Allyn Benintendi

In 2012, the experimental label was lifted from the social freezing and banking of oocytes (oocyte cryopreservation or egg freezing), an intense procedure allowing postponement of motherhood. Two years later, major Silicon Valley based tech companies introduced egg freezing in benefits packages an addition mirroring mounting pressure in tech to hire women and the perception of motherhood as an untimely career interruption. How are women negotiating the vital promise of egg freezing, their sovereignty, the physical complications and social, moral, ethical, and political implications of the procedure? How does this change how they engage materially with their reproductive bodies? In exploring the vastly disquieting, empowering and life-changing implications of fertility preservation, Allyn is doing ethnography of egg freezing, exploring how technology is infiltrating our conceptualization of the self, the body and motherhood.

Justin Baik

How does the brain convert sensory information to help us navigate around space? Spatial learning is what Justin believes to be the key in building the bridge between sensory input and navigation. The striatum, a region of the mammalian brain known to be crucial for spatial learning, will be deeply examined using the methods of optogenetics. In his project, Justin will be building methods to optically control striatal regions of freely behaving bats, and examine the neural circuitry that allows their sophisticated navigation around complex environments to be made possible. Justin’s goal is to make this examination wireless and to record neural activities from the bats in their free conditions. The findings from this project will give insights into how sensory details lead to spatial habit formation.

Ahmad Al-Zughoul

Visual working memory is a limited, short-term mental storage system that holds task-relevant visual information in mind and is important for visually guided behavior. Recent studies have suggested that visual working memory is closely linked to visual perception, implemented in overlapping brain regions and sharing similar brain circuitry. Ahmad’s research project will investigate the effects of the neurotransmitters acetylcholine and dopamine, which are known to play important roles in visual perception and in working memory, respectively, by combining pharmacologic manipulation of these neurotransmitters while measuring behavioral performance in a visual working memory task in humans. By testing the role of neurotransmitters known to play a role in modulating perceptual and memory signals, he aims to shed light on the intricate relationship between visual perception and working memory.

Meaghan Allen

In the 1850s, urban mystery novels explored the sensationalistic imagination of immigrants, aristocrats, and the poor that emerged from mass urbanization in sprawling cities such as Paris, London, and New York. Mixing mystery, vice, myth, and experience into one lurid and melodramatic extravaganza, these novels commented politically, socially, and culturally. Baron Ludwig von Reizenstein’s The Mysteries of New Orleans creates a unique vision of immigrant perspective that challenges and problematizes current understandings of the antebellum American social ethos. Through extensive archival research and cultural absorption in the subject city of New Orleans, Louisiana, Meaghan seeks to explore the intricate relations between race, immigration, and crime, asking: what does this novel reveal about the antebellum social ideology, especially the maintenance of a social hierarchy by way of race and criminalization?

Rosario Torres

Rosario’s research will be speaking to the debate that abounds in California among archaeologists, ecologists, Native American scholars, and state and Federal agencies regarding the role that Native peoples played in shaping their environments. While some posit Native Californians were the ultimate eco-engineers, actively managing animal and plant communities, other scholars are more skeptical about the degree to which Native Californians managed ecosystems. In addressing some of these questions, Rosario’s research will feature ethnobotanical remains that may be the product of anthropogenic land management practices employed by Native peoples along the Santa Cruz Coast.

Chance Grable

Since the 1970s, two simultaneous processes of mass incarceration and deindustrialization have transformed the US into a postindustrial society with the largest incarceration system globally. Chance’s research will explore the intertwined history of these two processes through a close study of the prison siting in Youngstown, Ohio, an extreme example of deindustrialization. Through this study, Chance will attempt to answer why prisons emerged in deindustrialized geographies and the resulting social, political and economic impacts. In addition to government documents and oral histories, Chance will examine the archive of activist couple Staughton and Alice Lynd, for insight into how Youngstowners experienced and responded to deindustrialization and mass incarceration. By connecting the histories of these two processes, Chance aspires to employ history to inform policies and grassroots efforts that address both mass incarceration and deindustrialization.

Lucian DiPeso

Pyroptosis is a poorly understood mode of cell suicide, one that functions as an alarm bell for the bodys immune system in response to infection. Though beneficial when properly regulated, the rapid immune response triggered by pyroptosis can, itself, produce disease and dysfunction. Pyroptosis has been identified as a possible contributor to cardiovascular disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and some neurodegenerative disorders. Understanding pyroptosis, then, could lead to novel treatments for a variety of human diseases. Unfortunately, despite ten years of research, uncovering how it precisely works has proven to be an elusive task. Lucian will use a novel microscopic imaging system he developed in order to characterize pyroptosis and rigorously test the fields leading hypothesis on how pyroptosis causes cell death.

Ramon de Santiago

Objects in museums are typically categorized by chronology and geography and then further sorted into subcategories revolving around cultures, languages, and materials. Born of the legacies of imperialism and colonialism, these practices tend towards a flattening of categories and the fixing of objects into rigid structures of European and Other. But what do we do with an object that inhabits multiple chronologies, geographies, and cultures? Art objects and artifacts possess a fluidity and mobility throughout multiple categories, often occupying multiple positions and materialities simultaneously. Using Byron Hamann’s methodology of materialities of seeing, and Eva Hoffman’s pathways of portability, Ramn will consider the carved-ivory box recovered from a 17th century shipwreck of the Spanish galleon Nuestra Seora de Atocha as it emblematizes early modern global flows of materials, people and ideas.

Victor Chen

Actinomycetes, filamentous soil bacteria, have been the single richest source of medicinally relevant natural products, whose applications include anticancer agents, antifungal agents and antibiotics. However, actinomycetes still hold great potential for novel metabolite discovery. This is because the way they are typically grown in the laboratory fails to mimic cues in their natural environments that potentially induce the synthesis of novel metabolites. During this project, Victor will place actinomycetes in ecologically relevant contexts by reintroducing them to bacteria they would naturally encounter, in binary interactions, and subsequently analyze the metabolites produced. In addition, he aims to characterize the microbial community structure in root nodules and analyze their metabolites to discover possible mechanisms of interaction within the nodules. This project will incorporate genomics, analytical chemistry, and ecology towards metabolite discovery.

Helia Bidad

Ninety percent of the world’s saffron is grown in Iran and 90% of saffron in Iran is grown in the Khorasan Province. Saffron production as a traditional farming system is developing in its relationship with climate change and with the spread of technology into agriculture. Understanding how farmers view and interact with these developments is important in understanding saffron as a traditional farming system in Iran. Through in-person interviews in Iran and secondary research, Helia will analyze the perspectives of saffron farmers in Khorasan on climate change, what impacts they have observed, how they have adapted to said impacts, and how valuable they believe traditional methods have been in this process. It will also assess farmers perspectives on technology, especially as it compares to the traditional farming system in place.