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STARS 2021 - Research Project Descriptions

The following UC San Diego faculty members have offered to host STARS students in Summer 2021. Identify the department and three faculty mentors with whom you would like to do research. Describe your research interests for your selection in the online application.
***This page is subject to change. Please check for updates prior to submitting your application.***
Last update: March 10th, 2021 (Updates to STARS 2021 Research Projects will be uploaded onto this page)

Biological Sciences – Cell and Developmental Biology

Alisa Huffaker
Alisa Huffaker is an Assistant Professor in Plant Sciences at UC San Diego researching cellular signaling mechanisms by which plants activate their immune responses to protect against disease. The lab is focused on discovering protein machinery and functional mechanisms inside the cell regulating transcription and splicing of mRNA that ultimately affect immunity. By identifying cellular mechanisms that can be leveraged to help plants protect themselves, food production can be made more sustainable, and meet the needs of the growing world population even with the challenge of changing climate conditions. Research in Alisa Huffaker’s lab involves multidisciplinary approaches including genetics, metabolomics, and protein biochemistry. Virtual projects for the summer of 2021 will involve network analysis of mRNA transcripts that physically interact with a key immunoregulatory RNA-binding protein.
Prerequisites: 
None.
Website: 
https://biology.ucsd.edu/research/faculty/ahuffaker 

Claire Meaders
Claire Meaders is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Cell and Developmental Biology Section at UC San Diego. Her research is focused on the intersection of instructional practices and student experiences in STEM courses. A current project focuses on identifying STEM student preferences for instruction during the first day of class, and factors from the first day that influence add/drop decisions. A second additional project available focuses on middle school student science identity. Both projects involve analyzing quantitative and qualitative student survey data.
Prerequisites: 
None.
Website: 
https://biology.ucsd.edu/research/faculty/cmeaders 

Julian Schroeder
Julian Schroeder is a distinguished Professor in Plant Sciences at UC San Diego. His research is directed at discovering the responses of plants to drought and climate change. His focus is on discovering the signal transduction mechanisms and the underlying signaling networks that mediate resistance to environmental stresses in plants, in particular drought and CO2 responses in plants. These environmental ("abiotic") stresses have substantial negative impacts on plant growth and crop yields. These environmental stresses are also relevant in reference to climate change and to maintaining crop growth and food production to meet the human needs of the growing world population. Research in Julian Schroeder's laboratory is using multidisciplinary approaches including genetics, genomics, cell signaling, physiological, proteomics, molecular biology, and bioinformatics towards uncovering the signal transduction network and receptors in plants that translate drought stress hormone reception and CO2 sensing to specific resistance responses in plants. Some of the recent research advances are being used in the biotechnology industry with the goal of enhancing the stress resistance of plants and crop yields.
Prerequisites: None; Students are trained with laboratory techniques and the lab works with students to learn new techniques independent of previous experience.
Website: http://www-biology.ucsd.edu/labs/schroeder

Stanley Lo 
Stanley Lo is an Associate Teaching Professor in the Cell and Developmental Biology Section at UC San Diego. His research broadly aims to understand learning and teaching in undergraduate STEM education. Specific research projects use a combination of qualitative and quantitative methodologies to examine the intersection of student identity, experience, and learning; dynamics of student collaboration in small groups; and faculty conceptions of diversity, learning, and teaching.
Prerequisites: 
None. The student and mentor will work together over the summer to develop the necessary skills for the project.
Website: 
https://biology.ucsd.edu/research/faculty/smlo 

Biological Sciences – Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution

Diana Rennison
Diana Rennison is an Assistant Professor in the Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution section of the Biological Sciences department at UC San Diego. Her group takes an integrative approach to determine the mechanisms central to the origin and maintenance of the spectacular species diversity observed in the world today. The core questions her group seeks to address are: how do sources of selection interact to shape the course of evolution and the generation of biodiversity and why do organisms follow certain evolutionary trajectories when many are possible? To tackle these questions, they integrate population genomics, field collections, and experimental estimates of natural selection. The research project will look at morphological variation associated with differences in gut microbiome composition in threespine stickleback fish.
Prerequisites: Students must be okay with doing experiments on animals.
Website: http://rennisonlab.com

Katie Petrie 
Katie Petrie is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution section at UC San Diego. Her research is split between biology education research focusing on how to improve student learning, and biological research that uses experimental evolution to understand evolutionary innovations. A current (education-focused) project explores barriers to learning bioinformatics and how to best overcome them. Why are students intimidated by computing and how can we make learning computing easier? The project would involve qualitative and quantitative analysis of survey data. A second (evolution-focused) project is available that makes use of data generated by undergraduate students in the UCSD Microbiology Lab course. The student researcher would perform bioinformatic analysis of genomes of bacteria that have evolved the ability to form biofilms, to validate, synthesize, and interpret results. 
Prerequisites: None. The student will work with the mentor over the summer to develop the necessary skills for the project. 
Website: https://biology.ucsd.edu/research/faculty/kpetrie 

