The Effect of CD44 and Src Kinases on the Aggressive Motility Present in Glioblastoma

Glioblastoma is the most common, malignant primary brain tumor with a median survival time of fifteen months. Single tumor cells escape surgical resection and become resistant to radiation and chemotherapy by spreading into microenvironments that support viability. Caleb is focusing on two specific proteins: CD44 (a cell-surface glycoprotein that directly links with the cell cytoskeleton) and Src kinase (involved in the upregulation of signaling pathways)both of which promote the tumors invasion. CD44 interacts with Src activity to control actin proteins that form microfilaments fundamental to cell shape, division, and motility. Caleb is determining whether CD44-mediated invasion (through direct linkage to the cytoskeleton) or Src kinase signaling is more fundamental to glioblastoma, an essential question toward deriving future therapies. Ex vivo experimentation will uncover the importance of this CD44-Src complex.

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Phase Coexistence in Multiferroic BiFeO3

In many materials, the application of an electric field leads to a separation of positive and negative charges, inducing a polarization in the material. In ferroelectrics, such a polarization exists in the material without the application of an external field. Analogously, the alignment of electron spins in ferromagnetic materials results in a magnetic polarization in the absence of an external magnetic field. Bismuth ferrite (BiFeO3) is a rare material in which both of these states exist at room temperature and are coupled: applying an external electric field can switch the magnetization and vice-versa. Using pulsed laser deposition, Dan will synthesize ultrathin films of BiFeO3 and aims to demonstrate reversible switching between the materials structural ground states; functionality that has the potential to be used in next-generation low-power memory storage devices.

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Sciences

Solution Processable Point-of-care Optoelectronic Device for Procalcitonin Sensing

Current Bio: Jasmine is a first year MS/PhD at Berkeley in EECS. Haas Scholars Project: One focus of point-of-care devices is to improve accessibility of essential diagnostic tools by utilizing miniaturized, accurate and low-cost optical systems. Printed organic optoelectronics are one such technology that have the potential to improve the optical sensing schemes of these systems. Because organic optoelectronics are processed in solution, they can be easily scaled for large-area manufacturing and roll-to-roll processing, leading to low-production costs. Jasmine aims to design a point-of-care device utilizing printed optoelectronics for fluorescent biomarker sensing and demonstrate the efficacy of this system on procalcitonin, which has been shown to be a useful biomarker for managing antibacterial treatment. Her goal is to demonstrate the use of printed optoelectronics for point-of-care applications as a cheap alternative to current optical sensing systems

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Sciences

Investigating Magnetic Order in Metal Selenophosphates FePSe3 and NiPSe3

Since last decades discovery of graphene, scientists have searched for its magnetic cousin: a magnetic material that can be cleaved down to a single monolayer thickness. One relatively little-studied family of suitable materials is the transition metal selenophosphates, a class of layered, van der Waals-bonded semiconductor materials. Caolan aims to synthesize single crystals of two members of this family, FePSe3 and NiPSe3, in order to perform magnetization measurements in an effort to understand the role of selenium in determining the direction of magnetic ordering. These materials are exciting candidates for both fundamental research in understanding low-dimensional magnetism and magnetoelectronic device applications such as high density ultrafast magnetic storage.

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Sciences

A High-Throughput Microfluidic Device for Single Cell Isolation and Analysis

Characterizing the relationship between every cell type is necessary for understanding the human body and advancing human medicine. One major technological hurdle involves the ability to isolate, manipulate, and analyze individual cells in a high-throughput fashion. Existing methods are plagued by low cell capture efficiency and limited user control. For his project, Andre aims to design, fabricate, and test a novel microfluidic device that will address these limitations. He will achieve this by incorporating a multiplex design with layered architecture and integrated elastomeric valves to enable complete isolation, imaging, and processing of single cells from any given sample. This technology will be critical for studies of rare or precious tissue samples and will contribute vitally to the larger biomedical research effort to catalog and study every cell in the human body.

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Sciences

A Search for Cosmological Signatures of the Axion

While the Standard Model of Particle Physics has been a nearly perfect model for explaining particle interactions, it has two major flaws: its inability to fix the Strong CP Problem and its failure to explain the existence of Dark Matter. To address these issues simultaneously, a new particle, the axion, has been theorized. Experimental efforts to detect this particle have already begun but since the axions mass is unknown, experimentalists are forced to search for it over several orders of magnitude in mass. Nicholas will utilize new theoretical results to study whether axions could leave an imprint on the Cosmic Microwave Background. If such an imprint exists, the axions mass could be determined based on pre-existing observations thus limiting the time it would take experiments to confirm the existence of this particle.

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Sciences

Identification of Neural Circuits Coordinating Sleep and Cardiovascular Regulation

Sleep is essential for human health. In particular, insufficient or low-quality sleep causes higher risks for cardiovascular diseases. Mammals exhibit distinct rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep, and non-REM sleep is associated with lower heart rate and blood pressure. However, how neural circuits coordinate sleep and heart functions remains unclear. The nucleus ambiguus (Amb), located deep in the medulla, contains cardioinhibitory cholinergic neurons. Activating Amb neurons decreases the heart rate. Mohammad will identify the sleep neurons that activate Amb cholinergic neurons using virus-mediated retrograde tracing. He will also test whether optogenetically activating these sleep neurons can decrease the heart rate. This study will uncover the neural mechanism coordinating sleep and heart functions and potentially lead to therapeutics for sleep and cardiovascular disorders.

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Sciences