Princeton University Class of 1955

           Fifty Five Fund for Senior Thesis Research

Fiscal Year 2021-22

 

Date: November15, 2022

Report prepared for: Princeton Class of 1955

Year established:1980 –Class 25th Reunion

Purpose: Princeton Senior Thesis

Fund Description: Provide grants to defray expenses related to Senior Thesis projects of unusual promise.

 

  2021-222020-21 2019-20 2018-19 2017-18 2016-17
       
Book Value, May $102,309$102,309 $102,309 $102,309 $102,309 $102,309
       
Market Value, May $3,083,128$2,916,421 $2,094,690 $2,134,525 $2,146,396 $2,002,238
      
Appreciation $2,980,819$2,814,112 $1,992,381 $2,032,216 $2,044,087 $1,899,929
 
Income Available $121,574(fy23)$116,989(fy22)$112,401(fy21) $112,401(fy20)$108,077(fy19)$87,328 (fy18)
 
Recipients to Date 1,4091,366 1,335 1,271 1,217 1,161
  
Recipients Last Year4331 64 54 56 50

 

Definitions

Book Value: Gift amount vested in Princeton’s investment pool, before earning any return. This capital consists of the original contribution plus any other contributions to the fund, including matching gifts.

Market Value: Total value of the fund, including additions and appreciation.

Appreciation: Difference between book value and market value, indicating how much the fund has grown.

Income: Amount available for spending during the fiscal year.

 

Report prepared by: Eric Martin, Assistant Director, Office of Donor Relations, Princeton University 609.258.8947 or ericmartin@princeton.edu

 

 

