Announcing the Spring 2020 PEAK Experiences Awardees

We are proud to announce the names of those who earned Spring 2020 PEAK Experiences Awards. This spring, our Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships will provide financial and academic support to 25 Base Camp projects, 10 Ascent projects, 1 Bridge-Builder project, and 19 Summit projects. Supported projects span a multitude of disciplines and fields across Northeastern University’s various colleges.

The PEAK Experiences Awards are a progressively structured sequence of opportunities designed to support learners as they continue climbing to new heights of achievement in undergraduate research and creative endeavor throughout their Northeastern journeys. From the beginner surveying the landscape with establishing a Base Camp, to those gaining experience while making the Ascent and Building Bridges, to those reaching the Summit, the PEAK Experiences Awards offer something for everyone.

Join us in congratulating the Northeastern undergraduate students who are tackling PEAK Experiences Projects this semester.


Barriers and Advancements of Saudi Women in the Workplace
Yara Abuljadayel CSSH’22
MENTOR: Professor Kirsten Rodine-Hardy, Political Science
The purpose of this paper is to highlight the advancements and struggles that Saudi women face in the workforce. The history of education is crucial when analyzing the progress of women in the workforce, especially when trying to understand why the huge increase in education has not been reflected into the same increase in the workforce. Furthermore, dependency on oil wealth is not sufficient enough to explain the existence of the female labor force participation gap. Rather, socio-political coalitions have a more significant effect on labor force participation and influence the political agenda.


Rotating Hopper for Elastic Granular Material Analysis
Nicholas Angelino COS’24
MENTOR: Professor Sara Hashmi, Chemical Engineering
Fabricating soft particles and measuring their mechanical properties like elasticity, friction, and stiffness. These particles are to be studied for their interactions while passing through an opening prone to clogging.


Developing HPLC Methods for Characterizing Thermoresponsive Polymers
Gillian Audia COE’23
MENTOR: Professor Adam Ekenseair, Chemical Engineering
The overall goal of this project is to develop a thermoresponsive biomaterial scaffold capable of both drug and stem cell delivery for treating ulcerative colitis. I hope to develop methods for high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) to help determine the composition of polymers we synthesize.


Human Services Textbook Research Assistant 
Amanda Barr CSSH’21
MENTOR: Professor Lori Gardinier, Public Policy and Urban Affairs
I plan on working with professors on a Human Services textbook by creating bibliographies and citations as well as writing case studies for these chapters. I also plan to work on a chapter of a Mental Health and Honors Programs textbook that focuses on perfectionism based on professor needs


Now or Never: The Climate Crisis and Youth Resistance in Boston, 2020
Elisa Figueras COS’20
MENTOR: Professor Theodore Landsmark, Public Policy and Urban Affairs
This photographic exhibition aims to highlight the perspectives of historically marginalized populations and Boston citizens as the climate justice movement takes an increasingly prominent role in the national agenda.



How AFD Thermosensory Neurons Regulate Oxidative Stress Resistance in C. elegans
Nathan Gong COE’24
MENTOR: Professor Javier Apfeld, Biology
The purpose of this project is to use RNAi to elucidate the signal transmitted from AFD neurons to regulate the DAF-16 transcription factor in C. elegans. Validate RNAi clones using bacterial streaking, PCR, and gel electrophoresis.



Molecular Dynamics of DPPC
Carmen Graham COE’24
MENTOR: Professor Mona Minkara, Bioengineering
I will be working on molecular dynamics simulations of Dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (DPPC), which is a key component of pulmonary surfactant. The data collected from these simulations will be analyzed with the goal of further understanding how DPPC and pulmonary surfactant functions.


Early Caribbean Digital Archives: Cultural History of Native Carribeans Exhibit 
STUDENT(S): Emma Isaacs CSSH’24
MENTOR: Professor Nicole Aljoe, English
This project studies the culture and life of native Caribs, pre-colonial contact. Specifically, it will focus on the arts, including music, art, and theatre. Oftentimes, Latin American cultures outside of the massive empires of the Aztecs, Incas, and Mayans fall off the historical record, leaving a critical gap in the understanding of the societies of the past. Sources include oral histories, native art pieces, and colonist documents observing cultures when they first arrived in the 15th century. This exhibit will provide resources and education for this lesser-known portion of historiography, illuminating the unique cultures that existed before colonists arrived.


