Abstract: Uncovering the Role of MK-STYX in Neuronal Development

In recent years, neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s, ALS, Parkinson’s, and dementia have become much more prevalent. Yet, the mechanism and development of such diseases largely remain enigmatic, and treatment is generally limited to supportive care. Neurodegenerative diseases generally involve a disruption in communication between neurons, whether by cell death or by fewer connections with other neurons (Gao and Hong 2008). My research centers on MK-STYX (mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphoserine/threonine/tyrosine-binding protein), a protein implicated in neuronal development. MK-STYX belongs to a group of proteins called pseudophosphatases, which lack catalytic activity but have homology to enzymes that dephosphorylate proteins, phosphatases (Hinton et al 2010). Though MK-STYX is catalytically inactive, it still plays a role in many cell signaling pathways, including cellular stress response, apoptosis, and neuronal development (Flowers et al 2014, Hinton et al 2010, Niemi et al 2011).

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Abstract: Comparative analysis of Hindu and Christian- related education in American public schools

Recently, there has been an increased amount of criticism from Hindu advocacy groups about how Hinduism has been portrayed by public school curricula across the United States. Common criticisms claim that when discussing Hinduism, the curricula of public schools tend to focus on its negative aspects, such as social injustices and violence caused by the religion, while when discussing Christianity the curricula  avoids such topics. Over the summer I will research the curricula in k-12 schools in California, where many of the law suits have been, Texas, because it has a history of being accused of Christian bias within its public schools, Massachusetts since other states commonly borrow curriculum from the state, and Virginia for my own first-hand knowledge of the state’s curriculum. I look through all the curricula for every mention of the two religions and compare the amount of material, what that material focuses on, and assess all the material for factual accuracy.

Abstract – Facilitating the Development of Community Capacity and Self-Efficacy in Esfuerzo del Paraiso, Dominican Republic

This summer, I will be conducting research with the Student Organization for Medical Outreach and Sustainability (SOMOS) in Esfuerzo del Paraiso, Santo Domingo Norte, Dominican Republic. I will travel with other team members to the Dominican Republic, support our ongoing work in Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR), conduct Social Network Analysis (SNA) and DTRA (domain, tasks, resources, activities) research, facilitate meetings with community members, collect spatial data, and complete an ArcGIS Story Map representation of SOMOS’s trailblazing partnership with the Esfuerzo community. This summer project will be an extension of the work SOMOS has been continuing for over a decade, in which we seek to answer the questions: [Read more…]

Abstract: Travel-based Social Customs and Software Development in Israel

GoWith is a Jerusalem-based startup that seeks to provide passengers on trains and planes with more venues for social interaction during their travels. To do this, they employ AI-based software to connect passengers with new people they may otherwise not have met. As a participant in the program jInternship, I will be spending 6 weeks of my summer working as an intern at this startup. My research that I conduct as I work at GoWith will be twofold. First, I’d like to better understand what the norms are for social interaction on public transit in Israel and other countries in the Middle East and Europe, and how they compare to that of the US. The second part of my research will be focused on the startup culture and high-tech sector in Israel, a country dubbed the “startup nation” for its plethora of new tech companies and embrace of new technologies in all fields. This research is important because it will contribute to a better understanding of Israel’s role in the global information technology landscape.

Abstract: Exploring the Impact of Virginia’s Major Food Deserts on Health Behavior

Studies show that individuals of low socioeconomic status may face barriers that impede them from being able to live a healthy lifestyle. For example, low-income and inner city neighborhoods are often in the center of “food deserts:” places that lack healthy food options and tend to be filled with fast food restaurants. (Walker, Keane, and Burke 2010, 876-84).The following is a list of the eight major food desert counties in Virginia: Fredericksburg, Hampton, Harrisonburg, Lynchburg, Martinsville, Petersburg, Richmond County, and Wise County. They have been identified based on the percentage of the population in that county that is low income, lack transportation, and are SNAP eligible. Last summer, I analyzed health data in those counties in order to determine if there was a relationship between health statistics and food deserts.  Surprisingly,  obesity rates were not significantly different in the eight major food deserts as compared to the state of Virginia as a whole, indicating that more data is needed to support the idea that living in a food desert can negatively impact one’s health. I then looked at Health Factor rankings of all the counties in Virginia, which take into account health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and the physical environment in each county. Four of these major food deserts fall into the bottom 15% of rankings, and even the highest ranked food desert, Harrisonburg, ranks at 49th, which is only in the top 37% of all counties. When the circumstances of each county is factored in, all eight food deserts fall into the bottom 40% of rankings, with half of the food deserts falling into the bottom 8% of rankings. As shown by this data, there is evidence that there is a relationship between food deserts and poor health.

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