Student Profiles Archive - MSD Scholars 2012-2013
Here you will find information about past and present students funded through scholarships administered by the Undergraduate Research Center - Sciences. We are proud of the achievements of our research scholars.
Please click on the program year to get information about the supported students, their mentors and their research projects.
| Ms. Xiao Xue (Irina) Zhang
Pictured: Dr. William Gelbart and Irina Zhang
Name: Xiao xue (Irina) Zhang
Faculty Mentor: Dr. William Gelbart
Research Title: Mechanism of bacteriophage lambda genome ejection
Career Goal: to become a scientific researcher in pharmacology
Irina is a senior at UCLA majoring in Biochemistry with a minor in Biomedical Research. After graduating, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in pharmacology. She began doing research at the Gelbart-Knobler lab in winter 2011 as preparation for graduate school.
My project focuses on the mechanism of lambda bacteriophage genome ejection which is important for prevention of viral infections. Recent in vitro experiments with lambda have demonstrated that ejection of its genome is driven by high pressure in the viral capsid, and that only half the genome is ejected before the capsid pressure equals the host osmotic pressure. An in vitro experiment was designed to test if transcription of the injected half of the genome leads to pulling out of the rest. We determined the effect of Polyethylene glycol (PEG) on the yield of viral genome transcription through transcription assays and quantitative measurement of RNA transcripts using gel electrophoresis. Transcription yields of short DNA were found to be only weakly dependent on PEG used to mimic cytoplasm pressure. In addition, we purified E. coli membrane receptor LamB, lambda phage, and lambda-encoded antiterminator protein N, the only lambda gene transcribed by E. coli RNA polymerase in the absence of viral gene products and whose transcription is towards the phage capsid. In future studies, we will carry out a flow-cell experiment in which the length of genome ejected will be measured under fluorescence microscopy after addition of N, LamB, PEG, dye, and before as well as after transcription.
| Mr. Nickolas Wheat
Pictured: Dr. Alvaro Sagasti and Nickolas Wheat
Name: Nickolas Wheat
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Alvaro Sagasti
Title: Mitochondrial Function in Axotomy Induced Axon Degeneration
Post-graduate plans: PhD program in Neuroscience
Nickolas is a fifth year MCDB major with a minor in Biomedical Research. He began working in Dr. Alvaro Sagasti's lab in Spring of 2011. He participated in CARE SEM SPUR over the summer of 2012, and is currently an MSD Scholar. He is currently applying to PhD programs to purse graduate research in Neuroscience. The Sagasti lab currently studies the molecular mechanisms of axon degeneration in zebrafish sensory neurons. Nickolas studies the role of mitochondria in axon degeneration.
Axon degeneration is a common endpoint for multiple neurodegenerative diseases, including diabetic neuropathy, stroke, and traumatic injury. Although mitochondrial mechanisms regulating cell body death are well understood, their role in axon degeneration is largely unknown. Uncoupling mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation leads to decreased production of reactive oxygen species and adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Our hypothesis is that mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation instructively regulates axon degeneration. Our lab has developed a model to study axon degeneration in live zebrafish using laser axotomy (axon severing). Axon degeneration after this type of injury is called Wallerian degeneration and is conserved throughout vertebrates and invertebrates. Time lapse movies of axotomized zebrafish axons using confocal microscopy were created after uncoupling oxidative phosphorylation using two techniques: treating zebrafish embryos with a chemical mitochondrial uncoupling agent or overexpressing mitochondrial uncoupler protein-2 (UCP2) with specific enhancers that drive expression of this protein to sensory neurons. Surprisingly, preliminary results suggest that uncoupling oxidative phosphorylation has no effect on the rate of Wallerian degeneration. However, further experiments are underway to test more rigorously whether oxidative phosphorylation inhibits the rate of axon degeneration.