Gender and Startups
STUDENT(S): Cameron Jamison CSSH’24
MENTOR: Professor Laura Nelson, Sociology and Anthropology
This project aims to discover why women are receiving less startup funding than men and where exactly this difference stems from. We are looking specifically at the role of pitch competitions, where an entrepreneur pitches their startup to a group of investors.


Incorporating Societal Factors into Industrial Engineering Models
STUDENT(S): Olivia Johnian COE’22
MENTOR: Professor Kayse Maass, Mechanical & Industrial Engineering
With this award, I hope to help create the first literature review that focuses on the use of societal and ethical factors in modeling. I will be researching Industrial Engineering models that incorporate social justice issues and assessing how “equality,” “equity,” and “fairness” are used in these models.


Resiliency in Supply Chain Management
STUDENT(S): Elias Karikas DMSB’22
MENTOR: Professor Shawn Bhimani, Supply Chain Management
The collection of data on how companies show resiliency when faced with supply chain failure. This information will be used in an attempt to understand and disrupt Human Trafficking supply chains.



Replicating 19th-Century Woodcuts and Advertisements via 3D Printing
Jung Hoon Kim CSSH’20
MENTOR: Professor Ryan Cordell, English
I will join Professor Cordell’s team in the letterpress studio and research the types of woodcut-illustrated advertisements common in the 19th century, then will reverse-engineer them and 3d print them. I will then incorporate those 3d prints into a model version of a 19th-century newspaper page.


Mobilizing Teens for Environmental Health Research and Environmental Justice Advocacy
STUDENT(S): Ramya Kumar CSSH’23
MENTOR: Professor Laura Senier, Sociology and Anthropology
This project examines the relationship between access to blue and green spaces and mental wellbeing in Boston area adolescents. This  research is community-based participatory research and consists of qualitative data.



JCOIN: Providing Access to Addictions Treatment, Hope, and Support
Andrew Lee COS’22
MENTOR: Professor Claudia Santelices, Health Sciences
Under Dr. Santelices, I will be reviewing literature, drafting qualitative interview guides, and transcribing recorded data from recent studies to advance Medication-Assisted Treatment in correctional facilities. I will also be performing statistical analyses to study discrimination and mental health outcomes associated with opioid use in the Boston area.


Printing Data by Hand
STUDENT(S): Violet Lingenfelter COS’21
MENTOR: Professor Ryan Cordell, English
I am planning to combine modern, artistic data visualization techniques with printing techniques.




Granular Hopper System Development for Adhesive and Elastic Materials
STUDENT(S): Krish Nathan Khoury’24
MENTOR: Professor Sara Hashmi, Chemical Engineering
Granular materials such as ball bearings and powders can form arches and jam. A hopper, which is a container with a tapered opening, will be developed to measure the jamming probability of adhesive and elastic granular materials. An image algorithm will be developed to analyze photos of jamming events.


Verifying and Understanding Kinetic Models
STUDENT(S): Jonathan Plage COE’24
MENTOR: Professor Richard West, Chemical Engineering
My project’s goal is to identify species and reactions in a published detailed kinetic model, determine the model’s validity by comparing it to experimental data, and understand how the model was constructed.



G-Quadruplex DNA Effects on Genome Stability and Human Disease
STUDENT(S): Mateo Rodriguez COE’22
MENTOR: Professor Tovah Day, Biology
The funds provided by The Base Camp Award would go to support the research of G-Quadruplex DNA. These guanine rich DNA clusters are suspected to increase genome instability potentially making organisms more susceptible to cancer and other diseases.


Robotic Foam Shell Fabrication
STUDENT(S): Matthew Schroeter COE’22
MENTOR: Professor Alireza Ramezani, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Development of 3D printed molds to create protective foam shells for robotic joints and body.



Importing Combustion Mechanism Model into RMG Software
STUDENT(S): Samuel Vayner COE’24
MENTOR: Professor Richard West, Chemical Engineering
The RMG software works to validate and compare previously published models of fuel combustion mechanisms. I will be working to import additional models into this system by identifying individual chemical species and transcribing them into a software readable format.



Cold War Confidential: Briefing a US President
STUDENT(S): Gitonga Waigwa Khoury’24
MENTOR: Professor Julia Flanders, English
I will assist in the development of an interactive, digital game-based learning experience to be used in high school and university history courses. Using a text adventure gaming platform called Quest, my role will be to design an engaging game that meets curriculum requirements and teaches historical analysis skills.


