The Role of the Dorsomedial Hypothalamic Nucleus in Mediation of Seasonal Reproductive Rhythms in the Siberian Hamster

Morgan’s fascination with neurobiology led her to join the laboratory of Prof. Irving Zucker, where she has been studying the neuroendocrine basis of seasonal rhythms. Siberian hamsters, like most mammals, restrict production of offspring to the spring and summer. They do so by measuring day length. Neural and endocrine tissues decode day length by measuring the duration of nocturnal melatonin secretion. Morgan’s study, which will serve as the basis of her senior thesis, will assess whether the dorsomedial hypothalamic nucleus, a brain melatonin target tissue, is a necessary and sufficient component of the neural substrate that measures nightly melatonin duration and consequently day length. This project addresses a fundamental issue in regulatory biology and is of potential value in controlling and preserving animal populations.

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To Pass Through History and Enter Sanctity: the Last Judgment mosaic of Prague Cathedral

The “Last Judgment” (“Golden Gate”) mosaic is located on the southern exterior of Saint Vitus’ Cathedral at Prague, a fourteenth century Gothic monument. The mosaic was a framing device for activity which occurred before and behind it: it functioned to separate and relate sacred and secular pasts and presents as a permeable barrier, one which separated and joined secular and ecclesiastical realms of functionality. This project is an investigation of the high degree to which this mosaic promoted powerful localized and international messages of imperial, dynastic, and religious power in conjunction with the ceremony and activity it silhouetted. The project at hand will explore the function of one piece of art within the multi-functional cathedral environment of Prague but also illustrate how a moment of time–historically, religiously, and stylistically–was translated into a charged representation through visual culture.

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Diamonds, Swords and Video Cameras

Jacob will write, as an independent study project in the English department, a full-length play with a double narrative. This duality of structure will allow Jacob to experiment with various forms of multi-media and digital technology available in a modern theatrical production in an effort to explore questions of human subjectivity raised by media theory. To accomplish this, Jacob will develop the script in dialogue with an actress over the summer in New York City, while observing the techniques and technology of several avant-garde theatre companies in NYC already doing this type of work. In the fall Jacob will return to Berkeley to revise and expand the draft, working with a support network of theatre professionals in the Bay Area and beyond. He will produce a semi-staged reading of the play for the spring 2005 conference.

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How a DNA Repair Enzyme (DME) Controls Gene Transcription

The Arabidopsis thaliana genome has been sequenced, allowing use of sophisticated tools for genetic studies. It is known that DME controls gene transcription, encodes a DNA glycosylase, and has homologous proteins in the Arabidopsis genome as well as orthologs in rice, wheat, and maize. We do not know, however, how this is accomplished. Carolina will investigate the DEMETER protein, essential for seed viability in Arabidopsis, using molecular tools and genetics. The project has two phases: 1) To determine if the family member proteins can replace the DME protein; 2) determine what portions of the DME protein give it its unique ability to control gene transcription. The results of Carolina’s senior thesis in Plant and Microbial Biology may contribute to understanding the general biology of DNA repair and DNA transcription of major agricultural crops.

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Impossible Witnesses, Recording and Describing Slavery-An Exploration of Slave Letters

Slave letters, a crucial source for understanding American slavery, have generally been disregarded. Alejandra’s project seeks to analyze the letters in the Wilson Library at Chapel Hill in order to uncover a code/protocol for the slave’s definition and discussion of slavery. Entirely conscious of the audience of his letter, the slave had to learn how to communicate, producing a letter that encompassed both what the master expected/wanted to receive, yet also expressing the slave’s own views. Thus, far from being neutral documents, these letters are composed of many layers that often disguise the author’s true emotion. Alejandra’s project seeks to explore the duality of these letters, which hide any effusive emotion while they simultaneously manifest resistance. This research will provide historians with a different window of analysis into American slavery, as it examines a generally overlooked source and therefore forges new questions and interpretations