| Mr. Daniel Torolira
Name: Daniel Torolira
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Neil Harris
Title: Role of Contra-lesional Cortex in Rat Forelimb Functional Recovery
Post-graduate plans: PhD program in Neuroscience
Daniel is a fourth year Psychobiology major. He began working in Dr. Neil Harris' lab in Winter of 2012 and is currently applying to PhD programs to purse graduate research in Neuroscience. The Harris Neurotrauma Lab studies the neuroplastic potential of the rat brain after experimental traumatic brain injury.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) remains a devastating condition for which treatment is difficult considering the many unknown underlying endogenous brain mechanisms that interact after injury. The contralesional cortex has been shown to change behavior after injury and is an interesting mechanistic player for targeted therapeutic treatment. Functional MRI data from our lab show considerable contralesional "wrong side" activation at one week post-injury when stimulating the affected limb and a much greater BOLD response of the contralesional cortex at 4 weeks post injury when stimulating the unaffected forelimb. In vivo electrophysiological experiments from our lab confirm this greater BOLD response, or hyperexcitability, in the contralesional cortex at 4 weeks post-injury. Given this data, we will test the hypothesis that the contralesional cortex has different roles in functional recovery at specific time points after injury. Using immunohistochemistry techniques, we will stain for c-Fos positive cells in brain sections of rats of varying CCI injury severity to test if this larger electrophysiological response, or hyperexcitability of the contralesional cortex, stems from less inhibitory signals from the ipsilesional cortex. While we expected to find a greater c-Fos cell density in the contralesional cortex relative to controls we found no significant difference. We will therefore stain for GABAergic neuronal cell markers to further explain the pattern of cellular activation we have found. We have also been examining the potential for functional improvements of forelimb function after experimental TBI with the help of GABA agonist drugs and forelimb reaching tasks.
| Ms. Seyedeh Tina Shamszadeh
Name: Seyedeh Tina Shamszadeh
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Hsian-Rong Tseng
Research Title: Melanomas Develop Resistance to Vemurafenib by Mutations in the MAPK Pathway, Activation of the PDGFRβ Pathway, or Through Alternative NRAS Mutations
Post-graduation Plans: Doctorate degree in cancer biology
Seyedeh Tina is currently a senior in UCLA majoring in biochemistry and minoring in biomedical research. She has been involved in research since her third year at UCLA when she joined Dr. Hsian-Rong Tseng's lab in the Molecular and Medical Pharmacology Department of the California Nano-Systems Institute (CNSI). Tina has worked with melanoma, prostate, and adrenal cancer cells while in this lab, and one of her research topics is studying the evolution of resistance in melanoma cancer cells when treated with the FDA-approved drug Vemurafenib, monitoring the expression of pERK and PDGFRβ protein via immunofluorescence, and using a small device known as a Microfluidic Image Cytometry (MIC) chip. Tina also has research experience in using Circulating Tumor Cell (CTC) capturing devices to isolate and analyze different tumor cells via microscopy.
After completing her bachelor's degree in Biochemistry, Seyedeh Tina intends to obtain a doctorate degree in cancer biology. She is hoping to be highly involved in research related to this subject, and become a professor at a university.
| Mr. Victor Ruiz
Pictured: Dr. Kendall Houk and Victor Ruiz
Name: Victor Ruiz
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Kendall N. Houk
Research Title: Conformational Analysis of Bryostatin Derivatives to Elucidate Structure-Activity Relationships Responsible for Tumor Suppression Mediated by Protein Kinase C
Post-graduation Plans: graduate program in the pharmaceutical sciences.
There is absolutely no question that my involvement in research has been the defining experience of my undergraduate career. What began as an honors seminar in pharmaceutical organic chemistry soon became a fascination with the integration of chemistry and medicine, particularly in the area of drug discovery and development.
The bryostatins have demonstrated impressive potential as medicinal agents for the treatment of cancer, stroke, and Alzheimer's disease, as well as a cure for HIV. While the precise mechanisms for these activities are yet to be determined, one well known function of bryostatin-1 involves its tumor-suppressing role in the binding and modulation of protein kinase C (PKC). Acting as partial agonists, bryostatin-1 has been shown to activate PKC-δ receptors, leading to autophosphorylation and translocation to the nuclear membrane. In contrast, tumor-promoting compounds like phorbol ester lead to PKC-δ translocation to the plasma membrane. We hypothesize that these two mechanisms can be distinguished, in part, by conformation of the ligand that binds PKC. My research entails using molecular and quantum mechanical methods in computational chemistry to predict bioactive conformations and binding arrangements of several ligand candidates related to bryostatin. The goal is to identify common structural features within such arrangements that would help explain differences in tumor activity. Such information can ultimately guide the development of compounds that replicate tumor suppression with more synthetically accessible structures.
