Alexandra Saba

The neurodiversity movement has gained much traction with the proliferation of the internet. It is based on the premise that neurological differences such as autism are normal variations of functioning and the human genome. Alexandra Saba will explore the impact of the neurodiversity movement on the formation of identity within autistic individuals through interviews of users of online neurodiversity forums and groups, as well as analysis of current research on neurodiversity. She will consider the following questions: Can autism be seen as a form of identity rather than a disorder? How does the autistic community use the neurodiversity movement as a way to make sense of their own identity? Her thesis will contribute to a better understanding of neurodiversitys impact on identity formation and sense of self among autistic individuals.

Hannah Raslan

In 2018, thousands of Central American migrants, mostly from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, fled their home countries to seek a better life in Mexico or the US. This exodus of migrants has been met both at the US/Mexico and the Mexico/Guatemala border with hostility, violence and discrimination. Hannah Marias research will examine the motives of this migration, specifically focusing on the link between neoliberal economic reforms in Central America and economic migration. She will travel throughout Mexico to conduct interviews with migrants in all phases of their journeys. She will document the challenges these migrants face in her documentary short, which she hopes will raise awareness about the cruel conditions these migrants are faced with in Mexico and at the US border.

Daniel Quintana

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.

Xiaoyu Niu

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.

Mackhai Nguyen

Mackhai Nguyen’s project focuses on Roman comic plays that end with a citizen man and woman being married, specifically those marriages that are generated by rape and similar forced sexual encounters. Previous commentators have examined how criticisms are expressed in these plays that resist the dominant structures of the genre and of the time: patriarchy, aristocracy, capitalism. But what would audiences that are deeply involved in these structures gain from seeing such resistances, and why would they allow these resistances to be expressed? Mackhai argues that these liberatory and critical resistances are always expressed in a way that is co-opted or contained by dominant structures; they are either twisted to benefit the dominant structures they seemed to criticize, or they are silenced entirely. Rather than being liberatory and resistant to rape in a way that is reminiscent of the progressive cultural mores of our time period, these plays can be […]

Bryan Truitt

The Incan quipu was a record-keeping and computing system based on knotted rope, encoding debt, land ownership, genealogy, and other information, but its precise meaning has been lost through colonialism. The arbitration of archival inclusion is an exercise of power, and scholarship, as practiced in the western academy, is a negotiation with or an interpretation of the archive. Yet inclusion is not enough: the organization and decontextualization of indigenous archival objects reflects the fragmentation of indigenous ways of knowing under colonialism. Using artistic production as a framework for critical inquiry, Bryan will travel to Peru to visit archival collections and 3D scan quipus, repatriating the files to supporting institutions, and responding with a series of sculptures which draw from their material and knotting techniques, as well as ideas of indebtedness, memory, and cultural loss.

Youn-Ju Suh

In contrast to to nineteenth-century British India, which adopted English studies from the UK, and nineteenth-century Japan, which westernized itself with British and American assistance, Modern Korean authors in the 1930s learned English literature through a third, non-Anglophone country, Japan. This unusual case raises a question not only about the relationship between the adoption of English literature through Japan and the formation of Modern Korean literature but also about the relationship between empire and language of empire. Through the comparison between literary features of the selected Modern Korean literary works and English literary works and research on the institutionalization of English literature in these two Asian countries, Youn-Ju will produce a meaningful comparative study of Modern Korean literature and the influence of English literature.

Sabrina Sellers

Ballet has largely been recognized not only as a women-dominated profession but one that is coded as feminine in which both men and women navigate. Men in ballet, however, occupy a unique position, one studied by researchers eager to understand how men negotiate and perform their masculinity. These men perform a unique juggling act, going the extra mile to assert their masculinity due to the overwhelmingly feminine ways ballet is perceived by society. Despite this being the case, little work has been done on how the construction of masculinity in ballet affects gender dynamics between men and women in a field dictated by bodies, athleticism, and the ascription of femininity. Using in-depth interviews, Sabrina will explore how masculinity performed by professional, men ballet dancers affects interpersonal and professional peer relationships.

Xinyi Zhang

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.

Jehan Yang

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.