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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

  • 2019 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: Symbolic Systems
    Mentor: Jennifer Raymond, Neurobiology

    Neural computations involved in a number of processes, including sensation and cognition, rely on the dynamics of large, recurrently connected populations of neurons. Ella’s project aims to look at the oculomotor system—which involves signals encoding desired eye velocity as a way to produce new eye position signals—as a model for how these computations are adaptively modified by experience to “tune” and improve the performance of the systems involved. To do so, she will develop a new behavioral training protocol in mice to tune the oculomotor integrator, in order to investigate the relevant neural circuitry and better understand how this process happens.

  • 2019 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: Biology
    Mentor: Christin Kuo, Pediatrics (Pulmonary Medicine)

    Pulmonary neuroendocrine cells (PNEC) have been identified as the primary cell of origin for small-cell lung cancer (SCLC). Little is known about the molecular mechanisms that underlie this; a better understanding will help us develop new SCLC treatments. Mingqian’s research aims to functionally characterize a subset of PNEC progenitors that he identified, and to determine how this pathway, along with other candidate signaling pathways, is involved in PNEC development.

  • 2019 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: Bioengineering
    Mentor: Jin Hyung Lee, Neurology & Neurological Sciences, Neurosurgery, and Bioengineering

    Current neuroimaging technologies can model brain structure but lack the capability to reveal neural circuit functions. The development of new imaging techniques such as optogenetic fMRI combines genomic expression with neural imaging to model the dynamic function of neural circuits. This research leads to more noninvasive methods for understanding brain function, and application of circuit imaging to diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Colton will be working to develop a technique to model brain function with sonic imaging in real time, allowing the subject to stay conscious and mobile, to understand the connection between action and neural function.

  • 2019 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

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

    Microglia are the resident immune cells of the brain and are responsible for maintaining homeostasis in the central nervous system by various means, including phagocytosis, or ingestion, of pathogens and cellular debris. With age and in neurodegenerative diseases, the ability of microglia to phagocytose decreases, and this change is associated with a decline in cognitive abilities. Jerry’s project interrogates the role of the CD22 gene on the impairment of microglial phagocytic capacity, with the aim of uncovering potential targets to restore microglial phagocytosis as a therapeutic strategy in age-related neurodegenerative disease.

  • 2019 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: Biomedical Computation
    Mentor: Le Cong, Pathology and Genetics

    Stephen’s project will focus on developing new techniques for studying RNA protein interactions with CRISPR/Cas technology. RNA binding proteins (RBPs) regulate structure, localization, and function of both coding and non-coding RNAs. The precise elucidation of these interactions would provide insight into diseases associated with problems in RBP expression, such as neuropathies, muscular atrophies, metabolic disorders, and cancer.

  • 2019 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: Bioengineering
    Mentor: Markus Covert, Bioengineering

    Pro-inflammatory macrophage cells fight infection in the body and experience drastic metabolic changes when doing so. HIF-1α, a subunit of a genetic transcription factor, is required to achieve these changes, which include an increase in glycolysis, the enzymatic breakdown of glucose. However, HIF-1α’s effects on metabolism in a single cell are not well-studied. In order to get a more comprehensive understanding of HIF-1α’s role in helping to launch an immune response, Joanna will combine molecular biology techniques and live-cell microscopy to study how HIF-1α regulates changes in the rate of glycolysis in single pro-inflammatory macrophages.

  • 2019 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: Human Biology
    Mentor: Calvin Kuo, Medicine (Hematology)

    Mutations in a gene called ARID1A, which is part of a specific chromatin remodeling complex subunit and normally acts as a tumor suppressor, are present in 29% of gastric cancers and 7% of all cancers. Walter’s project plans to use human gastric organoids to perform a drug screen of more than 2,000 compounds. Identified compounds will then be investigated in order to characterize the causative pathway, which will pave the way for future research in developing synthetic lethalities for ARID1A mutation.

  • 2019 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: Electrical Engineering
    Mentor: William Talbot, Developmental Biology

    Ceramide is an essential messenger of a pathway that involves apoptosis and growth arrest, and is also an essential component in building the myelin sheath around nerve fibers. Tara will analyze the effects that knocking out the ceramide synthase gene, which is critical in ceramide synthesis, has on myelination of the axons in the central nervous system of zebrafish. She will generate fish with an inactive form of this gene and, with live imaging, determine the number of myelin producing cells, the timing of development, and where myelination does or does not occur. This research could shed light on diseases like multiple sclerosis.

  • 2019 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: Human Biology
    Mentor: Hadi Hosseini, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences

    In recent years, much emphasis has been placed on the domain of cognitive training as a potential non-pharmacological intervention for delaying cognitive decline, especially due to findings that the brain is capable of plasticity up to very old age. However, past studies have yet to consider individual differences in participants when assigning training regiments. Jacob will administer cognitive assessments and analyze participant data, hoping to uncover how the personalization of cognitive training can help to maximize gains and how we can best delay the onset of cognitive decline in older adults.

  • 2019 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: Bioengineering
    Mentor: Sergiu Pasca, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences

    The lack of access to intact, functioning human brain tissue is a critical challenge in understanding pathogenesis of brain disorders including 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11DS), a genetic disorder which can cause heart and immune system defects and cognitive impairment. By utilizing brain-region-specific 3D cultures assembled from 22q11DS patients, Julia will investigate defects in the migration of a key population of neurons in the cerebral cortex. Julia will develop advanced computational methods with the ultimate goal of developing screens and identifying therapeutics for 22q11DS patients and other interneuropathies.

