Research Projects by Subject

Note: Each research project will involve background reading for the interns provided by their mentors. Each research project will involve a final presentation by the interns.

Interns are expected to work collaboratively on the same project and/or data set. This may preclude rising seniors from submitting papers based on such projects to the Regeneron Science Talent Search competition.

Anthropology

Code Research Project Descriptions
ANT-01 Title: Right-Wing Politics in Europe
Primary mentor: April Reber
Faculty advisor: Prof. Melissa Caldwell
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Racial nationalism – the idea that only one ethnicity should live in and have citizenship in a country – is a major issue in current politics and right-wing or ultra-conservative political movements. This project researches: (a) how German/European right-wing movements collaborate with other nationalist groups; (b) how movements interpret citizenship rights, free speech, and democracy; (c) how such movements use historical symbols as persuasive political tools; and (d) how the German state and EU maintain sovereignty in spite of these ultra-conservative groups. This research project will make use of ethnographic, archival, legal, and statistical data.  

Tasks: The SIP interns will have many opportunities to learn new skills, analyze qualitative and quantitative data, perform research using historical and present-day documents, and follow current events and politics. In addition, the interns may have the chance to research the details of German film and literature as well as to learn from court records from recent Nazi trials. In this role, the SIP interns will get to attend an in-depth week-long workshop to learn Python, participate in collaborative research meetings with experts in the field, and contribute directly to the direction of the research for this project. Weekly reports will also be drafted by the SIP interns to show progress being made and achievements that have been accomplished. SIP interns who are German speakers will fit the needs of the project particularly well.

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; lab work
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON REM ON ON ON ON REM OFF OFF OFF


Code Research Project Descriptions
ANT-02 Title: Technology and Oral Story Collection of Indian Immigrants in the USA
Primary mentor: Prof. Annapurna Pandey
Other mentors: Ray Gutierrez, Nita Ganapathi
Location: UCSC Main Campus and various South Bay locations
Number of interns: 4

Project description: These days, one often hears that we human beings are primarily story tellers. We tell stories about ourselves as well as about others. What these stories tell us is the rich experience human beings have acquired in their life. The world in which we live in today is largely created by technology. The mentor and SIP interns will use various tools provided by technology in our digital story telling research. This project will encourage SIP interns to collect stories about the immigrant experience in the United States. For the last three decades the mentor has been working on the Indian diaspora in the Greater Bay Area, California. The mentor has made two films, “Homeland in the Heart” and “Life Giving Ceremony of Jagannath” documenting the Odia people's (people from the state of Odisha) involvement in building a community and developing a sense of belonging to the United States. The mentor would like to broaden the scope of this research by incorporating experiences of other Indian immigrants.

Tasks: This project will give an opportunity to SIP interns to collect oral history material about the experiences of immigrant parents, grandparents, and their American-born children, which will include both streaming audio and written transcripts accessible online in digital formats. The mentor and SIP interns will use various available technology tools. The mentor's aim in this project is to collect interviews of Indian immigrants in the USA. The SIP interns will interview various members of the Indian community and collect their experiences in this country compared to their experience in their homeland that they have left behind. These interviews are a unique source of contemporary history through the experiences of the immigrants. Past studies have shown that this kind of research has revealing consequences for both the researchers as well as the subjects of their research. The tentative plan is for the SIP interns to spend weeks #3–#6 doing off-campus field work in various South Bay locations and to spend the remaining weeks working on the UCSC campus.

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Statistical data analysis; field work
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON REM ON OFF REM ON ON ON


Astronomy & Astrophysics

Code Research Project Descriptions
AST-01 Title: Using Deep Learning Techniques to Classify Astrophysical, Atmospheric, and Instrumental Features in Keck DEIMOS Spectra
Primary mentor: Prof. Raja GuhaThakurta
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 1

Project description: The combination of the Keck II 10-m telescope and DEIMOS instrument is arguably the world's most powerful combination for spectroscopy of faint astronomical objects. Our research group at UCSC has access to a large set of high quality Keck/DEIMOS spectra of a variety of interesting sources ranging from different types of stars in our Milky Way galaxy to galaxies and quasars in the distant Universe. These raw Keck/DEIMOS spectra have been put through a standard data processing pipeline in an effort to remove the Earth's atmospheric signatures and instrumental signatures. The products of the pipeline include 2D and 1D spectra. The pipeline typically does an imperfect job and a handful of very experienced experts have been able to visually identify a range of residual atmospheric/instrumental artifacts in the pipeline processed data (e.g., cosmic rays, scattered light, bad sky subtraction, bad wavelength solution, telluric absorption, bad extraction windows, etc.) and subtle spectral features (e.g., emission and absorption lines) that allow for the distinction between different types of astrophysical sources. This project plans to employ machine learning/deep learning techniques to classify these astrophysical, atmospheric, and instrumental features in Keck/DEIMOS spectra thereby leveraging the huge investment of time and effort that has already gone into the visual inspection by experts.

Tasks: The SIP intern will assemble the training datasets required for supervised learning, and use tools like TensorFlow and AutoML to explore different network architectures. They will evaluate the performance and tune several hyperparameters to build the best-performing multi-class classifier. Depending on the initial results, there could be follow-on tasks like collecting more training data. Finally, we may integrate the learned model into the existing data processing pipeline to provide automated filtering of different types of astrophysical sources.

URL: https://www.astro.ucsc.edu/faculty/index.php?uid=pguhatha
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: Computer programming
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON REM ON ON ON ON ON ON


Code Research Project Descriptions
AST-02 Title: The Globular Cluster Systems of Virgo Cluster Dwarf Galaxies
Primary mentor: Prof. Eric Peng
Faculty advisor: Prof. Raja GuhaThakurta
Other mentors: Youkyung Ko, Alessia Longobardi, Yuting Feng
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 3

Project description: Star clusters are collections of thousands to millions of stars formed together and still bound together by their gravity. The oldest and most massive star clusters are called “globular clusters” (GCs) for their round appearance. GCs can be seen at much greater distances than individual stars, because they shine with the combined luminosity of many stars coming from a relatively small amount of volume. This project will look for GCs around low-luminosity galaxies in the nearest cluster of galaxies, the Virgo cluster. One of the challenges in finding star clusters around nearby galaxies is that the brightness of the galaxy itself gets in the way. In the project, the SIP interns and mentors will model the smooth galaxy light and subtract it from the images in order to better find faint star clusters.

Tasks: The SIP interns will work with images of galaxies in the Virgo cluster from the Next Generation Virgo cluster Survey (NGVS), a deep survey of the entire Virgo cluster with the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT). Using cutout images of the galaxies, the interns will use custom software (IRAF’s ELLIPSE and its modification, ISOFIT) to model the galaxy light and subtract it from the images. After the subtraction of the galaxy light, the SIP interns will use the SExtractor (Source Extractor) software to find GCs in the image.

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON REM ON ON ON ON ON ON

Local and out-of-area applicants will be considered for this project.
Code Research Project Descriptions
AST-03 Title: Photometric Variability of Sources in NGVS: RR Lyrae in the Milky Way Halo and Tidal Disruption Events in the Virgo Cluster
Primary mentor: Prof. Eric Peng
Other mentors: Raja GuhaThakurta, Jessica Lane
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 3

Project description: Despite its static appearance at first glance, the Universe is constantly changing. Monitoring the sky for these changes is time-consuming, but doing so allows us to identify unique celestial phenomena. Most images taken of the sky are not suitable for studying the “time-domain” because they are not taken with an appropriate spacing in time. The Next Generation Virgo Cluster Survey (NGVS), a deep, multi-color imaging survey of the closest cluster of galaxies, adopted an observing strategy that spaced observations for a given field over a time period of hours to years. While not designed for time-domain studies, this observing strategy allows us to look for things in the sky that change in brightness. This project will focus on looking for three different types of variability, each with its own separate science question, although the technical aspects of the three are nearly identical. The three types are: (1) RR Lyrae variable stars in the outskirts of our Milky Way galaxy, excellent probes of our Galaxy's assembly history via the cannibalism of smaller galaxies, (2) tidal disruption of stars in globular clusters by their central intermediate mass black holes, and (3) variability of distant quasars caused by stochastic accretion of material onto the supermassive black holes that power them.

Tasks: The SIP interns will use deep time series imaging of the sky to identify variable stars that could be RR Lyrae. They will first use colors to identify possible candidates, and then determine the brightnesses of these candidates as a function of time. This will require the use of image analysis tools to measure brightnesses of individual stars. The SIP interns will develop computer scripts to do this in an automated fashion. They will then develop tests for variability, and finally fit RR Lyrae light curves to the data.

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON REM ON ON ON ON ON ON

Local and out-of-area applicants will be considered for this project.
Code Research Project Descriptions
AST-04 Title: Precision Stellar Spectroscopy of Milky Way Halo Stars with the DEIMOS Instrument on the Keck II Telescope
Primary mentor: Kevin McKinnon
Faculty advisor: Prof. Raja GuhaThakurta
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 3

Project description: Stars radiate energy across much of the electromagnetic spectrum, and the visible light portion of their spectrum can be measured using instruments like the DEIMOS spectrograph on the Keck II 10-meter telescope in Hawaii, one of the world's most powerful telescope/spectrograph combinations. The mentor's research group has used Keck/DEIMOS to obtain spectra of faint stars in the halo of the Milky Way galaxy as part of the HALO7D survey. The spectra will be used to measure precise line-of-sight (radial) velocities and chemical abundances of the stars based on the wavelength and strength (respectively) of spectral absorption features. In general, three factors can cause the absorption features in observed spectra to be offset in wavelength relative to those in laboratory or model rest-frame spectra: (1) Doppler shift associated with the radial component of the velocity of the star relative to the observer; (2) mis-centering of the star along the dispersion axis of the slit; and (3) instrumental wavelength calibration errors in the spectra that come out of the data reduction pipeline. Precise radial velocity measurements for stars require that instrumental effects (2) and (3) be corrected/accounted for. Chemical abundance measurements require that spectra be corrected to the rest frame by accounting for all three effects before they can be compared to a grid of model spectra.