Immigrants’ Healthcare Access under Shifting Public Policies
STUDENT(S): Madeleine Wong Bouvé’23
MENTOR: Professor Tiffany Joseph, Sociology and Anthropology
The goal of this study is to understand how immigrants’documentation status, race, and ethnicity shape their obtain healthcare coverage and navigate Boston’s healthcare system after the implementation of major public policies. Qualitative interviews of immigrants and healthcare professionals are conducted to collect data for this project.


Project Launch
STUDENT(S): Alice Yun Bouvé’22
MENTOR: Professor Beth Molnar, Health Sciences
This project seeks to give mental health resources and support to children aged 0-8 years. I will assist this project by collating the data generated from this project to understand the reach of Project LAUNCH and improve public knowledge of early childhood mental health.


Metagenomic Profiling of In Vitro Gut Models
STUDENT(S): Jennings Zhang Khoury’22
MENTOR: Professor Rebecca Carrier, Chemical Engineering
I use bioinformatics tools to perform data analysis of microbial populations from an artificial model of the human gut. From sequencing the genetic material, we can predict the metabolites produced by species of commensal bacteria which typically live inside the body.


Supply Chain Resiliency and Vulnerability 
STUDENT(S): Yuxi Zhao DMSB’22
MENTOR: Professor Shawn Bhimani, Supply Chain Management
The project involves coding historical business events to understand how supply chains fail over time. The method involves qualitative coding at first, followed by detailed quantitative analysis. The anticipated outcome is a better understanding of supply chain resiliency and vulnerability. This can be shared at a poster session in the Spring 2020 semester, as well as an academic conference in the U.S. in 2020.



A Pilot Study of the Regeneration of HS and HA Components of the Endothelial Glycocalyx
STUDENT(S): Selina Banerjee COE’22
MENTOR: Professor Eno Ebong, Chemical Engineering
Atherosclerosis and associated cardiovascular disease affect 121.5 million adults and costs around $214 billion in the US alone, despite significant advances in disease prevention and treatment. Current therapeutic approaches mainly target advanced stages of the disease. The goal of this research is to improve disease outcomes via early disease intervention by studying the endothelial glycocalyx, a sugar-rich lining of the blood vessel wall that protects vascular health and is damaged in early atherosclerosis. This project focuses on studying the regeneration of the heparan sulfate and hyaluronic acid components of the endothelial glycocalyx.


Modeling Evolutionary Pressure in Culture: Selfish Selection of Stem Cells
STUDENT(S): Tyler Bobbit COS’23
MENTOR: Professor Jonathan Tilly, Biology
As stem cells divide, they are introduced with random mutations that can positively or negatively affect their ability to survive in a respective environment. This project is attempting to better understand the pathways in stem cells that are positively selected for with age, but that also result in age-related deterioration of cellular function. By collecting young stem cells, old stem cells and stem cells that have been artificially subjected to sub-optimal conditions, these three cell types can be quantitatively compared to identify these pathways, helping answer the long-asked question of why stem cells’ regenerative ability declines with age.


Parental Knowledge of their Infant’s Suck Development
STUDENT(S): Alison Cox CAMD’20
MENTOR: Professor Emily Zimmerman, Communication Sciences & Disorders
This study aims to determine if participation in the Speech and Neurodeveopment Lab’s Sucking, Feeding, and Vocal Development study influences the way caregivers perceive their own child’s development. We will measure caregiver knowledge and understanding of development before and after they participated in our study. Little research has been done to evaluate general impact of research participation on participants, which would have broad implications for any area of research. We aim to present these findings at RISE 2020 and share with other research facilities.


In-situ Imaging for Monitoring and Quantifying Growth: A Non-Invasive Measurement of Root Culture Growth
STUDENT(S): Amanda Dee COE’23
MENTOR: Professor Carolyn Lee-Parsons, Chemical Engineering
Catharanthus roseus produces two anticancer compounds. By studying how these compounds are produced, we can enhance production. In this project, I will verify that transgenic constructs were integrated into the DNA and evaluate whether these transgenes had a significant effect on growth.
To achieve these goals, I will use imaging and mathematical modeling to calculate the time needed for root mass to double. Additionally, I will use molecular biology techniques to determine whether the transgenes were integrated and their expression levels. I may present my work at Northeastern’s RISE, the ISPE Poster Competition or the Northeastern Section Younger Chemists Committee.

