The Role of Acetylcholine and Dopamine in Perception and Working Memory

Visual working memory is a limited, short-term mental storage system that holds task-relevant visual information in mind and is important for visually guided behavior. Recent studies have suggested that visual working memory is closely linked to visual perception, implemented in overlapping brain regions and sharing similar brain circuitry. Ahmad’s research project will investigate the effects of the neurotransmitters acetylcholine and dopamine, which are known to play important roles in visual perception and in working memory, respectively, by combining pharmacologic manipulation of these neurotransmitters while measuring behavioral performance in a visual working memory task in humans. By testing the role of neurotransmitters known to play a role in modulating perceptual and memory signals, he aims to shed light on the intricate relationship between visual perception and working memory.

...Read More about Ahmad Al-Zughoul

The Mysteries of Criticism in Antebellum America's Sensationalistic Pop Culture

In the 1850s, urban mystery novels explored the sensationalistic imagination of immigrants, aristocrats, and the poor that emerged from mass urbanization in sprawling cities such as Paris, London, and New York. Mixing mystery, vice, myth, and experience into one lurid and melodramatic extravaganza, these novels commented politically, socially, and culturally. Baron Ludwig von Reizenstein’s The Mysteries of New Orleans creates a unique vision of immigrant perspective that challenges and problematizes current understandings of the antebellum American social ethos. Through extensive archival research and cultural absorption in the subject city of New Orleans, Louisiana, Meaghan seeks to explore the intricate relations between race, immigration, and crime, asking: what does this novel reveal about the antebellum social ideology, especially the maintenance of a social hierarchy by way of race and criminalization?

...Read More about Meaghan Allen

Optogenetic Control in Freely Behaving Bats (Rousettus Aegyptiacus)

How does the brain convert sensory information to help us navigate around space? Spatial learning is what Justin believes to be the key in building the bridge between sensory input and navigation. The striatum, a region of the mammalian brain known to be crucial for spatial learning, will be deeply examined using the methods of optogenetics. In his project, Justin will be building methods to optically control striatal regions of freely behaving bats, and examine the neural circuitry that allows their sophisticated navigation around complex environments to be made possible. Justin’s goal is to make this examination wireless and to record neural activities from the bats in their free conditions. The findings from this project will give insights into how sensory details lead to spatial habit formation.

...Read More about Justin Baik

Freezing the Future: Oocyte Cryopreservation in Northern California

In 2012, the experimental label was lifted from the social freezing and banking of oocytes (oocyte cryopreservation or egg freezing), an intense procedure allowing postponement of motherhood. Two years later, major Silicon Valley based tech companies introduced egg freezing in benefits packages an addition mirroring mounting pressure in tech to hire women and the perception of motherhood as an untimely career interruption. How are women negotiating the vital promise of egg freezing, their sovereignty, the physical complications and social, moral, ethical, and political implications of the procedure? How does this change how they engage materially with their reproductive bodies? In exploring the vastly disquieting, empowering and life-changing implications of fertility preservation, Allyn is doing ethnography of egg freezing, exploring how technology is infiltrating our conceptualization of the self, the body and motherhood.

...Read More about Allyn Benintendi
Social Science

Shifting Traditions: Perspectives of Saffron Farmers in the Khorasan Province of Iran on Climate Change and Technological Development

Ninety percent of the world’s saffron is grown in Iran and 90% of saffron in Iran is grown in the Khorasan Province. Saffron production as a traditional farming system is developing in its relationship with climate change and with the spread of technology into agriculture. Understanding how farmers view and interact with these developments is important in understanding saffron as a traditional farming system in Iran. Through in-person interviews in Iran and secondary research, Helia will analyze the perspectives of saffron farmers in Khorasan on climate change, what impacts they have observed, how they have adapted to said impacts, and how valuable they believe traditional methods have been in this process. It will also assess farmers perspectives on technology, especially as it compares to the traditional farming system in place.