Tasks: The SIP interns will learn about Keck DEIMOS spectra and how to handle working with these binary data files. This project will involve using Python to measure and characterize the effects of instrumental wavelength calibration errors (based on telluric emission lines in the "sky" spectra of science targets and the reflected solar spectrum in the "sky" spectra of certain bright standard/template stars), astrometric offsets (based on telluric absorption), and, most importantly, the Doppler shift associated with the line-of-sight velocity of the stars in our sample based on analysis of the offsets in wavelength of the observed spectral absorption features from their known, rest-frame values. The SIP interns' work will include fitting models to data and using statistical methods to assess measurement uncertainties. 

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON REM ON REM ON ON ON ON


Code Research Project Descriptions
AST-05 Title: HALO7D: Using Hubble Space Telescope Measurements to Separate Milky Stars from Background Galaxies and Quasars
Primary mentor: Miranda Apfel
Faculty advisor: Prof. Raja GuhaThakurta
Other mentors: Madison Harris
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 3

Project description: This research project is part of the mentors' ongoing HALO7D survey of main sequence turnoff stars in the halo of the Milky Way. The HALO7D survey is using precise proper motion measurements from Hubble Space Telescope (HST) images and radial velocity and chemical abundance measurements from spectra obtained with the Keck II 10-meter telescope and DEIMOS spectrograph to study the assembly history of our Galaxy's stellar halo and to measure its dark matter content. The goal of this project is to add precise multi-band photometry and image morphology information from HST into the mix in order to separate different kinds of Milky Way stars from background galaxies and quasars.

Tasks: The SIP interns will construct and analyze a variety of color-color diagrams using all of the available multi-band HST photometry in four regions of the sky (CANDELS survey fields: COSMOS, EGS, GOODS-N, and GOODS-S). This color-color analysis will be carried out separately for star-like (consistent with the point spread function) and resolved objects. The interns will incorporate Keck/DEIMOS spectral classification information and (time and schedule permitting) HST-based proper motion information into their analysis. Much of the work will involve programming in Python.

URL: https://www.astro.ucsc.edu/faculty/index.php?uid=pguhatha
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON REM ON ON ON ON ON ON

Local and out-of-area applicants will be considered for this project.
Code Research Project Descriptions
AST-06 Title: What Happens Around Supermassive Black Holes
Primary mentor: Prof. Martin Gaskell
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 3

Project description: Astronomers now believe that every large galaxy contains a supermassive black hole in its center. Because of the tremendous energy released as the black hole grows by swallowing gas, these black holes can be readily detected as so-called “active galactic nuclei” (AGNs) back to very early times in the Universe. The details of how supermassive black holes form and grow and how this is related to the formation of normal galaxies is one of the central mysteries of contemporary astrophysics. The mentor’s research group is analyzing spectra and spectral variability to try to understand how AGNs produce the intense radiation seen, what the structure of material around the black hole is like, and how supermassive black holes grow.

Tasks: SIP intern involvement in the project will consist of analyzing multi-wavelength spectral observations of relatively nearby actively accreting supermassive black holes to try to understand the emissions and how the black holes grow. This work will involve compiling data sets, applying corrections, making statistical estimates of parameters, and comparing the results with theoretical models of processes going on around black holes.

URL: http://campusdirectory.ucsc.edu/cd_detail?uid=mgaskell
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON


Code Research Project Descriptions
AST-07 Title: Transforming Galaxies in Numerical Simulations
Primary mentor: Prof. Laura Sales
Other mentors: Mario De Leo-Winkler, Raja GuhaThakurta
Location: UC Riverside and/or UCSC
Number of interns: 2

Project description: The Illustris project is one of the most realistic computer simulations of the Universe. It provides researchers with hundreds of thousands of galaxies, each of which has a different size, shape and history through time. Given its large size, the Illustris simulation also samples the cosmic web: empty bubbles (voids), massive strands of matter (filaments), and groups of dozens or hundreds of galaxies. Through telescope observations, it is known that the properties of galaxies are correlated with their cosmic environment: galaxies in low density environments are usually disk-shaped and are forming stars, while those in rich collections (called clusters) are spherical and are not actively forming stars. However, the physical laws behind these correlations are not fully understood. The SIP interns will use Illustris data to study the different cosmic environments and how their are related with physical processes in galaxies. The results will shine new light on why there is a great diversity in the shapes of galaxies in the Universe and how they evolve with time.

Tasks: The SIP interns will program the integration of orbits of galaxies within groups and clusters, assuming spherical dark matter potentials. The interns will then program a way to identify the points where a galaxy reaches the minimum and maximum distance from the center of its group or cluster. This will allow one to "travel" back in time within the simulation, to determine where each galaxy was at any given moment in its past. The effects of the cosmic environment are stronger when galaxies are closer to the center of groups or clusters. By determining this nearest-point encounter, the SIP interns' research will help define the environmental strength at which gas is being stripped away or evaporated within a galaxy, or how galaxies are ripped apart. Lastly, knowing these details will allow for an investigation of how galaxies obtain their final shape and an understanding of their present-day properties.

URL: http://www.physics.ucr.edu/people/faculty/sales.html
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: Computer programming
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON REM REM REM REM REM ON ON ON

Local and out-of-area applicants will be considered for this project.
Code Research Project Descriptions
AST-08 Title: Gamma-Ray Analysis of the Most Energetic Blazars to Probe the Cosmos
Primary mentor: Dr. Olivier Hervet
Faculty advisor: Prof. David A. Williams
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Supermassive black holes in the center of distant galaxies can be a very powerful factory of gamma rays. Along their journey toward the Earth, a fraction of these gamma rays are absorbed by the optical-infrared radiation field bathing the Universe (a.k.a. "Extragalactic Background Light", or EBL). By quantifying this absorption on a sample of the brightest gamma-ray blazars, one can measure the EBL density. This density provides information on the global composition and evolution of the Universe. As a first step, the SIP interns will extract gamma-ray spectra from data obtained by the Fermi-LAT Space Telescope. The project will take place in the Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics (SCIPP, 3rd floor of the Natural Science 2 building).

Tasks: The SIP interns will work on gamma-ray data collected by the NASA space telescope Fermi-LAT, on a sample of bright gamma-ray blazars selected by the Mentors. The SIP interns will perform a full gamma-ray analysis of ~10 years of cumulated observations to produce the best possible gamma-ray spectrum for each of the selected sources. With Mentors’ support, they will carefully follow the different analysis steps from raw data to clean, scientifically workable, results. By working on a local computer cluster at the SCIPP, the SIP interns will develop skills on Linux-bash commands and Python scripts. They will also get insights into statistical data analysis, astrophysical ideas, and the operation of a gamma-ray telescope.

URL: http://fermi.gsfc.nasa.gov/science/eteu/ebl/
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: Computer programming
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON REM ON ON ON ON ON ON ON


Code Research Project Descriptions
AST-09 Title: Testing Einstein's Special Relativity with Very High-Energy Astrophysical Gamma-Ray Data
Primary mentor: Prof. David Williams
Other mentors: Olivier Hervet
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Very high-energy gamma rays from astrophysical sources propagate to Earth through the light emitted by galaxies (the "extragalactic background light" or EBL). Gamma rays that collide with a photon of this light can convert into an electron and positron (anti-electron) with a probability that can be calculated from the results of experiments using Einstein's special theory of relativity. The conditions are enough different from those that have been directly tested by experiments that it is important to confirm that special relativity is still giving the right result. This can be done using gamma-ray data obtained with the VERITAS telescopes. In particular, the highest energy gamma rays from two bright, (relatively) nearby sources, Markarian 421 and Markarian 501, can be used to look for any deviation from the expected behavior. Data from a third source bright source, the Crab Nebula, is useful for testing and optimizing the data analysis. The SIP interns will work on the analysis of VERITAS data from these three objects.

Tasks: The SIP interns will learn to use computer programs for analyzing the VERITAS data and run the analysis on data sets from one or more of the objects of interest. They will also learn to inspect the output of programs which test the VERITAS data quality in order to remove poor-quality data (usually the result of bad weather) from the sample. They will compare different ways of doing the analysis in order to identify an optimum approach that gives the best (in the sense of most definitive) results. In doing so, the SIP interns will gain familiarity with standard tools used for astrophysics and particle physics data analysis and with working in the Linux computing environment.

URL: https://veritas.sao.arizona.edu
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON ON ON ON ON REM ON ON


Code Research Project Descriptions
AST-10 Title: Searching for Escaped Globular Cluster Giants in the Milky Way
Primary mentor: Tiffany Hsyu
Faculty advisor: Prof. Mike Bolte
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: The Gaia Data Release 2 (DR2) in April 2018 will present unprecedented precision in positions and distances to stars. We will use DR2 to search for escaped red giant stars of globular clusters, which are now left in trailing and/or leading orbits. These fleeing giants can be identified by: (1) colors and brightnesses consistent with the color-magnitude diagram sequences for the clusters, (2) distances consistent with that of the clusters, and (3) space motions that track the cluster orbits. Identifying escaped cluster giants and measuring their motions will allow us to determine plausible mechanisms for their origins, whether it be through close encounters with external systems or through interactions within the cluster itself, such as a binary star system or an interaction with a central, intermediate-mass black hole (IMBH). The latter would additionally support predictions of the existence of IMBHs in globular clusters. Having an understanding of the numbers of escaped stars is important for reconstruction the formation of the "field" stars in the Galactic halo.

Tasks: This project offers the unique opportunity of working with big data sets, which are set to become an integral part of astronomy in the near future, and thus is an invaluable skill. The SIP interns will participate in designing the query that can isolate objects around globular clusters with similar sky coordinates (RA, DEC) but with high radial velocities in comparison to the parent cluster. The interns will then learn about and consider methods that we use to confirm cluster membership for the escaped giants, such as through the color-magnitude diagram. It will be important to consider 'false positive' examples of, for example, foreground stars in the field, or stars with high atmospheric activity that may cause them to appear to be anomalies in radial velocity. For confirmed systems, the SIP interns can then calculate the escape velocity of the globular cluster as a function of radius to decide whether or not the escaped giants are bound or unbound to the system, which provides insight into the possible mechanisms that may have led to the escape of the giants.