James Nieh
James Nieh is a Professor in the Section of Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution at UC San Diego. Research in his lab focuses on how natural and man-made stressors affect the biology of and cognitively sophisticated behaviors exhibited by bees. His research focuses on two areas: (1) the selective pressures that may have shaped the evolution of communication in highly social bees and (2) honey bee health. His virtual summer research projects will involve students studying how bees defend themselves against Varroa mites and, separately, how honey bee sleep is affected by light pollution.
Prerequisites: No prior experience necessary. Students will be working with videos of bees with no direct contact. 
Website: https://labs.biology.ucsd.edu/nieh/ 

Biological Sciences – Molecular Biology

Rachel Dutton
Rachel Dutton is an Associate Professor of Molecular Biology at UC San Diego. The goal of her lab is to understand the interactions that take place within microbiomes. In the ocean, the soil, and the human body, microbes live within complex, multi-species communities, also known as microbiomes. Yet, due to their complexity, it is often extremely difficult to understand how these communities work. To address this challenge, our lab has taken the approach of using simplified microbial communities as model systems. The microbiomes of cheese, our model system of choice, are relatively simple, easily culturable, rich in species interactions, and undergo reproducible dynamics of community assembly. Our work has focused on establishing an experimental system for building, manipulating, and studying these communities in the lab. We are now working to capitalize on this experimental system to identify molecular mechanisms that are responsible for the formation of a microbial community and to better understand what happens when this process goes wrong. We use a combination of microbial cultivation, genetics, genomics, and bioinformatics in our work examining microbial interactions.
Prerequisites: Student has to have taken general biology courses. 
Website: http://www.theduttonlab.com

Biological Sciences – Neurobiology

Melinda Owens
Melinda Owens is an Assistant Professor in the Neurobiology Department. This lab is interested in how college STEM professors teach and to what extent their teaching styles align with what is known from research about teaching. Her lab is interested in how college STEM professors teach and to what extent their teaching styles align with what is known from research about teaching. We have collected a lot of data about how biology professors throughout the UC system teach, how these professors think about teaching, and how their students perceive their classroom environments. We seek motivated students who are interested in issues of education to help us analyze and understand this data.
Prerequisites: None, however, students should be aware of the minimum hours requisite. 
Website: https://biology.ucsd.edu/research/faculty/mtowens

Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences

Carl Melis
Carl Melis is an Associate Researcher for the Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences.  His research interests cover a wide breadth. Most recently, utilizing ultra-precise astrometry afforded by very long baseline radio interferometry to measure the most accurate and precise distance ever to the Pleaides cluster, thus resolving decades of controversy and cementing our understanding of the physics of young stars. The Melis Lab is currently investigating the structure and chemical composition of extrasolar rocky bodies through the study of polluted white dwarf stars. White dwarfs are the end state of stellar evolution for most stars (including our Sun!) and frequently accrete planets and asteroids from their planetary system. In his research project, students will analyze photometric monitoring data for dusty stars. Analysis will include processing raw imaging data, making measurements, and modeling lightcurves.
Prerequisites: None.
Website: https://cass.ucsd.edu/~cmelis/index.shtml

Chemistry and Biochemistry

Alina Schimpf
Alina Schimpf is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Schimpf Lab aims to develop and characterize inorganic materials with unique electronic or photophysical properties that can be accessed via inexpensive, solution-based techniques. This summer project involves the development of high-surface-area functional materials, advantageous for many emergent technologies including adsorption, catalysis, energy conversion and storage, optoelectronics, and drug delivery. Inorganic cluster-based frameworks combine the synthetic flexibility of metal-organic frameworks with the robust properties of metal oxide semiconductors. This combination offers access to quantized ternary metal oxide compositions not readily accessible via other synthetic strategies. They aim to exploit this synthetic versatility to design porous metal oxide semiconductors with precisely tunable electronic properties.
Prerequisites: Students are required to have taken general chemistry.
Website: 
https://schimpflab.ucsd.edu

Thomas Bussey
Thomas Bussey is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. His science background is focused on biochemistry. As such, his interests in chemical education research has also focused on biochemistry. Upper-level sciences, such as biochemistry, are underrepresented in the chemical education research literature. His research has focused on qualitative analysis of biochemistry students’ perceptions of biochemical processes such as protein translation. For the summer project, students will help with developing and testing augmented reality modules for biomolecular visualizations.
Prerequisites: No minimum requirements but students should be interested in science and/or education. All students will be trained on qualitative analysis techniques used on this project.
Website: https://www-chem.ucsd.edu/faculty/profiles/bussey_thomas_j.html

Cognitive Science

Eran Mukamel
Eran Mukamel is an Associate Professor in the Cognitive Science Department at UC San Diego. The Mukamel lab studies brain cell diversity and development through computational analysis of epigenome and transcriptome sequencing data. The STARS student will help to analyze DNA methylation data from human brain cells, investigating differences in the molecular signatures of different cell types and how they are impacted by age and sex.
Prerequisites: Some experience with computer programming and data analysis in Python or R is required.
Website: 
brainome.ucsd.edu

Drew Walker
Drew Walker is an Assistant Professor in the Cognitive Science Department at UC San Diego. She is interested in Social cognition; teaching and learning. For her project students will be looking at "seductive details"  -- how including non-relevant information in educational material impacts learning and engagement.
Prerequisites: None.
Website: http://www.cogsci.ucsd.edu/people/faculty/drew-walker.html

