Strain Engineering of Two Dimensional Transition Metal Dichacogenides

Strain engineering is a ubiquitous technique utilized in the semiconductor industry to modulate and engineer the properties of semiconducting electronic materials. Various processes such as advanced high performance transistors, solid-state lasers, and integrated circuits adopt strain engineering to further optimize their performance. Simultaneously, two dimensional transition metal dichacogenides (TMDCs) have demonstrated their great potentials as the next optoelectronics and extremely scaled electronics; they can be scaled down to the atomic limit to be used for electronics. However, to date the merits of strain engineering have not been sufficiently employed nor explored in the field of TMDC-based scaled optoelectronics. Geun Ho aims to expand the strain engineering of TMDCs, and perform systematic experimental studies of strained TMDCs in order to optimize their optoelectronic performances.

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Investigation of Boosting of the Dengue B cell/Antibody Response in Nicaraguan Children

Dengue virus (DENV) is a mosquito-borne virus with four distinct serotypes. Primary infection by any of the four serotypes may result in dengue fever or, in severe cases, progress to dengue hemorrhagic fever/dengue shock syndrome. Recent studies have challenged dogma in the dengue field by finding that serotype-cross-reactive neutralizing antibody titers in serum of children in a cohort study in Nicaragua increased marginally in the time between primary and secondary DENV infection rather than decreasing over time, implying re-exposure to DENV. Maritza will use a novel method the Quad-color Fluorospotto investigate whether homotypic and heterotypic boosting observed previously in serum is also seen in memory B cells obtained from dengue cohort participants from Nicaragua. Her work will have important implications for both natural immunity and dengue vaccine efficacy over time.

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Investigating Autism Spectrum Disorder Etiology Using CRISPR/Cas9 Genome Editing in Xenopus Tropicalis

It is not yet known what causes autism spectrum disorder (ASD) on a molecular level, but recently, 65 ASD risk genes have been identified by a lab at UCSF. Albert is focusing on one of these genes, called Neurexin 1. He will be using CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing to knock out Nrxn1 in Xenopus tropicalis frogs and observing the phenotypic effects, such as increases and reductions in cell proliferation and differentiation as well as changes in regulation of other neural genes. Alberts goal is to illuminate the roles of this gene in healthy neurodevelopment to gain insight into how a mutation can lead to ASD. This research project will develop the groundwork for investigating other autism genes, taking us closer to defining the molecular biological etiology of ASD.

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