Victor is currently applying to graduate programs in the pharmaceutical sciences. His ultimate career goal is to work in the pharmaceutical industry in the development of therapeutic agents, particularly those involved with treating heart disease and cancer.
| Ms. Jessica Rodriguez
Pictured: Dr. Barney Schlinger, Jessica Rodriguez, and Dr. Michelle Rensel
Name: Jessica Rodriguez
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Barney Schlinger
Research Title: Role of Neuroestrogens in Memory Formation and Recall in the Zebra Finch
Career Goal: Scientist at the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Jessica Rodriguez is a fourth year Neuroscience major at UCLA. She is currently working with Dr. Barney Schlinger and Dr. Michelle Rensel to investigate the role of neurosteroids on learning and memory in zebra finches.
Steroid hormones synthesized in the brain, known as neurosteroids, influence neuroplasticity and behavior, including learning and memory, as well as recovery from neural injury. In particular, estradiol has been identified as a neurosteroid affecting neuronal plasticity. Neuroestrogens are produced from androgens by the enzyme aromatase that is expressed in the brain. In some songbirds, including zebra finches, aromatase is expressed at high levels in the hippocampus, a brain region crucial for vertebrate spatial memory. Preliminary studies have indicated that aromatase inhibition impairs performance on a spatial learning and memory task, a phenotype that can be rescued by reintroduction of estradiol. This correlation raises a number of interesting questions regarding the relationship between spatial memory formation, recall, and neuroestrogens levels in the hippocampus.
The focus of Jessica's project is to determine whether performing a memory task regulates aromatase and estrogen receptor (ERα and ERβ) levels in the hippocampus via gene expression. Zebra finches are subjected to either a memory acquisition or a memory recall test that requires the localization of a food source in a four-armed maze. By performing behavioral assays, RNA extractions, reverse transcription, and quantitative polymerase chain reactions (qPCR), Jessica hopes to contribute to understanding the mechanism of aromatase regulation and neuroestrogen production in the brain and their role in learning and memory.
| Mr. Amilcar Perez
Pictured: Amilcar Perez, Dr. Beth Lazazzera, and Sharon Hoover
Name: Amilcar Perez
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Beth Lazazzera
Research Title: Identification of the Amino Acid Sequence of the Mature PhrA Signaling Peptide of Streptococcus pneumoniae
Post-graduation Plans: Pursue a Ph.D. in Microbiology, emphasizing research on bacterial communication.
Amilcar Perez is a senior at UCLA majoring in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics. Since January 2012, Amilcar, alongside Sharon Hoover and Beth Lazazzera, has been investigating the PhrA/TprA cell signaling-system of Streptococcus pneumoniae.
Quorum-sensing (QS) is the ability of bacterial cells to monitor population density and in return affect gene expression. The phrA/tprA cassette of Streptococcus pneumoniae (SP), a common human pathogen, resembles QS systems found in other Gram-positive bacteria. The PhrA protein is predicted to be secreted and cleaved to release a mature peptide from its C-terminal domain, which is then predicted to be imported into the cytoplasm to induce expression of phrA as well as other regulons. Amilcar has been working to elucidate the mature form of the PhrA signaling peptide. This mature peptide leads to a change in virulence gene expression of S. pneumoniae thus understanding this system may lead to a new insight on S. pneumoniae pathogenesis. These studies will further elucidate the mechanism of gene expression controlled by PhrA and TprA and the role of these proteins in mediating a QS signal.
| Mr. Damond Ng
Pictured: Dr. Tomas Ganz, Damond Ng, and Rose Linzmeier
Name: Damond Ng
Mentor: Dr. Tomas Ganz
Title: Ferroportin, Hepcidin, and Macrophages: Iron Regulation in Breast Cancer Progression and Metastasis
Damond Ng is currently a fourth year Biochemistry major working under the mentorship of Rose Linzmeier in the laboratory of Dr. Tomas Ganz. Since September 2010, he has investigated iron metabolism and molecular mechanisms in cancer.