Gedeon Deak
The Cognitive Development Lab (Gedeon Deák, PI) has projects involving infant-parent interaction. Our studies are designed to reveal patterns of social interaction that support learning in typically developing infants. Specific questions concern, for example, how patterns of object manipulation and sharing by infants and caregivers are temporally organized with respect to caregiver's language use, and how these patterns might support language learning. These projects typically involve cognitive ethnographic methods (video coding) and present opportunities to learn and apply a variety of statistical methods. Other projects in the lab involve behavioral and physiological investigations of probability learning in social contexts, and in 2020 we are extending those projects to collect data remotely via online platforms.
Prerequisites: Successful completion of at least four classes in cognitive science, human development, psychology, and/or linguistics is preferred, ideally including at least one class in linguistics or psycholinguistics (e.g., language development; psychology of language) and one in human development. English fluency and normal (corrected) hearing and vision are also necessary.
Website:
https://quote.ucsd.edu/cogdevlab/ 

Jason Fleischer
Jason Fleischer is an Assistant Professor in the Cognitive Science Department at UC San Diego. Here are the different projects that the student could pick from:

  1. Using machine learning techniques to predict aging and disease from genomic and epigenetic data.
  2. Analyzing data from human clinical trials of dietary and lifestyle interventions; data include blood biomarkers, wearable devices (think medical-grade FitBit), and diet entries in-app data.
  3. Using Natural Language Processing to automate discovery in the scientific literature around aging and cellular biology.
Prerequisites: Students should be comfortable programming in Python or R. At least one class in machine learning/AI/data science/statistical inference or any of the sort.
Website: 
https://jgfleischer.com

 

Lara Rangel
Dr. Lara Rangel is an Assistant Professor in the Cognitive Science Department at UC San Diego. The Neural Crossroads Laboratory studies the rhythmic coordination of neural activity in the medial temporal lobe (e.g. hippocampus) during associative learning. A STARS student in this laboratory would initially learn to identify and log critical behavioral epochs during pre-recorded associative learning tasks, develop automated methods for detecting these critical time points, and analyze neural spiking and local field potential data during identified intervals. Students will have the opportunity to work on one of two possible projects: 1) a project that examines temporally coordinated activity between the dentate gyrus and CA3 subregions of the hippocampus during a task in which rats must learn to encode initial experiences as distinct to guide subsequent behavior, or 2) a project that examines temporally coordinated activity across different cell types within the CA1 region of the hippocampus as rats must adapt their behavior to accommodate changing reward circumstances. Both projects hypothesize that the rhythmic coordination of spiking activity in each region facilitates successful learning and updating of associations, and will provide students will an opportunity to learn valuable behavior and data analysis methods. Students will have additional opportunities to engage in collaborative efforts during weekly lab meetings and journal clubs.
Prerequisites: None.
Website: 
http://neuralcrossroads.ucsd.edu 

 

Steven Dow
Steven Dow is an Associate Professor in the Cognitive Science Department at UC San Diego. His research interest is in human-computer interaction, social computing, and design. He focuses on understanding, How can communities come together to solve their own problems? The traditional design process takes a top-down approach to problem-solving - with design experts identifying and solving problems on behalf of their clients. They are trying to subvert this assumption and create new sociotechnical systems in which communities can design for themselves. Their innovations include analyzing online discussions to extract and visualize problems and the relationships between problems. Also, exploring ways to help community members articulate comprehensive, well-constructed problem frames. They are interested in developers (NLP, ML, Web Dev, Visualization), designers (UI/UX, Service Design), and cognitive scientists (to develop and evaluate cognitive models of a community's problem exploration).
Prerequisites: Candidates must have taken at least 2 classes in either Computer Science, Human-Centered Design, or Cognitive Science. Also, prefer students who would like to work on civic issues and real-world problems. We encourage students interested in careers in either research or industry to apply.
Website: http://spdow.ucsd.edu/

Terry Jernigan 
Terry Jernigan is a professor of Cognitive Science, Psychiatry, and Radiology. She currently serves as the Co-Director of the Coordinating Center for the large-scale longitudinal project, the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study (www.abcdstudy.org). The project employs a new paradigm referred to as developmental population neuroscience and students will have an opportunity to become familiar with this novel interdisciplinary research model. Students will learn about the questions being addressed across various domains and the approaches we are developing to attempt to answer these questions. They will gain hands-on experience analyzing developmental data from the study.
Prerequisites: None.
Website: 
http://terryjernigan.ucsd.edu/ 

Economics

David Arnold 
David Arnold is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Economics at UC San Diego. The potential projects cover a few distinct areas in labor economics. One project will study how monopsony in labor markets impacts workers' outcomes. Another project will explore drivers of racial discrimination in the context of bail decisions. Both will utilize large administrative datasets and econometric techniques developed for program evaluation. Student’s tasks may involve writing literature reviews, gathering data, and potentially performing preliminary data analysis. Students may participate in either or both projects depending on interest and availability. 
Prerequisites: None.
Website: https://sites.google.com/site/davidhallarnold/home 

