Charles W. Houston

To better understand the relationship between Native Californians and museology, Charles will visit five nationally known museums that house Native Californian cultural possessions, in order to research the techniques and methods employed in cataloging, storing and caring for Native Californian possessions. He will then critically analyze the data he collects, in order to explore the racialization of museum practices vis–vis indigenous possessions and to recommend more culturally sensitive methods for archiving them. He intends to submit the results of his study as his Native American Studies Senior Honors Thesis. Charles will also use his findings to inspire other Native Californians to work with museologists to ensure that their Native cultural possessions are properly cared for while inside museums.

Simmie L. Foster

Simmie’s research project is situated at the intersection of cell biology, immunology and molecular biology in the important field of bacterial pathogenesis. Understanding the interaction of intracellular pathogens with mammalian systems is critical for preventing and treating a number of diseases that pose a major challenge to the biomedical community. Specifically, Simmie will focus on the way in which a protein produced by a particular intracellular pathogen, Listeria monocytogenes, is degraded in the cytosol of the host cell. By illuminating the complexity of the host-parasite interaction in this instance, Simmie’s research will also help us gain a better understanding of the nature and function of healthy cells.

Peter B. Brownell

Through a combination of quantitative analysis and qualitative field research, Peter’s Interdisciplinary Studies Field Major Senior Honors Thesis will investigate the effects of the 1996 Immigration and Welfare Reform Acts on the flows of undocumented migration between Mexico and the United States. Focusing particularly on the differential impact of this legislation on women and families, Peter will be testing his hypothesis that the new laws favor single people over families, men over women, and working-age people over children and the elderly, with the overall impact of encouraging cyclical migration rather than permanent settlement. Peter’s research project, which emerges out of his academic interests and his work as a community organizer, will help policy makers and the public better evaluate the complex issues surrounding immigration.

Melissa M. Adams

Through a series of carefully designed experiments with Kangaroo Rats (Dipotomys mirriami), Melissa’s Cognitive Science Senior Honors Thesis will test her hypothesis that these rodents’ capacity to perform “transitive inference” tasks constitutes true reasoning and relies on the same neural structures as less abstract forms of reasoning. A long history of philosophical thought views human reason as unique in and apart from nature. In contrast, evolutionary theory suggests that our reasoning abilities are based on the requirements of the natural environment in which they evolved and, furthermore, that there should be a continuity between our capacities and those of other animals. By increasing our understanding of the neural basis of logic in Kangaroo Rats, Melissa’s project will contribute to illuminating our broader understanding of the nature of cognition.

Brian Sun Kim

Brian will investigate apoptosis, an active choice made by an individual cell to embark on a pathway that ultimately results in its demise. It is generally accepted that apoptosis plays an important role in eliminating damaged cells and maintaining a stable cellular environment; however, relatively little is known about the regulator and effector molecules that may be involved in initiating and relaying apoptotic signals. By increasing our understanding of the regulatory role of the serum and glucocorticoid regulated kinase (sgk) protein in apoptotic signaling, Brian’s project will have implications for the medical treatment of diseased cells, including the development of new drugs for treating cancer, viruses and strokes.

Loren Yukio Kajikawa

Loren will undertake a case study of a group of musicians who have recorded for the AsianImprov Record (AIR) label. These musicians have pioneered a musical sensibility commonly known as “Asian American Jazz,” which combines traditionally African American musical styles with Asian instruments and approaches to composition. Through a combination of oral histories with key members of the music community on the east and west coast, a musical analysis of albums recorded under the AIR label, and a review of the theoretical literature on ethno-racial formations, Loren will explore the complex relationship between social movements, cultural production and the rituals of ethnic identity formation. The resulting Ethnic Studies Senior Honors Thesis will inquire into what extent the idiom of music itself might be a useful paradigm of identity.

Marisa M. Jahn

Marisa’s project combines historical research and creative expression to explore the gentrification of one of San Francisco’s historically working class neighborhoods. Formerly a shipyard and port-based community, the China Basin/Mission Rock district has undergone recent rapid development, leading to the demolition of historic buildings and the displacement of native locals. Marisa intends to research and document the history of the neighborhood and to create a site-specific installation accessible to the public at an abandoned lookout point overlooking the San Francisco Bay. Finally, she will create a website combining a live video feed of the installation with historical and interpretive data. A virtual analogue to the physical installation, it will invite participation by a broader audience, as well as symbolize the process of dematerialization of physical, geographical space that is exemplified by the economic transformation of the neighborhood.

Kate Hunter-McPeake

Kate’s project will explore the origins of the ancient Persian civilization with a focus on its dramatic transition from tribal society to dominant empire during the seventh and sixth centuries BCE. In order to better understand the influence of the declining Mesopotamian and Elamite civilizations on the emerging Persian empire, she will travel to the Iran National Museum in Tehran and renowned archaeological sites including Persepolis and Susa in order to examine archaeological and art historical evidence from the period. Kate will also engage in intensive study of the Persian language and examination of textual sources in preparation for her research in the field. The results of her research will be presented in her Near Eastern Studies Senior Honors Thesis.

Kevin Kuanyun Huang

Kevin intends to uncover theories of history prevalent in ancient China through an examination of the representation of known historical figures in the literature from the Eastern Zhou through the Han dynasties (circa 771 – 86 BCE). Focusing particularly on Zhuangzi, a compilation of philosophical treatises whose historicity has been conventionally discredited, as well as Shiji, the first comprehensive history of China, Kevin will examine the interplay between ideology, history and legend in the treatment of historical figures in these classical Chinese texts. In addition to using traditional empirical methods of textual criticism to solve questions surrounding the compilation of Zhuangzi, Kevin will also examine the relationship between the ancient Chinese theories of history he deduces and contemporary western critical theories that consider the narrativity of historical writing.

Stephanie Neda Sadre-Orafai

Stephanie’s project will explore the connection between consumption and self-identification within the rapso community of Trinidad and Tobago. Since the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Trinidadian musical form of rapso has been a vehicle for social change and cultural activism; however, to date, it has received almost no scholarly attention. In order to test her hypothesis that rapso offers a grassroots alternative to the colonial legacy of externally imposed identity, Stephanie will conduct field-research in Trinidad this summer, using participant-observation methods and formal and informal interviewing techniques with artists, audience members, record label representatives and government officials. She will also visit the West Indiana Collection at the University of the West Indies in St. Augustine, Trinidad in order to study secondary source materials not available in the United States. The results of her research will be presented as her Anthropology Senior Honors Thesis.