In developed countries, breast cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related death in women with 227,000 new cases per year. Recent studies have shown that breast cancer cells present abnormal expression of several iron regulatory proteins. Hepcidin, a peptide hormone produced by the liver, constitutes the master regulator of iron homeostasis allowing iron adaptation according to body iron needs. Hepcidin binds to ferroportin, the only known cellular iron exporter, causing ferroportin internalization and degradation. This study proposes that breast cancer cells sequester iron in order to stimulate proliferation and metastasis, thus altering this physiologic pathway and perpetuating the cancer phenotype in tissues. With increased solid tumor formation, an abundance of tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) is hypothesized to occur at the boundaries of ductal and lobular carcinomas. TAMs, closely regulated by the interaction of hepcidin, phagocytize and degrade damaged cells to recover iron. In this case-control study, Damond will design assays to measure both ferroportin and hepcidin expression levels. Further experiments will investigate the feasibility of TAMs as novel, widely applicable cancer-stage detection for patients using a CD68 glycoprotein marker. Results from this study will establish whether regulatory molecules of iron metabolism could become therapeutic targets for breast cancer.
After graduation, Damond plans to pursue a career in cancer research. He would like to thank the Ganz lab, Dr. Tama Hasson, the National Institutes of Health, and his family for their guidance and continuing support of his research endeavors.
| Ms. Marinna Madrid
Pictured: Dr. Amy Rowat and Marinna Madrid
Name: Ms. Marinna Madrid
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Amy C. Rowat
Research Title: Mechanical Properties of Arabidopsis thaliana Nuclei
Post-graduation Plans: PhD programs to pursue graduate research in bioengineering and physics education research.
Marinna is a fourth year Biophysics major, and began working in the laboratory of Dr. Amy Rowat in the spring of 2012. The lab is interested in the mechanical properties of cell nuclei; Marinna's project is focused on plant cell nuclei, which are not as well studied as their metazoan counterparts. She is currently an MSD Scholar and has also participated in CARE Scholars and CARE Fellows.
The mechanical properties of the nucleus play an important role in the physiology of the cell. For example, mutations in the genes encoding nuclear envelope lamin proteins result in structural changes to the nucleus, and are linked to tissue-specific diseases. While plants lack the lamin proteins that are critical for the mechanical stability of animal cell nuclei, similar coiled-coil proteins LINC1 and LINC2 help to maintain nuclear size and structure in Arabidopsis thaliana. To investigate plant cell nucleus mechanical properties and elucidate the role of LINC proteins in nuclear mechanical stability, nuclei of the model organism Arabidopsis thaliana are examined. Nuclei, including linc1 and linc2 mutants, are subjected to mechanical forces in microfluidic devices that can precisely control the applied stress to characterize the elasticity of the nucleus. Osmotic manipulations are also performed on trapped protoplasts and isolated nuclei to investigate the effects of varying osmolarity on the shape and structural stability of the nucleus. These experiments provide insight into the physical properties of plant cell nuclei, and ultimately, the link between the physical environment of the nucleus and plant cell physiology.
Marinna is currently applying to PhD programs to pursue graduate research in bioengineering and physics education. Her long-term goal is to one day become a community college professor or a professor at a primarily undergraduate institution.
| Mr. John Arban Lewis III
Name: John Arban Lewis, III
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jean Turner
Research Title: Hydrogen Recombination Lines Brackett Alpha (4 micron) and Brackett Gamma (2 micron) Spectrsocopy of Suspected Super Star Clusters
Post-Grad Plans: Graduate school pursuing a PhD in Astronomy of Astrophysics
Career Plans: Professorship or Research Position at a Research Institution
John Lewis is a 4th year graduating senior in Astrophysics. John works with Dr. Jean Turner to use high resolution infrared spectroscopy to determine dynamic and star formation properties of extreme star forming regions.