Emanuel Vespa
Emanuel Vespa is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at the UC San Diego. His primary interests are in experimental and behavioral economics. Part of his research explores the connection between difficulties with contingent reasoning and decision making in economics. Contingent reasoning is a type of cognitive sophistication widely assumed in economic models in which individuals need to make informational inferences from hypothetical events. His work has documented that failures in contingent reasoning can explain many well-known discrepancies between observed behavior and theoretical predictions of economic models. Ongoing projects in this area will involve designing and conducting laboratory experiments, and organizing and analyzing the resulting data sets.
Prerequisites: Students are required to have taken Econ 100B.
Website: https://sites.google.com/site/emanuelvespa/ 

Julie Cullen 
Julie Cullen is a Professor of Economics at UC San Diego. The potential projects will be in the economics of education or health. One project studies ability tracking across classrooms in public schools, and another explores the role of providers in patient behaviors and outcomes. The student’s tasks may involve putting together literature reviews, gathering supplementary data, and performing initial data analysis.
Prerequisites: A strong background in economics and statistics is preferred. Experience with Excel and Stata would also be valuable.
Website: https://econweb.ucsd.edu/~jbcullen/ 

Paul Niehaus 
Paul Niehaus is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at UC San Deigo. PGRP works closely with central and state governments in India to evaluate major reforms to social programming using large-scale randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Active projects include evaluating: the outcomes of cash transfers to pregnant mothers, with a focus on child nutrition; evaluating the outcomes from offering beneficiaries of a food subsidy the choice of a cash transfer in lieu of the subsidy. Participants can expect to build research skills by working closely with survey and administrative data, asking novel research ideas, and experiencing being part of a research team.
Prerequisites: 
Some knowledge of programming languages, preferably R or STATA.
Website: 
https://sites.google.com/ucsd.edu/pgrp/home?authuser=0 

Prashant Bharadwaj
Prashant Bharadwaj is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at UC San Diego. Economic Discrimination in Southern California 1950-1980: This project will explore economic discrimination in Southern California during the 15 years before and after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. By combing through archival records in local newspapers, the project will explore how help wanted or job posting ads changed in terms of explicitly asking for racial information during the application process, and whether this changed after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. This information will be combined with data on employment, wages, and labor force participation to examine the impact of discrimination and the impact the passage of the Civil Rights Act had on overall labor market outcomes for blacks in Southern California.
Prerequisites: Preference for students with a solid knowledge of basic statistics and STATA. R is not required but highly encouraged.
Website: https://prbharadwaj.wordpress.com/

Renee Bown
Professor Renee Bowen holds a joint appointment in the Department of Economics at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at UC San Diego. Social Media Algorithms and Belief Polarization: This project will explore the effect of social media algorithms on polarization in society. Social media firms face incentives to maximize usage. Unlike traditional media, these platforms can tailor specialized content and they use particular algorithms to accomplish this task. In this research, we will theoretically explore the role of these incentives in the supply of information and the resulting beliefs of users. The project will explore the characteristics of algorithms that improve societal welfare. 
Prerequisites: A strong mathematical background, particularly in statistics, is necessary. Some knowledge of our interest in game theory would be an asset. Some knowledge of mathematical software, such as maple, Matlab, or Mathematica will be useful. Knowledge of preparing documents in Latex, also useful but not required. 
Website: https://sites.google.com/site/tamarareneebowenlyn/ 

Tom Vogl
Tom Vogl is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at UC San Diego. He is currently working on a project that documents the process of escaping poverty using household-level data from many developing countries. The project seeks to quantify the extent to which poverty decline can be attributed to rural-urban migration, changes in sectoral affiliation, entrepreneurship, generational replacement, and changes in population age structure. The goal is to include as many low- and middle-income countries as possible. Each student involved in the project will analyze these questions using a dataset from a new country.
Prerequisites: Students are required to have taken at least two statistics or econometrics courses and have knowledge of STATA or R. 
Website: www.tomvogl.com 

Jacobs School of Engineering (JSOE) - Computer Science and Engineering

Arun Kumar
Arun Kumar is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at UC San Diego. This project is at the intersection of the computing areas of deep learning and scalable data systems. The STARS intern will build new systems-level and user-level functionalities into a new scalable deep learning platform to make it easier and faster to apply deep learning to large and complex datasets. They will get to learn about deep learning algorithms, tools such as TensorFlow, and how to build efficient systems, applying all that knowledge to analyzing real-world datasets.
Prerequisites: Must have basic knowledge of machine learning, databases, and computer systems. Proficiency in Python is required; proficiency in a lower-level programming language (C/C++ or Java) is also beneficial (but not required). Optimal but desirable requirements: knowledge of the basics of computing systems (e.g., DRAM and cluster) and the basics of machine learning (e.g., cross-validation and classification). Students of underrepresented ethnic groups (e.g., Hispanic/Latino, Black/African American, LGBTQ+, and women) are highly encouraged to apply.
Website: http://cseweb.ucsd.edu/~arunkk/

