Mio Kitayama

Rapid land use transformation worldwide in recent years raises a demand for models that simulate the impacts of different land use policies on the local ecosystems and its services for human well-being. Mio will join a team in Brazil and devise a mathematical model that estimates the impacts of local land use choices on the carbon sequestration abilities of Atlantic Forest. She will integrate the devised model into Multiscale, Integrated Models of Ecosystem Services (MIMES), which collaboratively simulates the impacts of different land use policies on ecosystem services provided by the forest. This research will contribute to the development of effective land management policies that lead to sustainable conservation of Atlantic Forest. Furthermore, identifying the benefits, requirements and limitations of the modeling methods will provide valuable references for future studies.

Katherine Hood

While the recent economic downturn has brought national attention to the plight of the newly unemployed, downward mobility has been a steady feature of American society for generations. For Americans, however, downward mobility means facing not only declining economic prospects, but also the stigma of violating a cherished cultural norm: the pursuit of the American dream and the achievement of upward mobility. Katherine will travel to rural Oregon to conduct in-depth interviews with people affected by the decline of the timber industry, a once booming business that offered a chance at a middle class lifestyle. Katherine will look at how the loss of both socioeconomic status and the traditionally masculine identities tied to this work shape rural residents’ relationship to larger cultural expectations surrounding opportunity and success in America.

Yu-Dong Sun

Technologies based on superconducting quantum systems have contributed significantly to the development of high precision magnetic sensors and quantum bits. These experiments require ultra-low temperatures which are achieved by dilution refrigerators. In contrast to conventional dilution refrigerators, which generally require a continuous supply of liquid helium and complex circulation systems, the dilution refrigerator Yu-Dong aims to construct will not use liquid cryogens and mechanical pumps. This will be accomplished by integrating a 2-Kelvin pulse tube cryostat with a self-contained dilution unit prototype from Chase Cryogenics, to further lower the base temperature to 50 milli-Kelvin. This novel dilution refrigerator will be fully computer controlled to optimize cool-down and hold-time, serving as an easy to use, fast cycling system for experiments on superconducting quantum mechanical systems.

Alison Smith

RNA interference (RNAi) is a rapidly expanding field of research that promises to yield a better understanding of how cells regulate their environments through RNAi mediated gene silencing pathways. Harnessing RNAis transformative properties may prove to be a powerful methodology for developing effective, cell-specific drugs, thus reducing harm and unwanted side effects. Alison’s project involves reconstituting the piRNA biogenesis machinery in vitro; specifically, elucidating the role of the protein, Squash. piRNAs are a recently discovered class of small regulatory RNAs that are thought to facilitate transposon silencing through RNAi, thereby protecting the genome from the deleterious effects of insertional mutagenesis, some of which have been implicated in cancer cell life cycles. Understanding these key mechanisms of gene regulation could radically transform the treatment of many genetically-linked diseases.

Jason Ross

Jason’s research group has recently developed the nanocalorimeter, a membrane-based calorimeter which has ten times less addenda heat capacity than any known calorimeter, allowing for the first accurate measurements of nanogram sized samples. With this, Jason proposes to measure the specific heat of silicon nanowires in response to recent thermal transport studies. These studies have found that the thermal conductivity of silicon nanowires decreases with decreasing nanowire diameter. Such a characteristic means silicon nanowires have a big future in clean energy thermoelectric devices. But before we can properly exploit them in technology, their thermal dynamics must be better understood. Directly related to the phonon density of states, specific heat will help Jason explain the decrease in thermal conductivity by investigating phenomena such as phonon confinement and surface vibrational states.

Jessica Pizzagoni

John Muir once stated, Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. California’s National Parks, renowned for their beauty and history, draw visitors from around the world and reflect John Muirs sentiment. Yet, each person has their own ideas and perceptions about the parks and their personal definitions of wilderness. Can Bourdieu’s “cultural capital”, or preferences associated with class differences, help explain these distinctions? With the use of ethnographic interviews, Jessica will connect how people visit these parks with their individual perceptions of nature. Her hope is to contribute to a deeper understanding of the cultural, economic and historical implications of the park system, as well as to efforts to preserve the parks.

Zachary O’Hagan

Most languages spoken today are of roughly direct descent from other, perhaps extinct, languages. Latin is the famous progenitor of the Romance languages. However, the pre-history of some languages is not one of direct descent, but rather of contact, or mixture. Omagua is a highly endangered, pre-Columbian contact language of Peruvian Amazonia, with only two remaining speakers. Building off of previous work, Zachary will conduct eight weeks of fieldwork in Peru. With more comprehensive linguistic data, he will employ standard historical-linguistic methods to determine the languages involved in the genesis of Omagua and sketch the socio-cultural and grammatical results of contact. Zachary’s work will contribute to research on contact languages generally, as well as shed light on the interactions and movements of indigenous populations before the advent of Europeans.

Tawny Tsang

Contrary to previously held beliefs, the cerebellum is not restricted to activities involving motor control. It participates in a variety of cognitive functions from attention to verbal working memory. This can be attributed to its connectivity with regions of the cortex that are involved in learning and memory. Previous research suggests that the cerebellum may be more involved in metric-based rather than rule-based or categorical learning. Tawny’s project will examine that hypothesis and investigate the cerebellums contribution to specific types of learning as well as the role of feedback on cerebellar learning. She will use behavioral and neuropsychological methods to piece together how the cerebellum could be involved in a wide variety of processes and present a more general understanding of its role in learning and cognition.

Jonathan Wang

At the edge of the city, beyond the stadiums newly built to house South Africa’s 2010 World Cup, are clusters of temporary relocation areas that have come to house tens of thousands of South Africa’s internally displaced urban peoples. Jonathan will travel to South Africa to visually document and map the dialectic relationships between these distinct spaces of exception through photography, video, and open-source mapping technologies. He will also be working with Ikamva Youth to teach mapping and photography workshops designed to create open-source maps of neighborhoods of the Delft region of Cape Town. With the collected imagery he will produce a film and multi-media art installation designed to immerse the audience in the vivid spectrum of sites and structures that fabricate such transnational spectacle events.