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Undergraduate Fellows

Group photo of USRP students.

Stanford undergraduate students seeking opportunities to do hands-on research, learn how to carry out experiments in the laboratory, and develop the skills to read and analyze scientific literature.  Learn more about the Undergraduate Summer Research Program!

Search Undergraduate fellows view the 2019 USRP brochure

  • Photo of Stanford student and Stanford Bio-X Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant Matthew Prospero.
    2020 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: Bioengineering
    Mentor: Vittorio Sebastiano, Obstetrics & Gynecology

    “Dissecting the Transcriptional Role of TBX1 in Human Pharyngeal Endoderm”

    22q11 Deletion Syndrome is the most common chromosomal deletion syndrome and affects 1 out of 2000-4000 newborns, resulting in a number of phenotypic abnormalities that severely impair the life of the patients and often result in premature mortality. The various deletions in this syndrome encompass 30-50 genes, but the loss of a single copy of the TBX1 gene is sufficient to recapitulate most symptoms related with larger deletions. This suggests that TBX1, which has an important role in the formation of tissues and organs during embryonic development, plays a fundamental role in the disease. The goal of Matthew’s Stanford Bio-X research is to investigate the molecular role of TBX1 in human stem cells, using a highly multidisciplinary approach that encompasses stem cell biology, genomics, and bioengineering.

  • Photo of Stanford student and Stanford Bio-X Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant Psalm Pineo-Cavanaugh.
    2020 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: Human Biology
    Mentor: Karen J. Parker, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences

    “Oxytocin Disruption in Hypothalamic and Pituitary Disorders: A Review of the Literature and Theoretical Framework”

    Social deficits have recently been identified in some patients with hypothalamic and pituitary (HPIT) disorders. Oxytocin, a neuropeptide involved in mammalian social functioning, may underlie these impairments. Psalm aims to compile a comprehensive review of pre-clinical and clinical literature to elucidate how damage to the hypothalamus and pituitary in individuals with HPIT disorders alters oxytocinergic systems and how this may relate to social functioning in this population.

  • Photo of Stanford student and Stanford Bio-X Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant Lejla Pepic.
    2020 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: Biology
    Mentor: Joseph Wu, Medicine (Cardiovascular Medicine) and Radiology

    “Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPSC)-Derived Exosomes as Biomarkers of Cardiomyopathy”

    Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle that can cause heart failure, the inability of the heart to meet the metabolic demands of the body, and sudden cardiac death. Many genetic mutations are known that predispose an individual to cardiomyopathy, but a large number of cardiomyopathy cases are idiopathic or have variable penetrance, meaning that biomarkers which can aid in detecting and evaluating the severity of cardiomyopathy are needed. Lejla will analyze the non-coding RNAs in secreted, membrane-bound vesicles called exosomes from iPSC-derived cardiac cells, using a combination of large-scale sequencing and dry-lab bioinformatics approaches. Her work will test the hypothesis that non-genetic factors such as long non-coding RNA might be harnessed as biomarkers to diagnose cardiomyopathies.

  • Photo of Stanford student and Stanford Bio-X Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant Sergey Pavlov.
    2020 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: Biology
    Mentor: Sharon Pitteri, Radiology

    “Glycoproteomic Analysis of a Patient Derived Renal Cell Carcinoma Xenograft Mouse Model for Cancer Early Detection”

    Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) has a poor prognosis for most patients, unless it is detected at an early stage. To facilitate the discovery of novel blood-based protein biomarkers for early detection of RCC, Sergey will use patient-derived xenograft (PDX) mouse models and analyze liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry data on the mouse serum and tumors, in order to identify and characterize glycoproteins that could serve as potential biomarkers for RCC.