Thank You Messages from Students

Anahi Ambrosio ’22

Thesis Title: Impact of Crosslinking Density on Liquid Crystal Elastomer Properties
“My research explores the impact of crosslinking density on the properties of liquid crystal elastomers. The funds I received allowed me to be able to purchase starting materials for my research. With these, I was able to vary the crosslinking densities of different polymer ink that were made. In addition, I was able to characterize the properties by using differential scanning calorimetry.”
Zora Arum ’22
Thesis Title: A Procession of Particulars: The Preservation of Organic Unity in Woolf‘s Corpus
“With the funds provided, I went to the New York Public Library Special Collections and looked at the Virginia Woolf materials in the Berg Collection. While at the library, I did a comprehensive research on Woolf’s manuscript drafts of The Waves and Mrs. Dalloway and looked at some of her correspondence. The topic of my thesis is the interdependence of the individual and social body in Woolf’s works. I am looking specifically at the influence of G.E. Moore’s theory of “organic unity” on Woolf’s philosophy of bodily empathy. My thesis is that the creation of a social whole relies upon individual particularity, through the lens of Moorean “object realism.” The project now heavily features the draft manuscript material that I found at NYPL, some of which have never been published. The funding that I received from the Class of 1955 Senior Thesis Fund has been instrumental in my conception of the project and attempts to support its central claim. After graduation, I will be working at a wet lab at the University of California: San Francisco, researching developmental cancers of the brain. I hope to eventually go to medical school. I think of these plans as intimately tied to my love of literature and my interest in a socially productive theory of empathy and love for the particularity of individuals’ bodies, which the Fund has helped me pursue. Thank you!”
Yanar Bitar ‘22
Thesis Title: Synthesis and Investigation of a Family of Gold Tellurides in an Attempt to Characterize and Explore Superconductivity
“Thank you to the donors of the Class of 1955 Senior Thesis Fund for supporting my thesis work. Without the fund, I would not have been able to gather my materials to begin the experiments, and my research would not have been able to work. My thesis research revolved around the element gold and an attempt to synthesize a compound that has not been synthesized prior. While doing so, I had hoped to investigate and reveal unique properties of the element that could be beneficial to the field of stable phases. As you may know, gold is not a cheap element, and I thank the fund because as I went through each run, I only ever needed more and more of the powder. The experiment instilled a sense of curiosity in me that could only have been built on the ability to begin the research itself, so thank you once again!”
Hifsa Chaudhry ’22
Thesis Title: Neural Mechanisms Underlying Cognitive Deficits in Rat Models of Autism
“For my senior thesis, I am working in the Brody Lab under the supervision of my post-doc Dr. Marino. As a part of my research, I am characterizing the cognitive deficits associated with known autism risk gene mutations - specifically the FMR1 gene and the NRXN gene. The rats with the gene mutation are trained on a specific cognitive flexibility task, and their performance is quantified and compared to the performance of wild-type rats who lack the gene mutation on the same task. In addition, we are using light sheet microscopy and staining techniques to determine whether the rats with autism gene mutations have any structural abnormalities in comparison to wild-type rats. The thesis funding I received through the Class of 1955 Senior Thesis Fund was incredibly helpful in allowing me to live on campus and work in the laboratory throughout the summer. I am grateful to all of the donors who made this fund and the senior thesis experience I have had possible. I look forward to carrying the skills that I have attained through this research into my future aspirations with the end goal being to attend medical school.”
Hailey Colborn ’22
Thesis Title: Harlem Blues
“For my thesis, I wrote a screenplay set during the Harlem Renaissance that explores themes of respectability versus the post-war frenzy, or more simply put the church versus the cabaret. Thanks to the Class of 1955 Senior Thesis fund, I was able to spend a week in Chicago, visiting the sites of historic clubs that helped launch the jazz movement that would eventually come to fruition in Harlem. While some have since closed and are simply sites now, a couple were still open and held live music for people to listen to and dance to. Being in those environments helped me imagine what it would have been like in the 1920s. I do not doubt that that experience helped me embody the aura of the 20s jazz club in my screenplay and I‘m extremely grateful. After graduating, I will be pursuing a career in film with the intention of writing/directing projects that highlight marginalized narratives.”
Ben Dodge ’22
Thesis Title: Stellar Disk Tilting in Galaxy Mergers
These contributions helped me to conduct research at the Center for Computational Astrophysics in New York, where my thesis advisor Mariangela Lisanti is on sabbatical. Every week I travel to attend seminars, work with graduate students, and most importantly have a weekly meeting with my advisor and a postdoc, Oren Slone. The in-person environment has accelerated our progress at the blackboard, and most recently we worked out some theoretical aspects of particle orbits in a mixed spherical and cylindrical gravitational field. Long story short, the precession of these orbits is critical to understanding how the Milky Way stellar disk responds to mergers with other galaxies. (Recent data from the Gaia space telescope is indicating that these mergers are more common than we previously thought!) One unexpected benefit of my weekly trip has been the knowledge and connections formed over lunch and dinner with people from all levels of academia. These conversations influenced my desire to pursue particle astrophysics and cosmology in graduate school and I have been able to learn a lot about the programs I am considering: Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, and NYU. I hope to defer my offers and spend a year teaching abroad, pending good news from Fulbright or Princeton in Asia!”
Anna Durak ’22
Thesis Title: Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust:” The Creation and Continuation of "Disney Magic" in the Disney Theme Parks
“Because of the Class of 1955 Senior Thesis Fund, I was able to carry out my thesis research in person, at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The in-person opportunity was so rewarding and the knowledge and experience that was obtained for not only my thesis but also my overall academic journey could not have occurred without your help. I am so grateful for your generous donation! Thank you!”
Chino Eke ’22
Thesis Title: Mechanisms of Social Memory Dysfunction in Mouse Models of Autism Spectrum Disorder
“I continued ongoing research in the Gould Lab of Neuroscience about the impact of the CA2 on social memory formation in two transgenic models of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The goal of the research is to identify developmentally relevant information associated with the onset of social memory impairments in ASD. In layman‘s terms, this research is attempting to identify any biomarkers that might be related to impaired memory. Ultimately, the Class of 1955 Senior Research Fund has enabled me to explore how ASD develops and potentially contribute to a means of preventing the deficits associated with its onset.”
Victoria Escalante ’22
Thesis Title: Prototype of a Doctor: How are the Reverse Correlation Images of a Doctor and a Non-Doctor Face Perceived?
“My senior thesis as a psychology major was on creating a visual prototype of what a doctor and non-doctor, which is what people think an ideal doctor looks like in people’s minds. From the images that I created in my first study, I found that the doctor‘s face was a white female and the non-doctor face was a black male. I then measured the perceived competence and warmth of the faces that were created in the first part. The doctor‘s face was more competent and warm than the non-doctor face. With the help of the Class of 1955 Senior Thesis Fund, I was able to pay my participants in my second study. This also allowed me to send my survey nationwide. I am very grateful to have been given this funding to help me pursue my thesis question.”
Kenneth Gonzalez  ’22
Thesis Title: Broken Treaties, Broken Lives: A Legal History of Mexican-American Dispossession in Arizona, 1854-1912
“Because of my research funding, I was able to conduct research at the Arizona State Archives, the Arizona Historical Society, and the University of Arizona. I collected vital primary sources that have allowed me to make the argument that the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was weaponized by local settlers and the federal government to quietly dispossess Mexican-Americans from their land in Arizona. Through an analysis of newspapers, court opinions, court testimony, government reports, and government letters, I argue that the United States needs to add Mexican dispossession to its historical recognition of its legacy of conquest. Embedded in this argument are discussions of the growth of the federal government, competition between different legal authorities, and the importance of wealth in accessing legal rights. The goal of my thesis is to prove (with the resources acquired through my research trip) that capitalist development in Arizona in the latter half of the 19th century was only possible through the dispossession of both Apache Indians and the Mexicans in the southwest.
After graduation, I will be heading over to Los Angeles where I will be in a Legal Advocate position at the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice, a non-profit legal organization that provides free legal services to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. I plan on working with this amazing team for several years before heading off to law school.”
Abby Gupta ’22
Thesis Title: Prejudice and Prototypes: Understanding Mental Representations of Black Faces
“Receiving funds from the Class of 1955 was crucial for me to be able to conduct my psychology senior thesis experiment. With these funds, I was able to recruit over 400 participants to take my surveys via an online platform. The results of my experiment will contribute to a growing understanding of how Black and White people differ in their assumptions and preconceived notions of black people. I really appreciate the help as I could not have done my experiment without this funding!”
Naaji Hylton ’22
Thesis Title: Deep Neural Network Models to Understand Activity Silence and Episodic Function in Working Memory
“For my senior thesis, these funds helped with living expenses for being able to work on a major portion of my thesis over the summer. My senior thesis research over the summer was on creating models supporting a new theory for how short-term memory worked in conjunction with long-term memory. We‘re hypothesizing that a specific type of short-term memory called "activity-silent working memory" is actually a type of long-term memory called "episodic memory." For a while, many neuroscientists had proposed that this activity-silent working memory existed because they could not explain the neural results seen from specific memory tasks human subjects did which resulted in atypical behavior from working memory so this special "activity-silent" version of working memory was proposed. One of the tasks that produced these results was a memory task called the dual retro-cue task and for my research, I wanted to see if I could use a neural network that modeled working memory combined with long-term memory to produce similar results to the human brain and help purport the explanation for activity silent working memory being long-term memory. Over the summer, I worked on creating a model of the dual retro-cue task which significantly helped me in being able to then train a neural network on the task and see its behavior. The thesis fund helped a lot in allowing me to create the data and simulations that were at the basis of my thesis over the summer. I‘m going to work as a software engineer at Amazon post-graduation and I also have accepted and deferred an offer to Rutgers Robert Johnson Medical School. I want to sincerely thank the alumni who contributed towards me being able to do this!”
Tim Jia ’22
Thesis Title: Stimulating the Brain and Spinal Cord: A Short-Circuit or the Future of Targeted Therapy?
“I appreciate the Class of 1955 Senior Thesis Fund for supporting my senior thesis research. The funds were well received and allowed me to research potential PTSD associations in the cerebellum and social hierarchy in mice. I was able to do mice surgeries, run behavioral experiments, and analyze the brain with molecular assays. I hope to become a pediatrician in the future, but I will be working first after graduation.”
Nikoo Karbassi ’22
Thesis Title: EXAMINING THE STRUCTURES OF EMERGING, COOPERATIVE GIG-WORK PLATFORMS
“My senior thesis is about the organizational structures of emerging cooperative gig-work platforms. Cooperative gig-work platforms are worker-owned models of gig-work platforms that are trying to compete with larger gig-work platforms like Uber and GrubHub. The generous funding from the Class of 1955 Senior Thesis Fund allowed me to compensate the research participants that I interviewed from the Driver‘s Cooperative in New York City. Without the funding, it would have been very difficult to gather research participants for this study. After I graduate, I am planning to pursue research in clinical psychology.”