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON REM ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON


Code Research Project Descriptions
AST-11 Title: Probing the Phase Dependence of Atmospheric Inference for Hot Jupiters
Primary mentor: Kat Feng
Faculty advisor: Prof. Jonathan Fortney
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: A planet's atmosphere is our window into the inner workings of a distant world. In the study of exoplanets, or planets around other stars, we observe their atmospheres to learn about chemistry, clouds, and dynamical processes. The molecular signatures we measure may hold the key to understanding how the planet formed long ago. With upcoming missions such as the James Webb Space Telescope, we will soon obtain data of higher precision than ever before. Given this opportunity, it is critical to understand the accuracy of our interpretation of the data. Hot Jupiters, giant gas planets that orbit their host stars in less than a few days, are ideal targets for atmosphere studies. The mentor and interns will work with the measured emission from these planets taken at infrared wavelengths and use statistical tools to infer atmospheric properties. The mentor and interns will examine in particular the impact of assuming the the atmosphere is homogeneous in temperature structure and how that assumption can bias our interpretation of a more complex atmosphere. The end goal is to establish some conditions under which simplifying assumptions still return accurate inferences.  

Tasks: The SIP interns will work with archival data of hot Jupiters taken with the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope. They will program in Python and make use of a Python package for statistical sampling. The interns will practice visualizing results and making figures. The model assumption they are examining is the presence of one uniform temperature profile for the planet versus two dominant profiles, as a function of orbital phase of the planet. 

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: Computer programming
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON REM OFF ON ON ON ON ON


Code Research Project Descriptions
AST-12 Title: Cosmological Galaxy Simulation Data Post-Processing
Primary mentor: Clayton Strawn
Faculty advisor: Prof. Joel Primack
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Cosmological galaxy simulations have become increasingly meaningful in the last few decades, and mock "observational" tests of simulations can set meaningful constraints on how accurately the physical assumptions built into the simulation emulate the real Universe. In this project, the mentor intends to use mock quasar/galaxy absorption spectra created with the new software TRIDENT to emulate observations of the region directly outside of galaxies proper but within their dark matter halo, the circumgalactic medium (CGM). The CGM is relatively difficult to observe, because gas is not dense enough to form stars, and therefore this region is only detected in absorption, so only by simulating this observed quantity can we evaluate the simulation's CGM.  

Tasks: The plan is for the SIP interns to help organize and collect data on these mock absorption spectra. This will involve creating useful interface methods between spectrum images and observational analysis methods, which have before always been applied only to observed spectra rather than simulated ones. The SIP interns will also help to implement and test the effects of using a relatively dim/noisy background galaxy rather than a relatively featureless quasar in TRIDENT using Python code. The interns will become familiar with contributing to open-source software, as well as writing/testing/debugging well-documented code for science use. (The URL below is not strictly made by the mentor's research group and collaborators, but is a useful introductory page to look at.)

URL: http://trident-project.org
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: Computer programming
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON

Local and out-of-area applicants will be considered for this project.
Code Research Project Descriptions
AST-13 Title: Photometrically Variable Stars in the Andromeda Galaxy
Primary mentor: Ryan Dudschus
Faculty advisor: Prof. Raja GuhaThakurta
Other mentors: Monika Soraisam
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 3

Project description: The mentor's research group has been exploring photometrically variable stars in the Andromeda galaxy (M31). Photometrically variable stars are those that undergo variations, often repeated or even strictly periodic variations, in their brightness due to pulsations. Recent large time-domain surveys (e.g., the POMME survey with the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope and MegaCam imager) have discovered thousands of variable stars in M31. In addition, the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) has been used to carry out a large near UV/optical/near IR imaging survey called PHAT that covers a fraction of the bright disk of M31, and the mentor's group has led a large Keck DEIMOS spectroscopic survey of M31 stars called SPLASH. The combination of variable star light curve data from time-domain observations, HST brightness and color measurements, and Keck spectra presents a unique opportunity to understand the nature of these variable stars.

Tasks: The SIP interns will cross match variable stars found in one or more of the time-domain surveys with HST PHAT survey photometric data and Keck DEIMOS spectroscopic data. The matched data set can then be used to construct a variety of color-magnitude diagrams (CMDs) and color-color diagrams. The SIP interns will work on new ways to identify variable stars in the PHAT dataset. They will group the variable stars according to CMD location and study systematic trends in light curve properties across and within the different groups.     

URL: https://www.astro.ucsc.edu/faculty/index.php?uid=pguhatha
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON

Local and out-of-area applicants will be considered for this project.
Code Research Project Descriptions
AST-14 Title: A Mysterious Population of Weak CN Stars in the Andromeda Galaxy
Primary mentor: Rachel Raikar
Faculty advisor: Prof. Raja GuhaThakurta
Other mentors: Anika Kamath
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: The mentor's research group has led a large Keck DEIMOS spectroscopic survey called SPLASH that targeted stars in the disk of the Andromeda galaxy (M31). In addition, the group is part of a larger collaboration that has used the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to carry out a large near UV/optical/near IR imaging survey called PHAT that covers a fraction of the bright disk of M31. Using these data, the mentor's group has recently discovered a rare and mysterious population of "weak CN" stars, a hitherto unknown population whose spectra show weak double peaked absorption at ~8000A due to the CN molecule in addition to other "normal" spectral features from oxygen-rich molecules such as TiO. A much stronger version of the CN spectral absorption feature is seen in the better understood carbon stars whose spectra are dominated by absorption features associated with carbon-rich molecules such as C_2, CH, and CN. The goal of this project is to better understand the physical properties of weak CN stars.

Tasks: The SIP interns will help develop and apply an automated detection algorithm for weak CN stars and carbon stars. The algorithm will be based on the measurement of the detailed and distinct spectroscopic characteristics of three groups of stars: (1) weak CN stars, (2) carbon stars, and (3) normal stars. Color-magnitude diagrams across near UV, visible light, and near IR wavelengths will be compared to model stellar tracks. The interns will also work on the spectral coaddition of different subgroups of stars and identification of spectral absorption features in weak CN stars.

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON REM ON ON ON ON ON ON

Local and out-of-area applicants will be considered for this project.
Code Research Project Descriptions
AST-15 Title: How to Observe the Farthest Milky Way Stars with DESI and Gaia
Primary mentor: Joy Velasquez
Faculty advisor: Prof. Constance Rockosi
Other mentors: Gabriela Munoz
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Starting next year, a new astronomy project called DESI (the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument) will undertake a survey to measure the velocities of 10 million stars in our Milky Way galaxy. The stars will be selected using the catalog of proper motions from the Gaia satellite, and DESI will measure the Doppler velocities and chemical compositions of these stars. The velocities and chemistry information can tell us how our Milky Way galaxy formed. Some of the most interesting stars are the farthest away, and we need to learn the best way to use the Gaia data to to find those stars.

Tasks: The SIP interns will use Gaia data and the SEGUE survey, which is a smaller survey of Milky Way stars that is already finished with the data available for analysis. The goal will be to experiment with how the information from Gaia can be used to identify which stars in SEGUE are likely to be far away, and then evaluate the Gaia selection using what we know about the distances to the stars from the SEGUE data.

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON REM ON ON ON ON ON ON

Local and out-of-area applicants will be considered for this project.

Biomolecular Engineering

Code Research Project Descriptions
BME-01 Title: Long-Read Phasing and Variant Calling
Primary mentor: Trevor Pesout
Faculty advisor: Prof. Benedict Paten
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 3

Project description: The mentor and SIP interns will be working on fine-tuning a bioinformatics workflow which uses long-read sequencing data (Nanopore and PacBio) to better map hard-to-understand areas of the genome. The workflow separates reads into haplotypes (what is inherited from the mother and father) and uses this to improve variant calling (determining what mutations or variants exist in the genome). The project is geared more towards the computer science than biological aspects of biomolecular engineering.

Tasks: Some programming experience will be necessary on the part of the SIP interns, preferrably in Python. A portion of the workflow is written in C code, which may be challenging for novice programmers but this can be handled by the mentor.  Additionally, some experience in Unix command line will be helpful. The SIP interns will be doing literature review (searching through academic papers to find potential methods and data), running tests, making changes to models (inputs to the pipeline), making changes to the data (such as realignment), and potentially contributing to the pipeline itself.

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: Computer programming
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON OFF ON ON ON ON ON ON ON


Code Research Project Descriptions
BME-02 Title: Immune Cell Profiling for Pediatric Cancers
Primary mentor: Jacob Pfeil
Faculty advisor: Prof. David Haussler
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease for children in the United States. The standard of care consists of broadly toxic chemotherapy which leads to high survival rates for some pediatric cancers and low rates in others. The mentor's research is focused on developing precision medicine approaches for discovering druggable weaknesses in pediatric cancer cells. However, there are also important interactions between the patient's immune system and cancer cells that may predict resistance to therapies as well as opportunities for immunotherapies. A molecularly targeted approach may improve outcomes for pediatric cancer and lead to exciting new therapies.

Tasks: One of the challenges in precision medicine is the complexity of cancer biology. Genome-wide approaches generate lists of hundreds to thousands of genes, so idenitfying predictive signatures is challenging. One strategy for overcoming this challenge is to incorporate prior knowledge obtained from biological experiments. The role of the SIP interns will be to curate available gene expression signatures for profiling immune cells using published data. The interns will then apply these signatures to neuroblastoma and osteosarcoma data and correlate the immune signal with genomic alterations and clinical information. This research may discover important markers for understanding the interactions between cancer cells and the patient's immune system.