  • Photo of Stanford student and Stanford Bio-X Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant Sophie Parsa.
    2020 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: Computer Science
    Mentor: Mary Hynes, Biology

    “Biological Functions of the 3’UTR in Tumor Development”

    Over the last decade, it has been shown that RNA is not simply a messenger, as RNA itself can critically regulate many biological processes. The Hynes lab and others have identified the widespread, stable, and non-random expression of 3 prime untranslated regions of mRNA (3’UTR) sequences even in the absence of their coding regions (CDS). They are now investigating the biological role of such “isolated” 3’UTRs in early neural development. Sophie will expand on this developmental role proposed by the Hynes Lab to examine the role of 3’ UTR sequences in the tumor development of skin cancer, as well as other common cancer types. Sophie will be using open source RNA-seq expression cancer data sets and conduct analyses of gene categories and cell clustering to potentially identify unique signaling pathways that are pertinent to this study.

  • Photo of Stanford student and Stanford Bio-X Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant Mohammed Osman.
    2020 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: Symbolic Systems
    Mentor: Thomas Clandinin, Neurobiology

    “Investigating the Role of Recurrent Connectivity in Visual Processing”

    Feedback and recurrent connectivity are ubiquitous but poorly understood features of the nervous system, and they underlie state-of-the-art machine learning models for speech recognition, robotics, and other tasks. As such, demystifying the functional role of recurrence could greatly contribute to our understanding of the brain and help us engineer better AI systems. To that end, Mohammed will be using computational models to investigate how recurrent connections contribute to motion detection in the fruit fly visual system.

  • Photo of Stanford student and Stanford Bio-X Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant Lorena Orozco.
    2020 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: Human Biology
    Mentor: Brian Kobilka, Molecular & Cellular Physiology

    “Measuring the Conformational States and Dwell Time of the Mu-Opioid Receptor”

    Drugs which target the opioid receptor for analgesic, or pain-relieving, effects can have side effects that include respiratory suppression. Analgesia occurs when the receptor couples to a protein in the cell called a G protein, and respiratory suppression occurs when the receptor couples to a protein called arrestin. Lorena will measure the conformational changes of the opioid receptor, hoping to determine which changes in the receptor lead to coupling to the G protein, and which changes lead to respiratory suppression. This will provide insight into molecular mechanisms for the action of opioid drugs.

  • Photo of Stanford student and Stanford Bio-X Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant George Nakahara.
    2020 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: undeclared
    Mentor: Thomas Südhof, Molecular & Cellular Physiology

    “Investigating How Astrocytic Neurexin-1 Instructs Synapse Development”

    Genetic variation in the gene that encodes for Neurexin-1, a protein well known for its role in synapse development, has been implicated in cases of autism spectrum disorder, schizophrenia, and Tourette syndrome. However, our understanding of Neurexin-1 function and regulation in diverse cell types in the brain is limited. George’s research will investigate how astrocytes, a major non-neuronal cell type in the brain, utilize Neurexin-1 to regulate synapse development, thus elucidating the role of this protein in developmental disorders.

  • Photo of Stanford student and Stanford Bio-X Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant Saket Myneni.
    2020 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: Biology
    Mentor: Tony Wyss-Coray, Neurology & Neurological Sciences

    “Identifying the Mechanism of Oligodendrocyte Rejuvenation Following Exposure to Young Cerebrospinal Fluid”

    Oligodendrocytes provide support and insulation to axons in the central nervous system, making them essential for proper cognitive function, which declines with aging. The Wyss-Coray lab’s work has revealed that transfusing cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of younger mice into older mice has beneficial effects on the proliferation and differentiation of oligodendrocytes. Saket’s research will study the underlying mechanisms of this effect through a bioinformatics approach, in an attempt to identify potent protein candidates in CSF which could potentially be used to develop therapeutics that target cognitive decline related to age and neurodegenerative diseases.

  • Photo of Stanford student and Stanford Bio-X Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant Rachana Mudipalli.
    2020 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: Bioengineering
    Mentor: Karl Deisseroth, Bioengineering and Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences

    “Characterizing Value-Encoding in Genetically Defined Cell Types in the Orbitofrontal Cortex”

    Animal environments present a variety of stimuli with differing motivational values. Animals must evaluate these different stimuli and decide which to pursue. Prior studies have identified neurons in the orbitofrontal cortex whose firing rates correlate with the value of different stimuli offered to an animal. However, how these neurons map onto anatomically or genetically defined cell types remains unknown. Rachana seeks to analyze single cell neural activity data, recorded from mice responding to deferentially valued environmental stimuli, to characterize how value is represented in genetically defined cell types in the orbitofrontal cortex.

