Shaping a Nation: Middle Class Mobilization in Caracas

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.

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Social Science

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

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.

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Role of Interferons in Primary Dengue Infection in Mice

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 […]

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Role of the cadAB operon in the Egg Resistance of Salmonella

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 operons 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 operons function when S. Enteritidis is exposed to egg albumen and its role in allowing the bacterium to survive […]

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A Functional Study of HCMV UL 21 Transcript and Protein

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.

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Women Playing Men: Cross-Gender Conditions in Shakespeare Performance

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 Shakespeares plays in cross-gender conditions? In answering this question she hopes to form a unique way of talking about women playing mena 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.

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Secret Trials and Deportations

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 honors thesis in history.

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Social Science

Investigation of the Biophysical Origin of Proteolytic Resistance

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.

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Egyptian - American Novel in Progress

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.

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

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.

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Social Science

Exploring Rural Gay Identities and Communities

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.

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Social Science

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

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 Indias most impoverished state of Bihar, is home to the Mahabodhi Temple, the most recent addition to UNESCOs 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 Bodhgayas community, will serve to give the […]

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Poisoned Clouds: Dealing with Pesticide Drift in Californias Agricultural Communities

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 Californias 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.

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

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 persons 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).

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Social Science

Linguistic Atlas of River Yurok

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.

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Sex Worker Identity, Citizenship, and Health in Brazil

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.

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Social Science

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

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 Nasims senior honors thesis in Molecular and Cell Biology.

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

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 -hairpin structure; the successful synthetic -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 -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 -hairpin conformations. By comparing the binding affinities of those peptides, she will investigate the possible contributions of fluoroaromatic interactions to -hairpin stability, and explore the potential of resulting peptides in synthetic HIV-1 vaccine research.

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Tangible Instant Messaging - Accessible Technology for the Elderly

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.

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