URL: https://treehousegenomics.soe.ucsc.edu/
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: Computer programming; statistical data analysis
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: OFF ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON

Local and out-of-area applicants will be considered for this project.
Code Research Project Descriptions
BME-04 Title: Assessment of Guide-RNA Sequences Abundance for CRISPR-Cas9 Gene Editing Multiplex Using Nanopipette Technology
Primary mentor: Gepoliano Chaves
Faculty advisor: Prof. Nader Pourmand
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 3

Project description: The CRISPR-Cas9 system has recently been added to the toolbox of gene engineering, and this has caused a revolution in biological research because of the decrease in costs and experimental difficulties associated with this new way of gene editing. One important limitation in the implementation of CRISPR/Cas9 application in human patients is related to off-target effects attributed to Cas9 endonuclease activity. In order to mitigate off-target effects of the technology, several groups have proposed decreased amounts of both the enzyme and the gRNA sequences delivered to cells, as well as using Cas9 protein instead of protein-expressing plasmids as the source of the endonuclease. With this approach in mind, the mentor's group has proposed utilizing nanopipettes for delivery of the CRISPR components, given the small amount of cargo molecules nanopipettes are capable of delivering to the cell. In this project, the mentor's group has injected cells with several gRNAs and Cas9 protein, and want to study the frequency that those gRNA sequences are assessed after injection using nanopipettes. The mentor's goal is to compare the abundance of gRNA sequences in nanopipette injections with cells transfected using cationic lipofection isolated through Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorting (FACS). As a next step, the mentor and SIP interns will study genetic loci that have been disturbed by Cas9 activity. Finally, the mentor's group wants to determine if nanopipettes represent a better option for delivery of gene editing reagents by assessing editing rates of off-target loci associated with editing using their multiplexed gene-editing platform.

Tasks: The SIP interns will be introduced to DNA sequencing technologies and sequencing files produced by sequencing machines. After that, the interns will be introduced to the concepts of processing the sequences, based on the questions that need to be answered. The project will mainly focus on studying the abundance of gRNA sequences, which are used in the gene editing system of CRISPR-Cas9. The SIP interns will possibly also participate in downloading and processing data from CRISPR edited animals from other groups to start understanding the problems associated with CRISPR off-target analysis. Therefore, the SIP interns' main tasks are going to be related to: (1) studying the abundance of gRNA sequences isolated after nanopipette injection into cells; (2) plotting sequence abundances using the R computer programming environment; and (3) downloading sequencing files corresponding to three mice, two of which have been CRISPR edited and thinking about/assessing information pertaining to CRISPR off-targets in the study. After the program, the SIP interns will have been introduced to the concept of DNA sequencing, how these projects are done in practice, and will have an idea of how they can influence society in general.

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: OFF ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON


Code Research Project Descriptions
BME-05 Title: Investigating the Genomic Changes Underlying the Development of Drug Resistance in Breast Cancer Cells
Primary mentor: Dr. Gonca Bulbul
Faculty advisor: Prof. Nader Pourmand
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Nanopipette platform can be used to aspirate cell contents from the same single cell multiple times during their lifetime to study molecular dynamics. This platform was previously validated to isolate molecules such as RNA for cDNA synthesis and qPCR. Furthermore, this platform enables subcellular interrogation meaning that we can isolate materials from the nucleus. In this project, we will show lineage specific gene expression by using nanopipette interrogation for 4 different cell lines; HeLa, MDA-MB-231, MCF-7 and iCell neuron. We will compare the nanopipette biopsy results with previously described lineage biomarkers obtained from different cell extraction techniques.  The gene expression data will be shown and compared by plotting heat maps. This will help us to validate that the nanopipette platform can successfully identify low-abundant molecules in the context of gene expression.        

Tasks: The SIP interns will be introduced to DNA sequencing technologies and sequencing files and  learn to assess single cell gene expression by principal component analysis (PCA) and hierarchical cluster analysis. The PCA will be performed using singular value decomposition (SVD) to calculate and rank the importance of the features SVD by using the R programming language. The interns will define the patterns that differ between lineage specific expression pattern. The SIP interns will learn how to work with R programming and basic statistical analysis.        

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: REM REM ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON


Chemistry & Biochemistry

Code Research Project Descriptions
CHE-01 Title: Studying Kinetics of Oxygen Reduction Reaction on Nanoparticles
Primary mentor: Samantha Sweeney
Faculty advisor: Prof. Shaowei Chen
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: With the ever increasing popluation and current energy demands, our natural resources are being depleted. Therefore, it is imperative to find alternative energy soucres. One device that has sparked interest is the fuel cell because it uses simple products like alcohols or hydrogen and produces water as a byproduct. The problem is that one of the reactions that governs this device, the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR), has sluggish kinetics. The goal of this research project is to design a catalyst that will speed up the reaction increasing the overall efficiency of the fuel cell, with a focus on studying how changing the properties of the catalysts will affect the overall ORR activity.

Tasks: SIP Interns will gain insight into the Chen Lab and the specific way in which researchers in this lab study catalysts. This will include nanoparticle synthesis, basic characterization of optical and physical properties, electrocatalysis studies, reading scientific papers, and data analysis.

URL: http://chen.chemistry.ucsc.edu/
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Lab work
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON OFF ON ON ON ON ON ON

Special age requirement: The applicant must be 16 years old by June 11, 2018.

Code Research Project Descriptions
CHE-02 Title: Transition Metal Nitride for High Performance Li-ion Batteries
Primary mentor: Bin Yao
Faculty advisor: Prof. Yat Li
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, state-of-the-art energy storage devices, have received much research interest because of their high energy density and stable cycling performance. Over the past decade, various kinds of electrodes have been developed, such as transition metal oxides, carbonaceous materials, conducting polymers, and transition metal nitrides. Among them, transition metal nitrides are promising choices because of their high conductivity, excellent electrochemical property, low-cost, high molar density, and superior chemical stability. The SIP interns and the mentor will explore novel nanostructured transition metal nitride, as well as new chemical methods to increase their electrochemical performance.          

Tasks: The SIP interns will learn the basic principles of designing high performance electrodes for energy storage systems and will use various methods to synthesize nanomaterials. In addition, the interns will also gain hands-on experience with characterization of nanomaterials (electron microscopy and spectroscopy), Li-ion battery device fabrication, electrochemical tests, and data analysis.

URL: http://li.chemistry.ucsc.edu/people
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Lab work; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON


Code Research Project Descriptions
CHE-03 Title: Advanced Transition Metal Chalcogenides for Electrochemical Water Splitting
Primary mentor: Tianyi Kou
Faculty advisor: Prof. Yat Li
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Hydrogen and oxygen play vital roles in state-of-the-art energy storage devices such as fuel cells, metal-air batteries, etc. Because it produces no hazardous by-products, electrochemical water splitting represents a sustainable way to produce hydrogen and oxygen. However, the overpotential and high price of noble metal catalysts largely restrict wide applications of electrochemical water splitting. In contrast, some transition metal chalcogenides have recently attracted a lot of attention due to their low price and high efficiency in lowering the overpotential. The project involving SIP interns will explore the synthesis of advanced transition metal chalcogenides and will attempt to figure out a strategy to further enhance their catalytic performance in water splitting. 

Tasks: The SIP interns will learn fundamental skills in the synthesis of nanostructured transition metal chalcogenides. Materials characterization methods such as scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), etc. will be introduced to the interns and they will explore ways to characterize the as-synthesized materials using the strategies mentioned above under the mentor's supervision. Using the electrochemical workstation, the interns will investigate the performance of water splitting catalysts. The SIP interns will also learn how to analyze data and find possible ways to improve the performance of the catalysts.

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Lab work; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON


Code Research Project Descriptions
CHE-04 Title: Inexpensive Ternary Metals Based OER Catalyst
Primary mentor: Shanwen Wang
Faculty advisor: Prof. Yat Li
Other mentors: Tianyi Kou
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Hydrogen has been considered to be a promising energy resource. Production of hydrogen via the water-splitting reaction is one of the most sustainable and environmental friendly methods of energy production. The oxygen evolution reaction (OER), the half reaction involved in water splitting, has drawn much attention. However, due to the high cost for Ir oxides (the benchmark electro-catalysts for OER), one cannot utilize the reaction in commercial processes. Therefore, there is a strong desire to develop inexpensive catalysts for the OER reaction from Earth-abundant elements. In this project, the mentor and interns will use the electrodeposition method to synthesize low-cost high efficiency OER catalysts.  

Tasks:   The SIP interns will be involved in the synthesis of OER catalysts, and will do some OER performance tests. The interns will also get the experience of electro-chemistry techniques and will develop an understanding of how to critically read scientific journal publications and present the findings from their research project.  

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Lab work
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: OFF ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON OFF


Code Research Project Descriptions
CHE-05 Title: Investigation of the Performance of Different Electrocatalysts on the Hydrogen Evolution Reaction
Primary mentor: Mingpeng Chen
Faculty advisor: Prof. Yat Li
Other mentors: Shanwen Wang
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: With the demands of modern human society and exponential population increase worldwide, energy supply requirements are becoming more and more intense. Currently, the most common energy sources worldwide are fossil fuels. However, fossil fuels are non-renewable. On the other hand, the usage of fossil fuels cause too much environmental pollution; what's worse, the huge amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere leads to serious global warming. All of these reasons drive researchers to develop cleaner and renewable sources of energy. Hydrogen turns out to be an example of a clean energy source. After it is combusted, the only product is H2O, which has no harm to the environment; what's more, hydrogen's energy density is the highest of all known substances, meaning that the combustion of 1 g of H2 can release the most energy compared to 1 g of any other known substance. Besides, the raw materials required to produce H2 is only H2O, which is almost infinite on earth. Due to all these reasons, H2 is a very promising energy to replace fossil fuels in the future. In this project, the SIP interns and mentor will investigate what kinds of electrocatalysts are efficient for catalyzing the hydrogen evolution reaction.

Tasks: The SIP interns wil learn the ins and outs of a physical chemistry lab, including how to clean experimental equipment, prepare samples, and use electrochemical workstations to measure the performance of catalysts. In addition, the interns will learn how to analyse the data they get from electrochemical workstations using a variety of software packages. 

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: Lab work
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Lab work
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: OFF ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON OFF

Special age requirement: The applicant must be 16 years old by June 11, 2018.

Code Research Project Descriptions
CHE-07 Title: Organic Solar Cells: Microstructure and Charge Transport
Primary mentor: Michael Roders
Faculty advisor: Prof. Alexander L. Ayzner
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Organic photovoltaics are a class of materials that use carbon-based molecules to harvest energy from natural sunlight. They are typically thin films (~200 nanometers) that can be printed or painted onto substrates to create inexpensive, transparent and flexible devices for harvesting natural sunlight. Optimum solar power-conversion-efficiency (PCE) requires a two-phase thin-film microstructure that is finely intermixed and continuous in order to generate and transport free charge carriers (e.g., electrons). In order to make more efficient solar cells, there must be a clear understanding of how to control the thin film microstructure. The mentor's research group is interested in how the sub-nanometer chemical structure and geometry of organic molecules influence the longer-range structure of the thin film blend as well as their ability to conduct electrons.