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Social Science

Targeted Spending for the Very Poor in Chile

During Pinochet’s dictatorship (1973-1989), Chile underwent extensive neoliberal economic reforms. The regime re-structured public social services and targeted them to the poorest sectors, while introducing private alternatives for those who could afford them. With the 1990 transition to democracy, the targeted approach of the previous regime was maintained, while overall social expenditure increased. Paradoxically, while poverty has sharply decreased, income inequality has worsened. Therefore, although Chile is often said to exemplify effective targeted social spending, it is debatable whether these policies allow for a viable escape from poverty. This research projects goal is to track Chile’s welfare policy from 1973 to the present, elucidating the key factors and political agents in this evolution. Toward that end, Tammy’s project, which will constitute her senior honors thesis in political economy, will combine interviews of policymakers and academic specialists with exhaustive library research of the archives at the National Library in Santiago, Chile.

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Social Science

Angels, Vixens, and Supermamas: American Television Action Heroines, 1965-1979

Between 1965 and 1979, action heroines appeared in over twelve different programs — five of these with both black and white heroines — a period of popularity not seen since. I am interested in the evolution of these early heroines, and their similarities and differences in character, story, and physical display of womens bodies. I suggest that these programs include complex and flawed but still important examples of female characters with strength, independence and agency. What does it mean that Batgirl and Wonder Woman pretend to be bookish women during the day? Or that Christie Love or Charlies Angels disguise themselves as prostitutes when on a case? I hypothesize that there is a female action archetype which emerged in the 60s and was expanded upon in the 70s which includes plot devices that require disguise or secret identities, being kidnapped or helpless, and the physical display of womens bodies.

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Effects of Environmental Atrazine Contamination on Rana Pipiens Gonadal Development

Atrazine is the most widely used herbicide in the U.S., with over 76 million pounds of the active ingredient applied annually. Recently, atrazine has been shown to cause endocrine disrupting effects in many vertebrates. When treated with atrazine in the lab, male Rana pipiens develop pseudohermaphrotidic testes which produce oocytes instead of sperm. This phenomenon has been characterized in frogs from areas of known atrazine contamination. However, there is no evidence directly linking atrazine to these gonadal abonormalities in the wild. In this area-specific study, I will raise field-collected frogs in atrazine-contaminated water from their natal lay site, as well as clean water obtained from this site on a different occasion. I will thus be able to elucidate the differential effect of environmental atrazine contamination in a controlled setting, bridging the gap between the field and the laboratory. This project will culminate in the writing of my senior honors thesis […]

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Nietzche on Our Passions

Why do we live? What is so profound about life that drives us to live? Western philosophy overwhelmingly suggests the answer to be reason. Like Nietzsche, I rather believe the answer has to do with our passions (i.e. emotions). I wish to substantiate this intuition by critically assessing Nietzsche’s main texts, as well as pertinent secondary texts. Based on these investigations, I propose to write an expanded honors thesis in Philosophy that will examine Nietzsche’s insights on the passions, the role the passions have in his overall philosophy, and the relationship between the passions and other important notions (e.g. will to power). The second phase of my project is geared toward moving beyond Nietzsche to examine other thinkers (e.g., Aristotle, Descartes, Spinoza, Hume, Wollheim, etc.) who have made significant contributions in this subject matter, and juxtaposing their thoughts to Nietzsche’s.

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A Spot for Us in Every Home: Deciphering the Creation and Proliferation of Queer Culture in Mass Culture

With an upsurge of homosexuals under the spotlight of popular culture, the inescapable visibility and representation of queerness leads to the crucial question of whether this ubiquity automatically denotes acceptance or even tolerance. Gary’s project, which will result in his Honors Thesis for American Studies, will delve headlong into the issues surrounding the representation of queerness in popular culture. Utilizing a wide array of theoretical texts including queer theory, popular culture, and advertising theory as his background, Gary will decipher and examine the sitcom Will and Grace and the reality series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, aiming to demystify mainstream medias self-aggrandizing creation of TVs gay heat wave: determining how alternative sexualities are in fact represented to the population and comprehending mass medias new infatuation with hitherto marginalized alternative sexualities.

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Social Science

How (And Should) Government Regulate Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis?