Super star clusters (SSCs) regions are regions were young stars are forming at unusually high stellar densities similar to those of globular clusters (gravitationally bound regions of up to 100,000 Sun mass stars in 2 pc (The distance between us and the nearest star!!)). The problem for globular clusters is the high stellar density During formation, the winds of powerful stars should, naively, cause the cluster's gas to disperse before it finishes forming. But, SSCs still retain their gas and may be precursors to globular clusters. Observations of their properties are needed to understand them better. In SSC spectra two useful lines are the near-infrared lines Brackett α (4 micron) and γ (2 micron). Line broadening due to random motions is related to the system dynamics, and the amount of light (flux) relates to star formation. Observations of the lines were made in 2002 and 2003 by Dr Turner using the Near -Infrared-Spectrograph at Keck Observatory. Gaussian fits of the line give us the needed width and flux information. From these it is possible to determine the extinction, number of stars, and other quantities that characterize a particular region. Characterization of these regions can lead to a better understanding of the processes that allow extremely dense regions of stars to form and remain gravitationally bound.
| Mr. Matthew Kelley
Name: Matthew Kelley
Faculty Mentor: Istvan Mody
Research Title: TRPC6 in Temporal Lobe Epilepsy
Career Goal or Post-Graduation Plans: PhD in Neuroscience
I am a fourth year neuroscience major working in the laboratory of Dr. Istvan Mody. My involvement in research has led to incredible opportunities and developed my passion for the field of neuroscience. Through the MSD Scholars program I have been able to attend professional conferences, develop presentation abilities, and experience a solid introduction to graduate education and my future scientific career.
Temporal lobe epilepsy is the most common form of human epilepsy. It involves an initial precipitating injury, a seizure free latent period, and a chronic period when recurrent seizures begin to occur. One of the main goals of the laboratory of Dr. Istvan Mody is to understand the process of epileptogenesis; the molecular and network changes that lead to the emergence of recurrent seizures in the chronic period. These changes include large amounts of neuronal death in the hippocampus, a center for memory and learning. My research studies the non-selective calcium channel TRPC6 in this process of epileptogenesis. TRPC6 is localized to the molecular layer of the hippocampal dentate gyrus and has been shown in mouse models of stroke to provide neuroprotection and prevent apoptosis. I use several different mouse models of TLE to examine TRPC6 changes in the hippocampus and am beginning attempts to modify observed changes through pharmaceutical methods. Studying TRPC6 in TLE may lead to broader answers on the relationship between the channel and neuronal survival.
| Mr. Jarrett Johnson
Pictured: Dr. Catherine Clark, Christopher Allan, and Jarrett Johnson
Name: Jarrett Johnson
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Catherine Clarke
Research Title: Associated Polypeptides Found within Yeast Mitochondria for the Biosynthesis of Coenzyme Q
Career Goals: Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology
Jarrett Johnson is a fourth-year biochemistry major and an undergraduate researcher in the Catherine Clarke Lab at UCLA's department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Jarrett primarily aims to further characterize the putative biosynthetic protein complex found within the inner membrane of yeast mitochondria. Following graduation, Jarrett plans to obtain a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology with a focus in synthetic biology and metabolic engineering. With aspirations of advancing the biotechnology field, Jarrett plans to eventually join a start-up biotech company.
Coenzyme Q, CoQ, or ubiquinone, is a lipid soluble antioxidant found in the phospholipid bilayer of the inner membrane of the mitochondria where it serves as an essential component of the electron transport chain. Although biosynthesis of CoQ is not completely characterized eleven proteins have been identified that are required for synthesis of CoQ, and many of them are though to exist in one or more multi-subunit complexes. The functions of several polypeptides required for CoQ synthesis remain unknown.Biotinylated Coq3p has been shown to interact with the polypeptide, Coq4p as well as several other Coq polypeptides. In this study, a dual tag, CNAP, containing ten consecutive histidine residues and a protein C epitope will aid in the immunoprecipitation of the other proteins associated with Coq3p. This tag will permit tandem-affinity purification of Coq3p and its associated proteins to enhance protein purification. Preliminary data confirm expression of Coq3p-CNAP in place of wild-type Coq3p supports growth on non-fermentable carbon sources and therefore functions in preserving CoQ biosynthesis and mitochondrial respiratory chain function. Upcoming experiments include preparation of yeast lipid extracts and assays of CoQ content via HPLC and tandem mass spectrometry. Digitonin solubilization of mitochondrial proteins will aid in the preparation of the final pull-downs of the Coq polypeptide complex. With more insight as to how Coq proteins associate, this project's data will hopefully elucidate many enigmas that exist in CoQ biosynthesis.
| Ms. Qixin (Cyndi) He
Pictured: Ashay Patel, Cyndi He, and Dr. Ken Houk
Name: Qixin Cyndi He
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Kendall N. Houk
Research Title: Undergraduate researcher
Post-graduation Plans: Pursue a PhD
Cyndi He is a fifth year student at UCLA majoring in Biochemistry. Cyndi is studying Computational Organic Chemistry with Dr. Ken Houk and working towards her Master's degree in Organic Chemistry as an undergraduate Departmental Scholar in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. She will pursue a PhD degree in Synthetic Organic Chemistry after graduation.
