN), which causes the most prevalent arthropod-borne viral illness in humans worldwide, with an estimated 2.5 billion people at risk. Primary infection results in dengue fever (DF), an acute disease. In primary infections, DEN induces an effective immune response that may involve interferons (IFNs). IFNs are proteins produced by cells in response to various stimuli, especially viral infections, and are known for their antiviral and immunomodulatory effects. The role for IFNs in offering protection against the dengue virus (DEN) has been demonstrated in vitro, but neither the in vivo relevance of these in vitro findings nor the mechanisms of IFN action against DEN are known. Therefore, Manasa will explore the role of IFNs a, b and g in primary dengue virus infection, as well as the mechanisms by which the IFN receptor pathways resolve primary DEN infection in mice.

Role of the cadAB operon in the Egg Resistance of Salmonella

Raul Clavijo : Molecular and Cell Biology

Mentor: Sangwei Lu, Public Health

The basic purpose of Raul’s study, which will form the basis for his senior honors thesis in Molecular and Cell Biology, is to understand a characteristic of Salmonella enteritidis (S. enteritidis) that allows it to be the only bacterium to contaminate chicken eggs routinely. The specific objective is to determine the role of a particular set of genes, found in the cadAB operon, in conferring egg albumen/white resistance to S. enteritidis. Preliminary data has shown that a mutant S. enteritidis, with an interruption that disables the cadAB operon, is more susceptible to being eradicated in egg albumen than the wild type S. enteritidis. The cadAB operon’s function is to code for proteins that are involved in lysine-cadaverine transport and regulation of outer membrane permeability under certain conditions. Raul will determine this operon’s function when S. Enteritidis is exposed to egg albumen and its role in allowing the bacterium to survive the antimicrobial egg albumen.

A Functional Study of HCMV UL 21 Transcript and Protein

Jonathan Clingan : Molecular and Cell Biology

Mentor: Fenyong Liu, Public Health

Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is a member of the herpesvirus family, and a major cause of disease in people with compromised immune systems, particularly AIDS patients. Through the course of Jonathan’s research, several viral mutants that exhibit a severely attenuated ability to grow in cell culture have been identified. Jonathan will study the function of a protein encoded by open reading frame (ORF) UL 21, in which a mutation causes significantly attenuated growth. Through the process of recombination, the protein can be labeled using an epitope tag. Using antibodies that are coupled to a reporter enzyme, the proteins can then be studied using immunoassays to determine clues as to its possible role in the cell. Once the function of the protein encoded by the gene is understood, it can be used as a possible target for therapy. The research will culminate in an honors thesis in Molecular and Cell Biology.

Women Playing Men: Cross-Gender Conditions in Shakespeare Performance

Crystal Finn : English

Mentor: Joel Altman, English

Crystal will be exploring female performance in Shakespeare, focusing on female actresses portraying male Shakespearean roles. The study will form her honors thesis in English, and will culminate in a creative project, for which she will stage a number of Shakespearean monologues and scenes using an all-female cast. The question Crystal wishes to explore in both these endeavors is what happens to our understanding of Shakespeare’s plays in cross-gender conditions? In answering this question she hopes to form a unique way of talking about women playing men—a discourse that would bring into dialogue two sometimes incongruous approaches to gender in Shakespeare: literary and performance criticism. Crystal will visit the Globe Theater in London this summer to attend two significant all female performances and will conduct interviews with actors and directors involved in the productions. Their insights will inform her paper, as well as her own directing project. 

Secret Trials and Deportations

Faisal Ghori : History

Mentor: Kiren Chaudhry, Political Science

Faisal will examine the changes made to Immigration and Naturalization Service statutes following September 11, 2001, focusing on the ways these changes targeted Pakistani immigrants, who were often detained for months and then were summarily deported. His project hopes to shed light upon the legalistic basis for this treatment of Pakistani immigrants, and its effects upon them. In order to assess the extent of the changes to INS policies -- when, why, and how they took place -- Faisal will first be working closely with the Migration Policy Institute at NYU Law School, and with the American Civil Liberties Union. He will then travel to Pakistan to interview Pakistani immigrants who were deported following the changes to INS codes, in order to determine their treatment and explore their understandings of why they were deported. His research will be presented as his senior honor’s thesis in history.