Tasks: Project 1: Fabricating lab-scale devices from solutions and a spin-coating technique. With completed devices, the SIP intern will collect voltage-current curves inside an inert atmosphere glove box, then plot the data in MATLAB to extract information about charge mobility. Project 2: Writing a computer program to process X-ray absorption and scattering data (from synchrotron accelerators) to disentangle microstructural data of a single component within a multi-phase thing film. A template of the program has been previousy written and the SIP intern will be responsible for translating it between Python and Matlab programming languages. 

URL: http://ayzner.chemistry.ucsc.edu/
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: Computer programming; lab work
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; lab work; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON

Special age requirement: The applicant must be 16 years old by June 11, 2018.
Local and out-of-area applicants will be considered for this project.
Code Research Project Descriptions
CHE-08 Title: Structure and Spectroscopy of Conjugated Polyelectrolyte-Liposome Complexes
Primary mentor: Carmen Segura
Faculty advisor: Prof. Alex Ayzner
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Inspired by natural light harvesting systems that were fine-tuned by nature through billions of years of evolution, the aim of this research is to mimic nature's approach of capturing solar energy by constructing self-assembled, artificial light-harvesting antennae capable of efficient electronic energy transfer (EET). As a platform for this work, the mentor's research group utilizes conjugated polyelectrolytes (CPEs), inexpensive, water-soluble, self-assembling polymers as the light harvesting component. Liposomes of varying charge densities will be prepared and they will serve as templates for the light harvesting CPEs. The SIP research project will focus on encapsulating the CPEs into prepared liposomes or embedding them into their membranes in order to mimic the light harvesting organelles found in photosynthetic organisms. The interactions of the CPE-liposome complexes will be characterized using light scattering techniques to probe their structure and ultraviolet-visible absorption. Photoluminescence spectroscopy will be used to probe their optical properties.

Tasks: The SIP interns will learn the ins and outs of a physical chemistry laboratory including how to prepare conjugated polyelectrolyte samples, work with solvents, and general lab practice. In addition, they will carry out spectroscopic measurements using dynamic light scattering, and photoluminescence and absorption spectroscopy. The interns will learn data analysis and spectra interpretation using MATLAB software.

URL: http://ayzner.chemistry.ucsc.edu/
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; lab work
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON REM ON ON ON ON ON ON


Code Research Project Descriptions
CHE-09 Title: Size-Control of Silver-Nanoparticles for Enhancement of Antibacterial Activity
Primary mentor: Gustavo Chata
Faculty advisor: Prof. Shaowei Chen
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: The overuse of antibacterial antibiotics has led to bacterial resistance. Beta-lactam antibiotics which are specific in targeting cell membrane have lost their antibacterial potency due to the production beta-lactamase (enzymes that degrade beta-lactam antibiotics). Bacterial resistance has increased regardless of the concentration of the antibiotic and/or use of various analogues. The developed resistance of bacteria has driven the study of carbon-based nanoparticles, like graphene derived nanoparticles, to exert activity via mechanical or light-driven mechanisms. The aim of the mentor's research group is to functionalize graphene oxide nanoparticles in order to enhance their activity by such mechanisms and understand their role in antibacterial activity.

Tasks: The SIP interns will be trained in the synthesis, characterization, data analysis, and biological applications of metal-based nanoparticles. The interns will be synthesizing coupled graphene oxide nanoparticles for which they will test the antibacterial activity quantitatively through the use of 96 well plate assay experiments and photodynamic experiments. Once the assessment of newly synthesized nanoparticles has been established, the interns will characterize them via a series of spectroscopic techniques including (but not limited to): UV-VIS, photoluminescence, IR, and Raman. Literature readings will be assigned weekly to reinforce the SIP interns' knowledge of the technical and conceptual aspects of the research.

URL: http://chen.chemistry.ucsc.edu/publications.htm
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Lab work
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON ON ON ON OFF OFF ON ON

Special age requirement: The applicant must be 16 years old by June 11, 2018.

Code Research Project Descriptions
CHE-10 Title: Noble Metal Janus Nanoparticles
Primary mentor: Jia Lu
Faculty advisor: Prof. Shaowei Chen
Other mentors: Samantha Sweeney
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Janus nanoparticles — nanoparticles that contain two different components on their two surfaces — have been studied extensively for their optical and catalysis properties. In contrast to bulk exchange nanoparticles, those that have different components randomly distributed on their surface, Janus nanoparticles have a unique self-assembly property and are able to achieve different functionalization. This study will focus on an examination of the chiral property of Janus nanoparticles upon surface ligand functionalization. This project will include the synthesis of various noble metal Janus nanoparticles of different sizes and shapes. Functionalization of bifunctional Janus nanoparticles will be done by interfacial ligand exchange using a Langmuir-Blodgett trough. Characterization of nanoparticles will be done using UV-vis spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, circular dichroism spectroscopy, etc.

Tasks: The SIP interns will be taught to search for and read research articles and possibly come up with their own project ideas. The interns will also learn about noble metal nanoparticle synthesis and functionalization from the mentor. Nanoparticle characterization by the SIP interns will include UV-vis spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy, etc. The SIP interns will be trained in the use of different kinds of data analysis software.

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: Basic knowledge of chemistry, Microsoft Excel, lab work, and statistical data analysis is desirable
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Lab work; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: REM ON ON OFF ON ON ON ON ON ON


Computational Media

Code Research Project Descriptions
CPM-01 Title: Designing Virtual Reality Games Using 360-Video to Teach Social Emotional Skills to Adults with Developmental Disabilities
Primary mentor: Tiffany Thang
Faculty advisor: Prof. Sri Kurniawan
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Individuals with developmental disabilities, such as Autism or Down Syndrome, commonly have deficits in social emotional skills. These skills include being able to recognize emotion through facial expression, body posture, and vocal intonations. To remedy these deficits, many will seek assistance from behavioral or speech therapists, who use flashcards and iPad games to help teach social emotional skills. One issue that arises with therapy has to do with cost, where individuals will spend around $47,000 a year on therapy, which is unaffordable for many, especially those without health insurance. In terms of tools, iPad games and flashcards may not always be the most motivating, and have been found to make transfer of skills difficult. To resolve these issues, the mentor aims to develop a virtual reality game on the Google Daydream using 360-video. By producing a game on the Google Daydream that provides the same sort of skill training a behavioral or speech therapist would provide to an individual with developmental disabilities, the mentor will be able to increase access to effective affordable care. In creating a game utilizing video of real people, real settings and realistic situations, users will be engaged and entertained while learning useful skills. 

Tasks: The SIP interns will be learning how to use Unity, a game development platform, and a 360-video camera to produce 360-video environments for the Google Daydream headset. They will learn how to effectively record 360-videos and understand how to import their footage into Unity. From there, the interns will edit and process the footage in Unity, creating an environment that can be explored using the Google Daydream headset. The SIP interns will also be responsible for creating scripts for interactive scenarios that users will play in. 

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; field work
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: REM REM ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON


Code Research Project Descriptions
CPM-02 Title: Serious Games: Evaluating Effective and Engaging Interactive Experiences
Primary mentor: Barrett Anderson
Faculty advisor: Prof. Noah Wardrip-Fruin
Other mentors: Katherine Green, Christopher Karzmark, Melanie Dickinson
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Serious games are those that serve a purpose other than entertainment, such as education, behvavior change, or motivation. This opportunity involves work on one or more of the mentor's ongoing projects related to making serious games more effective an engaging. One of these projects builds on previous work investigating the use of a virtual reality environment to increase women's motivation related to STEM fields, adding additonal interactive elements Another ongoing project in the mentor's lab examines the influence of mechanical/procedural aspects of games on a player's ideas and values. The mentor's group is interested in investigating the value of some of the unique properties of games as compared to other media: creating a feeling of agency, consequences for player actions, and relationships that can only be discovered through interaction. Many of the mentor's projects will build on the excellent work of SIP interns from previous years.

Tasks: The SIP interns will work as part of a larger lab group to develop a game designed to communicate a specific idea and to test its effectiveness and psychological impact. The game development portion may include the opportunity to learn additional game design and coding skills (Unity, Python, virtual reality, etc). The project will also involve learning a variety of psychology research methods skills, including conducting some literature review, designing an experiment, collecting data from participants, conducting statistical analyses (using R or SPSS), and communicating research findings orally and in writing (APA style). The SIP interns may also have the opportunity to assist with some content analysis for a secondary project. They will be involved in ongoing discussions about what conclusions can be drawn from existing work and plans for future research.

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: OFF REM REM ON ON ON ON ON ON ON


Code Research Project Descriptions
CPM-03 Title: Media Values Through Game Mechanics: Building Meaningful Digital Games
Primary mentor: Katherine Green
Other mentors: Barrett Anderson
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: This hands-on project is a follow-up to a 2017 SIP study in which the mentor and interns created a virtual environment to study if virtual reality (VR) could have an effect on women’s perception of their ability to succeed in humanities and STEM academic fields. This summer, the mentor and interns will be creating and then using a new interactive virtual reality environment in order to continue studying these effects. Can a VR experience challenge pre-existing cultural and personal biases that drive the career choices of individuals? The activities of both writing and scripting code have endless creative possibilities, but our culture tends to make us think that these activities are biased in favor of certain types of people and outcomes. By crafting an interactive VR experience that lets users explore the creativity and flexibility of both “humanities” and “STEM” activities, the mentor hopes to see if the media of an immersive VR experience can expand people’s ideas of what they can do, and what tools they can use to express themselves and change the world.

Tasks: The SIP interns will: (1) learn how to work within the Unity game engine to make video games – this introduction will be at a beginner level; (2) work with scripting (C# in Unity) at an introductory level; (3) be introduced to game design as a creative discipline; (4) taught the basics of 3D modeling (Maya, Blender) and what crafting a virtual environment actually entails; and (5) help run the psychological studies that determine if the VR game is having the outcomes that the mentor's research group is looking for. This work will be carried out in a lab environment, and the SIP interns will work as assistants to the mentors.