Maya Keren ’22
Thesis Title: Careful In The Sun/Experiments In Gathering: Environing People and Sound Within the Collective
“My senior thesis is about the organizational structures of emerging cooperative gig-work platforms. Cooperative gig-work platforms are worker-owned models of gig-work platforms that are trying to compete with larger gig-work platforms like Uber and GrubHub. The generous funding from the Class of 1955 Senior Thesis Fund allowed me to compensate the research participants that I interviewed from the Driver‘s Cooperative in New York City. Without the funding, it would have been very difficult to gather research participants for this study. After I graduate, I am planning to pursue research in clinical psychology.”
Michael Lenzi ’22
Thesis Title: Understanding the Effects of Zygosity of a SHANK3b Knockout Mouse Model of Autism on Behavior
“The funds helped my room and board costs for living on campus over the summer which allowed me to conduct my research between semesters. The research I was working on went towards my senior thesis which is about a mouse model of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). I‘m looking at behavioral differences between these mouse models and wild-type mice by using different testing batteries to look for repeated behaviors and social deficits (those typically seen in those with autism). I‘m also using calcium imaging to look at cortical activity differences and comparing ASD to wildtype to see how information flow across the brain is potentially different in one vs the other. I‘m then connecting the behavioral results to brain imaging to help the scientific community gain a better understanding of how ASD impacts both the brain and behavior collectively. I‘m extremely grateful for the funds provided as they helped me advance my research, which allowed me to present at a conference (Sigma Xi) during the fall semester. Post graduation I will be attending Bryn Mawr and doing a post bacc premedical program to take all the premed classes to prepare myself for MCAT and medical school.”
David Ramirez ’22
Thesis Title: Probing a Novel Substrate Inhibition Mechanism of IDO1
“Thank you for funding my research last summer! There’s something amazing about living at Princeton for an entire summer, doing nothing but research. All without a single deadline hanging over my head. I remember fondly walking to lab on clear, cool mornings, bathing in the gentle morning sun, and listening to bird calls around me. It was delightful, even amidst the cicadas! Your generosity allowed me to devote myself to my major. I tapped into wonderful resources, met amazing graduate students, gained invaluable lab experience, learned a ton, fell more deeply in love with my major, and had a blast. Lab work teaches you technical skills, attention to detail, a certain methodology, but also a desire to seek the truth. It’s tempting to do science in pursuit of results. Results that support your hypothesis. Last summer helped me confront that tendency and seek the truth to the best of my ability, not conforming the data to my hopes and expectations but conforming my mind to the data. There’s a lot to learn in a chemistry lab, about chemistry and life. Thank you again for affording me this wonderful research opportunity. It was a rich experience with amazing people that I continue to reflect on. I’m applying to medical school now and hope to bring the fruits of this experience to a medical career that seeks the truth with uncompromising zeal, devotion and charity.”
Kate Semmens ’22
Thesis Title: Entertaining History at America‘s Theme Parks: Experiencing the Past at Knott‘s Berry Farm, Disneyland, and Freedomland, USA, 1940-1964
In order to conduct research for my senior thesis, I took a trip to California over winter break. This research was essential to my thesis work which focuses on 20th-century American theme parks and their immersive depictions of America’s past. The main goal of the trip was to visit Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm. These two parks are two of the main chapters of my thesis. My visit to Knott’s Berry Farm was especially interesting, since I had never been, and speaking to cast members, taking photographs, and experiencing Knott’s Berry’s Ghost Town actually led to me dedicating a more significant section of my thesis to the park. It was my visit that made it even clearer how relevant and interesting Knott’s Berry Farm is to my thesis’ focus on the intersection between historical education and entertainment. On the trip, I also visited two different archives. I visited UC Irvine’s archives to look at a collection of Disneyland promotional material and visited the Knott’s Berry Farm collection at the Orange County Archives. Both of these allowed me to see several fundamental primary sources that were not digitized. While at Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm, I observed the ways in which these parks present history and education to their visitors. At Disneyland, I took an up-close look at Main Street U.S.A. and Frontierland. At Knott’s Berry Farm, for example, I visited the Western Trails Museum, which is a collection of California artifacts collected by Marion Speer. The collection, which is housed within the park, is one of the many ways that Knott’s Berry Farm complicates the distinction between “museum” and “entertainment center.” The archival collections also have greatly impacted my research. The collection at UC Irvine provided me a look at Disneyland promotional materials which spoke to Walt Disney’s original goals for the park. Those materials also spoke to the park’s early national and international impact. The Knott’s Berry Farm collection provided me with original press releases and publicity materials for the park’s Ghost Town, Indian Trails, and Independence Hall. The funds which the Class of 1955 Fund provided me, were essential for traveling to California and conducting this research. After graduation, I actually plan to pursue theater and film professionally. This thesis work has been a wonderful combination of my interests in history, performance studies, and theater. In many ways, parks like Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm are putting on a performance of America’s past when they welcome visitors to Frontierland and Ghost Town. It is an immersive piece of theater that very much shapes the average American’s understanding of American history.”
Julie Shin ’22
Thesis Title: ALL IN A NAME? Korean American Women and the Legal Name
“My research focuses on identifying how Korean-born or 2nd generation Korean-American women [will] decide between a Korean or American legal name with American citizenship and furthermore, what that says about their navigation between maintaining native cultural customs and assimilating to American culture. The funding I received from the Class of 1955 Senior Thesis Fund was crucial for interviewing and meeting with a number of women in Los Angeles, an area with a very prominent Korean population, to discuss their experiences with migration, assimilation, personal name and more. Some of the women were younger, closer to 21-22, and some of the women were older, closer to 40-45, to gather a range of perspectives. Speaking to Korean-American women in person allowed for longer and more detailed conversations. These research efforts unearthed a number of themes that are proving to be incredibly helpful to the development of my thesis’ argument. The women’s answers revealed patterns of: naming rooted in Korean gender norms, name anglicization, reasons for migration, and much more.”
Kamron Soldozy ’22
Thesis Title: 4 Hz Theta Power Underlies Memory Encoding in Auditory Cortex in an Unsupervised Sequence Learning Paradigm
Throughout the course of my undergraduate studies, I have been concerned with how I can make working on my senior thesis financially sustainable. I am a student on full financial aid, and while I wanted to dedicate the summer before senior year and even more time during the semester junior/senior year to working on my thesis, the reality of my financial situation has necessitated working other jobs alongside my thesis, which is far from optimal for productivity. The OUR funding I received was absolutely essential for making it possible for me to progress on my thesis last summer.
My research explores a seemingly simple human phenomenon and is best explained by example. Imagine you are about to swing a tennis racket at an incoming ball. The moment before you begin your swing, you know both the current position of the ball and where it was a moment ago, and putting those two pieces of information allows you to make a prediction about where the ball will be, thus allowing you to time and place your swing effectively. The question I ask is how do you store that information in the brain? Where the ball is (‘sensory‘), where it was (‘memory‘), and where you expect it to be (‘prediction‘). But rather than study humans playing tennis, I analyze neurological data recorded from mice as they listen to a sequences of sounds (almost like listening to music). Along the way, I have become familiar with and employed a variety of mathematical, statistical, and neurological analysis techniques.
Again, thank you very much for the opportunity to pursue this research, much of which would not be possible without the Class of 1955 Senior Thesis Fund.”
Hunter Makana Worth ’22
Thesis Title: Characterizing social memory in models of Early Life Adversity: Adult neurogenesis as a potential substrate of dysfunction
The funds I generously received helped cover the costs of housing expenses so I could continue research over the 2021 summer months. The purpose of my research is to analyze how early life adversity (ELA) affects social memory. ELA can include child abuse, neglect, hardships, and violence. It is believed that ELA makes humans more susceptible to diseases that involve impairment of social recognition. Throughout adulthood, new granule cells integrate into hippocampal circuitry and are associated with learning, memory, stress regulation, and social behavior. Previous work from the lab I am part of suggests that adult neurogenesis is necessary for social memory maintenance. However, ELA causes changes in the hippocampus to adult-born neurons which are important for social memory. One of the affected regions includes the hippocampal CA2 region which is crucial for social memory. Furthermore, previous research by Laham et al. shows that inhibition of the CA2 region impairs the memory of the caregiving mother in pups and adults (2021). Part of my research included behavioral experiments including an elevated plus maze and social memory experiments where mice were timed on how long they interacted with novel and known mice. After testing, we investigated how the CA2 region is affected by ELA through immunolabeling and the use of a retrovirus to visualize projections from adult-born granule cell projections to the CA2. Differences were also looked at between male mice and female mice going through various stages of the estrous cycle. More research needs to be done to determine the extent to which ELA affects social memory. After I graduate, I plan to join ZS Associates as a Strategy Insights and Planning Associate for their Business Consulting Group. In this role, I plan to learn more about the life science and pharmaceutical industry while also gaining more experience in the skills needed to enact change throughout any industry
 

 

Concentration and Certificate Programs.

 

Rola Adebogun ’22
Department: Psychology
Certificate: Program in Neuroscience
Thesis Title: Birthing Pains: Investigating the Effects of Race and Pregnancy Status on Pain Perception and Treatment
Advisor: Prof. Stacey A. Sinclair

Thesis Abstract: Despite the prevalence of large racial and ethnic discrepancies in maternal health outcomes, particularly in the treatment of pain, psychological research examining pain perception and pain treatment in Black and White pregnant women is scarce. The present study aimed to address this major deficit in the literature by investigating differences in White individuals‘ perceptions and treatment of the pain of women as a function of their race (Black or White) and pregnancy status (pregnant or non-pregnant). The role of implicit racial bias in moderating the effects of target race and target pregnancy status on participants‘ responses was also examined. The sample consisted of 499 White-identifying Americans of at least 18 years of age. Participants were presented with a photograph and vignette about a fictitious female subject. After examining the photograph and reading the vignette, they provided pain-related judgments and allocated treatment to the subject. Responses were indexed into a pain perception score, a pain-related responsibility score, and a treatment score. Participants also completed a race-based implicit association task (IAT) to measure their implicit racial bias. Participants‘ responses on all three indexes for Black vs. White and pregnant vs. non-pregnant subjects, as well as the degree to which their implicit racial biases moderated the effects of race and pregnancy status on their responses, were analyzed. The results obtained were generally not consistent with predictions, indicating the necessity for additional research in order to gain a thorough understanding of all phenomena at play. Nevertheless, this study is a first step in providing much-needed insight regarding racial differences in the pain perception and treatment of Black and White, pregnant and non-pregnant women.