Generation of a CRISPR-Next Generation Sequencing Pipeline to Study Axolotl Limb Regeneration
STUDENT(S): Aditya Gautham COS’22
MENTOR: Professor James Monaghan, Biology
The Mexican axolotl is able to regenerate various parts of its anatomy, including its limbs, spinal cord, tail, ovaries, and lungs. To understand this, it is important to understand how different genes contribute to the regenerative process. I plan to do this by utilizing CRISPR gene editing techniques and Next Generation Sequencing to create animals lacking certain genes. Observing how these animals regenerate limbs differently than regular animals can elucidate each gene’s function, which will shed more light on regeneration. I hope to present these results at RISE 2020 and the the Northeast Meeting of the Society for Developmental Biology.


The Untitled Broken Window Project
STUDENT(S): Benjamin Harris CAMD’21
Aritra Ghosh CAMD’21
MENTOR: Professor Jonathan Carr, Communication Studies/Media Scr
The Untitled Broken Window Project is a meta-theatrical short film concerning workplace protections and the lack thereof in the arts. It uses a combination of methods from media studies and theatre to achieve an interdisciplinary approach to media creation. In a world after the MeToo movement, artists everywhere have been increasingly asking what they’re willing to forfeit of themselves for their art. The Untitled Broken Window Project asks the question, “Does the promise of fame and wealth permit the exploitation of artists?” It will be shared on campus in the late spring of 2019.

Laboring Over History: Boston’s Strikes Over Time
STUDENT(S): Meghan Jones CSSH’20
MENTOR: Professor Gretchen Heefner, History
With this project, “Laboring Over History: Boston’s Strikes Over Time” I aim to explore the similarities and differences between early historical strikes and more modern-era strikes in Boston through a digital museum exhibit. My objective is to make a succinct, educational digital museum exhibit that teaches about the history and current implications of the Boston labor movement, starting in the late 1800’s, and continuing on to modern-day.

Frontier Trails and Tribulations: Pioneer Physicians in the Westward Expansion
STUDENT(S): Ayeon Lee Khoury’20
MENTOR: Professor Gretchen Heefner, History
My project seeks to find out why American medicine evolved differently in the western frontier than in the eastern seaboard by looking at the various geographical, climatic, and social factors that shaped the direction and the rate in which medicine developed in the 19th century United States. This project encourages scholars to interrogate origin stories—in this case the foundations of medical orthodoxy in this country. I plan to apply to share the results of my project at the Annual CSSH Undergraduate Research Forum in April.


Optimizing Hydrogen Peroxide Generation in Green Water Remediation Filter
STUDENT(S): Anna Schwarzweller COE’22
Rachel Lines COS’23
MENTOR: Professor Vaso Lykourinou, Chemistry & Chemical Biology
The RAISE lab aims to continue research towards the development of a water filter to remediate estrogenic runoff water downstream of agricultural farms. We will use an electrochemical cell to activate a catalyst which binds to estrogen and deactivates it. We will focus our spring research to the optimization of the generation of hydrogen peroxide, crucial for effective estrogen degradation. Our results will be shared at various conferences and we hope to publish our findings in the near future.

What Role Do Women Play in Democratic Transitions?
STUDENT(S): Sarah Tyrrell CSSH’20
MENTOR: Professor Bilge Erten, Economics
This project aims to provide evidence that countries with a significant percentage of female politicians experience higher economic growth. It builds on the concept that females invest more in goods that have positive externalities, such as education and health, than their male counterparts. Using a dynamic panel model, we will show that pro-women democratic transitions lead to an increase in GDP per capita and explore the channels through which this growth is achieved, in the hope of finding methods to improve economic development. The findings of this project will be submitted to select journals within the field of economics.


STEMpower Science Enrichment Program
Primary Applicant: Solana Garcia COS’21
Other Collaborators: Efosa Enoma, Pranav Prabhala, Lillian Rupert
STEMpower is a program for high school students in Roxbury to enhance their science education and encourage them to pursue future careers in STEM. The program exposes them to hands-on science experiments and dissections, and introduces them to scientists and medical professionals in various scientific fields. The freshmen curriculum aims to enhance enthusiasm for science by covering broad concepts and including exciting experiments, while the sophomore curriculum focuses on the human body systems, and is accompanied by dissections and an introduction to healthcare inequality/social justice. STEMpower aims to empower teens with connections and resources to further their scientific careers.


