Neuroscience and Public Health Studies
Mentor: Dr. Susan Carnell
Associate Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
The Implications of COVID-19 Pandemic-Related Stress, Social Support, and Other Mental Health Measures in the Eating Behaviors of College Students
This project investigates the effect of COVID-19-induced stress related to academics (e.g., new online class format, changing career prospects due to the pandemic, distracting learning environment) on diet, eating behaviors, social support, and the mental health of college students in November 2020, the semester following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. This was investigated through a cross-sectional survey including novel measures of pandemic-induced stress regarding academics, finances, and COVID-19 exposure along with measures of mental health, diet, and eating patterns. It was found that COVID-19-induced academic stress was associated with a change in the way that college students eat (eating behaviors) rather than a change in the composition of their diet.
After graduating, I will be pursuing a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Health Policy degree at The University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill for the next two years. Following this, I will attend the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai to obtain a medical degree.
Molecular and Cellular Biology
Mentor: Dr. Jocelyne DiRuggiero
Associate Research Professor of Biology
Atacama Desert Endolithic Communities Harbor Novel and Functional Viruses
We have discovered 100 previously unknown viruses in the inner-rock communities of calcite, gypsum, and ignimbrite rocks from the Atacama Desert – one of the driest and most inhospitable environments on Earth. Through a series of computational analyses, we have unveiled the taxonomic classification, infective capabilities, protein composition, potential to transmit genes to host bacteria, and presence of CRISPR proteins and arrays in endolithic viruses of the Atacama Desert for the first time in the field of microbial ecology.
I intend to apply to medical school in the future, focusing on working with underserved populations as a physician and advocate for health equity. I am excited to combine my interests in computational biology and patient-centered treatment approaches in the future as I work towards becoming a physician-scientist!
Molecular and Cellular Biology
Mentor: Dr. Kyle Cunningham
Professor of Biology
Pathogenic Environmentally Dependent Antifungal Resistance Mechanism via +1 Programmed Ribosomal Frameshifting in C. glabrata title
My project investigates a biological mechanism called programmed ribosomal frameshifting. Ribosomal frameshifting is used by many different organisms and some viruses like influenza to produce two protein transcripts from one gene by changing the open reading frame of the ribosome as it translates an mRNA transcript. Producing two different transcripts from the same gene gives an organism the ability to regulate the amount of functional/full-length protein that is in the organism. In the fungal species Candida glabrata, the regulation of specific genes via frameshifting gives C. glabrata the unique opportunity to increase resistance to antifungals and increase virulence within host species (like humans). When humans get fungal infections in the blood (candidiasis) which occurs mostly within hospitals in organ transplants, the ability for C. glabrata to increase its resistance to popular antifungals and increase its ability to withstand immune system attacks can increase the rate of infection and mortality.
I am graduating (hopefully with honors) this May and plans on traveling the world during the summer before I begin my medical education at a MD institution.
Medicine, Science, and the Humanities
Mentor: Dr. Marta Hanson
Associate Professor (Retired) of the History of Medicine
The Tansūqnāma: Chinese-Persian Medical Poetry
The manuscript Tānsūqnāma-yi Īlkhān dar Funūn-i ‘Ulūm-i Khitạ̄’I (Treasure Book of the Ilkhan on the Chinese Arts and Science) is one that reflects the cultural fusion brought about by the fourteenth-century Pax Mongolica. It is a Persian translation of a collection of Chinese sources including cosmological diagrams, anatomical drawings, and the subject of my research, didactic verse. I study the reasons why the compilers of this text went to great lengths to preserve essential features of the sound and rhyme of Chinese in these verses, while also rendering them recognizable to a Persian audience. My research emphasizes how they did so by taking advantage of didactic poetry as a shared genre between the Chinese and Persian medical traditions – which served as a vehicle for cultural exchange in the making of this manuscript.
Creating this project was the most invigorating things I’ve done my time at Hopkins. In my upcoming plans, I am taking some time off from being a student, but beyond that, I cannot imagine a future without me doing exciting research.
Molecular and Cellular Biology; Psychology
Mentor: Dr. Justin Halberda
Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences
Developmental Changes in Children’s Understanding of Possible and Impossible Events
In this study, we are interested in children’s (range 2 years, 3 months – 6 years, 0 months) understanding of possibility; specifically, what does it mean to say that something could have happened? Using a ramp machine with three outcomes that could be made possible or impossible, we studied how children reason about the alternative possibilities of an event after it occurs.
Following graduation, I plan to attend a Physician Assistant Program and pursue a career as a pediatric physician assistant.
Mentor: Dr. Audrey Branch
Assistant Research Scientist of Psychological and Brain Sciences
Reelin as a Medial Temporal Lobe Marker for Age-Related Cognitive Decline in Male and Female Rats
This study seeks to extend the findings from a well characterized model of age-related cognitive decline in male rats by expanding into the female population. Reduced reelin, a protein involved in adult synaptic plasticity, is implicated in hippocampal dependent memory impairment. Our results show that aged-impaired male and female rats experience a selective reduction of reelin mRNA in the lateral entorhinal cortex and not the medial entorhinal cortex. This positions reelin as a potential marker in human patients experiencing cognitive decline without AD pathology.
I have received the Postbaccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award and will be working at the NIH in the Department of Preoperative Medicine. The lab I will be in investigates sensory transduction of nociceptive stimuli, neurons and circuits in spinal cord and dorsal root ganglion, and actions of anesthetic and analgesic drugs.