The aim of Crystal’s project – the culmination of which will constitute her senior honors thesis in political science – is to discuss whether (and more importantly how) preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) should be regulated. Crystal will be traveling to Washington, DC to address whether the objections behind PGD can be practically dealt with through various types of regulation. By attending meetings for the President’s Council on Bioethics and analyzing their most recent report, “Reproduction & Responsibility: The Regulation of New Biotechnologies,” Crystal will be assessing the effectiveness of using government advisory committees to address the ethical implications of PGD. Crystal will also be interviewing experts from various backgrounds and disciplines to ask for their thoughts on the interim recommendations presented in the Council’s latest report, as well as their thoughts on how to address PGD from a policy-making perspective.

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Reward Motivation and Working Memory

Current Bio: Rahul is a private practice anesthesiologist. Haas Scholars Project: For his senior honors thesis in Psychology, Rahul will use functional MRI to study how the human frontal lobes integrate information in order to guide motivated behavior. It is well established that the frontal lobes play a critical role in short term (working) memory, a function that enables the online maintenance and mental manipulation of information. This study will build on current knowledge about the human frontal lobes to determine how rewards affect the interaction of the frontal lobes with supporting brain regions, and to draw clear conclusions about the regional specificity of reward processing in the frontal lobes. The results of this study will further our understanding of how rewards influence brain function and the neurological basis of motivation in human memory tasks.

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V-Src Regulation of Protein Kinase C-Zeta

Activation of the proto-oncogene c-Src, a tyrosine kinase, is evident in major cancers such as breast and colon. C-Src activates substrates that serve important roles in controlling growth, survival and motility of cells. Activation of c-Src is known to cause transformation, the process by which normal cells become cancerous. David seeks to elucidate how v-Src, a viral constitutively active form of c-Src, regulates Protein Kinase Cz (PKCz), which is a protein involved in control of growth and survival. The Martin lab has shown that v-Src can tyrosine-phosphorylate PKCz and that it increases its nuclear localization and kinase activity. David seeks to (1) find possible PKCz nuclear substrates by co-immunoprecipitation followed by protein sequencing, and (2) look for up-regulation of the transcription factor responsive elements known to be regulated by v-Src using luciferase reporter assays on cells transfected with a nuclear-targeted form of PKCz. This work will culminate in an honors […]

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Media Coverage of Media Concentration

Chau’s research seeks an answer to this question: Do the business interests of an increasingly corporate media undermine the reporting of news on which the public depends? Media scholars have debated this key question for years (mostly answering affirmatively), but Chau hopes to introduce a novel approach to the analysis: using news coverage of media concentration as a case study. Her project will involve a qualitative and quantitative analysis of broadcast coverage by the major networks — specifically of media concentration — before and after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rulemaking in June 2003, a decisive period in which the financial interests of media corporations were and still are at stake. After completing the content analysis, Chau will travel to Washington, DC and New York to conduct interviews with practicing journalists, media theorists and public officials at the FCC to shed light on the reasons underlying the nature of media […]

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A Study of Selective Catalysis in Water

With costly Superfund cleanups making headlines recently, companies have realized that the most financially prudent solution to dispose of hazardous waste is not to produce it at all. In order to reach this goal, new heterogeneous catalysts will need to be developed that have high selectivity and activity in non-hazardous solvents. Andrews project will focus on the Knoevenagel condensation, a reaction important to industries from food additives to textiles. Generally, this reaction is performed in an organic solvent, many of which are carcinogenic. Andrews research will focus on the design and production of imprinted silica-based heterogeneous catalysts that will catalyze the reaction in water, the most environmentally benign solvent known. He will attempt to determine the role played by factors such as the degree of hydrophobicity of the local catalytic environment in making a good Knoevenagel catalyst in water. His project will contribute to the growing field of green chemistry.