Investigation of the Biophysical Origin of Proteolytic Resistance

Jacqueline Gilmore : Molecular and Cell Biology

Mentor: Susan Marqusee, Molecular and Cell Biology

Proteases are a class of enzymes that cleave other proteins. Interestingly, the susceptibility of proteins to proteases differs, with some proteins being more resistant to proteolysis than others. The mechanism for this resistance is unclear. By studying model proteins that resist cleavage by the protease trypsin, Jacqueline hopes to determine the biophysical basis of proteolytic resistance. For her senior thesis in Molecular and Cell Biology, Jacqueline will study the structural properties of three resistant proteins from E. coli: potD, argT, and glnH. By utilizing recombinant DNA technology, protein purification methods, and circular dichroism to obtain information about the thermodynamic stability and unfolding kinetics of these proteins, Jacqueline hopes to uncover the mechanism of proteolytic resistance. An understanding of this mechanism has many potential applications in protein engineering, structural biology, and immunology. For instance, rigid proteins that have a longer lifetime and are therefore more effective as drugs can be designed.

Egyptian - American Novel in Progress

Zeina Halim : English

Mentor: Ishmael Reed, English

Zeina, an English major, will write a novel of literary fiction that narrates the lives of three generations of Egyptian-Americans. It explores social issues such as cultural and gender conflict between old world Egyptian-Muslim values and more modern Western values. Intergenerational conflict is examined within the three generations of this family with the first having immigrated in their fifties, the second in their twenties, and the third being born in the United States. The characters struggle with defining an identity for themselves while straddling the cultural rift. The emotional core of the book centers around family relationships and particularly those of estranged parent-child relations due to differing cultural norms, morals, and taboos.

The Association Between Combat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Self-Perception, and Worldview -- and its Social Ramifications

Malcolm Harvey : Sociology

Mentor: Kim Voss, Sociology

The vast majority of research associated with combat-related trauma and PTSD is conducted employing psychoanalytical and psychosocial models utilizing quantitative methodology that focuses primarily on the individual. Comparatively, little is known about the social impact of an illness that afflicts a great number of combat veterans and affects the lives of many others. Malcolm hopes to address this deficiency by: exploring it from a sociological perspective which will expand the scope of inquiry beyond the individual to society at-large; applying qualitative methodology which will uncover nuances that are missed by quantitative methods; and gathering data via semi-structured interviews, a method that better lends itself to the depth and sensitivity necessary to elicit meaningful information. From his efforts, Malcolm hopes to provide answers regarding the potential correlation between PTSD, self-perception, and worldview and its broader social implications and to create a quality research study for his senior honors thesis in Sociology.

Exploring Rural Gay Identities and Communities

Gregory Hughes : Sociology

Mentor: Dawne Moon, Sociology

The aim of Greg’s project, which will constitute his senior honors thesis in sociology, is to create a greater understanding of how gay identities and communities are formed in rural areas. Urban areas have formed not only the backing but also the major theoretical causal concept in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) theory. Rural gay culture and communities have remained unexamined and under theorized. Greg will be doing fieldwork in an area of the Northwest, where a rural community of gays and lesbians has developed. The area he will study has no gay bars, gay ghettos or any of the other institutions that normally foster the development of a gay community. Greg will attend annual community events and interviews will be conducted with members of the gay community, including ranchers, farmers, cowboys and truck drivers as well as local people who work in other occupations.

Buddhas and Buffer Zones: The Impact of International Preservation and Tourism Development on Bodhgaya, India

Defna Kory : Interdisciplinary Studies Field

Mentor: Ananya Roy, City & Regional Planning

Dafna, an Interdisciplinary: Globalization and Development major, will create a body of 50 documentary photographs depicting the impact of tourism and preservation efforts on the town of Bodhgaya, India. Bodhgaya, located in India’s most impoverished state of Bihar, is home to the Mahabodhi Temple, the most recent addition to UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The preservation standards decreed by UNESCO require the creation of a “buffer zone” around the Mahabodhi Temple, which is likely to translate into the displacement of locals who live and work around the site. Contestations over the Mahabodhi Temple have increased dramatically since its inclusion on the World Heritage List, both on economic as well as religious terms. Dafna will travel to Bodhgaya twice: first during the summer tourism off-season, and again at the winter, during the peak-tourism season. The comparative photographs she will produce, accompanied by short narratives from Bodhgaya’s community, will serve to give the concept of “globalization and development” a human face.

Poisoned Clouds: Dealing with Pesticide Drift in California’s Agricultural Communities

Jason Malinsky : Individual Major: Environmental Policy and Investigative Journalism

Mentor: William Berry, Earth & Planetary Science

An Individual Major in “Environmental Policy and Investigative Reporting”, Jason intends to conduct research on a July 8, 2002, pesticide-poisoning incident in Arvin, California. In the incident, over 250 people were allegedly poisoned by a known carcinogenic pesticide. Focusing on issues of accountability and government response, Jason will use Arvin as a case study to be compared with a 1999 poisoning incident involving over 400 people in Earlimart, California. To place these case studies within the bigger picture of California’s pesticide incidents, he intends to draw upon statewide databases that describe pesticide use and reported poisonings throughout the state. His project will constitute a senior thesis for his major and will also form the basis for a first-person investigative report fit for publication.