  • 2019 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: Biology
    Mentor: Catherine Blish, Medicine (Infectious Diseases)

    Dengue virus exists in four different strains, each with different protein structure and genomes. Efforts to create a vaccine against all four serotypes have been largely unsuccessful. Dengue-infected cells express inflammatory ligands, which may also differ by serotype, and which activate an immune response. John aims to use immunological research methods and computational analysis to characterize immune responses to the different serotypes in order to inform the development of a better vaccine.

  • 2019 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: Human Biology
    Mentor: David Hong, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences

    By studying the neurodevelopmental effects of cross-sex hormone therapy used by transgender youth compared to cisgender controls, the Hong lab hopes to improve long-term clinical outcomes for transgender youth. Moreover, studying transgender youth will also provide insight into the role of sex hormones in cisgender development. As well as helping with various project aspects from recruitment to test administration to data analysis, Bobby will focus on the neuroimaging component of the project and will create a full factorial statistical model to analyze subcortical and frontal regions of the brain, which have been historically identified as sexually dimorphic.

  • 2019 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: Bioengineering
    Mentor: Robert Malenka, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences

    The amygdala has long been studied for its role in fear and aversion processing, and it can be divided into regions that are thought to serve different behavioral functions. Zane’s research combines in vivo neuroinhibitory techniques and behavioral assays to better understand the connection between the amygdala and dopamine systems, which has implications for understanding the neural basis of motivated behavior.

  • 2019 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: undeclared
    Mentor: Gerlinde Wernig, Pathology

    Osteoporosis and its negative repercussions, such as increased rates of fatality, bone fracturing, and care dependency, affect 44 million people in the United States alone. Conventional osteoporosis treatments, such as calcium and vitamin D supplementation, have been proven to be ineffective, especially if implemented after the primary fracture has already occurred. Claire’s project will use a mouse model to test what effects locally inducing the transcription factor c-Jun into a fracture site will have on the overall rate of fracture healing and the resulting bone mass.

  • 2019 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

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

    Synaptogenesis, which refers to the formation of synapses and connections between neurons, is an extremely important process in the development of an organism’s nervous system. When the gene ARMCX3 is knocked out in human-induced neuron cells, the induced neuron’s synapses demonstrate morphological and electrophysiolog-ical defects. In his Stanford Bio-X project, Stephen will examine these changes to more fully understand the role of the ARMCX3 gene in synaptogenesis, which could help us to understand neurological and neurodegenerative disorders.

  • 2019 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: undeclared
    Mentor: Richard Zare, Chemistry

    During surgery for cancers such as renal cell carcinoma (RCC) in the kidney, surgeons often have difficulty determining whether all cancerous tissue has been removed at the margin of the resection. During the summer, Rohan will evaluate the feasibility of using desorption electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (DESI-MSI), a technique which provides information on the chemical composition of a sample, to discriminate between RCC-affected kidney tissue and healthy kidney tissue. He plans to develop a statistical model that can classify tissue as healthy or pathological based on a DESI-MSI scan of the sample. If accurate, the model has the potential to assist in surgical decision-making by informing the surgeon whether the entire tumor has been removed.

  • 2019 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: Bioengineering
    Mentor: Lei Stanley Qi, Bioengineering and Chemical & Systems Biology

    Recent developments in CRISPR technologies allow for unprecedented control of cellular behavior. Systems have been developed to engineer “sense and respond” cells that can detect and integrate relevant inputs in order to initiate cellular programs. Using a specific protein developed by the Qi lab, Kasey seeks to implement logic gating into such systems for the development of immunotherapy applications. Her project aims to design a logical gate that can respond to cues from a tumor microenvironment, thereby regulating expression of target genes involved in an anti-tumoral immune response.

  • 2019 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: Chemistry and Computer Science
    Mentor: Justin Du Bois, Chemistry

    The Du Bois lab is engaged in foundational research that aims to advance treatment options for nerve cell signaling disorders like epilepsy, cardiac arrhythmia, and chronic pain. The current focus of their work is developing imaging agents for voltage-gated sodium ion channels in live cells, in order to understand how different ion channels are trafficked in dynamic disease settings. Jay will be designing and testing a neurotoxin-based imaging agent, as well as modifying and studying existing agents, in order to investigate therapeutic candidates for channel dysfunction.

  • 2019 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: Biomedical Computation
    Mentor: Howard Chang, Dermatology and Genetics

    RNA can be utilized as a delivery system for gene expression: more specifically, circular RNAs (circRNAs) can be used as a platform for targeted gene expression due to their stability and long half-life. Fan will use high-throughput library screening and machine learning to develop a systematic method for identifying the ribosome entry sites where circRNAs initiate protein translation. Fan will analyze the differences in these site sequences in different cell types. This will provide insight for future researchers to build circRNA delivery therapeutic platforms.

  • 2019 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

    Home Department: undeclared
    Mentor: Thomas Cherpes, Comparative Medicine

    As malaria causes 450,000 deaths each year, mostly in resource-poor areas, there is an urgent need to develop an effective and affordable malaria vaccine. Matthew’s Stanford Bio-X research in the Cherpes lab will use laboratory mice to help develop and test a vaccine that stimulates host T cell immune responses to eradicate liver-stage malaria infection. Matthew will incorporate genetics and data analysis to evaluate the results of this new potential malaria vaccine.

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