Jacobs School of Engineering (JSOE) - NanoEngineering

Jinhye Bae
Jinhye Bae is an Assistant Professor in the NanoEngineering Department at UC San Diego. The Bae lab focuses on understanding and exploiting physics, mechanics, and dynamics of soft matter to develop new pathways of programmable assembly and deformation of soft matter at the nano to macro-scales. The group is interested in Integrating material characteristics into new structural design and fabrication approaches for applications in biomedical devices, soft robotics, actuators, and sensors.
Prerequisites:
Students should have taken general physics and chemistry classes.
Website:
https://jbae.eng.ucsd.edu/

Shaochen Chen
Dr. Chen is a Professor and Chair in the NanoEngineering Department at UC San Diego. He is also a faculty member of the Institute of Engineering in Medicine and the Clinical Translational Research Institute at UCSD. His research interests include 3D Printing and Bioprinting, Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering, Biomaterials and Nanomaterials, Organ/Tissue-on-a-Chip. The development of 3D printing and bioprinting processes is used to create functional tissues for tissue repair and regeneration. 
Prerequisites:
None.
Website:
http://schen.ucsd.edu/lab/

Jacobs School of Engineering (JSOE) - Structural Engineering

Ingrid Tomac
Ingrid Tomac is an Assistant Professor of geomechanics and geotechnical engineering at the Department of Structural Engineering at UC San Diego. Her research interests revolve around soil and rock mechanics, hydraulic fracturing, georeservoirs, and carbon dioxide sequestration.
This summer's research will be an experimental investigation of post-wildfire mudflows, which includes building, performing, and analyzing experiments along with the development of new theories. Experiments range from micro-scale characterization of soils, water drop impact on soils and slopes, to intermediate laboratory flume mudflow studies and large outside mudflow flume studies which includes drones and the development of novel post-wildfire mediation techniques.
Prerequisites:
Student should be comfortable with working in a lab with sand, lifting buckets, willing to learn some simple new software for image and video footage analysis. Knowledge of soil mechanics is also important. 
Website: 
http://ingridtomac.eng.ucsd.edu

Physics

Adam Burgasser
Adam Burgasser is a Professor of Physics at UC San Diego. Students will analyze the optical and infrared spectra of the coolest stars and brown dwarfs drawn from online data archives. The analysis will include data reduction, spectral analysis, and source analysis. Students will be trained in python and common spectral analysis techniques, and contribute to the development of a spectral archive for the broader community.
Prerequisites: Students with an interest and/or prior coursework in Astronomy/Astrophysics; some experience in computer programming is required (Python is strongly preferred). Important to note that students may need to install some specialized software as this program will be entirely remote.
Website: http://www.coolstarlab.org

Monica Allen
Monica Allen is an Assistant Professor of Physics at UC San Diego.  Her research aims to combine scanning probe microscopy with transport techniques to spatially visualize electronic phases in quantum materials and utilize them for emerging technologies, such as quantum information processing.  Students will have the opportunity to build hybrid materials by stacking atomically thin crystals and contribute to the development of novel microscopy instrumentation.
Prerequisites: Physics majors preferred but not required.
Website: https://allen.physics.ucsd.edu/

Political Science

Christina Schneider 
Christina Schneider is a professor of Political Science at UC San Diego. Her research focuses on the domestic politics of cooperation and bargaining in international organizations with a focus on the European Union and international development organizations. There are two different objectives this project targets to solve:  

  1. How does globalization affect democratic representation in democracies? In this project, we argue that the increasing international economic integration of countries has had significant effects on democratic representation at the national level. We analyze the effects of globalization on various dimensions of democratic representation including election promises, policy responsiveness, and accountability. We plan to test our arguments with a multiple methods approach that integrates large-n quantitative analysis, experiments, and case study approaches, which allows us to test the empirical implications of our argument more fully.
  2. How do governments affect foreign public attitudes? The project analyzes U.S. public diplomacy and argues that the US uses various strategies to influence foreign public opinion to increase the legitimacy of its foreign policies and to help shape policies in other countries. The project analyzes US public diplomacy in collaboration with the State Department and uses textual analysis of social and traditional media as well as experimental surveys to assess its claims.

Prerequisites: None. 
Website: 
http://quote.ucsd.edu/cjschneider/ 

Daniel Butler
Dan Butler is a faculty member in political science who studies American politics. Students working with him would collect data about legislative outcomes - such as levels of bipartisanship - in US state legislatures. This data will be used to study how supermajoritarian institutions (those akin to the Filibuster in the US Senate) affect legislative outcomes in order to learn what the likely effects would be if the Filibuster were removed.
Prerequisites: Preference for students with comfort in data entry (Excel), basic STATA, or R programming.  There will be opportunities for students to utilize those skills.
Website: https://www.danielmarkbutler.com 

David Lake 
David A. Lake is a Distinguished Professor of Political Science at UC San Diego. He has published widely in international relations theory and international political economy. His project covers the "Indirect Rule": The Making of U.S. International Hierarchy in the Middle East, 1970 to the present.
Prerequisites: Students with some background on Middle East politics to develop timelines and investigate ways in which the US establishes and maintains allied rulers in power within the region. Mostly qualitative, case-based research, although willingness to work with available public opinion polls is a must. Arabic language not necessary.
Website: https://quote.ucsd.edu/lake/ 