...Read More about Helia Bidad
Social Science

Metabolite Production by Interspecies Interactions in Actinomycetes and Root Nodule Bacteria

Actinomycetes, filamentous soil bacteria, have been the single richest source of medicinally relevant natural products, whose applications include anticancer agents, antifungal agents and antibiotics. However, actinomycetes still hold great potential for novel metabolite discovery. This is because the way they are typically grown in the laboratory fails to mimic cues in their natural environments that potentially induce the synthesis of novel metabolites. During this project, Victor will place actinomycetes in ecologically relevant contexts by reintroducing them to bacteria they would naturally encounter, in binary interactions, and subsequently analyze the metabolites produced. In addition, he aims to characterize the microbial community structure in root nodules and analyze their metabolites to discover possible mechanisms of interaction within the nodules. This project will incorporate genomics, analytical chemistry, and ecology towards metabolite discovery.

...Read More about Victor Chen

Across Three Oceans: Shipwrecks as Early Moden Globalism

Objects in museums are typically categorized by chronology and geography and then further sorted into subcategories revolving around cultures, languages, and materials. Born of the legacies of imperialism and colonialism, these practices tend towards a flattening of categories and the fixing of objects into rigid structures of European and Other. But what do we do with an object that inhabits multiple chronologies, geographies, and cultures? Art objects and artifacts possess a fluidity and mobility throughout multiple categories, often occupying multiple positions and materialities simultaneously. Using Byron Hamann’s methodology of materialities of seeing, and Eva Hoffman’s pathways of portability, Ramn will consider the carved-ivory box recovered from a 17th century shipwreck of the Spanish galleon Nuestra Seora de Atocha as it emblematizes early modern global flows of materials, people and ideas.

...Read More about Ramon de Santiago

Uncoupling Pyroptosis from Cell Lysis

Pyroptosis is a poorly understood mode of cell suicide, one that functions as an alarm bell for the bodys immune system in response to infection. Though beneficial when properly regulated, the rapid immune response triggered by pyroptosis can, itself, produce disease and dysfunction. Pyroptosis has been identified as a possible contributor to cardiovascular disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and some neurodegenerative disorders. Understanding pyroptosis, then, could lead to novel treatments for a variety of human diseases. Unfortunately, despite ten years of research, uncovering how it precisely works has proven to be an elusive task. Lucian will use a novel microscopic imaging system he developed in order to characterize pyroptosis and rigorously test the fields leading hypothesis on how pyroptosis causes cell death.

...Read More about Lucian DiPeso

From Steel Mills to Steel Bars: Historicizing the Carceral State in Deindustrialized Rust Belt America

Since the 1970s, two simultaneous processes of mass incarceration and deindustrialization have transformed the US into a postindustrial society with the largest incarceration system globally. Chance’s research will explore the intertwined history of these two processes through a close study of the prison siting in Youngstown, Ohio, an extreme example of deindustrialization. Through this study, Chance will attempt to answer why prisons emerged in deindustrialized geographies and the resulting social, political and economic impacts. In addition to government documents and oral histories, Chance will examine the archive of activist couple Staughton and Alice Lynd, for insight into how Youngstowners experienced and responded to deindustrialization and mass incarceration. By connecting the histories of these two processes, Chance aspires to employ history to inform policies and grassroots efforts that address both mass incarceration and deindustrialization.

...Read More about Chance Grable
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Decoding the Fah Flor: Archeological Discovery and the De-Mystification of a Lost Metaphor in Beowufl

Current Bio: After graduation, Olivia completed an MPhil in Archaeology at the University of Oxford in 2017 and she is currently finishing up a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Classics at UCLA. This fall, she will begin her PhD in Classics at Cornell University. She continues to participate in archaeological excavations in Greece and England and also maintains a great passion for history and literature from all periods. Haas Scholars Project: The dating and provenance of the Old English epic Beowulf have been topics of wide scholarly debate for the past two hundred years. Combining literary and archaeological research techniques constitutes one way of approaching this inquiry. Based on close readings, there is some evidence to suggest that the poet refers to a tessellated (mosaic) floor left over from Roman Britain in one of the most compelling scenes. If shown to be plausible, this notion could move the dating of Beowulf back […]