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Interferon-Dependent Innate Mechanisms in Mice with Dengue Infection

Dengue virus (DEN) causes the most widespread life-threatening arboviral disease in humans, with an estimated 2.5 billion people at risk worldwide. Despite the global morbidity and mortality, DEN specific vaccines and therapies currently do not exist, and both protective and pathogenic roles of the immune system in DEN infection need further investigation. The Harris laboratory has recently demonstrated that the interferon (IFN)-dependent immunity is essential and more important than T and B lymphocyte-dependent adaptive immunity in controlling primary DEN infection in mice. IFNs are proteins that are secreted by vertebrate cells. They act as intercellular mediators, and are best known for their ability to confer resistance to viral infections. Daniil will investigate how the IFN-dependent innate immune mechanisms resolve primary DEN infection in mice. Specifically, he will determine the major cellular sources of IFN-___ and IFN-___in T and B cell-deficient mice with primary DEN infection using a variety of immunologic […]

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Orientalist Exposures: Image, Authority, and Empire in Gertrude Bells Photographic Archive

Jessica will examine the travel writings and photographic works of Gertrude Bell, an Orientalist scholar who served British intelligence in the Middle East before and after World War I. Bells extensive imperialist project resulted in volumes of writings and photographs that document these archeological and diplomatic expeditions. Addressing how Bell used such representations to validate her scholarly authority, Jessica will study the problems of authorship peculiar to the photographic medium. Taking into account post-structural and post-colonial theories, Jessica will be asking how Bell utilized the mechanistic gaze of the camera to naturalize her own aesthetic judgments, and how her vision was informed by conventions of depicting empire. This project seeks to understand how Bells objective photographic images were used to substantiate her written rhetorical claims, and perhaps how in documenting the people and places of the Orient, Bell may have inadvertently left a trace of herself in these images.

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Identifying Hormonal Factors and Response Elements Regulating GPR82 mRNA Expression

The objective of Calvin’s study is to identify the hormonal factors and their regulatory mechanisms on GPR82 expression in the intestine. GPR82 is a recently identified orphan receptor whose ligand has not been found. Although little is now definitively known about this receptor, GPR82 may play important roles in the regulation of the GI tract. Its expression in peripheral tissues is the highest in the GI tract, and its mRNA level changes in response to the nutritional status in both a cell model and live rats. Calvin hypothesizes that GPR82 is transcriptionally regulated by hormonal factors responsive to nutritional status in the body. He will identify hormones that regulate GPR82 transcription, investigate the regulatory sites of target hormones by determining the response element in the promoter of GPR82, and determine the intracellular localization of GPR82. The proposed project will be part of Calvin’s senior honor thesis in Molecular and Cell […]

...Read More about Calvin Tyi Hang

Subcellular Targeting of the p21-activated Protein Kinase, Cla4

The ability of cells to respond to extracellular signals is mediated by signal transduction networks that almost invariably include a cascade of protein kinases. One family of protein kinases that is universally conserved in eukaryotes is called the p21-activated protein kinases (PAKs). The genome of Saccharomyces cerevisiae has revealed a closely related PAK-type protein kinase called Cla4. Cla4 is required for the proper assembly of a novel cytoskeletal structure that is essential for cytokinesis thereby providing an important checkpoint in the highly regulated cell cycle. Lorraine will be investigating the specific roles of each of the known domains in Cla4 in order to fully understand when Cla4 gets localized to specific subcellular destinations, which domains are responsible for this targeting, and when Cla4 commences specific phosphorylation of critical subcellular substrates. By clarifying the role of Cla4 in the cell cycle checkpoint pathway, Lorraine’s studies may provide valuable information for the […]

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Urban Mediation Committees in a Modernizing China

Twenty-five years of reform in China have impacted virtually all corners of social life. During the Mao era, urban neighborhood mediation committees helped to resolve disputes and conserve social harmony and stability in the cities. Today, the physical and social structures of China’s cities have changed dramatically, raising questions about whether these remnants of the Mao era can continue to play the same role as before. Connie Wu’s research will explore this question by comparing the present role of the mediation committees in traditional, Maoist, and modern neighborhoods of Beijing. Connie will analyze how factors like history, spatial and physical layout of the neighborhood combine with residents’ social class and community ties to affect the residents attitude towards the mediation committees, and the role of mediators in shaping urban life. Connie’s research will shed light on the relationship among extra-legal bodies, social networks, and the development of China’s legal system.

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Social Science