Cyndi's research in the Houk group started in Summer 2012. A series of remarkably facile transannular Diels-Alder (TADA) cycloadditions is developed experimentally by the Merlic group. These cyclic trienes react very quickly with a half-life of 67 minutes under experimental condition with exclusive selectivity for the exo- product. Since Diels-Alder reactions often have high activation barriers (30kcal/mol or higher) and require long reaction time and harsh reaction conditions, computational study seeks to understand what factors are responsible for reactivity and selectivity of these TADA reactions. Extensive computations and conformational analyses will be carried out in the coming quarter.
| Ms. Tanya Conchas
Name: Tanya Conchas
Faculty Mentor: Aradhna Tripati
Research Title: Using Nano-Computerized Tomography Imaging and 3D modeling to Quantitatively Observe the Response of Modern Pteropods to Ocean Acidification
Post-graduation: Obtain a Ph.D.
I am a fifth-year Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences major currently doing research in Dr. Tripati's lab in the Earth and Space Sciences Department. My current research looks at the response of marine organisms that form calcium carbonate shells to ocean acidification. We apply nano-CT scanning to shells of pteropods, snails that live in the top ocean column. We use a volume analyzing program to generate 3D models of the samples to analyze changes in average shell thickness and volume with changes to ocean pH.
Working in Dr. Tripati's lab influenced my research to apply geochemistry to paleoceanographic samples in order to answer questions about climate change. A future project is calibrating a new clumped isotope paleothermometer on cultured mollusk samples. Clumped isotope paleothermometry looks at the abundances of the bonding of the heavy isotopes of carbon and oxygen (e.g. 13C-18O), which depends on temperature. This method will be applied on a set of cultured mollusks spanning a range in water temperatures of 5 to 25°C, and field-collected specimens spanning a range of -1 to 29°C.
My final education goal is to receive a Ph.D. in order to be a researcher and continue in academia in the field of Arctic paleoclimate.
| Ms. Samantha Clarke
Pictured: James M. Ma, Samantha Clarke, and Dr. Richard B. Kaner
Name: Samantha Clarke
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Richard B. Kaner
Research Title: Optimizing Thermoelectric Efficiency of La3-xTe4 with Alkaline Earth Metal Substitution
Post-graduation Plans: Attend graduate school and obtain a PhD in Chemistry or Materials Science and Engineering.
I am a fourth year Chemistry - Materials Science and Engineering major. I began working in the laboratory of Dr.Kaner in the winter of 2012. Last year I participated in the CARE Fellows program and this year I am a MSD Scholar. I am currently applying to PhD programs and hope to pursue graduate level research in materials chemistry. I am currently working on ways to optimize efficiency the n-type thermoelectric material lanthanum telluride via calcium doping.
Lanthanum Telluride is a reliable, high temperature n-type thermoelectric material. Its maximum efficiency is zT~1.2 at 1000°C. The goal of this experiment was to optimize the efficiency of the high temperature material lanthanum telluride La3-xTe4 by doping it with alkaline earth metals. Computational modeling and previous experiments suggests substitution for the La3+ atoms with non-isoelectronic atoms may improve the efficiency. These substitutions also allow for a finer control over carrier concentration. Samples with varying concentrations of dopant were produced by ball milling and spark plasma sintering. The magnitude of carrier concentration and the amount of vacancies in the unit cell were controlled by the concentration of dopant added. The various thermoelectric properties of the substituted samples will be reported as a function of temperature and compared to undoped lanthanum telluride. Lastly, the overall zT of the samples will be shown as a function of temperature and compared to standard lanthanum telluride.
| Ms. Amie Caraveo
Name: Amie Caraveo
Faculty Mentor: Miguel Garcia-Garibay
ResearchTitle: Molecular Gyroscopes with Martial Applications
Post-graduation Plans: PhD in Chemical Engineering
Amie is a 5th year chemical engineering major. She began working in the laboratory of Dr. Miguel Garcia-Garibay in June 2010. She is a MSD scholar and is currently applying to PhD programs to pursue graduate research in chemical engineering. The laboratory currently studies crystalline molecular machines for technological applications and develops environmentally-friendly reactions in the solid state for natural product synthesis. In this laboratory, Amie's project focuses on developing a functionalized molecular gyroscope facilitating azobenzene attachment to develop a unique material, which may have possible applications in electronic devices.