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: Computer programming; Art making, 3D modeling
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON


Code Research Project Descriptions
CPM-04 Title: Personal Media Systems: Interactive Art and Play Experiences that use Computation to Engage Personal Meaning-Making
Primary mentor: Melanie Dickinson
Faculty advisor: Prof. Michael Mateas
Other mentors: Taylor Dinwiddie
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: This is an exploratory project about using computation (especially expressive AI and simulation) to enable new kinds of interactive media which engage elements of a user's unique personal experiences, values, attitudes, sense of self, or cultural context, and make them playable. Imagine a diary or dollhouse of the future (or the Illustrated Primer from Diamond Age), in which a player can enact social interactions or ideological values that they deeply care about or have been thinking about recently, and the system simulates or responds to their action in intelligent, meaningful ways, to support reflective examination of one's life and model of the world. 

Tasks: The SIP interns will: (1) design paper prototypes and "Wizard-of-Oz" versions of such systems, test them with players, and refine them based on feedback; (2) author simulation rules in domain-specific programming languages for expressive simulation, and create experiences around those simulations; (3) run psychological experiments with participants to test player interpretation and emotional effects of computational media works; (4) do ethnographic analyses of personalization tendencies of play experiences in current videogames and historical play practices; (5) read and discuss related academic articles in computational media, AI, and psychology; and (6) depending on the SIP interns' experience and interest, help program related, ongoing computational media works and tools from the Expressive Intelligence Studio.

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: OFF ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON


Code Research Project Descriptions
CPM-05 Title: SpokeIt: An Interactive Game for Cleft Speech Therapy
Primary mentor: Jared Duval
Faculty advisor: Prof. Sri Kurniawan
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 4

Project description: Cleft speech is a treatable condition that results from birth defects in the lip or mouth. At a young age, children with orofacial cleft undergo surgical procedures and will need long term speech therapy. SpokeIt is an interactive game designed to make practicing speech fun. SpokeIt benefits children in many ways: (1) it makes practice seamless by using speech as the prinicipal game mechanic; (2) it employs a dynamic curriculum that adjusts its difficulty as progress is made; (3) it assigns appropriate words and phrases that are unique to the child's speech goals; (4) it responds to and grades speech in real time with an offline speech recognition systeem capable of hearing both correct and incorrect speech; and (5) it gives speech therapists access to patient progress in between speech sessions. SpokeIt is an IOS game meant for iPads, written in Swift using Apple's SpriteKit.

Tasks: SpokeIt is a very large project with many moving pieces. Depending on the SIP interns' expertise and interests, there are many opportunities to work on the project. All students will be expected to work on polising existing game content or creating new content. Some example tasks include working on animations, sprite sheets, game engine components, art assets, databases, and content generation as well as working with users, transcribing interviews and voice files. SpokeIt is written in native IOS Swift. All of SpokeIt's assets are created in various Adobe Creative Cloud applications. First, the SIP interns will learn the necessary skills to work on the project. Second, the interns will be given an overview of SpokeIt and how it works. For the rest of the internship, the SIP interns will work on SpokeIt and help conduct and analyze data from user studies.

URL: http://jareduval.com
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: Computer programming
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; statistical data analysis; field work
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON REM REM ON ON ON ON ON


Computer Science/Computer Engineering

Code Research Project Descriptions
CSE-01 Title: Computer Vision to Track Mouse Behaviors
Primary mentor: Brian Mullen
Faculty advisor: Prof. James Ackman
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Development of functional brain regions has been shown to be associated with spontaneous and sensory signals throughout the nervous system. The mentor's research group is attempting to map brain regions throughout development. One facet of mapping involves understanding how an animal is behaving. This project will use computer vision (openCV) packages available to Python to track and identify mouse movements. Ultimately, the SIP interns and the mentor will use their results to correlate with brain activity at various stages of development. This will give insight into how experience influences brain function. 

Tasks: The SIP interns will learn how to use Python to write scripts accessing openCV packages in order to identify when motion is occurring and record characteristics from all motion. In addition, the SIP interns will help build graphic user interfaces (GUIs) to better interact with the data. Finally, if time permits, the SIP interns will use machine learning to classify each behavior based on the characteristics of the motion. Previous experience with programming is preferred, but not required.

URL: https://ackmanlab.com/research.html
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON


Code Research Project Descriptions
CSE-02 Title: Analysis of Performance Metrics on Container Orchestration
Primary mentor: Daniel Alves
Faculty advisor: Prof. Katia Obraczka
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: This research project will involve a study of metrics collected through simulation of datacenter environments. The goal of the project is to identify the underlying behavior of systems under load, with a possible application in automated identification and prediction of workloads. In other words, the goal is to identify work conditions that can result in certain patterns in the measured metrics, and using that knowledge to model how changes in those measurements can act as a predictor of change in the work being done.

Tasks: The SIP interns will be responsible for getting familiar with the collected measurements, understanding their importance in the context of the topic of datacenters, and identifying relations between different metrics and also with different workloads.This will be achieved through programming in Python with libraries to support data manipulation and analysis, as well as graphing.

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON


Code Research Project Descriptions
CSE-03 Title: Bio-Inspired Tensegrity Leg Robotics
Primary mentor: Erik Jung
Faculty advisor: Prof. Mircea Teodorescu
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: This project will imitate the behavior of human gait through tensegrity robotics. Tensegrity (tensile with integrity) robots consist of rigid elements suspended in a mesh of flexible tension elements. These hybrid (flexible-rigid) structures are capable of manipulating in a variety of ranges of motions comparable to the human leg. This will lead to a design of lower-limb exoskeletons and artificial (prosthetic) knees and hips. The SIP interns will not be required to take lab safety training. The end goal of this research is to take the knowledge gained through prototyping leg-inspired joints through tensegrity robotics, and implement it towards an assistive lower-limb exoskeleton.

Tasks: The SIP interns will: (1) understand how to create 3D models in Inventor and prototype them through 3D printers; (2) learn how to generate plots and figures in Matlab for scientific publications; (3) create circuits boards for hardware components; (4) write software in C++ with Arduino IDE and implement it on robotic structure; and (5) gain a basic understanding of the physiology of the human leg.

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; statistical data analysis; field work
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON REM ON ON ON ON ON ON ON

Note: This project may not be eligible for science competitions; interns should check the competition guidelines.
Code Research Project Descriptions
CSE-04 Title: Estimation of Mobile Device Location Using Data Fusion
Primary mentor: Fatemeh Mirzaei
Faculty advisor: Prof. Sri Kurniawan
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Riding public transit can be confusing for everyone, especially in an unfamiliar environment (e.g., when visiting a new city). One needs to figure out which transportation lines to take to reach a destination, when and where to catch a bus or a train, when to exit, and how to negotiate transfers. For those with sensorial or cognitive disabilities, these problems become even more daunting. In this project, the mentor and SIP interns will be helping with finding the exact location of a desired bus stop or train platform; informing the traveler when the desired bus has arrived at the stop; and notifying an authorized third party if something has occurred that requires special attention. In order to find the exact location of the user, the mentor and interns will fuse data from tuser’s mobile device (GPS data) and iBeacon sensors (that are low bluetooth energy devices installed on bus stops and inside buses). By collecting and analyzing both GPS and iBeacon data, the goal is to estimate the location of the user more accurately and ultimately track the user’s progress in a trip.  

Tasks: The SIP interns will participate in a practical scientific study and will become familiar with dealing with real world interesting challenges in this project. The interns will learn how to collect data using GPS and iBeacon sensors and become familiar with coding, visualizing, and analyzing the data using some basic statistical analysis methods.

URL: https://news.ucsc.edu/2016/09/public-transit-service.html
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON REM OFF OFF REM ON ON ON

Local and out-of-area applicants will be considered for this project.
Code Research Project Descriptions
CSE-05 Title: Bio-Inspired Tensegrity Snake Robot
Primary mentor: Victoria Ly
Faculty advisor: Prof. Mircea Teodorescu
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Snakes are limbless creatures capabable of movement on practically any terrain. In this project, the mentors and SIP interns will be simulating and designing a lightweight tensegrity inspired robotic snake. Tensegrity (tensile with integrity) robotics consists of rigid elements suspended in a mesh of flexible tension elements. The mentor and interns will be simulating this robot through a multi-body dynamics simulator to approximate the behavior of the physical prototype that they hope to build this summer. 

Tasks: The SIP Interns will learn how to: (1) create 3D models in Inventor and prototype them through 3D printers; (2) learn how to generate plots and figure in MATLAB for scientific publications; (3) create circuit boards for hardware components and learn about various actuators.motors; and (4) write software in C++ with Arduino IDE and implement it on the robotic structure. 

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON REM ON ON ON ON ON ON ON

Note: This project may not be eligible for science competitions; interns should check the competition guidelines.
Code Research Project Descriptions
CSE-06 Title: Juggling a Bouncing Ball using Simulink and Hybrid Systems Tools
Primary mentor: Haoyue Gao
Faculty advisor: Prof. Ricardo Sanfelice
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: A system that repeatedly switches between continuous and discrete behaviors under different conditions is defined as a hybrid system. A flow map abides by continuous dynamics and a jump map abides by discrete dynamics. A bouncing ball is an example of a hybrid system. When the ball is flowing in the air, it is affected by the force of gravity and abides by the rule of kinetics. When the ball impacts with an object, an event occurs instantaneously and the energy changes impulsively. In this study, the mentor and SIP interns will analyze a one degree-of-freedom hybrid system for the purposes of juggling a bouncing ball in a real-world apparatus, which consists of a ball that bounces vertically and impacts with a piston that exerts appropriate forces on the ball. The mentor and interns will create a control algorithm for this system such that the trajectory of the ball tracks a reference trajectory using only the position of the ball.

Tasks: The SIP interns will learn how to use Matlab/Simulink to simulate the dynamics of a juggling system as well as implement the control algorithm to track the trajectory of the ball and piston. In addition, the SIP intern will be exposed to hybrid system literature and advanced mathematical concepts and notations.