...Read More about Olivia Graves
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Evading Dam-Nation: Land Use History of the Lower Cosumnes River Watershed, ca. 1820-2016

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta today has a highly modified ecosystem due to historical human modification of the landscape for agriculture and development of the states water systems. Because Cosumnes River Preserve (CRP), established in 1985, has successfully conserved and restored thousands of acres of the Deltas native habitats in a way that incorporates human needs of the landscape, CRP is nationally recognized as a model for riparian restoration. Michelaina’s project seeks to reconstruct the historical landscape of CRP to understand how past land use practices and alterations changed the Deltas ecosystem and influenced CRPs restoration efforts. Her research has implications for future restoration efforts at CRP and within the Delta, especially considering that modifications of the Deltas habitat and water systems are currently at the center of Californias political debates. You can also read a California Water Blog article Michelaina published based on her thesis here. And an article that […]

...Read More about Michelaina Johnson
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ATP Release by Gram-Negative Bacteria and its Role in Cell Wall Remodeling

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is a high energy molecule considered the energy currency for all species. Our laboratory has discovered that bacteria release ATP into culture medium, a novel phenomenon (Mempin et al., 2013). However, it isnt yet understood why this occurs. We hypothesize that extracellular ATP is needed for the conversion of D-amino acids and their incorporation into the cell wall, allowing bacteria to survive changing environmental conditions. Danny will investigate the role of ATP in D-amino acid metabolism and cell wall remodeling by measuring ATP release of cultures supplemented with D-amino acids and mutants lacking key enzymes in D-amino acid metabolism. Ultimately, this research can expand knowledge on the pathogenicity of many bacteria, as it is likely that bacteria need to remodel their cell walls to adapt to host environments.

...Read More about Danny Lee
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Dying to Survive: Negotiating with Early Death and the Social Reproduction of Gang Violence

Jorge-David Mancillas will be traveling to Los Angeles to conduct research on the effectiveness of gang intervention. In Los Angeles, the so-called gang capital of the world, more than half of the yearly homicides are gang-related. Homeboy Industries, a gang intervention program located in East Los Angeles, is the most successful gang intervention program in the nation, utilized by more than 10,000 community members a year. Through an analysis of in-depth interviews with gang-members and former gang-members, Jorge will be studying how Homeboy Industries operates and how/why they are successful. Jorge’s research focuses on how Homeboy Industries draws on religious and spiritual resources to foster positive identity transformations in gang members and the implications those transformations have for the individuals perception of death.

...Read More about Jorge David Mancillas
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Perceptions of Historical Black College and University Prestige: Implications for Racial Stereotypes

Many people assume that racism is a binary dimension whereby people are either racist or not. However, over forty years of research indicates that not only are there several distinctive forms of racism, but that they exist on a continuum. Recent trends have shown that while blatant forms of racism seem to be decreasing, there are indirect forms of racism now prevailing. Through the collection of survey data, Kimberly’s research will investigate how these subtle and even unconscious forms of racism affect peoples perceptions of institutions associated with a particular minority group: Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Her research seeks to gain a deeper understanding of the prevailing stereotypes associated with HBCUs as potential proxies for the negative stereotypes associated with African Americans in education.

...Read More about Kimberly Martin
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Consumption and Perception of Sugar Sweetened Beverages and Tap Water Among Latinos/as in Kings County

Current Bio: Julian is currently living in NYC and pursuing a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in the department of Population and Family Health with a certificate in research methods. Julin has been working on a childhood asthma community based participatory project in San Juan, Puerto Rico and a study on depression and loneliness among retired adults in Santiago, Chile. Haas Scholars Project: Drinking potable tap water has been associated with decreased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs). However, more than one million Californians primarily from low-income communities of color, lack access to potable water that meets all applicable health-based drinking water standards. Kings County, in the Central Valley, is an extreme case in terms of lack of access to potable tap water. It ranked first, among California counties, in the number of violations of health-based drinking water standards. Also, from 2005 […]

...Read More about Julian Ponce
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The Gender Wage Gap: A Moral or Economic Concern?