David Wiens
David Wiens is an Associate Professor of Political Science at UC San Diego. His research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of political philosophy, philosophy of social science, and political economy. Most of his current research explicates the ways in which political philosophy and political science are deeply integrated modes of inquiry. More generally, he is interested in the role of (formal and informal) models in philosophical and scientific inquiry, and in sorting out what we can learn about the nature and value of justice from models of collective choice, social bargaining, and institutional development. The research project focus for the STARS Program is the "state of nature" in modern political theory. Students will gather and survey secondary literature on the "state of nature" in Hobbes's, Locke's, and Rousseau's political theory; work through candidate interpretations of the "state of nature".
Prerequisites: Student has to have taken a political theory course. 
Website: http://dwiens.ucsd.edu 

Molly Roberts 
Margaret (Molly) Roberts is an assistant professor of political science at UC San Diego. Her research interests lie in the intersection of political methodology and the politics of information, with a specific focus on methods of automated content analysis and the politics of censorship in China. There are two potential projects. One is understanding the market for disinformation, or the monetary incentives for producing and disseminating disinformation. Another is understanding how online censorship impacts scholarship and knowledge creation.
Prerequisites: None. 
Website: http://margaretroberts.net 

Pamela Ban  
Pamela Ban is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at UC San Diego. Ban's research interests are in American politics and political economy. She focuses on electoral politics, legislatures, political parties, and how these institutions influence the behavior of political actors. There are two potential projects, both on congressional politics in the U.S. 
One is aimed at understanding polarization present within congressional committees and how this changes over time. The second potential project is on examining congressional witness testimony and the provision of information by external witnesses to Congress. Both projects are data-based and will involve hands-on data entry and data analysis.
Prerequisites: Students must be willing to work with data entry, data cleaning, and basic data analysis in Microsoft Excel. Students with an interest in U.S. congressional politics and a willingness to work with data in Microsoft Excel are highly preferred.
Website: https://www.pamelaban.com/ 

Psychology

Adam Aron 
Adam Aron is a professor of Psychology at UC San Deigo. Professor Aron's research project seeks to answer the question of "What are the psychological factors relevant to people joining collective action on the climate crisis?"
Prerequisites:
N/A
Website:
www.aronlab.org www.ucsdgreennewdeal.net

David Barner 
Edward Vul is a professor of Psychology and Linguistics at UC San Deigo. Professor Barner's lab investigates how children learn about language, concepts (space, time, number), and other people's minds. This summer he hopes to create a project focused on how children from different cultures learn to count, including virtual testing of children in multiple regions of the US and countries including India, China, and Europe.
Prerequisites:
N/A
Website:
http://ladlab.ucsd.edu/barner.html

Edward Vul 
Edward Vul is an Associate professor in the Psychology department at UC San Deigo. Research projects in the Vul lab develop computational models of human cognition and run behavioral experiments, or naturalistic data analyses, to compare human behavior to these models. Remote research projects would involve learning to program to develop either the online behavioral experiments, models, or data analyses used in the research.
Prerequisites: N/A
Website: 
http://www.evullab.org/  

Gail Heyman
Gail Heyman is a professor of Psychology at UC San Diego. Her lab focuses on how children reason about the social world, such as addressing questions about school motivation, social learning, and understanding gender and racial biases. An intern working with us would help review prior literature and design studies on one or more of these topics, test child participants, and be involved in coding and analyzing data.
Prerequisites:
N/A
Website:
 http://heymanlab.ucsd.edu/ 

Judith Fan 
Judith Fan is an Assistant professor of Psychology at UC San Diego. Her project involves aligning teaching and research in psychological science: Current approaches to teaching scientific literacy in psychology have not kept pace with the changing reality of scientific practice in psychology research. The goal of this project is to develop an undergraduate statistics and research methods curriculum that is better aligned with these modern practices and to rigorously evaluate the impact of these pedagogical changes on student outcomes. Our overarching hypothesis is that increased alignment between the way scientific methods are taught and the way scientific research is conducted in psychology will positively impact student learning, motivation, and achievement. The summer intern involved in this project will be invited to be involved in various aspects of the project, including developing inclusive and engaging learning materials, designing instruments to measure student outcomes, analyzing data, and communicating findings in both oral presentations and written form.
Prerequisites:
N/A
Website: https://cogtoolslab.github.io/

Leslie Carver 
Leslie Carver is a professor of Psychology at UC San Diego. The Developmental and Social Neuroscience Lab (DNLab) investigates early social and cognitive development in typically developing infants and those with a family history of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In our current studies, we are primarily focusing on how infants form expectations in their social interactions, and how they learn from those expectations and from contingent interactions with their caregivers. Our studies use brain activity (EEG), behavior, and eye-tracking to address these questions.
Prerequisites:
N/A
Website: http://dnlab.ucsd.edu/ 