Mechanisms of Acetyl-CoA Mediated Cell Death in Bacillus subtilis
STUDENT(S): Brian Best COS’21
MENTOR: Professor Yunrong Chai, Biology
Hospital-acquired infections are commonly associated with bacterial biofilms, multicellular bacterial communities encased in a self-produced matrix which provides resistance to antibiotics and immune defenses. This project will explore cell death pathways in the model biofilm-forming bacterium Bacillus subtilis by sequencing suppressors of an acetyl-CoA toxicity mutant and investigating metabolic processes, cell morphology, and protein acetylation. Understanding acetyl-CoA mediated cell death will elucidate bacterial survival mechanisms and may provide new targets for antimicrobial strategies. Results will be presented at RISE and the ASBMB conference and submitted for publication in a professional journal.

Illuminating the 3D Structure of Sensory Networks in Adipose Tissues
STUDENT(S): Jessica Cheng COE’20
MENTOR: Professor Anand Asthagiri, Bioengineering
The relationship between the nervous system and adipose tissues has often been overlooked. Yet, the influences between these two tissues may be important in advancing future therapeutics for metabolic disorders. This project aims to visualize and model the network of sensory neurons around white, beige, and brown adipose tissues, each of which has different thermogenic and metabolic activities. The circuitry between sensory neurons in adipose tissues and the brain will also be explored in this project. Three-dimensional models of these neural networks resulting from this project will be shared at multiple academic presentations


Distinct Behavior of the Two KRas Splice Variants
STUDENT(S): Trinity Cookis COE’20
MENTOR: Professor Carla Mattos, Chemistry & Chemical Biology
Ras GTPases are dynamic signaling proteins that drive cellular pathways to control cell proliferation, differentiation, and survival and are mutated in 20% of all human cancers. This project will focus on two closely related Ras GTPases that we have found to demonstrate significant differences in structure and conformational preferences. The PEAK award will be used to characterize the two proteins both biochemically and through accelerated molecular dynamics in order to better understand how the two proteins may function together to promote Ras-driven cancers.


Black Market Opioid Data Extraction and Market Research
STUDENT(S): Charles Denhart Khoury’20
MENTOR: Professor Angela Kilby, Economics
This project attempts to utilize online drug forums to extract information about street opioid transactions such as prices, quantities, and locations. Such data exists minimally currently, yet could be very valuable towards understanding the current state of the opioid crisis and proposing future policy to improve health outcomes. In order to acquire this data, several natural language techniques and models will be implemented. If data is acquired successfully, it will be compared with prescription opioid data and previous policy implementation in order to gain a better understanding of market dynamics and policy success.


Predicting Heteroplasmy of Mitochondrial Mutations
STUDENT(S): Melissa Franco COS’20
MENTOR: Professor Konstantin Khrapko, Biology
This project seeks to develop a more holistic model to predict the level of heteroplasmy in mother-child pairs for a mitochondrial mutation that is correlated to a disease called MELAS. It is known that the level of mutation in the blood of mutation decreases with age, which makes comparison of this disease between mothers and their children difficult. Existing correction models seem to over correct the decrease, and overshadow an enrichment effect in children. This project will employ the principles of machine learning to build a more comprehensive model to better understand the complex mutational dynamics occurring.


Increasing the Resolution of TMS-Based Mapping of Cortical Topography Via Use of the Cortical Silent Period
STUDENT(S): Tessa Griffin COS’20
MENTOR: Professor Eugene Tunik, Physical Therapy/Movement/Rehabilitation Science
The presence of benign tumors, that require surgical removal, can cause electrical disturbances resulting in seizures. When tumors are located in motor cortices, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) can be used to non-invasively map functions in the area, aiding in pre-surgical planning. Traditionally, TMS mapping is conducted at high stimulus intensities to record muscle responses, limiting spatial resolution. We propose TMS mapping using the cortical silent period, a measurement of cortical inhibition that requires less stimulus intensity to observe, resulting in increased spatial resolution. In this proposal I will optimize parameters and protocols regarding this new technique in a healthy subjects.