With the rise of political controversy, it is vital to explore what shapes our strong convictions. Moral ideologies are often the foundation of political arguments, and gender differences within morality have been widely disputed. To grasp the complex intersection of gender, morality, and politics, Nicole seeks to examine how gender and political affiliation affect moral choices about gendered politics. Controversial political statements will be morally reframed to align with liberal and conservative ideologies, seeking to find common ground on contemporary social issues. With the intention of swaying men and women, liberals and conservatives, to agree on contentious politics, Nicole will present morally reframed vignettes discussing gendered political issues. This includes the second amendment, economic inequality, and abortion, examining the intersection of gender and political affiliation, and its implications for morality.

...Read More about Nicole Rankin
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Worst of the Worst: Changing the Prison Narrative

There has been a great deal of research on autobiographical literature that feature Native American captivity narratives, and African American slave narratives, but there is a lack of scholarly work that discusses contemporary prison narratives. Clint will analyze autobiographies, specifically prison, slave, and captivity narratives for their themes of literacy as a faculty of redemption and endurance. These autobiographical texts not only narrate the process of recovery, but serves as part of the restoration process. In addition to research, Clint will produce a creative product consisting of his own autobiographical account of imprisonment and his journey to academia. Clint spent approximately 7.5 years incarcerated, beginning as a juvenile and ending as an adult in California State Prison, and he is bringing first-hand knowledge of life inside prison to his research.

...Read More about Clint Terrell
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Using Ethnobotanical Materials to Explore Native Californian Land Practices along the Santa Cruz Coast

Rosario’s research will be speaking to the debate that abounds in California among archaeologists, ecologists, Native American scholars, and state and Federal agencies regarding the role that Native peoples played in shaping their environments. While some posit Native Californians were the ultimate eco-engineers, actively managing animal and plant communities, other scholars are more skeptical about the degree to which Native Californians managed ecosystems. In addressing some of these questions, Rosario’s research will feature ethnobotanical remains that may be the product of anthropogenic land management practices employed by Native peoples along the Santa Cruz Coast.

...Read More about Rosario Torres
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Seeds of Reconciliation: Seed Sovereignty as a Form of Reparation for Victims of War in Colombia

Juan Manuel’s research seeks to understand how Colombian farmers have politicized their relationship with seeds. Some farmers consider recent state policies restricting seed-saving and seed-trading as a form of dispossession. Such policies have politicized their relationship with seeds regarding their control and preservation to protect their livelihoods, their cultural identities and their territories. By interviewing farmers and experts in Colombia this summer, Juan hopes to understand the implications of state policies regarding seeds for farmers and the tensions between the positions of farmers and the government, and locate the possible spaces for articulation and compromise. He wants to propose a political framework that works to protect the seed sovereignty of farmers as a form of reparation for farming communities and of restorative justice that can create possible spaces of reconciliation.

...Read More about Juan Manuel Vélez
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Divergent Policies, Divergent Trajectories? The Impact of Established Political Systems on Oil and Gas Institutions in Ghana and Uganda

Historically, oil exploration in Africa has brought the resource curse: countries with more abundant natural resources have poorer development outcomes, due to corruption and environmental degradation. Itago will compare new oil producers Ghana and Ugandawhich share many similarities despite Ugandas semi-authoritiarianism and Ghanas greater democracy and transparency to understand this phenomenon. To evaluate the effect of petro-policies and public participation on environmental and socio-economic outcomes in the two nations, Itago will gather data on government policies, revenue collection, and allocations in the Ghanaian and Ugandan capitals, followed by interviews with oil-watch NGOs, youth, farmers, fishermen and other community members in the nations oil-producing regions. She hopes her research will shed light on the impact of petro-policies and public participation in developing economies.

...Read More about Itago Winnie
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