Lindsey Powell 
Lindsey Powell is an Assistant professor in the Psychology Department at UC San Diego. Her summer projects in the Social Cognition and Learning Lab will investigate how infants and children think about others' minds, social interactions, and relationships. Students will work on the collection, coding, and statistical analysis of behavioral data that test hypotheses regarding the development of social cognition and motivation. Students may also receive basic training in the methods of developmental cognitive neuroscience if desired, though the virtual format will prevent participation in the collection of such data.
Prerequisites: Preference for those who can work with children (may be involved in online testing w/ infants or children).
Website: 
http://socallab.ucsd.edu/ 

Victor Ferreira
Victor Ferreira is a Professor in the Psychology Department at UC San Diego. Dr. Ferreira's research focuses on language production and communication. Specific research questions center on how speakers form sentences, how speakers retrieve and produce individual words, and how the knowledge that speakers and listeners have of one another affects language production behavior.
Prerequisites: Students are required to have a general knowledge of psychology experimental design and statistics (e.g., have taken undergraduate methods and statistics class). Spanish-speakers are specially considered but not required.
Website: https://lpl.ucsd.edu

 

Caren Walker
Dr. Walker's research explores how children learn and reason about the causal structure of the world. In particular, I am interested in how even very young learners are able to acquire abstract representations that extend beyond their observations, simply by thinking. How is "learning by thinking" possible? What does this phenomenon tell us about the nature of early mental representations and how they change? To begin to answer these questions, we must isolate the contributions of our observations from the mechanisms that underlie learning. To this end, my work to date has focused on a suite of activities that impose top-down constraints on human inference, focusing on phenomena that are characteristic of learning in early childhood. My current research includes learning by analogy, by explanation, and by engagement in imaginary worlds. My work is interdisciplinary, combining perspectives in psychology, philosophy, education, and computational theory.
Website: http://elc-lab-ucsd.com/caren

Salk Institute - Cellular and Molecular Medicine

Graham McVicker
The McVicker laboratory studies how human genetic variation affects gene regulation by combining experimental approaches with computational analyses. We are especially interested in identifying pathogenic regulatory variants that act in immune cells and cancer cells. Currently, we are developing new tools to discover somatic regulatory mutations in cancer genomes, and manipulating cell lines with high-throughput CRISPR technologies to discover new regulatory sequences. In much of our research, we develop sophisticated computational and statistical methods so that we can extract subtle signals from noisy experimental data.
Prerequisites: Students should either have some computational experience (e.g. programming in Python, R, etc.) or molecular biology experience (e.g. PCR, cloning, etc.).
Website: http://mcvicker.salk.edu/ 

School of Medicine (SOM) - Anesthesiology

Chitra Mandyam 
Dr. Chitra Mandyam is an associate professor at UC San Diego. Her laboratory uses preclinical models of substance use disorders and alcohol use disorders to study the brain mechanisms contributing to relapse. Her lab incorporates behavioral measures, in combination with biochemistry, histology, and electrophysiology to understand the cellular mechanisms contributing to relapse. Students will work with junior and senior laboratory members to learn various techniques and then apply these to a small project under the supervision of Dr. Mandyam.
Prerequisites: 
Students majoring in Biochemistry or Neuroscience are preferred. Students with experience in animal handling, pipetting, tissue handling are desired as well.
Website: http://profiles.ucsd.edu/chitra.mandyam#toc-id6

Hemal Patel
Hemal Patel is a Professor and Vice-Chair for Research at UC San Diego. His laboratory aims to utilize molecular, cellular, and whole animal approaches to understand physiology/pathophysiology in different organ systems. They utilize cellular models such as isolated adult rat and mouse cardiac myocytes and neurons to understand the cellular and subcellular consequences of various pathophysiologies. Also, they study the protein caveolin and its role in biology. Their method uses a variety of molecular, biophysical, cellular, and animal physiology to study these proteins. The particular interest is how caveolins interface with cellular metabolism to regulate cardiovascular disease, diabetes, aging, cancer, and neurodegeneration. Students will work with a number of scientists in the laboratory to learn various techniques and then apply these to a small project under the direction of a senior fellow.
Prerequisites: Students should have a solid background in general biology and chemistry.
Website: https://cardiacneuroprotection.com/

School of Medicine (SOM) - Biomedical Informatics

Kathleen (Kit) Curtius
Dr. Kathleen (Kit) Curtius is an Assistant Professor in the Division for Biomedical Informatics, Department of Medicine at UC San Diego. Her research in the Quantitative Cancer Control laboratory focuses on understanding the evolutionary process of carcinogenesis. Our translational goal is to find and identify dangerous precancerous lesions (or diverse hotbeds of clones) in patients early enough to intervene and prevent invasive cancer. This project will characterize genomic features of data from early stages of pre-cancer formation (such as diversity of copy number alterations) and build computational models for the prediction of future cancer.
Prerequisites: Student must have experience using R programming language and must have completed courses in bioinformatics, mathematics, and statistics. A specific interest in the research of our lab is desired.
Website:
https://qcclab.com/ 

Lucila Ohno-Machado
Lucila Ohno-Machado is the Professor of Medicine Chair in the Department of Biomedical Informatics at UC San Diego Health as well as an Associate Dean for Informatics and Technology. The STARS student will help on a project that provides answers to COVID-19 questions from clinicians: https://covid19questions.org along with helping to produce high-end graphics for the results.
Prerequisites:
Students are required to have knowledge of computer programming and basic statistics (R language preferred).
Website:
https://medschool.ucsd.edu/som/dbmi/people/faculty/Pages/lucila-ohno-machado.aspx 