Ogechi Adele ’22
Department: Psychology
Certificate: Program in French
Thesis Title: An Offer You Can‘t Refuse: Powerholders Pursue Hierarchy Maintenance through Controlling Resources and Preserving Compliance
Advisor: Prof. Susan Tufts Fiske
Thesis Abstract: Social power drives cognition, behavior, and goal pursuit, according to previous research. This literature fails to describe the nature of these goals and motivations, but further theories about power and group hierarchies help to fill this gap. This paper hypothesizes that powerful people are compelled to maintain their position in a hierarchy in which they control the valued outcomes of the members below them; this effect is stronger for autocratic than democratic leaders. To test the hypotheses, a study primed participants (n=182) with one of two forms of power (autocratic, democratic) or no power (control). In an ultimatum bargaining game, participants allocated fractions of $1 to themselves and a partner, who could only accept or reject the offer. Participants encountered one of two types of online partners (combative, cooperative) who were characterized as defiant or compliant followers. Analyses of the monetary offers, partner ratings, reaction times, and coded strategies revealed several key findings. Regardless of power prime, participants were motivated to maintain control over gameplay and partner compliance: they lowered offers to and wanted to continue playing with compliant followers (exploiting), and they raised offers to and wanted to expel combative followers from gameplay (cutting their losses). This research could have implications in future study of social power, interventions in various micro social spheres, and legal analysis of labor rights and laws. Keywords: social power, group hierarchy, leadership styles, compliance, leader-follower relationships, goal pursuit mechanisms
Anahi Ambrosio ’22
Department: Chemical and Biological Engineering
Thesis Title: Impact of Crosslinking Density on Liquid Crystal Elastomer Properties
Advisor: Emily David
Thesis Abstract: Liquid crystal elastomers have unique properties that enable them to be used in various electrical and biological fields. Properties like soft elasticity and temperature-dependent actuation are tunable and therefore are promising in situations where certain conditions need to be met. To tune transition temperatures, molecular (mesogen-mesogen) interactions, and the material‘s network structure need to be controlled. In this thesis, it was first attempted to reduce network heterogeneity by decreasing the molecular weight distribution of the LCE polymer precursor. Liquid-liquid fractionation effectively separated the LCE polymer precursor into fractions of controlled molecular weights but not in a sufficiently scalable manner. Therefore, the impacts of crosslinking density on material glass transition and transitions in liquid crystalline order were investigated. Furthermore, differences in stress-strain properties were explored.
Zora Arum ’22
Department: English
Thesis Title: A Procession of Particulars: The Preservation of Organic Unity in Woolf‘s Corpus
Advisor: Prof. Maria A. DiBattista
Diego Ayala-McCormick ’22
Department: History
Certificate: Program in Latin American Studies
Thesis Title: The Franco Regime and the Spanish Road: Agrarian Origins of the “Spanish Miracle,” 1930-1970
Advisor: Prof. Miguel Angel Centeno
Alix Barry ’22
Department: Anthropology
Certificate: Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies
Thesis Title: The Pursuit to Preserve Ever-Changing Spaces: An Ethnographic Retelling of the Beauty and Vulnerability in the American Lesbian Bar.
Advisor: Prof. Serguei Alex. Oushakine
Thesis Abstract: By the end of the 1990s, there were over 200 lesbian bars throughout the United States. In 2022, only 21 lesbian bars remain nationwide. How did the lesbian bar as we know it come to be? What vulnerabilities has the lesbian bar displayed that could have contributed to its steady decline? Considering the ways space, leisure, sexuality, and economic power play into the creation and maintenance of the American Lesbian Bar, this thesis examines how queer women reclaim the spaces that were created to serve their identity formation. Privileging New York City’s history alongside that of Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle, this thesis is a compilation of the beauty and fragility of lesbian bars across the nation, from their early existence in the 1910s, through their fight during the 2008 Great Recession. This piece aligns the narratives of lesbian bar patrons and bar owners with theories of public space and queer kinship formation.
Yanar Bitar ’22
Department: Chemistry
Certificate: Program in Materials Science and Engineering
Thesis Title: Synthesis and Investigation of a Family of Gold Tellurides in an Attempt to Characterize and Explore Superconductivity
Advisor: Prof. Robert Joseph Cava
Thesis Abstract: Previously reported materials in the gold-tellurium family have been shown to be promising materials to investigate for superconductivity due to the unique properties of the noble metal. Similarly, silver-gold chalcogenides have been subject of several studies, which have contributed to describe the family’s characteristics. Of such candidates, this study reports synthesis attempts of compounds 1:1 AuTe and 1:1:2 AuAgTe2 via a high-pressure high-temperature apparatus. To evaluate superconductivity, products were characterized by pXRD patterns and magnetic data, as the performance of these measurements showed that under 6 GPa and 10 GPa and a variety of temperature, thermodynamically stable AuTe2 phases were favorable, with peaks of impurities including gold, tellurium, and boron nitride. However, based on the knowledge gained here, some direction into future research on these compounds are made.
Ethan Boll ’22
Department: Comparative Literature
Certificate: Program in Visual Arts
Thesis Title: THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME: A Critical Reflection on the New Film Adaptation
Advisor: Tim Szetela
Taj-Jahnae Brailsford-Forde ’22
Department: Chemical and Biological Engineering
Certificate(s): Program in Applications of Computing, Program in Planets and Life
Thesis Title: The Power of Desiccation: A Study into Developing a Method to Screen Tardigrade Disordered Proteins for Phase Separation
Advisor: Prof. José L. Avalos
Thesis Abstract: Tardigrades, also known as water bears, are microscopic organisms capable of surviving conditions such as extreme temperatures and deprivation from oxygen and water. Numerous studies have found that tardigrade intrinsically disordered proteins (TDPs), proteins without a fixed tertiary structure, are linked to tolerance to desiccation (removal of water). Some intrinsically disordered proteins undergo phase separation towards the formation of membraneless organelles within cells. In particular, tardigrade cytoplasmic abundant heat-soluble (CAHS) proteins were discovered to form non-crystalline amorphous solids via vitrification upon drying conditions. As the mechanisms by which TDPs operate during stress tolerance are not very well understood, the research done in this thesis sought to develop a method of screening TDPs for liquid phase separating interactions, which can then be utilized for the further understanding of the mechanisms the proteins are involved in. Greater understanding of desiccation tolerance mechanisms are of particular importance to xero-protection and astrobiology as harnessing desiccation tolerance can reduce global reliance on cold storage, provide mechanisms to confer resistance to toxic chemicals in microbial strains engineered to produce them, and provide technologies to improve biological resistance to extraterrestrial conditions. In order to develop a method to study the liquid phase separation interactions of TDPs, Yeast-2-Hybrid (Y2H) experiments were conducted on a library of five tardigrade cytoplasmic abundant heat soluble proteins (CAHS) to screen for protein interactions. These experiments were followed by integration of the CAHS protein library into a newly developed Yeast- Liquid-Hybrid (YLH) method that screened for liquid phase separation interactions. The Y2H experiments conducted in this paper found four positive protein-protein interactions among the CASH library and additionally contributed to the discovery of a CAHS protein capable of recruiting the RNA polymerase. The YLH experiments conducted on the same library of CAHS proteins found an additional eight potential phase separating interactions. While these results are promising, further experiments are necessary to confirm that the protein interactions observed in the YLH assays are the results of phase separation.
Jessica Brice ’22
Department: Psychology
Certificate: Program in Visual Arts
Thesis Title: Addressing the Unspeakable: Evaluating College and University Statements on Racial Incidents
Advisor: Prof. Susan Tufts Fiske
Thesis Abstract: Social pressures influence how institutions of higher education respond to racial incidents. Analyzing language patterns in college and university statements on the death of George Floyd sheds some light on this phenomenon. According to previous studies, college communities have historically avoided discussing race, and college officials prefer not to acknowledge racial incidents. However, recent institutional responses to the death of George Floyd contradict this trend, which warrants further investigation into institutional motivations. Educational institutions‘ may choose to address race-related issues due to impression management and the moral and instrumental benefits of diversity. Likewise, our analysis suggests that the principles of the Stereotype Content Model help predict the specific impression management strategies that high and low-status institutions used when responding to George Floyd‘s death. However, research has not yet explored how these strategies may influence the potential audience of these statements. To address this question, we ran two studies to determine how statements on racial incidents affect readers‘ perceptions. We found that several factors influence readers‘ beliefs about institutions‘ warmth, competence, and support for various racial groups. These factors include readers‘ own racial identities, institutions‘ racial demographics, and the extent to which statements emphasize warmth or competence.
Hifsa Chaudhry ’22
Department: Neuroscience
Certificate: Program in Global Health & Health Policy
Thesis Title: Neural Mechanisms Underlying Cognitive Deficits in Rat Models of Autism
Advisor: Prof. Carlos D. Brody
Thesis Abstract: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder which, though previously viewed as rare, is known to impact approximately 1 in every 68 children. ASD is characterized by impairments in cognitive flexibility and inhibitory control, and recent studies have posited a genetic link between mutations in specific genes (known as ASD risk genes) and the occurrence of ASD. However, given the heterogeneity in presentation of ASD, it has been very challenging to quantify which cognitive deficits are associated with which ASD risk genes as well as investigate the underlying neural circuits causing the deficits. In addition, given the emphasis on dysregulation of inhibitory neurons as a mechanism for ASD, recent computational models have predicted that excitation/inhibition (E/I) balance plays a role in the cognitive deficits seen in ASD patients. These models, however, are in disagreement regarding exactly how changes in E/I ratio impact behavior. Thus, in order to bridge these gaps in knowledge, working with my postdoc, I trained ASD rat models with following gene mutations - Fmr1, Nrxn1, Arid1b, Grin2b, and Dyrk1a - on a reversal learning task and a cognitive flexibility task which is comparable to the tests performed on humans. We analyzed the performance of the rats on the respective tasks in order to quantify the cognitive deficits associated with each gene as well as better understand the heterogeneity of presentation, and we computed psychophysical kernels for ASD rats that learned the cognitive flexibility task in order to determine which computational model most accurately accounts for behavior. We found that Fmr1-KO, Nrxn1-KO, Arid1b-KO, and Grin2b-KO ASD rats all showed impairments in task-switching while Dyrk1a-KO ASD rats do not demonstrate this impairment. Moreover, Fmr1-KO and Nrxn1-KO rats illustrated deficits in feature selection but were successful in accumulating evidence. On average, Fmr1-KO and Nrxn1-KO rats performed worse on the cognitive flexibility task than wildtype (WT) rats, but there was still heterogeneity in performance seen across the ASD rats who had the same gene mutation. The psychophysical kernels were computed for the two Fmr1-ASD rats, and these kernels suggested that the rats were engaging in more impulsive decision-making as they were placing more weight on the early evidence, thus supporting the E/I balance computational model posited by Lam et al. Findings, limitations, and suggestions for future research are discussed. The methodology described in this work could be extended by coupling a standardized training protocol with flexible recording probes to characterize neural activity throughout the training of the ASD rats in order to contextualize the timeframe in which cognitive deficits manifest for different ASD risk genes; this will provide a better understanding for when individuals diagnosed with ASD should be treated.
Hailey Colborn ’22
Department: English
Certificate: Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies, Program in Creative Writing
Thesis Title: Harlem Blues
Jacquelyn Davila ’22
Department: History
Certificate(s): Program in Latino Studies, Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication Program in Latin American Studies
Thesis Title: Acequias, New Mexicans, and the Clash of American Economic Identities
Advisor: Prof. Martha A. Sandweiss
Ben Dodge ’22
Department: Physics
Thesis Title: Stellar Disk Tilting in Galaxy Mergers
Advisor: Mariangela Lisanti
Thesis Abstract: This thesis explores the dynamics of galaxy mergers and contributes an explanation of the stellar disk tilting that results. We begin with an introduction to dark matter and structure formation in the Universe, including a summary of mergers between the Milky Way and smaller satellite galaxies. We then provide an overview of the properties of cosmologically typical galaxies and a brief description of the disruption they experience when they merge with a larger host. From this point, we develop a mechanism for disk tilting based the precession of accreted dark matter orbits in a disk potential. Additional effects from phase mixing and a live stellar disk are addressed. To validate our description, we conduct a grid scan of N-body simulations over a large region of merger parameter space. We reproduce the expected trends and verify that the dark matter precession story is correct. As a case study, we consider Gaia-Sausage-Enceladus, the last major merger in the Milky Way, and the extent to which the phenomena are the same. We conclude with an outline of how stellar disk tilting might be made into a useful tool in galaxy dynamics and dark matter physics.