Effects of Unconditional Self-Construal on Vigilance and Performance: the Role of 'Positive Glow'

Timothy Poore : Psychology

Mentor: Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton, Psychology

Tim’s study, which will become his senior honors thesis in Psychology, will test the hypothesis that being in a state of “positive glow”—as a result of unconditional self-construal—will lead to a decrease in vigilance, hindering performance, and in turn, causing a person to be more susceptible to negative feelings following a subsequent failure. Much research has focused on positive aspects of experiencing “positive glow,” which is a state in which a person’s happiness, confidence, and internal positivity are maximized. One psychological mechanism that contributes to this “positive glow” is the way in which people construe self-relevant events. The construal of self-relevant events in global, unconditional terms (e.g. “I am a great student”), has been shown to result in greater shifts in affect (both positive and negative depending on the situation) than construing events in more circumscribed, contextualized terms (e.g. “I am great when I study hard”).

Linguistic Atlas of River Yurok

Alysoun Quinby : Linguistics

Mentor: Andrew Garrett, Linguistics

Alysoun will identify previously undescribed linguistic variation in Yurok, an endangered native language of northwestern California. There are two major Yurok dialect areas, and her aim is to map local variation within one of those: the area along the Klamath River from the coast upriver to Weitchpec, California. Alysoun will use archival and field research to gather linguistic, geographical and population data, which she will then synthesize to create a linguistic atlas. This work will make both an academic contribution (in the context of the Yurok Language Project, a full scale language description and revitalization effort currently underway in the Linguistics department here at Berkeley) and a community contribution, giving the Yurok people access to previously unavailable information about their linguistic history.

Sex Worker Identity, Citizenship, and Health in Brazil

Tara Rado : Anthropology

Mentor: Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Anthropology

Tara will undertake ethnographic research in downtown Rio de Janeiro, where sex workers earn their livelihoods in extreme economic and social marginalization. They face health problems such as HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Although their work is decriminalized, they struggle with police brutality and have little legal redress against human rights violations. In response, non-governmental organizations offer professional development predicated on an ideology of community development. Using the term “profissional de sexo”, outreach workers are attempting to disable stereotypes and social stigmatization and empower the citizenship of sex workers. Tara’s project, which will constitute her senior honors thesis in anthropology, will explore the dynamic whereby sex workers and non-governmental organization health outreach workers are engaged in a process to transform social and self-identities. Tara will evaluate and interpret the relationships between sex workers and PIM outreach workers through ethnographic writing that privileges thick description and local narratives.

Cloning of Extended Auricle 1 (eta1): A Maize Leaf Developmental Mutant

Nasim Sadeghian : Molecular and Cell Biology

Mentor: Michael Freeling, Plant and Microbial Biology

Two fundamental questions in both plant and animal development are how patterns are formed and how cell fates are determined. The maize leaf provides an elegant model for examining these questions because its development is well characterized and its use as a genetic system is well established. Nasim will investigate the role of the gene eta1 (extended auricle1) in maize leaf development. The project entails a two-pronged approach to cloning eta1, a gene affecting the development of the maize leaf auricle. One approach will be map-based cloning with the molecular markers simple sequence repeats (SSRs) and restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs). The second approach will be co-segregation analysis of putatively transposon tagged eta1 alleles. The mutant phenotype of eta1 may lead us to understand how the fates of cells are determined and how patterns arise. The project will constitute Nasim’s senior honors thesis in Molecular and Cell Biology.

A Novel Approach to Synthetic Vaccine for HIV-1 Involving a Beta-Hairpin Peptide Having Fluoroaromatic Amino Acids

Irene Wong : Molecular and Cell Biology/Japanese

Mentor: Ahamindra Jain, Chemistry

Irene’s senior thesis in Molecular and Cell Biology may contribute to the development of a vaccine for HIV-1. A potential target for vaccination against AIDS is the V3 loop region of the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein, gp120, which plays an important role in viral infection. V3 adopts a ß-hairpin structure; the successful synthetic ß-hairpin peptide may thus mimic V3 and trigger an immune response. However, conformational fluctuations of peptides in aqueous solutions present an obstacle to this approach. Since the potential of fluoroaromatic interactions as a source of ß-hairpin stability has yet to be explored, Irene will apply previously developed models of fluoroaromatic interactions to design a small library of fluorinated peptides that should adopt stable ß-hairpin conformations. By comparing the binding affinities of those peptides, she will investigate the possible contributions of fluoroaromatic interactions to ß-hairpin stability, and explore the potential of resulting peptides in synthetic HIV-1 vaccine research.