Rodney Gabriel
Dr. Rodney Gabriel is an Assistant Clinical Professor for the Division of Regional Anesthesia and Acute Pain at UC San Diego. His research interests include the development of predictive models for preoperative outcomes using machine learning and novel regional anesthesia techniques for pain management. Dr. Gabriel is actively involved in the acute pain management of surgical patients, especially focused on the reduction of opioid use.
Prerequisites:
Preference for students with computer programming and statistics experience, specifically R and Python.
Website:
https://profiles.ucsd.edu/rodney.gabriel 

Shamim Nemati
Shamim Nemati is an Assistant Professor in the School of Medicine at UC San Diego. The NematiLab focuses on the application of machine learning and deep learning techniques to early prediction of life-threatening conditions in hospitalized patients. This project will be focused on the early prediction of sepsis, acute kidney injury, and/or respiratory arrest.
Prerequisites: Student must have experience using Python, Matlab, Introductory Machine Learning.
Website: http://nematilab.info/ 

Tsung-Ting Kuo
Tsung-Ting Kuo is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in UC San Diego Health Department of Biomedical Informatics (DBMI). The Kuo Lab is focused on predictive modeling that can advance research and facilitate quality improvement initiatives and substantiate research results, especially when data from multiple healthcare systems can be included. However, current, state-of-the-art privacy-preserving predictive modeling frameworks are still centralized, in other words, the models from distributed sites are integrated in a central server to build a global model. This centralization carries several risks, e.g., single-point-of-failure at the central server. To improve the security and robustness of predictive modeling frameworks, they want to develop and implement novel and advanced algorithms on decentralized blockchain networks (a distributed ledger/database technology adopted by the Bitcoin cryptocurrency) to build better models. The outcome will be algorithms that improve the predictive power of data from multiple healthcare systems through a distributed system.
Prerequisites: Computer programming such as Java or Python.
Website: https://profiles.ucsd.edu/tsung-ting.kuo

School of Medicine (SOM) - Genetics

Alon Goren
The Goren Lab studies the characterization of the roles of mitotic associated histone deacetylation patterns. Mitosis, a tightly regulated cell cycle phase, is critical for ensuring that the cellular identity is correctly relayed to daughter cells. Mitosis includes key changes including a decrease in transcription. Little is known about the roles that mitotic-specific patterns of histone marks play in regulating the transcriptional changes during and following mitosis. Initial studies, by us and others, showed that mitosis includes global deacetylation of histones, and that there is a mitosis-specific deacetylation of the nucleosome entering the NDR (nucleosome depleted region) of most genes. This project focuses on the involvement of mitotic histone deacetylations in the transcriptional changes. In particular, the role of histone deacetylases involved in mitosis will be studied by focusing on three candidate HDACs (HDAC3, SIRT1 and SIRT6) via targeted inhibition and measurement of changes in localization and levels of H3K9ac, the substrate of all three HDACs, by ChIP-seq. The involvement of deacetylation in regulating mitotic transcription and G1 reactivation will be studied by using pulse labeling of nascent transcripts to identify changes in mitotic transcription and after mitotic release following inhibition of specific HDACs. Lastly, using inducible dCas9 tethered to a HAT or HDAC, we will establish a system to locally modify the acetylation of target loci at a specific time during the cell cycle, to allow studying of the roles local histone acetylation plays in regulating the mitotic gene expression and reactivation kinetics. Together, the integrative approach will enable us to address key questions regarding the cellular means required for the proper execution of mitosis and the recovery from this phase.
Prerequisites: Experience in molecular biology and epigenomic techniques such as ChIP-seq would be advantageous.
Website: goren-lab.github.io

School of Medicine (SOM) - Neurosciences

Chengbiao Wu
Chengbiao Wu is an Associate Professor in the School of Medicine under the Neurosciences Department. His lab is actively developing cutting-edge technologies to pursue novel hypotheses regarding axonopathy. For this project, the focus is using cell models and animal models as they are interested in understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease. Research students also study peripheral sensory neuropathy such as Charcot Marie Tooth disease.
Prerequisites: Students are required to have taken general biology courses.
Website: https://wulaboratory.weebly.com/

Sociology

Lane Kenworthy
Lane Kenworthy, Yankelovich Endowed Chair Professor at UC San Diego’s Department of Sociology, studies the causes and consequences of living standards, poverty, inequality, mobility, employment, economic growth, social policy, taxes, public opinion, and politics in the United States and other affluent countries. He poses the question, “What institutions and policies are most conducive to human flourishing in a rich society?” Kenworthy’s "The Good Society" project attempts to answer this question by looking at how the world's affluent democratic countries have fared in achieving a wide range of desirable outcomes -- freedom, tolerance, economic growth, opportunity, education, health, happiness, and much more. The research assistant will review the research literature, gather data (if possible), and write a draft report on one of these topics.
Prerequisites: None.
Website: https://lanekenworthy.net