Anna Durak ’22
Department: Anthropology
Thesis Title: Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust:” The Creation and Continuation of "Disney Magic" in the Disney Theme Parks
Advisor: Prof. Ryo Morimoto
Thesis Abstract: What is “Disney magic” and what is it that makes the Disney Theme parks “The Most Magical Place on Earth”? This thesis investigates the Disney theme park experience and was inspired by my connections to the parks and the company. I have broken this paper down into four different chapters- defining Disney, the guest experiences, the conundrum of place, and the intersection of virtual and physical in order to understand the idea behind the elusive “Disney Magic.” Through the understanding and analysis of the intentionality of the park experience and the narrative immersion of guests into the entanglements of popular Disney media, I argue that “Disney Magic” can be found in the intersection of the virtual and physical. Using my own ethnographic fieldwork at Walt Disney World alongside anthropological theory and works, I aim to explain how Disney theme parks are cinematic playgrounds in which the guests are the main characters of the stories in which they weave throughout their time on Disney property.
Chino Eke ’22
Department: Neuroscience
Certificate: Program in Global Health & Health Policy
Thesis Title: Mechanisms of Social Memory Dysfunction in Mouse Models of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Advisor: Prof. Elizabeth Gould
Thesis Abstract: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a heterogenous neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by social deficits and repetitive behaviors. The disorder is often comorbid with Phelan McDermid syndrome (PMS) and Fragile X syndrome (FXS) which both result in social memory dysfunction alongside other ASD-related impairments. Currently, ASD is diagnosed based on behavioral criteria due to the lack of a consistent biomarker despite the disorder‘s robust genetic component. The genes SHANK3, which encodes synaptic scaffolding proteins, and FMR1, which encodes for a nuclear export protein, are mutated in PMS and FXS, respectively. These mutations have been replicated to produce transgenic knockout (KO) mouse models of ASD. Shank3B KO and Fmr1 KO mice have enabled further investigation of the neural mechanisms causing social memory dysfunction. The hippocampal CA2 subregion, once regarded as a pass-through connective region, has since been heavily implicated in social memory regulation. Previous studies have identified abnormal extracellular matrix (ECM) structures such as perineuronal nets (PNNs) in the CA2 of Shank3B KO and Fmr1 KO mice. Additionally, manipulating the afferent signals from the supramammillary (SUM) nucleus has been shown to influence social memory. In order to characterize the developmental trajectories of social memory dysfunction related to ASD, this study conducted behavioral paradigms and histological analyses of the CA2, including of PNNs, at multiple time periods across postnatal development. Detailed analysis of behavioral data from the direct social interaction task indicated both transgenic models initially expressed social memory dysfunction at Postnatal Day (P) 14. However, Shank3B KO mice retained the impairment throughout adulthood while Fmr1 KO mice experienced a sex-dependent recovery of social memory. Despite the recovery of social memory by adulthood in Fmr1 KO mice, more subtle aspects of social interaction remained atypical. The object location task demonstrated functional non-social hippocampal dependent memory in both models. To examine whether PNN abundance and SUM afferents in the CA2 are associated with social memory dysfunction, we performed histological analyses of hippocampal sections from P14 mice. Shank3B KO mice displayed elevated PNN abundance while the opposite was observed in Fmr1 KO mice. Both transgenic models expressed increased social afferents from the SUM. When considered collectively, social memory dysfunction and CA2 abnormalities manifest differently across transgenic models of ASD, reinforcing the heterogeneity of the disorder and identifying future targets of intervention.
Victoria Escalante ’22
Department: Psychology
Thesis Title: Prototype of a Doctor: How are the Reverse Correlation Images of a Doctor and a Non-Doctor Face Perceived?
Advisor: Prof. Stacey A. Sinclair
Thesis Abstract: Doctors are a vital part of keeping people healthy, as patients seek doctors to check their health and treat any sickness. Previous research has shown that people prefer to be seen by doctors who are of the same race, culture, and ethnicity. However, research has not looked into how the ideal facial image of a doctor impacts patient perception, as facial prototypes play an important role in decision making and perception. The current study used a reverse correlation image classification task (RCIC) to understand the facial prototype of a physician by looking at competence and warmth. Based on previous research, it was hypothesized that the prototype of a doctor will be a White male and the doctor face perceived as more competent and warmer than the non-doctor face created. The results mostly supported the hypothesis, as the prototypical image of a doctor was found to have highest ratings for likely being White and likely to be female, while the non-doctor had highest rating for likely to being Black and likely to being male. Overall, the doctor face also received higher ratings for competence and warmth compared to the non-doctor face. The implications of these findings will be discussed.
Kenneth Gonzalez Santibanez ’22
Department: History
Certificate(s): Program in History & Practice of Diplomacy, Program in Latin American Studies
Thesis Title: Broken Treaties, Broken Lives: A Legal History of Mexican-American Dispossession in Arizona, 1854-1912
Advisor: Laura F. Edwards
Santiago Guiran ’22
Department: Sociology
Thesis Title: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: Studying the Impact of Positive Racial and Ethnic Representation in Marvel‘s Spider-Man: Miles Morales for the PlayStation 5
Advisor: Prof. Janet Amelia Vertesi
Thesis Abstract: Video games, like many other forms of entertainment media, have been historically complicit in perpetuating negative racial and ethnic stereotypes that reinforce hierarchies in racialized societies. However, video gaming has recently become a new frontier for addressing systematic racial and ethnic inequality. Despite its global reach as a leisure activity, little academic attention has been paid to the effects that deliberate positive racial and ethnic representation has on the player experience. This thesis advances the literature of video gaming as a tool for social justice by studying the racialized emotions experienced through Marvel‘s Spider-Man: Miles Morales for the PlayStation 5, as well as the gaming digital divide created by the game as part of the next generation of gaming. Through logistic regression analysis utilizing survey data and in-depth interviews, the study finds that Black players are significantly more likely to attribute positive representation as a reason for the enjoyment of the game, while White players are significantly less likely to attribute for that same reason. Black and Hispanic/Latino players also praise the celebration of culture, Afro-Latino visibility, and the narrative of Miles Morales as a hyper-intelligent teenager as reasons for enjoying the game. Additionally, the study finds evidence suggesting that there is a gaming digital divide created by the price and exclusivity of the PlayStation 5.
Abby Gupta ’22
Department: Psychology
Thesis Title: Prejudice and Prototypes: Understanding Mental Representations of Black Faces
Advisor: Prof. J. Nicole Shelton
Thesis Abstract: Substantial previous research has examined judgments of Black faces, while less research has investigated pre-existing mental representations of Black faces. This study examined the differences between White and Black people‘s mental representations of Black faces and explored how implicit bias may influence these internal conceptions. The data-driven reverse correlation method was utilized to create visualizations (classification images) of participants‘ mental representations of Black faces. Participants were split into low, moderate, and high bias subgroups within their racial groups based on difference scores from an Implicit Association Test (IAT) measuring implicit anti-Black bias. Then, the group-level and subgroup-level classification images were rated by a new set of participants on a variety of target traits. The results suggest that Whites and Blacks have fundamentally different mental representations of Black faces, as White participants generated classification images of Black faces that were perceived as more threatening, less competent, less attractive, and darker in skin tone than Black participants. Implicit anti-Black bias impacted participants‘ mental representations of Black faces in a less distinguishable pattern than previous findings on implicit bias and mental representations. Potential reasons for these findings and implications for future research are discussed.
Aliza Haider ’22
Department: Chemistry
Thesis Title: Non-Immunoglobulin Scaffolds as Research Tools for Protein Structure and Function Analysis
Advisor: Prof. José L. Avalos
Thesis Abstract: Non-immunoglobulin (non-Ig) scaffolds are a class of small, synthetic non-antibody binding proteins. The field of scaffold engineering has rapidly advanced considering the advantages these scaffolds have over antibodies, including, but not limited to, smaller size, heightened thermal stability, and cheaper cost of production. To date, over 100 new synthetic scaffolds have been designed largely for biochemical intervention with pharmaceuticals and other medical therapies. Simultaneously, in recent history, these same scaffolds have been used as protein research tools as a result of their high affinity and specificity to target molecules. These characteristics have allowed non-Ig scaffolds to become key instruments in crystallization, binding resins and assays, and imaging technologies, among others.
Naaji Hylton ’22
Department: Neuroscience
Certificate(s): Program in Statistics and Machine Learning, Program in Applications of Computing
Thesis Title: Deep Neural Network Models to Understand Activity Silence and Episodic Function in Working Memory
Advisor: Prof. Kenneth Andrew Norman
Thesis Abstract: The human brain has been hypothesized to contain distinct memory systems that are recruited under different circumstances; however, how these systems work and interact with each other is still under research and discussion. One specific memory task that provokes such debate is the dual retro-cue paradigm, a cognitive task that has sparked discussion on how working memory (WM), and possibly episodic memory (EM), functions and is recruited in the brain. Performance on this task has classically been hypothesized to be based both on the active maintenance of relevant information in working memory (classical working memory) as well as the recruitment of a silently maintained working memory called activity silent working memory (ASWM). Despite evidence for the ASWM account of working memory, however, there has been debate that an episodic memory called working memory episodic memory (WMEM) may be the true second factor contributing to performance in the dual retro-cue paradigm and other working memory tasks like, it as opposed to ASWM. Here, we study neural network models of these memory systems to examine their sufficiency and suitability to better grasp and theorize how WM and EM functions and interacts with one another.
Tim Jia ’22
Department: Neuroscience
Certificate(s): Program in East Asian Studies, Program in Global Health & Health Policy
Thesis Title: Stimulating the Brain and Spinal Cord: A Short-Circuit or the Future of Targeted Therapy?
Advisor: Prof. Samuel Sheng-Hung Wang
Thesis Abstract: Movement disorders such as Parkinson‘s disease, essential tremor, and dystonia are incurable and can be resistant to pharmacological treatment. These and other neuropsychiatric disorders can significantly reduce quality of life and cause an economic burden. Deep-brain stimulation (DBS) has been shown to alleviate symptoms as an advanced therapeutic for some disease indications. Similarly, spinal cord stimulation (SCS) has been used for cases of chronic pain. However, the mechanisms of either are unclear. This narrative literature review aims to understand the mechanism behind DBS and SCS in order to evaluate potential synergies and future developments. Neurostimulation from DBS and SCS is suggested to regulate dysfunctional imbalances by modulating local and network activity and influencing glial cells. Developments and technological advances point towards targeted therapeutic interventions implementing optimized and adaptive closed-loop stimulation based on patient-specific neuroimaging and biomarkers. Future research can look into effects of multi-target stimulation, simultaneous use of DBS and SCS, and varying stimulation parameters.
Makailyn Jones ’22
Department: Anthropology
Certificate(s): Program in African American Studies, Program in Creative Writing
Thesis Title: AT THE CROSSROADS: An Exploration of New Orleans Vodou, Disaster, and Literary Anthropology
Thesis Abstract: Vodou has been an object through which white hegemonic social structures have exercised judgment. These judgments included racist rhetoric that draws on civilizing narratives. Vodou, as a valid religion with historical links to rebellion of enslaved populations in the Caribbean, power, and healing, deserves more credit than its simple relegation to a fantastical void. From this void springs misrepresentations reflected in popular culture that then feed into the manifestation of “voodoo,” a tourism-invented shadow that plays on the authentic religion by accessing its material. Voodoo is a phenomenon with ties to capitalism, political forces, and identity transformations in the city. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which spurred reconstruction projects throughout New Orleans, the religion of Vodou has found itself plunged further into the shadows of the city‘s cultural landscape. However, such a movement is only the beginning of Katrina‘s effect on Vodou. Voodoo‘s rise as an object of spectatorship subjects Vodou to transformations regarding the religion‘s inheritance by one generation from the previous and its healing capabilities for the communities which consider it a spiritual pillar. Furthermore, as this thesis is appended by a collection of fictional short stories, At the Crossroads, I end the paper with a discussion on creative writing within the10 discipline of anthropology. What work can a polyphonic, fictional piece of writing do for the reconceptualization of Vodou as a historically misrepresented and fading phenomenon? These stories work to answer this question, bringing Vodou into the mundane lives of characters and, hopefully, symbolically, back to New Orleans.