  • Photo of Stanford student and Stanford Bio-X Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant Daniel Martinez-Krams.
    2020 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: undeclared
    Mentor: Ravindra Majeti, Medicine (Hematology)

    “Characterizing In Vitro Cell Culture of Acute Myeloid Leukemia Patient Samples for Drug and Genomic Screens”

    Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is an aggressive cancer of the bone marrow with poor patient outcomes. The most important questions that scientists need to answer about AML biology are hampered by our inability to successfully culture patient samples in the lab. Daniel’s research seeks to identify the features of effective patient sample cultures to facilitate future drug and genomic screens.

  • Photo of Stanford student and Stanford Bio-X Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant Darwin Luna.
    2020 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: undeclared
    Mentor: Jun Ding, Neurosurgery and Neurology & Neurological Sciences

    “Understanding the Role of Learning in Alcohol Use Disorder”

    Alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder (AUD), is a debilitating disease. Currently, there are only three treatments approved by the FDA, and, unfortunately, these treatments do not work for all alcoholics. In order to develop better therapeutics, we must understand the cellular and synaptic mechanisms of ethanol reward and learning. Using histology and data analysis, Darwin hopes to provide a clearer account of the role of learning in the striatum, an area in the brain involved in alcohol reward. The mechanistic insight gained from these studies could help advance novel treatment strategies for alcohol use disorder.

  • Photo of Stanford student and Stanford Bio-X Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant Christine Liu.
    2020 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: Computer Science
    Mentor: John Huguenard, Neurology & Neurological Sciences

    “Closed-Loop Model to Predict Epileptic Seizures using Machine Learning in Real Time”

    Epilepsy is one of most common neurological disorders, affecting more than 65 million people worldwide. While most patients with epilepsy have their seizures controlled by medication or surgery, more than 30% continue to have spontaneous and debilitating seizures and would greatly benefit from a system to predict seizures with sufficient warning time. Christine’s research seeks to develop a closed-loop seizure prediction system using machine learning models and data from electroencephalograms, in order to accurately predict seizures in real time.

  • Photo of Stanford student and Stanford Bio-X Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant Lexi Linker.
    2020 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: undeclared
    Mentor: Ivan Soltesz, Neurosurgery

    “Characterization of Inhibitory Connectivity in Healthy and Epileptic Brain Circuits”

    Diverse types of inhibitory interneurons control the rhythm and excitability of cortical networks, and a dysfunction of these neurons is one of the main causes behind epilepsy. Lexi’s Stanford Bio-X research will focus on developing and verifying tools to study the specific patterns of synaptic connections of the interneurons in the hippocampus, to better understand changes to the inhibitory circuitry in animal models of epilepsy.

  • Photo of Stanford student and Stanford Bio-X Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant David Lee.
    2020 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: undeclared
    Mentor: David Kingsley, Developmental Biology

    “The Genetic Basis of Common Skeletal Evolution in Sticklebacks”

    The bony skeleton plays a key role in feeding, support, locomotion, and tissue protection in vertebrates. Species in different environments frequently evolve major differences in the size, shape, number, and density of bones. Although skeletal changes play a key role in both environmental adaptation and protection from predators and common diseases, the genetic and genomic basis of skeletal changes in wild vertebrate species are still poorly understood. David will examine this question by characterizing the genetic basis of interesting changes in bone density and dorsal spine number evolving in stickleback fish (Gasterosteus aculeatus and Apeltes quadracus).