URL: https://hybrid.soe.ucsc.edu
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: Computer programming
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON

Local and out-of-area applicants will be considered for this project.
Code Research Project Descriptions
CSE-07 Title: Caterpillar Swarm Robots
Primary mentor: Pattawong Pansodtee
Faculty advisor: Prof. Mircea Teodorescu
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Swarm behavior is found in abundance in the natural world and grants various benefits to individual members of a group. Penguins huddle together for thermo-regulation. Bison and elk herd to protect themselves from predators. Some species of caterpillars live together in groups and gain one unusual benefit. By layering their swarm (climbing on top of each other) and crawling as a group, the entire colony is able to move faster than any one individual. Several small robots with simple sensors have been designed and built as a preliminary experiment to mimic the behavior of a caterpiller swarm.

Tasks: The SIP interns will participate in the development and testing of caterpillar swarm robots. In the development part, the interns will learn how to CAD 3D model, design electronic circuits, 3D print parts, and assemble both mechanical and electronic components. In the testing part, the interns research will include the use of a motion capture system to track multiple robots simultaneously.

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; lab work; field work
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON REM REM

Note: This project may not be eligible for science competitions; interns should check the competition guidelines.

Economics

As of yet, no mentors have submitted projects for this field of research. Mentors are still in the process of submitting projects so please keep posted for more projects to be submitted.
 

Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Code Research Project Descriptions
EEB-01 Title: The Effect of Fluctuating Selection on Diversity
Primary mentor: Ben Wasserman
Faculty advisor: Prof. Eric Palkovacs
Location: Long Marine Lab
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Evolutionary changes can happen very fast if natural selection is constant, but can be slowed, stopped, and even reversed if environmental conditions are fluctuating. We are investigating the evolutionary responses of threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) fish to living in an ever-changing environment. Due to the seasonal pattern of rainfall in central California, sand bars form at the mouths of rivers and streams during the dry season, disconnecting these estuaries from the ocean. Stickleback in these environments show a diversity of forms usually found isolated in either fresh or salt water. The mentor's research group addresses whether it is the fluctuations in estuary environment that main diversity of these normally uniform traits.  

Tasks: The SIP interns will assist in measuring armor traits in stickleback caught at different times of the year. This includes staining, measuring, and photographing fish. There will also be opportunities to assist in ongoing field work to collect samples.      

URL: https://wasserman.sites.ucsc.edu/
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Lab work; statistical data analysis; field work
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: OFF ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON


Code Research Project Descriptions
EEB-02 Title: Acclimation Potential for Thermal Preference in the Mexican Axolotl
Primary mentor: Regina Spranger
Faculty advisor: Prof. Barry Sinervo
Location: Long Marine Lab
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Amphibians populations are threatened by habitat loss, invasive fish and bullfrogs, and the spread of the chytrid fungus in adult breeding ponds. The changing climate also poses a great impact, because amphibians are ectotherms with aquatic life history stages. The mentor studies the effect of climate change on the local amphibian populations and a colony of Mexican Axolotls in their lab. The mentor's group will also have a similar project occuring on the Western Fence Lizard. The SIP mentor and interns will measure the thermoregualtory capacities of ponds and habitats, find different species' optimal temperature preference, and see if the Axolotl has the potential to acclimate its thermal preference. These data will be used to create a computational extinction model and conservation plan for amphibians.

Tasks: This internship will take place on the Coastal Science Campus in the Coastal Biology buiding. The SIP interns will assist with basic animal husbandry duties and data collection of physical traits such as length, weight, etc. of salamanders and lizards. The major part of this internship will be running thermal preference trials on the Axolotl larvae and other salamander species that will temporarily come through the mentor's lab. Other activities may include becoming acquainted with literature that is relevant to this project, data entry, assisting with trials on the Western Fence lizard, and data analysis. The SIP interns will be required to complete a safety training in order to work with live amphibians. Requirements: (1) Interest in climate change and temperature adaptations, (2) Excitement to work in a labratory setting, and (3) Commitment and patience with live animals. 

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Lab work
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: OFF ON REM REM ON ON OFF ON ON ON


Code Research Project Descriptions
EEB-03 Title: Ecological Effects of Reproductive Behavior in Mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis)
Primary mentor: Doriane Weiler
Faculty advisor: Prof. Suzanne Alonzo
Location: Long Marine Lab
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Mosquitofish are livebearing freshwater fish that have been widely introduced to consume mosquito larvae. When introduced, mosquitofish can strongly impact native ecosystems and have cascading effects on trophic dynamics. Previous studies have shown that female mosquitofish have larger effects on freshwater ecosystems because they consume more than male fish, but studies have also indicated that interactions with male fish may reduce their feeding efficiency. This study aims to examine how male-female interactions between mosquitofish may mediate the ecological impacts of their introductions. This summer, the SIP interns will assist the mentor with an experiment looking at plankton, productivity, and other ecological variables in experimental ponds with different levels of male-female mosquitofish interactions. 

Tasks: The SIP interns will assist with: (1) sampling invertebrates and algae in outdoor experimental ponds on the Coastal Biology campus at UCSC; (2) identifying organisms and processing samples in the lab; and (3) analyzing mosquitofish reproductive behavior using previously recorded videos of male and female fish from multiple populations around Santa Cruz county. The interns will learn the diverse elements involved in conducting research by practicing both field and laboratory skills. This project will integrate aspects of animal behavior, ecology, and evolutionary biology, thus teaching interns the interdisciplinary nature of biological research. 

URL: https://doriweiler.wordpress.com/study-system/
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Lab work; statistical data analysis; field work
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON ON ON ON ON REM OFF OFF


Electrical Engineering

Code Research Project Descriptions
ELE-01 Title: Photoluminescence of One-Dimensional Materials
Primary mentor: Ravipa Losakul
Faculty advisor: Prof. Nobby Kobayashi
Other mentors: David Fryauf
Location: 2300 Delaware Avenue
Number of interns: 2

Project description: The mentor's research group, Nanostructured Energy Conversion Technology and Research (NECTAR) is developing novel and innovative thin films and nanostructured materials for several areas of competitive technology, including thermoelectrics, transparent conducting films, anti-reflective coatings, and chemical corrosion barriers.  Design, fabrication, and characterization of such materials require many types of scientific tools, and precise measurements of electrical properties give us insights to the quality and potential applications of sample materials. The SIP interns are expected to have some basic understanding of photoluminescence. This project primarily includes photoluminescence measurements and may expand to include reflectance-ellipsometry measurements; where students will have a hands-on experience documenting and analyzing data. 

Tasks: The role of the SIP interns will be to: (1) gain an understanding of the physics behind photoluminescence, (2) set up their own research plan and measurement system, (3) perform the measurements, and (4) analyze results. The interns will be required to write up a comprehensive research report summarizing their work in conjunction with creating their final presentation and have the option to work remotely when preforming data analysis.

URL: http://nectar.soe.ucsc.edu
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Lab work; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: OFF ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON

Special age requirement: The applicant must be 16 years old by June 11, 2018.

Code Research Project Descriptions
ELE-02 Title: Structured Illumination Microscopy
Primary mentor: Juliana Hernandez
Faculty advisor: Prof. Sara Abrahamsson
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Super resolution microscopy surpasses the theoretical limit of diffraction that was once thought to be the highest achievable resolution due to the physical constraint of light. Advancements in the field of super resolution microscopy incite advancements in other fields, such as biology, where microscopy is used to image cells and biomolecules. The mentor's research group focuses on a method of super resolution microscopy known as structured illumination microscopy (SIM). SIM is a type of wide field microscopy that superimposes structured light patterns on samples at various angles. These patterns create moiré fringes that produce super resolution images when the images are mathematically reconstructed.    

Tasks: The role of the SIP intern will be to gain a basic understanding of optics and microscopy, as well as to become familiar with image processing software, such as ImageJ and MATLAB. The interns will learn to create an optical set-up which they will use to obtain SIM data and then use image processing software to reconstruct the data.  

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Lab work
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: REM ON ON OFF ON ON ON ON ON ON

Special age requirement: The applicant must be 16 years old by June 11, 2018.

Code Research Project Descriptions
ELE-03 Title: Surface Plasmon Resonance Experimental Design
Primary mentor: Maverick McLanahan
Faculty advisor: Prof. Ali Yanik
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Light (electromagnetic radiation) when incident on a metal surface can interact with the metal's free electrons. Under special conditions, the light and electrons couple together to form collective oscillations known as surface plasmons, which greatly reduces the reflected light when resonance conditions are met. These surface plasmon resonances (SPRs) are a popular approach to designing biosensors and photonic circuits. The mentor's research group is interested in building an apparatus that will excite surface plasmons to probe the electronic structure of metamaterials. This apparatus will involve building an optical setup and interfacing data acquisition software with experimental hardware.

Tasks: The SIP interns will participate in setting up an apparatus that will excite surface plasmon resonances (SPRs). The work will include integrating optical components, writing a LabVIEW program for data acquisition, and experiment optimization. The interns will gain skills in experimental design and software-hardware interfacing.

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; lab work
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: REM ON OFF OFF REM ON ON ON ON ON


Code Research Project Descriptions
ELE-04 Title: Probing Electrochemical Processes at the Graphene-Electrolyte Interface Using Electrochemical Techniques
Primary mentor: Md. Ahsan Habib
Faculty advisor: Prof. Ahmet Ali Yanik
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Graphene, with a thickness of just one atom, has opened the way to the development of a wide range of applications in electronics and optics. The study of electrical and electrochemical processes at the graphene-liquid interface is important to a few different areas: biology, storage, and sensing. The theoretical and experimental study of electrochemical processes — those involving the redox reaction and capacitive charging/discharging — have led to extraordinary progress in the above-mentioned fields. In this project, the SIP interns will study electrochemical processes at the graphene-electrolyte interface using electrochemical techniques such as cyclic voltammetry and electrical impedance spectroscopy. This study will explore different phenomena happening at the graphene-electrolyte interface. This information may pave the way to the development of ultra-thin devices that could find a wide range of applications.