Nikoo Karbassi ’22

Department: Sociology

Certificate: Program in Statistics and Machine Learning
Thesis Title: EXAMINING THE STRUCTURES OF EMERGING, COOPERATIVE GIG-WORK PLATFORMS
Advisor: Prof. Janet Amelia Vertesi
Thesis Abstract: In this thesis, my goal was to examine organizational practices of emerging cooperative gig-work platforms. To study these new groups of organizations, I collected interviews from stakeholder in two different cooperative gig-work platforms: Nosh (a restaurant delivery service in Colorado) and the Drivers Cooperative (a ride sharing service in New York City). This thesis used a total of 35 interview: 28 interviews were from various stakeholders of Nosh (including drivers, customers, platform dispatchers, executives, and restaurant owners) and 7 interviews were from members of the Drivers Cooperative. I systematically coded the interviews using a combination of deductive and inductive coding founded on existing literature in the field and patterns in the data. Through the analysis, I found three major groups of findings: 1. commonalities between the two organizations; 2. differences between the organizations; and 3. tensions within the organizations. The major commonalities between Nosh and the Drivers Cooperative are the following: 1. the use of value-based appeals, 2. limitations in economic resources and technology, and 3. oppositional services and values. The major differences between the organization are the following: 1. social relationships; 2. recruitment strategies; 3. methods of social control; and 4. incentive structure. The major tensions within the cooperatives include: 1. unsuccessful attempts at democracy; 2. volunteerism and sacrifice at a for-profit “cooperative”; and 3. free rider problem when financial compensation is more secure. This thesis makes sense of these findings by primarily drawing on literature from Chen (2009), Durkheim (2014), and Rothschild-Whitt (1979b). At the end of the thesis, I make recommendations for future cooperative gig-work platforms based on the findings.
Maya Keren ’22
Department: Music
Certificate(s): Program in African American Studies, Program in Musical Performance
Thesis Title: Careful In The Sun/Experiments In Gathering: Environing People and Sound Within the Collective
Advisor: Prof. Gavin Steingo
Dolly Lampson-Stixrud ’22
Department: Chemical and Biological Engineering
Certificate(s): Engineering & Management Systems (EMS), Program in Engineering Biology
Thesis Title: Coupling Biosensor and Multi-Chromosomal SCRaMbLE for High-Throughput Screening of Isobutanol Strains
Advisor: Prof. José L. Avalos
Thesis Abstract: Improvement of BCHA production through metabolic engineering has been a goal and challenge of the industry for many years. Novel poly-synthetic yeast cells that incorporate the Synthetic Chromosome Rearrangement and Modification by LoxP-mediated Evolution (SCRaMbLE) system provide a method for generating genotype diversity. Here, we utilize single copy genome integration of the mitochondrial metabolic pathway into bot 11 synthetic and non-synthetic chromosomes for the biosynthesis of isobutanol. Single copy integration combined with the integration of an isobutanol biosensor aids in the high-throughput screening of mutant strains. Following the SCRaMbLEing of haploid strains the yield of isobutanol is increased to 4.5-fold after 3 cycles of Fluorescence Activated single Cell Sorting (FACS) in strains where a single copy was integrated into a synthetic chromosome. This strain provides a potentially powerful tool for increasing the production of bio-based BCHAs and for faster identification of beneficial mutant cells.
Michael Lenzi ’22
Department: Neuroscience
Certificate: Program in Cognitive Science
Thesis Title: Understanding the Effects of Zygosity of a SHANK3b Knockout Mouse Model of Autism on Behavior
Advisor: Timothy J. Buschman
Thesis Abstract: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a pervasive disorder mostly diagnosed in young children. Some studies have estimated the rates of ASD in the U.S. to be around 2-3 percent of children, so it is a somewhat common disorder that has gained a large interest from the scientific community. There are many etiologies that are known and studied, and many are genetic such as the SHANK family of genes. While these genes have been extensively studied in the literature, the effect of zygosity is not well studied. One aim of this thesis is to look at a heterozygous and a homozygous knockout model of SHANK3b and compare differences between these etiologies in behavior and cortical brain dynamics to better understand the effect of zygosity. This will be done through a series of behavioral assays that will assess the presence of repetitive behaviors and social deficits: two behaviors that are characteristic of autism. This study also aims to use widefield calcium imaging to investigate how molecular changes lead to a brain-wide scale of atypical functional connectivity. Our results show higher repetitive behaviors in grooming but not in digging for both models of ASD. Our data regarding zygosity in our grooming tests suggest a linear relationship between repetitive behavior and severity of zygosity. Our social tests show an overall trend of less social activity in the heterozygous knockout mice compared to controls, and more social activity in the homozygous knockout mice compared to controls. This suggests an interesting relationship between zygosity and social behaviors that would need to be further explored in a future study.
Jarrad Li ’22
Department: Chemical and Biological Engineering
Certificate(s): Program in Materials Science and Engineering, Program in Musical Performance
Thesis Title: Suppression of Photoinduced Anion Segregation in Mixed-Halide Perovskites
Advisor: Dr. Barry P. Rand
Thesis Abstract: Mixed-halide perovskites are highly attractive in the field of materials science and engineering due to the ability to tune their bandgap across the entire visible spectrum. However, the full range of bandgap tunability cannot be achieved during operational conditions (e.g. illumination and voltage bias) of perovskite devices due to the phenomenon of halide segregation, which results in an undesirable change to the intended bandgap of the perovskite and a reduction to the amount of usable phase space. This problem can be remediated through the implementation of a disulfide additive, T2, into the perovskite, as the mild reducing ability of T2 has potential to inhibit the initial iodide oxidation step of halide segregation. Here, photoluminescence spectroscopy is used to demonstrate the ability of T2 to suppress halide segregation, and subsequent experimentation provides new insight into the importance of additive redox potential in the suppression of halide segregation.
Hunter Moffett ’22
Department: Anthropology
Thesis Title: Living With the Scourge of Our World: Nuclear Weapons
Advisor: Prof. Agustin Fuentes
Thesis Abstract: Nuclear weapons were conceived in secret by men working in the middle of the New Mexico desert to bring an end to the Second World War. Since then, they have become vital to the maintenance of the U.S. National Security State. After the Cold War ended, the general public no longer lived with the constant threat of nuclear war, but nuclear weapons did not disappear. They play a very large role in the workings of international politics and fears of nuclear war have since been reignited by the conflict in Ukraine. This thesis delves into the way that nuclear weapons have shaped public consciousness, the dangers they still pose, the people who control them, and the way they are represented on the screen with the goal of stimulating more discussion about them by anthropologists.
Christina Moon ’22
Department: Sociology
Certificate: Program in Chinese Culture
Thesis Title: THE IMPACT OF SOCIAL DISRUPTION: A STUDY OF HOW THE 1992 L.A. RIOTS SHAPED KOREAN-AMERICAN FAMILIES‘ DAILY LIVES AND MEMORIES
Advisor: Prof. Viviana Adela Zelizer
Thesis Abstract: This thesis explores the individual and community-level impact of socio-political crises. Focusing on the case of the 1992 Angeles Riots (or ‘Sa-i-gu‘), I ask how do such traumatic episodes shape people‘s lives and their memories of the events, and how are those transmitted to younger generations? Through interviews with Korean-Americans who lived through the unrest and their children, I identify salient features of the intergenerational transmission of trauma, such as silence or selective disclosure, as well as the galvanizing impact on the ethnic community‘s collective identity and the impact media has on this process.
Satya Nayagam ’22
Department: Chemical and Biological Engineering
Certificate: Program in Materials Science and Engineering
Thesis Title: Scalable Formulation of Lipid Nanoparticles for RNA Encapsulation by Flash NanoPrecipitation
Advisor: Prof. Robert Krafft Prud‘homme
Thesis Abstract: Lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) have recently emerged as effective vehicles for ribonucleic acid (RNA) delivery in vaccine formulations. LNP-based RNA vaccines for COVID-19 are among the most recent and critically important examples of such advanced formulations. While there has been extensive research on lipid structure, lipid formulations, and RNA modifications to optimize performance, there has been less work on how processing affects LNP structure and properties. In this work, we have used a Confined Impinging Jet (CIJ) and a Multi-Inlet Vortex Mixer (MIVM) to produce LNPs using Flash NanoPrecipitation (FNP). In these turbulent mixers (Reynolds number>5000), an organic solvent stream—containing the lipids—and an aqueous anti-solvent stream which may contain RNA are rapidly mixed. Through this scalable process, LNPs are formed only at the proper compositions and flow rates of the fluid streams. We have explored the effects of buffer pH, ionic strength, and lipid concentrations on the key properties of LNPs, including size, zeta potential, and colloidal stability. We show how these parameters can be tuned to produce 60 to 80 nm LNPs—an optimal size for the best in vivo practices. Moreover, we have maximized the loading of RNA in LNPs under controlled electrostatic and steric interactions. These findings are critical to produce RNA-loaded LNPs, and further develop therapeutic formulations.Monica Patino ’22
Department: Chemical and Biological Engineering
Thesis Title: An Investigation of the Stability and Activity of a Lasso Peptide from Members of the Enterobacter cloacae Complex
Advisor: Prof. A. James Link
Thesis Abstract: Lasso peptides are a subset of ribosomally synthesized and post-translationally modified peptides (RiPPs) that are natively encoded by diverse phyla of bacteria. Their structure is composed of an N-terminal ring, usually made up of 7 to 9 amino acids, followed by a C-terminal segment that is fed through the ring, hence the name lasso peptide. The threaded nature of lasso peptides is stabilized by steric interactions from large side chains on the C-terminal tail, locking the threaded tail in place within the ring. Lasso peptides are important to study due to their wide variety of biological functions, such as antimicrobial activity. Previous researchers in the Link Lab identified and expressed a lasso peptide that is encoded by species of Enterobacterales which exhibits antimicrobial activity against various other strains. While most lassoes studied to date have been resistant to unthreading, this lasso peptide displays some unthreading behavior even at room temperature in water. Understanding the unthreading behavior is important because once the lasso peptide undergoes unthreading, it is irreversible, and only the threaded form is bioactive. This thesis research aims to investigate the role of specific amino acids within the peptide on its unthreading behavior and antimicrobial activity through mutagenesis. The serine-24 to glycine (S24G) mutation led to an entirely unthreaded lasso peptide, which was unexpected since serine is not expected to serve as a steric lock due to its small size. A mutagenesis study was carried out to determine whether other substitutions at the C-terminus would affect the stability of the lasso peptide. Mutations at the C-terminus were tolerated, but the other mutations, such as G1A and E9D, were not tolerated. Most variants were expressed except for the G1A and E9D mutants. The antimicrobial activity of the Y10A mutant was tested, and the results indicated that there was a drastic loss of its bioactivity.
Bradley Phelps ’22
Department: History
Thesis Title: Pawns of Empire: New Ireland, Maine Loyalists, & The Northern Frontier of the American Revolution
Advisor: Michael Albert Blaakman
David Ramirez ’22
Department: Chemistry
Thesis Title: Probing a Novel Substrate Inhibition Mechanism of IDO1
Advisor: Prof. John Groves
Thesis Abstract: Indoleamine dioxygenase 1 aides the complex and exquisite effort of regulating the human immune response. Its role in cancer immune escape has sparked intense research in academia and pharmacology over the past two decades. However, the recent failure of IDO1 target molecules in clinical trials demonstrates an incomplete understanding of its regulation and broader metabolic effects. By probing a novel substrate inhibition mechanism formulated by Nelp et al., this work contributes to a better understanding of IDO1‘s inherent regulation. In conclusion, this novel mechanism 1) is not linked to peroxynitrite inactivation, 2) can explain IDO1‘s enantiospecific substrate inhibition, 3) can explain dopamine‘s ability to lift inhibition, and 4) is complicated by indole ethanol–induced activation.
Adelina Rolea ’22
Department: Chemistry
Certificate: Program in Environmental Studies
Thesis Title: BEHAVIOR OF PERFLUORINATED SULFONIC ACIDS (PFOS & PFBS) IN BROMIDE-TREATED SOILS
Advisor: Prof. Satish Chandra Babu Myneni
Thesis Abstract: Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a family of chemicals that are persistent and ubiquitous in the environment. While perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) are currently regulated, as they are known to cause diseases of pregnancy and cancer, lesser understood short-chain compounds, such as perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS), are not. Consequently, there is much interest in determining the environmental fate of these compounds and their behavior in soil. Although specific mechanisms are not well understood, previous studies have shown that addition of bromide (Br-) enhanced the rapid breakdown of natural chlorinated compounds. The aim of this research project is to determine if PFOS and PFBS also experience rapid breakdown when exposed to Br- in different natural system conditions, which could prove significant in exploring new methods of dehalogenation remediation. Ultimately, neither dehalogenation nor breakdown of PFOS or PFBS was observed. However, in some cases, high amounts of PFOS adsorbed to soils after Br- exposure. Additionally, this study corroborates the findings of previous research that has shown that the addition of Br- results in a significant decrease in total chlorine concentration in oxic, A Horizon soils. Finally, the total elemental composition of the soils studied underwent unique and statistically significant changes in concentration after the addition of Br- and presence of PFOS or PFBS in different environmental conditions.
Aleeza Schoenberg ’22
Department: Psychology
Certificate(s): Program in Creative Writing, Program in Theater Program in Applications of Computing
Thesis Title: Creativity Is Not All Benign: Relationships Among Neutral Creativity, Social Creativity, Prosociality, and Antisociality
Advisor: Ms. Diana I. Tamir
Thesis Abstract: Everyone possesses creativity, helping them generate novel and useful ideas. It is commonly believed that creativity is beneficial to the world. However, do people who use creativity benevolently also have the capacity to use creativity malevolently? Some researchers find positive correlations between benevolent creativity and creativity that is neutral—neither benevolent nor malevolent—and argue neutral creativity predicts prosociality, the social form of benevolence. However, just as creativity can be used for benevolent and neutral purposes, it can also be used for malevolent purposes. Thus, a domain-general mechanism may underlie all creativity—including neutral, prosocial, and antisocial. In the present research, three studies addressed whether this domain-general mechanism exists and whether neutral creativity predicts prosocial or antisocial behavior. In Study 1, subjects participated in tasks measuring neutral, prosocial, antisocial, and perspective-taking creativity, and in a task measuring prosociality. Scores in creativity tasks positively correlated with one another, indicating domain generality among neutral and social creativity. Neutral, prosocial, and antisocial creativity all positively correlated with prosociality, suggesting that creativity itself may predict prosocial behavior. Studies 2 and 3 addressed whether creativity‘s relationship with social behavior extends to antisociality. In Studies 2 and 3, participants‘ neutral creativity, prosociality, and antisociality were measured. Results were inconclusive and failed to replicate Study 1‘s finding, suggesting there may be limits to creativity‘s relationship with social behavior. Implications for interpreting current literature, limitations, and future directions are discussed. The danger and inaccuracy of assuming creativity is used only for benevolent purposes or by benevolent people is addressed.
Kate Semmens ’22
Department: History
Certificate(s): Program in American Studies, Program in Music Theater Program in Theater
Thesis Title: Entertaining History at America‘s Theme Parks: Experiencing the Past at Knott‘s Berry Farm, Disneyland, and Freedomland, USA, 1940-1964
Advisor: Dr. Emily Thompson
Naomi Shifrin ’22
Department: Sociology
Certificate(s): Program in African Studies, Program in Values and Public Life
Thesis Title: Collective Trauma, Identity, and Healing: An Ethnography of Neo-Hasidic Jews in English-Speaking Jerusalem
Advisor: Prof. Kim Lane Scheppele
Thesis Abstract: Collective trauma emerged as a focus of scholarly inquiry with the First World War. Today, sociologists understand that collective trauma can give rise to the construction of meaning and identity from suffering. Hasidism, the 18th century Jewish spiritual revival movement, and its early 20th century outgrowth, Neo-Hasidism, both formed as responses to collective Jewish trauma and focus on theologies of healing. Given its newness and rapidly evolving nature, Neo-Hasidism has not yet been investigated in academic literature. Employing ethnographic observation and semi- structured in-depth interviews with 30 participants, this thesis investigates the relationship between collective trauma, healing, and Jewish identity in the Anglo-born Neo-Hasidic community of Jerusalem today. I argue that English-speaking Neo-Hasidic Jews in Jerusalem understand their Jewish identities in a framework of trauma and healing. My findings then reveal that participants seek healing through shared beliefs: in collective Jewish trauma, relational healing, and God, and shared rites: communal experiences, contemplative practices, and plant and Earth medicine. My data reveal a new social identity, which I name Geulah Hasidism, redemptive Hasidism. Geulah Hasidism‘s central goal is healing. Like its predecessors, Hasidism and Neo-Hasidism, I argue that Geulah Hasidism formed as a way to construct meaning and identity from the collective trauma of the Jewish people.
Julie Shin ’22
Department: Sociology
Certificate(s): Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies, Program in Dance
Thesis Title: ALL IN A NAME? Korean American Women and the Legal Name
Advisor: Prof. Elizabeth Mitchell Armstrong
Thesis Abstract: Every day, Korean American women grapple with their positioning between ethnic Korean and mainstream American cultures and thus, much of their identity construction is defined by double the socio-cultural expectations of women. Korean American women are most impacted by these circumstances when it comes to their names. This study explores Korean American women‘s choices to pursue Korean or English legal names and more broadly, how it parallels their thinking about cultural preservation and assimilation. An analysis of qualitative interviews with 17 Korean American women finds three distinctive patterns by which they are influenced in the determination of their American legal name. Moreover, the study concludes that for Korean American women, names function as more than identity markers or legal mandates. Rather, names can be used intentionally to access culturally specific resources and opportunities.
Kamron Soldozy ’22
Department: Neuroscience
Certificate(s): Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies, Program in German Culture
Thesis Title: 4 Hz Theta Power Underlies Memory Encoding in Auditory Cortex in an Unsupervised Sequence Learning Paradigm
Advisor: Timothy J. Buschman
Thesis Abstract: Perceiving sensory information and integrating it with memory is a fundamental component of cognition, one that enables prediction-making. In mouse auditory cortex, it has yet to be shown if and how neural oscillations might support the encoding of sensory, memory, and predictive information. To test this, I analyzed LFP recorded from mouse auditory cortex in an implicit sequences learning paradigm embedded with statistical regularities. After performing a continuous wavelet transform to decompose the signal into time-frequency space, I trained linear support vector machine (SVM) classifiers to decode sensory, memory, and predictive information from the LFP signal and the power of neural oscillations at specific frequencies. I found that sensory and memory information are represented differently from each other in frequency-space: whereas sensory information was found widely distributed across multiple frequencies, memory encoding was distinctly localized in the low theta (∼4 Hz) and high gamma (∼90 Hz) frequency bands. Low theta power was sustained, stably representing sensory information and perhaps corresponding to top-down entrainment from hippocampus to support memory consolidation. Here, it is also shown that predictions and postdiction --- retroactive updates to sensory percepts in accordance with new stimuli --- were both facilitated by an alignment in the representation of correlated stimuli in time-frequency space. Future work should explore if phase-dependent encoding disambiguates sensory and memory information within frequencies in the LFP power. It also remains unclear if gamma amplitude is coupled to the phase of auditory or even hippocampal theta oscillations, yielding another promising area of research.
Hunter Makana Worth ’22
Department: Neuroscience
Thesis Title: Characterizing social memory in models of Early Life Adversity: Adult neurogenesis as a potential substrate of dysfunction
Advisor: Prof. Elizabeth Gould
Thesis Abstract: Early life adversity (ELA) is prevalent in our current society and individuals who experience ELA are shown to have increased susceptibility to multiple neuropsychiatric disorders dealing with social dysfunction. Looking at past research, many of these disorders involving dysfunction in social cognition also involve abnormalities in the hippocampus. Furthermore, the literature has shown that adult neurogenesis is necessary for social memory maintenance and that ELA alters hippocampal adult-born neurons. The present study looked at how two mouse models of ELA, MSEW and LBN, affected social memory in adult male and female mice. In both sexes, we examined the impact of these two forms of ELA on social discrimination memory. We also investigated whether ELA-induced social memory impairment in males subjected to MSEW is linked to changes in connectivity between adult-born granule cells and the CA2 region. Mice that were exposed to MSEW and LBN paradigms were tested in the direct social interaction task in order to measure their social discrimination memory. We observed a social discrimination memory deficit in both MSEW and LBN male mice but typical social discrimination memory in female mice of both ELA groups. Using immunohistochemistry to analyze adult-born granule cells in males, we observed that MSEW males have fewer adult-born granule cells compared to control males. This study extends our understanding of behavioral and neurological effects of rodent ELA models, bringing us closer to understanding social memory dysfunction and how sex differences play a role in development and neuropsychiatric disorders.
Kaylin Xu ’22
Department: Chemistry
Certificate(s): Program in Materials Science and Engineering, Program in French Certificate in Urban Studies
Thesis Title: Bonding in Transition Metal Dichalcogenides: An Experimental and Computational Investigation into the Electronic and Structural Properties of MTe2 (M=Hf, Ta, W, Re) and Their Solid Solution Systems
Advisor: Prof. Robert Joseph Cava