Tangible Instant Messaging - Accessible Technology for the Elderly

Margaret Yau : Electrical Engineering & Computer Science

Mentor: Anind Dey, Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences

Technology for the elderly should satisfy not only their functional requirements, but also their social and emotional needs. To develop accessible technology for the elderly and enhance their social connections with their remote family members, Margaret, an Electrical Engineering and Computer Science major, will design, implement, and evaluate a tangible instant messaging system, which employs tangible user interfaces (TUIs) in facilitating communications through instant messaging (IM) for the elderly. TUIs involve the use of physically interactive surfaces, the coupling of physical objects and digital information, and ambient media, such as sound, light, and movement. IM allows synchronous Internet-based communications through short, instant messages. Margaret will employ user-centered design and evaluation methods such as participatory design and field studies, to determine how much this research improves informal communications between the elderly and their families. Her research will also provide important insights into the design of technology for the elderly through TUIs.

The Interplay Between Local Organization and Activity of a Heterogeneous Base Catalyst

Sandra Anderson : Chemistry

Mentor: Alex Katz, Chemical Engineering

Sandra’s project addresses the synthesis and characterization of imprinted heterogeneous catalysts with local organization at the active site, consisting of hybrid organic-inorganic sol gel materials. One of the challenges facing mankind is the cost effective production of chemicals with less waste to meet the societal needs of an ever-growing population. This requires new heterogeneous catalysts, the most predominant type of catalyst utilized in industry, which are able to conduct chemical reactions with both high activity and selectivity. Biological catalysts, enzymes, are excellent paradigms of controlling catalyst activity and selectivity via the precise placement of functional groups. Translating the efficiency of biological systems to synthetic ones involves tailoring the environment surrounding a catalytically active site on the nanoscale. This can be achieved with the technique of imprinting, which allows control of catalyst structural features including shape, degree of hydrophobicity, and local organization, all of which can significantly affect catalyst performance.

The Crafting of the Revolution and the Legacy of Carlos Fonseca

Carlos Almendárez : History

Mentor: Associate Professor Margaret Chowning, History

To the Nicaraguan people, Carlos Fonseca was the unchallenged leader and theoretician of the Nicaraguan revolution. In an attempt to propel Fonseca as the paragon of the revolution, the F.S.L.N. obscured Fonseca’s doubts about the process of revolution itself. Through Fonseca’s extant writings Carlos’ project will examine why the idea of Fonseca as a leader of the revolution was abandoned once the revolution was consolidated. Carlos argues that Fonseca’s portrayal by scholars and propagandists has emphasized his role as a devout follower of Augusto Cesar Sandino. In doing so, Fonseca’s inclination towards Sandino has been created, thereby validating a belief in the contemporary Sandinista party ideology, conveniently lining Fonseca and Sandino in a straight line leading to the FSLN. The project plans to understand how Fonseca’s dissent within the ranks affects our perception of the revolution. His research, conducted in part through fieldwork in Nicaragua, will culminate in a senior honors thesis for the department of History.

Olfactory Localization: the ‘what’ and ‘where’ pathways in Human Olfaction

Elizabeth Bremner : Psychology

Mentor: Dr. Noam Sobel, Psychology

Localization of biologically relevant stimuli in the world is a basic feature of sensory systems and is well studied for visual and auditory stimuli. It is well known that mammals are very sensitive to odors and can trace them to their sources, but it is not well studied nor understood whether this localization can be accomplished egocentrically—that is, with the head kept stationary. For her Senior Honors Thesis in Psychology, Elizabeth will evaluate the abilities of humans to egocentrically pinpoint odor sources in space. She will first address the behavioral question of whether humans can spatially localize different odors in a psychophysical experiment. She will then conduct a neuroimaging experiment using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to understand the neural substrates underlying this activity. Elizabeth hopes that understanding how humans localize odors and the neural substrates subserving this ability will contribute to the current development of a device that will locate land mines through odor-sensing machinery.

‘Song for Today’: The Dialectic Between Langston Hughes’ Early Jazz and Blues Poetry and the ‘New Poetic Genre’

Shanesha R. F. Brooks : English/Interdisciplinary Studies

Mentor: Professor Robert Hass, English

Exploring the lyrical conversation between the jazz and blues poetry of Langston Hughes and contemporary hip-hop musicians, Shanesha will analyze the musical techniques and poetic structure of Hughes’s poetry and the lyrics of musicians Black Star and Jazzmatazz, “musical poets” who contribute to what she calls the “New Poetic Genre.” Identifying parallels between the socio-political and historical contexts of Hughes and of these contemporary musicians, Shanesha will research the consciousnesses conjured from resistance, the search for identity, and the subsequent struggle for self-expression. As a double major in English and Interdisciplinary Studies, Shanesha’s deep interests in music, poetry, and history meld her project into a treatise that will integrate musical and textual analysis, literary theory, and interviews. She will also work with archival materials at Yale University’s Beinecke Library and at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, New York. The results of her research will be presented as her senior honors thesis.