Enabling Long-lived Mobile Internet of Things with Wake-up Radios and Unmanned Aerial Systems
STUDENT(S): Kevin Hines COE’20
MENTOR: Professor Stefano Basagni, Electrical & Computer Engineering
As the world becomes increasingly connected, the need for reliable and efficient smart devices becomes more important. Years of research in wireless computer networks have led to what is now referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT). A major challenge that IoT devices face is related to power consumption. This project will explore the use of a wake-up radio to use a fraction of the power and energy consumption compared to always-on technology in smart buoys deployed in bodies of water.


Thermophysiology of Fundulus sp. from Tidegated Salt Marsh
STUDENT(S): Jade Lin COS’20
MENTOR: Professor Brian Helmuth, Marine & Environment Sciences
I will conduct a thermal performance study on Fundulus sp. fish from the Rumney Marsh in Revere to investigate the ecological impacts of tidegates and tidegate management in salt marshes. I will measure aerobic scope, the difference between maximum and minimum respiration rates, at a range of temperatures to estimate a thermal performance curve and compare it to realized water temperatures in the marsh. The thermal optimum is expected to occur at 30C, after which performance should drastically decrease. After completing the project, I plan to submit a research paper for publication and present at internal student research capstone presentations.


Characterization of NRG-ErbB Proliferation Pathway
Andy Martinez COS’20
MENTOR: Professor James Monaghan, Biology
Some animals can regrow appendages like arms and tails. Nearly all examples of appendage regeneration require an intact nerve supply to regrow, but how nerves regulate regeneration has been an ongoing question for centuries. Regeneration of the axolotl limb is no exception. With this project, we aim to further elucidate the role nerve derived Neuregulin-1 (NRG1) and its primary receptor, ErbB2, play in regulating limb regeneration. Morpholinos will be used to knockdown protein translation. We aim to test if disturbing NRG1-ErbB2 signaling will hinder limb regeneration. The findings of these experiments will be presented at Northeastern University’s RISE 2020 exhibition.


A Study of the Impacts of KRas4A Mutations on its Conformational Shift to State 2
Kathleen Merritt COS’21
MENTOR: Professor Carla Mattos, Chemistry & Chemical Biology
This project aims to discover which KRas4A-specific residues cause a shift in the protein to favor the state 2 conformation that enables Ras to interact with downstream signaling proteins. KRas4A/4B hybrids will be purified to evaluate the conformational preference of switch I in solution by 1H-NMR, and this protein will be used for crystallization trials in order to investigate this phenomenon. Understanding the dynamics of individual Ras isoforms and their oncogenic variants at the molecular level will allow for the development of new approaches for targeting Ras-related cancers. The findings will be published in a peer reviewed scientific journal.


Economic Impact of Global Coffee Markets on the State of Minas Gerais
STUDENT(S): Paul Molander CSSH’20
Andrew Wehner CSSH’20
MENTOR: Professor Imke Reimers, Economics
Our study will investigate how volatility in the coffee futures markets impacts economic development in the Brazilian State of Minas Gerais. We believe that volatility brought by speculation has a negative impact on the ability of coffee producers to reinvest capital, thereby harming the local economy. We will use econometric analysis in combination with qualitative anecdotes to prove that these markets require increased government intervention in order to maintain stability. The paper will be submitted to undergraduate economics research journals.

OLEA Enabled V3 HCR-FISH for Cell Type-Specific Maintenance of Regeneration
STUDENT(S): Evan Mun COS’20
MENTOR: Professor James Monaghan, Biology
My project aims to use multiplexed Fluorescent in situ Hybridization to understand the spatial and temporal dynamics of regeneration and development in the Mexican axolotl to uncover conserved mechanisms that could be translated into mammalian studies. The completed project will overlay cell type specific gene expression patterns with the key signaling gradients that guide limb patterning to understand the unique roles played by the heterogeneous mixture of cells that form the new limb. This will help drive new hypotheses in the field of limb regeneration to work towards aiding millions of individuals with injured or deformed limbs.


Detection of Barrett’s Esophagus and Esophageal Adenocarcinoma
STUDENT(S): Ji Tae Park Bouvé’21
MENTOR: Professor Bryan Spring, Physics
This project aims to develop a novel method for recognition and precision phototherapy of Barrett’s Esophagus (BE) and Esophageal Adenocarcinoma (EAC) using newly developed multiphoton microendoscopy and targeted photomedicine with TGR5 as a biomarker. EAC, often detected at later stages, has a poor prognosis. Early detection, therefore, is crucial. There is growing evidence of TGR5’s (a bile acid receptor) involvement in the development of BE and EAC. By exploiting the properties of nonlinear optics, we will develop a microendoscopy-guided approach to detect and treat both precancerous BE and EAC without the need for invasive biopsies and with potential clinical translation.