Thesis Abstract: As 2D layered materials, transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) exhibit many exotic physical properties that have promising uses in energy applications. TMDs‘ chemical versatility allows for transition metal substitutional doping, which changes their electronic and structural properties. In this thesis, density functional theory (DFT) modeling is used alongside various synthesis protocols to elucidate the effect of transition metal doping by investigating a solid solution series of TMDs MTe2 (M = Hf, Ta, W, Re). DFT modeling gave insights into the electronic localization, conductive nature, and bonding contributions within each system, while information about lattice parameters and doping capabilities were extracted from analysis of experimental synthesis products. In the (Hf1-xTax )Te2 system, poor theoretical bonding for the doped TMD and poor experimental doping were found, but flat bands in the DFT-modeled band structure of Hf0.5Ta0.5Te2 suggest other synthesis pathways should continue to be attempted. In the (Ta1-xWx )Te2 system, Rietveld refinements of W-doping of a TaTe2 phase and Ta-doping of WTe2 phases lead to the theory that W-doping of TaTe2 results in pseudo-M3M chains (M = Ta, W) while Ta-doping of WTe2 results in the breaking of W3W intralayer zigzag chains. Non-bulk superconductivity was detected in the Ta3W3Te system. Though the superconducting phase could not be isolated, it warrants further investigation due to the charge-density-wave phase of TaTe2 . Further investigation is also needed for the endmember TMD ReTe2 in order to understand the bonding in the (W1-xRex )Te2 system, as although Re-doping of WTe2 seemed successful with a Te self-flux method, possible inaccuracies in previously reported ReTe2 structures render the W-doping picture of ReTe2 unclear.

 

 

Thank You Messages from Students
Anahi Ambrosio ’22
Thesis Title: Impact of Crosslinking Density on Liquid Crystal Elastomer Properties
“My research explores the impact of crosslinking density on the properties of liquid crystal elastomers. The funds I received allowed me to be able to purchase starting materials for my research. With these, I was able to vary the crosslinking densities of different polymer ink that were made. In addition, I was able to characterize the properties by using differential scanning calorimetry.”
Zora Arum ’22
Thesis Title: A Procession of Particulars: The Preservation of Organic Unity in Woolf‘s Corpus
“With the funds provided, I went to the New York Public Library Special Collections and looked at the Virginia Woolf materials in the Berg Collection. While at the library, I did a comprehensive research on Woolf’s manuscript drafts of The Waves and Mrs. Dalloway and looked at some of her correspondence. The topic of my thesis is the interdependence of the individual and social body in Woolf’s works. I am looking specifically at the influence of G.E. Moore’s theory of “organic unity” on Woolf’s philosophy of bodily empathy. My thesis is that the creation of a social whole relies upon individual particularity, through the lens of Moorean “object realism.” The project now heavily features the draft manuscript material that I found at NYPL, some of which have never been published. The funding that I received from the Class of 1955 Senior Thesis Fund has been instrumental in my conception of the project and attempts to support its central claim. After graduation, I will be working at a wet lab at the University of California: San Francisco, researching developmental cancers of the brain. I hope to eventually go to medical school. I think of these plans as intimately tied to my love of literature and my interest in a socially productive theory of empathy and love for the particularity of individuals’ bodies, which the Fund has helped me pursue. Thank you!”
Yanar Bitar ‘22
Thesis Title: Synthesis and Investigation of a Family of Gold Tellurides in an Attempt to Characterize and Explore Superconductivity
“Thank you to the donors of the Class of 1955 Senior Thesis Fund for supporting my thesis work. Without the fund, I would not have been able to gather my materials to begin the experiments, and my research would not have been able to work. My thesis research revolved around the element gold and an attempt to synthesize a compound that has not been synthesized prior. While doing so, I had hoped to investigate and reveal unique properties of the element that could be beneficial to the field of stable phases. As you may know, gold is not a cheap element, and I thank the fund because as I went through each run, I only ever needed more and more of the powder. The experiment instilled a sense of curiosity in me that could only have been built on the ability to begin the research itself, so thank you once again!”
Hifsa Chaudhry ’22
Thesis Title: Neural Mechanisms Underlying Cognitive Deficits in Rat Models of Autism
“For my senior thesis, I am working in the Brody Lab under the supervision of my post-doc Dr. Marino. As a part of my research, I am characterizing the cognitive deficits associated with known autism risk gene mutations - specifically the FMR1 gene and the NRXN gene. The rats with the gene mutation are trained on a specific cognitive flexibility task, and their performance is quantified and compared to the performance of wild-type rats who lack the gene mutation on the same task. In addition, we are using light sheet microscopy and staining techniques to determine whether the rats with autism gene mutations have any structural abnormalities in comparison to wild-type rats. The thesis funding I received through the Class of 1955 Senior Thesis Fund was incredibly helpful in allowing me to live on campus and work in the laboratory throughout the summer. I am grateful to all of the donors who made this fund and the senior thesis experience I have had possible. I look forward to carrying the skills that I have attained through this research into my future aspirations with the end goal being to attend medical school.”
Hailey Colborn ’22
Thesis Title: Harlem Blues
“For my thesis, I wrote a screenplay set during the Harlem Renaissance that explores themes of respectability versus the post-war frenzy, or more simply put the church versus the cabaret. Thanks to the Class of 1955 Senior Thesis fund, I was able to spend a week in Chicago, visiting the sites of historic clubs that helped launch the jazz movement that would eventually come to fruition in Harlem. While some have since closed and are simply sites now, a couple were still open and held live music for people to listen to and dance to. Being in those environments helped me imagine what it would have been like in the 1920s. I do not doubt that that experience helped me embody the aura of the 20s jazz club in my screenplay and I‘m extremely grateful. After graduating, I will be pursuing a career in film with the intention of writing/directing projects that highlight marginalized narratives.”