Mentor: Dr. Varsha Singh
Instructor of Medicine
Wnt Signaling in Neurodevelopment and Neurodegeneration
Wnt signaling is known to be a critical mechanism in embryonic development and cell morphogenesis. Recent studies have looked at its role in the development of neurons and neurodegenerative diseases. Studies seem to show a strong correlation between Wnt downregulation and neurodegeneration. These findings strongly suggest that components of Wnt signaling may serve as viable therapeutic targets for neurodegenerative diseases.
Beruk Metiku will be applying to Medical School in the 2023 cycle. He hopes to work in medicine as a Neurologist. In his gap year, he will continue to explore his curiosity for healthcare delivery and patient care by pursuing an EMT license.
Curtis Nishimoto and
Film & Media Studies; FMS and Applied Math and Statistics
Mentor: Matthew Porterfield
Lecturer of Film and Media Studies
Nurikabe: A Modern Fairytale
Nurikabe is a fantasy short film, which follows three college-bound friends on their last day together as they hike down an old canal. When they discover a mysterious book, they find themselves trapped on a never-ending trail, walking past the same house again and again. Inspired by European and Japanese folklore, the film aims to be a modern fairytale.
Currently, Nurikabe is pending admission to a number of film festivals. We’re also looking for jobs in the film industry. Lastly, we’re hard at work writing and looking to secure funding for our next short film.
Mentor: Dr. Michael McCloskey
Professor of Cognitive Science
Learning to Write Letters: Examination of Learning Processes for Novel Character Acquisition
An investigation into letter writing using newly created characters was implemented at Johns Hopkins University. This experiment recorded and analyzed data acquired to test possible learning effects of human writing capabilities. Using the novel characters, overall character writing efficiency was examined. This data is first step to understanding if there are certain prescribed rules to character formation when writing each letter in a standard alphabet and what stages does an individual learn to do so. Data acquired in this study and other similar ones are the backbone of human writing understanding and application in fields such as AI.
Lillian will be applying to Clinical Psychology programs after a gap year. She will be pursuing a career as a clinical psychologist with an interest towards counseling.
Ebubechukwu Obi Onyinanya
Mentor: Dr. Joseph F. McGuire
Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Constructing the Motivation Assessment for Tic Suppression (MATS)
The Motivation Assessment for Tic Suppression is a 71-item Likert scale that assesses potential motivators for tic suppression across 4 factors. It was thought about during an observational field-study on Tourette’s Syndrome and is meant to serve as a predictor for positive outcome in behavioral therapy.
I plan to attend medical school; from there I will pursue a career in pediatric medicine while conducting clinical research. I am very interested in understanding the causes and finding possible solutions for neurodevelopmental disorders.
Mentor: Dr. Wendy Susan Post
Lou and Nancy Grasmick Professor of Cardiology; Professor of Medicine
Associations of Demographic, Socioeconomic, and Cognitive Characteristics with Mobile Health Access: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA)
Mobile health (mHealth) has an emerging role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, but there is rising concern about inequities in access. This study evaluated possible divides in mHealth access by demographic, socioeconomic, and cognitive characteristics in older age adults. mHealth access was assessed from telephone follow-up surveys in 2019-2020 from participants in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) aged 62-102 years at the time of the survey and free of cardiovascular disease at baseline (2000-2002). Participants who were older, of racial/ethnic minority groups, had lower socioeconomic status, or had lower cognitive function generally experienced lower mHealth access.
This fall, I will be pursuing a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. I’ll be joining Dr. Tom Yankeelov’s lab within the Center for Computational Oncology.
Neuroscience and Sociology
Mentor: Dr. Vesla Weaver
Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology
Post-Carceral Support for Muslim Ex-Inmates
This project examines the ways in which spirituality intersects with the lives of Muslim inmates during and after their imprisonment. Drawing on both first-hand accounts from imprisoned people and interviews with re-entry program coordinators, this research provides a deeper look into how religion can play an integral component in the acclimation and re-entry of recently incarcerated individuals back into society.
I plan on pursuing a career in academia and combining my interests in medicine and sociology to examine ways that we might pursue sustainable healthcare reform for marginalized communities.
Environmental Studies and Psychology
Mentor: Dr. Jeffrey Bowen
Lecturer of Psychological and Brain Sciences
Feelings about Academic Success: Grit, Growth Mindset, and Belonging
This research project looks at how college students’ feelings about their academic success are shaped by grit, growth mindset, and belonging. This study examines how these factors interact and affect academic experiences over time.
I will be working at the company Qualtrics after graduation as a Product Specialist.
Public Health and Natural Sciences
Mentor: Dr. Anthony K. L. Leung
Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Characterizing Poorly Structured 3’ UTRs in Structure-Mediated RNA Decay
RNA and RNA decay are critical to our understanding of genetics and disease. mRNA structural based decay processes, or “Structure-Mediated Decay”, has been shown to affect over 33% of mRNA transcripts and is predicted to affect both non-coding and coding RNAs. While previous experiments suggested that SRD may preferentially act upon highly structured 3’UTRs, I found and analyzed over 300 poorly structured 3’UTRs and characterized their function and pathways.
After graduation, I plan to matriculate into the BA/Master of Health Science program at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where I will be studying Clinical Epidemiology. Following my Masters, I hope to apply to medical school.