Abnormal Task-Specific Muscle Fatigue as a Biomarker of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Nathaniel Pinkes Bouvé’21
MENTOR: Professor Eugene Tunik, Physical Therapy/Movement/Rehabilitation Sciences
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease. Early and accurate detection of ALS is critical, but remains elusive because differential diagnosis for ALS first requires ruling out mimic disorders and can take many months. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) offers a unique opportunity to non-invasively detect quantifiable changes in central neuromotor pathology that may present before physical symptoms of ALS ensue. This project aims to use TMS to comprehensively test the documented phenotype of abnormal central fatigue in ALS.


The 3CPS Compiler
Benjamin Quiring Khoury’21
MENTOR: Professor Olin Shivers, Computer Science
The 3CPS Compiler is an optimizing compiler from an expressive language like Standard ML to assembly. The basis of the 3CPS compiler is a novel internal representation of programs which allows new analyses and optimizations to be performed when compiling programs. These optimizations are important as they remove computational overhead which the source language introduces due to its expressiveness. We will further design and implement the analyses and possible optimizations, evaluating them on many program examples and comparing our results with other tools. The results of this work will submitted to a major programming languages conference.


Manipulation of the Hypoxia-Adenosinergic Signaling to Improve Adoptive T Cell Therapy
STUDENT(S): Nuria Romero COS’20
MENTOR: Professor Michail Sitkovsky and Stephen Hatfield, Biology
Adoptive T cell therapy (ACT) has been positioned as a promising strategy in the fight against cancer. However, challenges like the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment prevent the approach from achieving its full therapeutic potential. This project proposes the manipulation of hypoxia-adenosinergic signaling during T cell activation and expansion to promote the generation of T cells for ACT with increased tumor-regression capacity and reduced susceptibility to immunosuppression. The project will result in the development of an optimized activation-expansion protocol for the use of ACT as cancer immunotherapy that will ultimately be published


High-Throughput Generation and Screening of V3HCR Oligonucleotide Probes for RNA-FISH Experiments
STUDENT(S): David Stein Khoury’20
MENTOR: Professor James Monaghan, Biology
We aim to develop a complete tool for the generation, vetting, and selection of oligonucleotide probes, and the output of probes that are compatible with the aforementioned oligonucleotide enrichment strategy to reduce the cost and time required by the RNA-FISH with the V3HCR protocol. The design of our pipeline will be flexible enough to easily integrate with other related protocols such as intronFISH, DNA painting, and seqFISH. In addition, we intend to establish a knowledge base for the analysis and exploration of RNA-FISH data on the web. We will perform RNA-FISH with V3HCR on dozens of genes in the axolotl.


The Origin of an Evolutionary Exception
Alicia Stoebenau COS’21
MENTOR: Professor William Detrich, Marine & Environment Sciences
Icefish, in order to survive in Antarctic oceans, do not make red blood cells (RBCs), likely due to low levels or absent erythrocyte cytoskeleton proteins (ECPs). This study will determine the origin of the fish’s abnormal ECPs. q-PCR, gene sequencing, gel electrophoresis, and gel staining techniques will be used to determine the origin of the protein mutation. The results will reveal at what stage(s) and what kind of mutation(s) leads to icefish’s ECPs. Furthermore, using Geneious, an evolutionary explanation for the mutation will be theorized. Findings will likely be published in a journal and presented at conferences like RISE.


Characterizing C. elegans Response to Various Bacteria in the Presence of Oxidative Stress
Stephanie Stumbur Bouvé’21
MENTOR: Professor Javier Apfeld, Biology
Oxidative stress is a major contributor to many age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s. It has been shown that many sensory neurons in the nematode C. elegans can regulate oxidative stress resistance. These sensory neurons can also respond to food sources for the worm. This study found that worms are able to discriminate between food sources that can protect them from hydrogen peroxide, a source of oxidative stress. It was found that worms will leave a food source they detect is harmful in the presence of hydrogen peroxide. This unique leaving behavior is characterized and various biological drivers are proposed.