Ben Dodge ’22

Thesis Title: Stellar Disk Tilting in Galaxy Mergers

“These contributions helped me to conduct research at the Center for Computational Astrophysics in New York, where my thesis advisor Mariangela Lisanti is on sabbatical. Every week I travel to attend seminars, work with graduate students, and most importantly have a weekly meeting with my advisor and a postdoc, Oren Slone. The in-person environment has accelerated our progress at the blackboard, and most recently we worked out some theoretical aspects of particle orbits in a mixed spherical and cylindrical gravitational field. Long story short, the precession of these orbits is critical to understanding how the Milky Way stellar disk responds to mergers with other galaxies. (Recent data from the Gaia space telescope is indicating that these mergers are more common than we previously thought!) One unexpected benefit of my weekly trip has been the knowledge and connections formed over lunch and dinner with people from all levels of academia. These conversations influenced my desire to pursue particle astrophysics and cosmology in graduate school and I have been able to learn a lot about the programs I am considering: Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, and NYU. I hope to defer my offers and spend a year teaching abroad, pending good news from Fulbright or Princeton in Asia!”
Anna Durak ’22
Thesis Title: Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust:” The Creation and Continuation of "Disney Magic" in the Disney Theme Parks
“Because of the Class of 1955 Senior Thesis Fund, I was able to carry out my thesis research in person, at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The in-person opportunity was so rewarding and the knowledge and experience that was obtained for not only my thesis but also my overall academic journey could not have occurred without your help. I am so grateful for your generous donation! Thank you!”
Chino Eke ’22
Thesis Title: Mechanisms of Social Memory Dysfunction in Mouse Models of Autism Spectrum Disorder
“I continued ongoing research in the Gould Lab of Neuroscience about the impact of the CA2 on social memory formation in two transgenic models of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The goal of the research is to identify developmentally relevant information associated with the onset of social memory impairments in ASD. In layman‘s terms, this research is attempting to identify any biomarkers that might be related to impaired memory. Ultimately, the Class of 1955 Senior Research Fund has enabled me to explore how ASD develops and potentially contribute to a means of preventing the deficits associated with its onset.”
Victoria Escalante ’22
Thesis Title: Prototype of a Doctor: How are the Reverse Correlation Images of a Doctor and a Non-Doctor Face Perceived?
“My senior thesis as a psychology major was on creating a visual prototype of what a doctor and non-doctor, which is what people think an ideal doctor looks like in people’s minds. From the images that I created in my first study, I found that the doctor‘s face was a white female and the non-doctor face was a black male. I then measured the perceived competence and warmth of the faces that were created in the first part. The doctor‘s face was more competent and warm than the non-doctor face. With the help of the Class of 1955 Senior Thesis Fund, I was able to pay my participants in my second study. This also allowed me to send my survey nationwide. I am very grateful to have been given this funding to help me pursue my thesis question.”
Kenneth Gonzalez  ’22
Thesis Title: Broken Treaties, Broken Lives: A Legal History of Mexican-American Dispossession in Arizona, 1854-1912
“Because of my research funding, I was able to conduct research at the Arizona State Archives, the Arizona Historical Society, and the University of Arizona. I collected vital primary sources that have allowed me to make the argument that the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was weaponized by local settlers and the federal government to quietly dispossess Mexican-Americans from their land in Arizona. Through an analysis of newspapers, court opinions, court testimony, government reports, and government letters, I argue that the United States needs to add Mexican dispossession to its historical recognition of its legacy of conquest. Embedded in this argument are discussions of the growth of the federal government, competition between different legal authorities, and the importance of wealth in accessing legal rights. The goal of my thesis is to prove (with the resources acquired through my research trip) that capitalist development in Arizona in the latter half of the 19th century was only possible through the dispossession of both Apache Indians and the Mexicans in the southwest.
After graduation, I will be heading over to Los Angeles where I will be in a Legal Advocate position at the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice, a non-profit legal organization that provides free legal services to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. I plan on working with this amazing team for several years before heading off to law school.”
Abby Gupta ’22
Thesis Title: Prejudice and Prototypes: Understanding Mental Representations of Black Faces
“Receiving funds from the Class of 1955 was crucial for me to be able to conduct my psychology senior thesis experiment. With these funds, I was able to recruit over 400 participants to take my surveys via an online platform. The results of my experiment will contribute to a growing understanding of how Black and White people differ in their assumptions and preconceived notions of black people. I really appreciate the help as I could not have done my experiment without this funding!”
Naaji Hylton ’22
Thesis Title: Deep Neural Network Models to Understand Activity Silence and Episodic Function in Working Memory
“For my senior thesis, these funds helped with living expenses for being able to work on a major portion of my thesis over the summer. My senior thesis research over the summer was on creating models supporting a new theory for how short-term memory worked in conjunction with long-term memory. We‘re hypothesizing that a specific type of short-term memory called "activity-silent working memory" is actually a type of long-term memory called "episodic memory." For a while, many neuroscientists had proposed that this activity-silent working memory existed because they could not explain the neural results seen from specific memory tasks human subjects did which resulted in atypical behavior from working memory so this special "activity-silent" version of working memory was proposed. One of the tasks that produced these results was a memory task called the dual retro-cue task and for my research, I wanted to see if I could use a neural network that modeled working memory combined with long-term memory to produce similar results to the human brain and help purport the explanation for activity silent working memory being long-term memory. Over the summer, I worked on creating a model of the dual retro-cue task which significantly helped me in being able to then train a neural network on the task and see its behavior. The thesis fund helped a lot in allowing me to create the data and simulations that were at the basis of my thesis over the summer. I‘m going to work as a software engineer at Amazon post-graduation and I also have accepted and deferred an offer to Rutgers Robert Johnson Medical School. I want to sincerely thank the alumni who contributed towards me being able to do this!”
Tim Jia ’22
Thesis Title: Stimulating the Brain and Spinal Cord: A Short-Circuit or the Future of Targeted Therapy?
“I appreciate the Class of 1955 Senior Thesis Fund for supporting my senior thesis research. The funds were well received and allowed me to research potential PTSD associations in the cerebellum and social hierarchy in mice. I was able to do mice surgeries, run behavioral experiments, and analyze the brain with molecular assays. I hope to become a pediatrician in the future, but I will be working first after graduation.”
Nikoo Karbassi ’22
Thesis Title: EXAMINING THE STRUCTURES OF EMERGING, COOPERATIVE GIG-WORK PLATFORMS
“My senior thesis is about the organizational structures of emerging cooperative gig-work platforms. Cooperative gig-work platforms are worker-owned models of gig-work platforms that are trying to compete with larger gig-work platforms like Uber and GrubHub. The generous funding from the Class of 1955 Senior Thesis Fund allowed me to compensate the research participants that I interviewed from the Driver‘s Cooperative in New York City. Without the funding, it would have been very difficult to gather research participants for this study. After I graduate, I am planning to pursue research in clinical psychology.”
Maya Keren ’22
Thesis Title: Careful In The Sun/Experiments In Gathering: Environing People and Sound Within the Collective
“My senior thesis is about the organizational structures of emerging cooperative gig-work platforms. Cooperative gig-work platforms are worker-owned models of gig-work platforms that are trying to compete with larger gig-work platforms like Uber and GrubHub. The generous funding from the Class of 1955 Senior Thesis Fund allowed me to compensate the research participants that I interviewed from the Driver‘s Cooperative in New York City. Without the funding, it would have been very difficult to gather research participants for this study. After I graduate, I am planning to pursue research in clinical psychology.”
Michael Lenzi ’22
Thesis Title: Understanding the Effects of Zygosity of a SHANK3b Knockout Mouse Model of Autism on Behavior
“The funds helped my room and board costs for living on campus over the summer which allowed me to conduct my research between semesters. The research I was working on went towards my senior thesis which is about a mouse model of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). I‘m looking at behavioral differences between these mouse models and wild-type mice by using different testing batteries to look for repeated behaviors and social deficits (those typically seen in those with autism). I‘m also using calcium imaging to look at cortical activity differences and comparing ASD to wildtype to see how information flow across the brain is potentially different in one vs the other. I‘m then connecting the behavioral results to brain imaging to help the scientific community gain a better understanding of how ASD impacts both the brain and behavior collectively. I‘m extremely grateful for the funds provided as they helped me advance my research, which allowed me to present at a conference (Sigma Xi) during the fall semester. Post graduation I will be attending Bryn Mawr and doing a post bacc premedical program to take all the premed classes to prepare myself for MCAT and medical school.”
David Ramirez ’22
Thesis Title: Probing a Novel Substrate Inhibition Mechanism of IDO1
“Thank you for funding my research last summer! There’s something amazing about living at Princeton for an entire summer, doing nothing but research. All without a single deadline hanging over my head. I remember fondly walking to lab on clear, cool mornings, bathing in the gentle morning sun, and listening to bird calls around me. It was delightful, even amidst the cicadas! Your generosity allowed me to devote myself to my major. I tapped into wonderful resources, met amazing graduate students, gained invaluable lab experience, learned a ton, fell more deeply in love with my major, and had a blast. Lab work teaches you technical skills, attention to detail, a certain methodology, but also a desire to seek the truth. It’s tempting to do science in pursuit of results. Results that support your hypothesis. Last summer helped me confront that tendency and seek the truth to the best of my ability, not conforming the data to my hopes and expectations but conforming my mind to the data. There’s a lot to learn in a chemistry lab, about chemistry and life. Thank you again for affording me this wonderful research opportunity. It was a rich experience with amazing people that I continue to reflect on. I’m applying to medical school now and hope to bring the fruits of this experience to a medical career that seeks the truth with uncompromising zeal, devotion and charity.”
Kate Semmens ’22
Thesis Title: Entertaining History at America‘s Theme Parks: Experiencing the Past at Knott‘s Berry Farm, Disneyland, and Freedomland, USA, 1940-1964
In order to conduct research for my senior thesis, I took a trip to California over winter break. This research was essential to my thesis work which focuses on 20th-century American theme parks and their immersive depictions of America’s past. The main goal of the trip was to visit Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm. These two parks are two of the main chapters of my thesis. My visit to Knott’s Berry Farm was especially interesting, since I had never been, and speaking to cast members, taking photographs, and experiencing Knott’s Berry’s Ghost Town actually led to me dedicating a more significant section of my thesis to the park. It was my visit that made it even clearer how relevant and interesting Knott’s Berry Farm is to my thesis’ focus on the intersection between historical education and entertainment. On the trip, I also visited two different archives. I visited UC Irvine’s archives to look at a collection of Disneyland promotional material and visited the Knott’s Berry Farm collection at the Orange County Archives. Both of these allowed me to see several fundamental primary sources that were not digitized. While at Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm, I observed the ways in which these parks present history and education to their visitors. At Disneyland, I took an up-close look at Main Street U.S.A. and Frontierland. At Knott’s Berry Farm, for example, I visited the Western Trails Museum, which is a collection of California artifacts collected by Marion Speer. The collection, which is housed within the park, is one of the many ways that Knott’s Berry Farm complicates the distinction between “museum” and “entertainment center.” The archival collections also have greatly impacted my research. The collection at UC Irvine provided me a look at Disneyland promotional materials which spoke to Walt Disney’s original goals for the park. Those materials also spoke to the park’s early national and international impact. The Knott’s Berry Farm collection provided me with original press releases and publicity materials for the park’s Ghost Town, Indian Trails, and Independence Hall. The funds which the Class of 1955 Fund provided me, were essential for traveling to California and conducting this research. After graduation, I actually plan to pursue theater and film professionally. This thesis work has been a wonderful combination of my interests in history, performance studies, and theater. In many ways, parks like Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm are putting on a performance of America’s past when they welcome visitors to Frontierland and Ghost Town. It is an immersive piece of theater that very much shapes the average American’s understanding of American history.”
Julie Shin ’22
Thesis Title: ALL IN A NAME? Korean American Women and the Legal Name
“My research focuses on identifying how Korean-born or 2nd generation Korean-American women [will] decide between a Korean or American legal name with American citizenship and furthermore, what that says about their navigation between maintaining native cultural customs and assimilating to American culture. The funding I received from the Class of 1955 Senior Thesis Fund was crucial for interviewing and meeting with a number of women in Los Angeles, an area with a very prominent Korean population, to discuss their experiences with migration, assimilation, personal name and more. Some of the women were younger, closer to 21-22, and some of the women were older, closer to 40-45, to gather a range of perspectives. Speaking to Korean-American women in person allowed for longer and more detailed conversations. These research efforts unearthed a number of themes that are proving to be incredibly helpful to the development of my thesis’ argument. The women’s answers revealed patterns of: naming rooted in Korean gender norms, name anglicization, reasons for migration, and much more.”
Kamron Soldozy ’22
Thesis Title: 4 Hz Theta Power Underlies Memory Encoding in Auditory Cortex in an Unsupervised Sequence Learning Paradigm
Throughout the course of my undergraduate studies, I have been concerned with how I can make working on my senior thesis financially sustainable. I am a student on full financial aid, and while I wanted to dedicate the summer before senior year and even more time during the semester junior/senior year to working on my thesis, the reality of my financial situation has necessitated working other jobs alongside my thesis, which is far from optimal for productivity. The OUR funding I received was absolutely essential for making it possible for me to progress on my thesis last summer.
My research explores a seemingly simple human phenomenon and is best explained by example. Imagine you are about to swing a tennis racket at an incoming ball. The moment before you begin your swing, you know both the current position of the ball and where it was a moment ago, and putting those two pieces of information allows you to make a prediction about where the ball will be, thus allowing you to time and place your swing effectively. The question I ask is how do you store that information in the brain? Where the ball is (‘sensory‘), where it was (‘memory‘), and where you expect it to be (‘prediction‘). But rather than study humans playing tennis, I analyze neurological data recorded from mice as they listen to a sequences of sounds (almost like listening to music). Along the way, I have become familiar with and employed a variety of mathematical, statistical, and neurological analysis techniques.
Again, thank you very much for the opportunity to pursue this research, much of which would not be possible without the Class of 1955 Senior Thesis Fund.”
Hunter Makana Worth ’22
Thesis Title: Characterizing social memory in models of Early Life Adversity: Adult neurogenesis as a potential substrate of dysfunction
The funds I generously received helped cover the costs of housing expenses so I could continue research over the 2021 summer months. The purpose of my research is to analyze how early life adversity (ELA) affects social memory. ELA can include child abuse, neglect, hardships, and violence. It is believed that ELA makes humans more susceptible to diseases that involve impairment of social recognition. Throughout adulthood, new granule cells integrate into hippocampal circuitry and are associated with learning, memory, stress regulation, and social behavior. Previous work from the lab I am part of suggests that adult neurogenesis is necessary for social memory maintenance. However, ELA causes changes in the hippocampus to adult-born neurons which are important for social memory. One of the affected regions includes the hippocampal CA2 region which is crucial for social memory. Furthermore, previous research by Laham et al. shows that inhibition of the CA2 region impairs the memory of the caregiving mother in pups and adults (2021). Part of my research included behavioral experiments including an elevated plus maze and social memory experiments where mice were timed on how long they interacted with novel and known mice. After testing, we investigated how the CA2 region is affected by ELA through immunolabeling and the use of a retrovirus to visualize projections from adult-born granule cell projections to the CA2. Differences were also looked at between male mice and female mice going through various stages of the estrous cycle. More research needs to be done to determine the extent to which ELA affects social memory. After I graduate, I plan to join ZS Associates as a Strategy Insights and Planning Associate for their Business Consulting Group. In this role, I plan to learn more about the life science and pharmaceutical industry while also gaining more experience in the skills needed to enact change throughout any industry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


 

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