The Role of ORF74 in Transmission of Kaposis Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus

Kaposis Sarcoma Associated Herpesvirus (KSHV) establishes lifelong infections and can cause a variety of cancers and proliferative disorders in immunosuppressed individuals. Recent evidence indicates that oral contact is the primary route of transmission for KSHV. The goal of this project is to elucidate the mechanism of reactivation for transmission of KSHV in the hopes of developing novel treatments to reduce the incidence of infection in the community. Nicholas will infect human oral keratinocytes with several KSHV mutants, and qPCR will be used to analyze transcription patterns to determine the role of a virally encoded G-Protein Coupled Receptor in reactivation of latent infection. If gene knockout successfully limits viral progeny production, Nicholas will test potential drug therapies for their ability to recapitulate this phenotype.

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Further Computations on Maedas Conjecture

Yoshitaka Maeda made the conjecture in 1997: Let m be an integer greater than 1 and let F be the characteristic polynomial of the Hecke operator T_m acting on the space S_k of cusp forms of weight k and level one, then the polynomial F is irreducible over the field of rational numbers; the Galois group of the splitting field of F is the full symmetric group _d, where d is the dimension of S_k. Most recent computations via Sage have verified the conjecture for k 14000. Xiaoyus project will focus on computing via Sage for k > 14000 and/or considering bigger n than whats currently available. She hopes to either provide more evidence or to find results that disprove the conjecture. She may make theoretical attempts at the conjecture.

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Contribution of Vasointestinal Peptide Interneurons to Visual Size and Contrast Perception

In mammals, detecting weak stimuli is crucial for animal survival. One way they could detect weak stimuli is spatial integration, pooling together weak signals over an area of visual space to strengthen the signal. In the cortex, vasointestinal peptide (VIP) cells are a group of interneurons that have a central role in pyramidal cell tuning and response modulation of other interneurons. However, the mechanisms behind how signals from different inhibitory interneurons affect the codification of sensory stimuli into percepts remains unclear. He will optogenetically activate and inhibit VIP interneurons in visual cortex in mice. The outcomes of this project might enhance our comprehension of neuronal circuits involved in sensory perception and provide new approaches to understand mental diseases that are associated with structural and functional changes in the cortex.

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Highly-Biomimetic Mechanical Hand for Robotics and Prostheses: Utilizing Artificial Muscles with Precise Controls Integration

Utilizing 27 degrees of freedom, the human hand is a complex manipulator capable of tasks ranging from fingerstyle guitar to precise surgery. To replicate the human hand would produce a highly versatile tool in robotics and prostheses. Robots in the future might perform surgery while arm amputees could perform as well as anyone in sports and arts. Current hand replications have limitations of high expense and weight, with trade-offs in precision. For his project, Jehan aims to create an inexpensive and light manipulator, with improvements for precise control. He will achieve this by incorporating additive manufacturing and artificial muscles, along with experimentation of control algorithms and machine learning. Through engineering analyses and iteration, Jehan hopes to contribute an important tool for robotics research and custom prosthetic design.

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Enhancing the Resolution of RNA-Sequencing to Investigate the Propagation of Parkinsons Disease

Parkinsons disease is the second-most common neurodegenerative disorder, which currently has no effective treatment. The development of treatments can benefit from better understandings of how the neurodegeneration propagates in the brain. The most crucial contributor to the propagation is believed to be the transmission between neurons of the pathological protein, -synuclein. To study the unresolved transmission mechanism, Xinyi proposes an RNA-Seq study on neuronal models to measure the transient responses of cells exposed to -syn over time. RNA-Sequencing is a powerful tool for unbiased investigation of the highly coordinated responses across the whole genome. The massive RNA-Seq data, however, is often confounded by high noise level and experimental artifacts. Thus, Xinyi will develop a data analysis pipeline that improves the accuracy of signal detection and the resolution in time of RNA-Seq.

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