  • Photo of Stanford student and Stanford Bio-X Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant Tracy Lang.
    2019 and 2020 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: Human Biology
    Mentor: Peter Jackson, Microbiology & Immunology

    2019 Research Project: The role of primary cilia in cystic kidney disease, and the mechanism by which repair of tissue damage requires regulation of hypoxia, both remain poorly characterized. Using super-resolution localization and cell viability studies, Tracy aims to better understand oxygen-dependent molecular mechanisms in cystic renal tissue by studying the role of a specific enzyme called asparagine hydroxylase as well as ciliary genetics in cystic kidney disease biology.

    2020 Research Project: “Elucidating the Pathways Driving Adipogenesis”

    Tracy will be using bioinformatic analysis of a CRISPR screen and genomics and proteomics data to build models for how adipogenesis and the differentiation of fat cells work. Based on a genome-wide screen, Tracy will be analyzing data from a suite of public databases and integrating this data towards building hypotheses for additional directed experiments. This work will improve our understanding of new pathways driving differentiation.

  • Photo of Stanford student and Stanford Bio-X Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant Josephine Krieger.
    2020 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: Biology
    Mentor: Kristy Red-Horse, Biology

    “Single-Cell RNA Sequencing of Coronary Vascular Endothelial Cells at Neonatal Stages”

    Coronary artery disease (CAD) obstructs essential blood flow to the heart and results in mortality or severe injury. In contrast to the adult heart, the neonatal mouse heart, including its coronary arteries, has a unique capacity to repair itself after injury. Josephine aims to characterize the neonatal heart’s regenerative potential by using single-cell RNA sequencing techniques to investigate differences in gene expression between vascular endothelial cells at different neonatal stages. Understanding neonatal coronary artery development may contribute to the greater goal of repairing coronary arteries in the diseased adult heart.

  • Photo of Stanford student and Stanford Bio-X Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant Sayeh Kohani.
    2020 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: Biomedical Computation and Economics
    Mentor: Liqun Luo, Biology

    “Molecular Mechanisms of Neuronal Wiring Specificity”

    Studying the mechanisms by which neurons are able to achieve wiring specificity is key to better understanding brain development. Sayeh’s research focuses on unveiling novel wiring molecules and mechanisms that contribute to the formation of precise connections between neurons. Using the fruit fly olfactory circuit as a model, Sayeh has identified several novel wiring molecules through a genetic screen. This summer, she will use single-cell RNA sequencing data and analysis techniques to further investigate the spatial and temporal dynamics of wiring-molecule expression.

  • Photo of Stanford student and Stanford Bio-X Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant Gaeun Kim.
    2020 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: Bioengineering
    Mentor: Markus Covert, Bioengineering

    “Curating and Modelling Gene Expression Regulation in a Whole Cell Model of E. coli

    With the rapid, independent generation of biological data by research groups worldwide, there is a pressing need to evaluate the cross-consistency of these data, extract relevant biological parameters, and integrate them into models that form our understanding of cellular processes. With E. coli as a model organism, Gaeun will curate existing parameters for gene expression and use mathematical modelling techniques to build a sub-model for gene expression regulation and subsequent translation to the protein level. This research will expand on the Covert Lab’s whole cell model of E. coli by more than 150 genes, enable predictions of cellular physiology in response to environmental changes, and contribute to an impactful pipeline that will advance the field of large-scale modelling.

  • Photo of Stanford student and Stanford Bio-X Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant Francesca Kim.
    2020 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: undeclared
    Mentor: Karl Deisseroth, Bioengineering and Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences

    “Development of Interface for Minimally Invasive Deep Brain Optogenetic Stimulation”

    Optogenetics is a tool that utilizes light-gated ion channel proteins called Channelrhodopsins (ChRs) to achieve precise spatiotemporal control of neural activity. A lingering issue with this tool is the need for invasive surgeries and the implantation of materials required to deliver visible light to the brain. Francesca’s project seeks to develop a minimally invasive optogenetic interface that allows for better mechanistic understanding of neuronal circuit function, with minimal damage to the brain. Francesca’s goal is to demonstrate the possibility for deep brain optogenetics without the need for invasive implantation and direct deep brain viral injections.

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