Molecular gyroscopes are a type of functionalized material designed to resemble macroscopic gyroscopes and have properties that may be controlled with electromagnetic fields. A diphenol intermediate, 3,3'-(3,3'-(1,4-phenylene)bis(1,1-diphenylprop-2-yne-3,1-diyl))diphenol, has been synthesized as a precursor of a functionalized molecular gyroscope. The diphenol intermediate was synthesized using four reactions performed in anaerobic and anhydrous conditions. The synthesis of diphenol intermediate from 3-bromoanisole had an overall yield of 36%. The resulting diphenol intermediate was purified by silica column chromatography and its structure was confirmed using infrared and hydrogen nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. A functional molecular gyroscope involving the attachment of a photochromic molecule, azobenzene, is currently being investigated. The development of functionalized molecular gyroscopes may provide new material for electronic devices.
| Ms. Veronica Tolnay
Mentor: Dr. Jonathan Stewart
Major: Civil Engineering
Project Title: Volumetric Change in Soils Due to Seismic Loading
Soil properties are altered when subjected to earthquakes and can tell us a great deal about the expected behavior of the soil. Due to the earthquake in Niigata, Japan, in 2007, a soil under the nuclear power plant at Kariwa, Japan, deformed and settled, shutting down the entire plant. Because earthquakes of large magnitude in heavily depopulated areas such as Niigata are rare, the accuracy of methods used to predict volume change in soils having undergone earthquakes is not well known. A sample of soil from Kariwa, names Kashiwazaki soil, classified as silty sand, was obtained for study to compare predictive measures of seismic volume change with those experienced in the field. The properties of the soil obtained in the laboratory and compared to the field values are void ratio (volume of voids to the colume of solids), density and settlement after shear loading (shear loading mimics earthquakes), and grain size distribution. Shear loading is performed to relate strain in a soil to its density. Density of a soil varies greatly among different soil classes; therefore, a normalized value of density is used. Re3lative compaction, the ratio of the actual density of a soil to its theoretical maximum density, is currently used for all soils other than clean sands. Working with Wilshire and Orange soils, classified as silty sands, procedures were mastered for finding grain size distribution (using sieve analysis tests), void ratio (Atterberg limits tests) and relative compaction (modified Proctor test).
| Mr. Brian Truong
Pictured: Brian Truong and Dr. James Byrne
Name: Brian Truong
Faculty Mentor: Dr. James A. Byrne
Research Title: Investigating the Role of Nucleotide Deficiency and Oxidative Stress in Genomic Instability in Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells
Career Goal: After graduation, I plan to pursue a career in stem cell research by first attending a graduate school to obtain a Ph.D in stem cell research.
I am currently a fourth year Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology major working under the mentorship of Dr. James A. Byrne of the Department of Molcular and Medical Pharmacology. Since April 2011, I have worked on multiple projects focused on furthering the goal of personalized stem cell-based therapeutics.
Currently, I am part of a team working on investigating genomic instability of hiPSCs. One of the main obstacles precluding clinical relevance of hiPSCs is the issue of genomic instability caused by extended in vitro culture; the widespread occurrence of genomic instability is a major issue when considering the transplantation potential of hiPSC-derivatives as increased genomic damage could lead to neoplasms and tumor formation. Specifically, our team is investigating both replicative and oxidative stresses as key drivers for the acquisition of genomic damage in hiPSCs and is finding methods to alleviate this DNA damage via culture supplementation. As the lead researcher in the oxidative stress branch of this project, I developed optimization assays to determine non-toxic doses of ascorbic acid to supplement our hiPSC lines in order to alleviate any potential genomic damage caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS) as well as assays to determine levels of DNA damage and ROS in our hiPSCs.