Abstract: Geopolitical Preferences Concerning Georgia’s Membership into NATO

Georgia is an intriguing country located at the crossroads between Eastern European and Asia. This crossroads greatly influences its politics. Historical tensions that Georgia faced with the Soviet Union characterized its interest in joining NATO. However, nations in NATO recognize that allowing Georgia in could further exacerbate conflict with Russia. However, European countries are tracking the democratic backsliding that is pervasive in Eastern Europe and look to Georgia as a potential outlier. My research observes the subtle communications that NATO and other democratic institutions send to Georgia, and how the country adapts those recommendations into their own policy. Also, we will be attempting to aggregate the data on Georgian people and their varying degrees of interest in joining NATO, with the desire to understand potential trends.

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Research on preferential TE insertion and/or retention

Transposons (TEs) are the abundant jumping pieces of DNA. They display insertion and/or retention along the genomes extensively. My research project aims to understand if TE elements always prefer to insert into some specific locations, and how this preference relates to the fitness of individuals. To conduct the research, I will analyze a database of sample TEs from the Puzey lab. I will write code to quantify the correlation between the density and the age of TEs within regions that are of various distances from the genes on the genomes. Interpreted from the correlation, the result would imply if TEs are constantly removed from regions near genes by purifying selection and left unattended when they are far from the coding regions. Once the preference of insertion and/or retention is confirmed, I can infer that TEs have a potential negative fitness cost on individuals because selection continuously acts against them.

Abstract: Study on chemical compositions and sources of organic aerosols in urban areas

Aerosols are small liquid droplets or solid particles suspended in the atmosphere. They can be formed naturally in the atmosphere or produced from human activities. Several examples of these anthropogenic aerosols are haze, smoke, and particulate air pollutants. Such pollutants, as a major part of urban air pollution, can lead to approximately 3 million premature deaths worldwide per year. Understanding the sources and compositions of these aerosol particles can be crucial for epidemiological studies and risk assessment on long-term human-exposure to urban air pollution. In this project, I will be investigating organic aerosols from locations around the world to study 1) the major chemical compositions of urban organic aerosols, 2) the molecular composition/structure for some organic aerosol components of interest (e.g. organic nitrogen species), and 3) possible sources of these aerosols. Several analytical techniques will be involved in this project, such as aerosol mass spectromety (AMS) and ultra-high resolution mass spectrometry (UHR-MS). This will be the first look at organic aerosols with these techniques in many of the cities. The obtained data and results will hopefully become a valuable resource for further research on atmospheric aerosols in these regions, and can be applied in health effects research through the understanding of the health-damaging effects of the particulate matter in urban air.124801351_origScreen-Shot-2015-05-08-at-14.56.37

Abstract: automating the algorithms of calculating the size of unit group of Burnside ring

Investigating the Interaction between Stress and Personality in Eastern Bluebirds

This research project investigates the relationship between individual personality and feather corticosterone (CORT) levels in Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis). Avian personalities have been well documented across many species and are known to interact with fundamental physiological functions. CORT is a stress hormone that has been found to negatively influence reproductive success in birds. Measuring CORT levels in feathers is an integrative method that reflects average CORT levels over the entire period of feather growth. Comparing behavior and personality of birds during the breeding season with feather CORT that was deposited over time could provide further confirmation of the consistency of personalities within individuals. This is important for understanding the effects of genetic variation within a population.