Tasks: The SIP interns will help the mentor design an electrochemical cell, prepare the experimental setup, and record data. These tasks will involve: (1) Auto CAD design; (2) learning the basics of electrochemical techniques; (3) preparing electrochemical electrodes; (4) making electrical connections; (5) operating a potentiostat; (6) working with the software associated with the potentiostat; and (7) plotting experimental data. The SIP interns will have to complete following training in order to access the Yanik lab: (a) Laboratory Safety for Research Personnel; and (b)PPE: LHAT Safety Training.

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Lab work
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON


Code Research Project Descriptions
ELE-05 Title: Microfluidic Device Fabrication
Primary mentor: Jose Fuentes
Faculty advisor: Prof. Ahmet Yanik
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Microfluidics focuses on the manipulation of fluids in channel-dimensions of tens of micrometers. The design and fabrication of a microfluidic device is a multidisciplinary field that combines engineering, physics, chemistry, biochemistry, nanotechnology, and biotechnology. In this project, the SIP interns will focus on the fabrication of microfluidic devices. Furthermore, the interns will study the microfluidic device fabrication process which includes soft lithography and E-Beam vapor deposition. This project will introduce the SIP interns to current fabrication techniques that are used in the microfluidics field, with the interns being able to run experiments on the finished device.                 

Tasks: The SIP interns will help the mentor design and fabricate a microfluidic device, prepare the experimental setup, and record data. This includes the following tasks: Auto CAD design, learning the basics of microfluidic device fabrication, preparing fabrication setup, fabricating the microfluidic device, running experiments on the finished microfluidic devices, and plotting recorded data using MATLAB software.                

URL: https://scholar.harvard.edu/yanik
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Lab work
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON

Special age requirement: The applicant must be 16 years old by June 11, 2018.

Environmental Studies

Code Research Project Descriptions
ENV-01 Title: Mountain Lion Ecology and Conservation in the Santa Cruz Mountains
Primary mentor: Dr Veronica Yovovich
Location: Mix of UCSC main campus and home
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Mountain lions hold the dubious distinction of being California’s last top carnivore, and are a vital part of natural ecosystem balance and integrity.  Human development threatens their future persistence by encroaching on habitat, disrupting important dynamics, and killing them over conflict with domestic animals. We use a number of methods to study mountain lion behavior and ecology to try and promote their conservation, including motion-activated game cameras, government documents and reports, as well as many other techniques.   

Tasks: Depending on the data available over the summer, SIP interns will be involved with one or both of two research projects the mentor has going on. The first is the mentor's work using motion-sensitive camera traps as an effective, non-invasive way to document the activity of mountain lions, humans, and other species, to research how we all use our shared environment.  The second is using mountain lion-domestic animal conflict data collected by state biologists to find patterns that will help us prevent conflict. The SIP interns can expect to be involved in the data processing associated with these two projects, including data entry and graphing in Excel, as well as learning how to use the photo-processing program Picasa. 

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: Comforrt using a computer
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Lab work
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON REM OFF ON ON ON ON ON ON ON


Earth & Planetary Sciences

Code Research Project Descriptions
EPS-02 Title: Threshold Energy for Disruption of Asteroids and Moons by Oblique Impacts
Primary mentor: Dr. Naor Movshovitz
Faculty advisor: Prof. Jonathan Fortney
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: If a 40 km diameter comet impacts a ~500 km diameter icy moon at, say, 20 km/s, does it make a huge crater, or does it completely break that moon apart? How fast would the same comet have to be to disrupt a 1000 km diameter moon instead? What if two similar sized moons collide? Impacts were very common in the early solar system and the ability to predict their likely outcome is required in studies of evolution of the solar system. The mentor has compiled a database of simulated collisions and had derived a simple formula to answer the questions above, but the formula works best for "head-on" collisons. It needs to be refined and extended to include an extra variable: the impact angle.

Tasks: The SIP interns will use a database of simulated collisions to infer the dependence of a threshold energy on the impact angle. If needed, the interns will run additional simulations to add to the database. The interns will test a refined predictive formula for collison outcome against other descriptions used previously by researchers, to determine if a correction of previous studies is needed. The SIP interns will assist in implementation of the refined formula in computer code and publication.

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: Computer programming; Calculus
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON REM

Local and out-of-area applicants will be considered for this project.
Code Research Project Descriptions
EPS-03 Title: How Worms Changed the World: The Effects of Burrowing Animals on Marine Ecosystems Through Earth History
Primary mentor: Prof. Matthew Clapham
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Sand and mud on the ocean floor are continuously stirred by the burrowing of marine animals, which plays an important role in the movement of chemical elements (nitrogen, phosphorus, carbon) through the environment. However, burrowing animals have changed through time, and there were even times in Earth’s past when there were no burrowing animals at all. The goal of this project is to use a computer science method called machine reading to quantify changes in the types of burrowing organisms from the fossil record and to determine whether there has been a shift to animals that burrow more intensely. This shift would have dramatically changed the nature of the seafloor and how elements move through the environment.

Tasks: The SIP interns will learn how to program in the data science language R in order to extract information from a digital library of more than 4 million scientific papers. These papers have already been "read" by a computer using a machine learning technique called natural language processing, so the interns' job will be to write code to extract information about the type of burrowing animal and the era of Earth history when it lived, for example. This information will be used to estimate the amount and depth of sediment mixing by burrowing animals throughout Earth's past, which has profound consequences for marine ecosystems.

URL: https://people.ucsc.edu/~mclapham
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON


Molecular, Cell & Developmental Biology

Code Research Project Descriptions
MCD-01 Title: Engineering of Long-Noncoding RNA CRISPR Plasmids
Primary mentor: Erin Lamontagne
Faculty advisor: Prof. Daniel Kim
Other mentors: Roman Reggiardo
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Long-noncoding RNA (lincRNA) molecules have only recently been recognized for playing functional roles in cells. Evidence shows that abnormally increased or decreased populations of certain lincRNAs are common among different cancer cell types. The mentor's lab hopes to elucidate the effects of lincRNAs on cancer development using new CRISPR activation and inhibition technologies, which allows the group to alter lincRNA populations within a cell. The SIP interns will design and clone CRISPR activation and inhibition plasmids for special lincRNAs of interest. These plasmids will be introduced to cancer cells and their cellular effects analyzed.

Tasks: The SIP interns will learn essential skills for working in a molecular biology lab. They will learn to read and interpret scientific journal papers and apply their knowledge to experiments. They will be instructed on how to utilize the UCSC Human Genome Browser and find DNA sequences that they will clone using E. coli expression systems. If time allows, the SIP interns will learn to extract RNA from cells and prepare the RNA for further analysis. 

URL: https://dkim.sites.ucsc.edu/
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Lab work
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON

Special age requirement: The applicant must be 16 years old by June 11, 2018.

Code Research Project Descriptions
MCD-02 Title: Identification of Novel cis-Regulaory Elements at the Nkx3.1 Gene Locus
Primary mentor: Dr. Qing Xie
Faculty advisor: Prof. Zhu Wang
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Nkx3.1 is a tumor-suppressor gene that is frequently down-regulated during prostate cancer initiation. The mentor's group has recently obtained preliminary data indicating that such down-regulation occurs at the transcriptional level. Therefore, identification of functional cis-regulatory elements and corresponding trans-factors at the Nkx3.1 gene locus will provide clues to our understanding of its gene regulatory mechanism. The project seeks to identify potential transcription factor binding sites at the Nkx3.1 locus in both the human and mouse genomes using integrated methods including in silico analysis, cell transfection and luciferase reporter assays. The goal is to provide candidates that can be experimentally tested in mouse prostate cancer models.

Tasks: The SIP interns are expected to use the UCSC genome browser and the JASPAR/TRANSFAC database to identify potential transcription factor binding sites at the Nkx3.1 gene locus in both the human and mouse genomes. A comparison of the results obtained in the two species will be evaluated. The interns will be expected to fomulate next-step testable hypotheses based on the in silico analyses and previous findings in the relevant literature.

URL: http://wanglab.ucsc.edu
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON REM OFF REM OFF ON ON ON


Code Research Project Descriptions
MCD-03 Title: Investigating Bladder Cancer Using CRISPR
Primary mentor: Ofir Stefanson
Faculty advisor: Prof. Zhu Wang
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: The bladder is a part of the urinary tract and its role is urine collection and excretion. Bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer. Recently, mutations associated with bladder cancer have been characterized by computational analysis but have not be shown to cause cancer. This is due to the lack of animal models available for bladder cancer research. The objective of the mentor's lab is to design animal models, use CRISPR to mutate genes associated with bladder cancer, and study the effect of those mutations. The project will solely take place at UCSC main campus, SIP interns will need to take basic lab safety training and biological safety training.

Tasks: The SIP Interns will learn what CRISPR is, how it works, and how to design CRISPR experiments to mutate a specific gene associated with bladder cancer. The interns will genotype mice, collect tissue samples and section silds for characterization by immunofluorescence staining, plasmid amplification in E. coli, and other various common lab techniques.

URL: https://wanglab.ucsc.edu
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Lab work; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: REM ON ON ON OFF OFF ON ON ON ON

Special age requirement: The applicant must be 16 years old by June 11, 2018.

Code Research Project Descriptions
MCD-04 Title: The Developing Brain: How do Neural Stem Cells Generate the Incredibly Diverse Cell Types Needed for Building a Working Brain?
Primary mentor: Jeremiah Tsyporin
Faculty advisor: Prof. Bin Chen
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: The cerebral cortex underlies our highest cognitive abilities such as consciousness and perception. Neural stem cells are responsible for generating diverse cell types at precise times throughout development of the brain. The mentor's group seeks to understand how neural stem cells regulate the generation of distinct neural and glial subtypes, and how those cells properly migrate to, and integrate in, their final destinations. Understanding these processes will shed light on mechanisms of neurological diseases such as ALS, Schizophrenia, and Autism; these diseases have been linked to errors in these processes during development. The mentor's lab, the Chen lab, uses the mouse as a model organism to study the brain. There are many readily available genetic tools scientists have designed in the mouse to manipulate gene expression, and the mentor's group employs various genetic knock out and knock in models to do this. Basic in-person and online lab safety trainings will need to be completed before the SIP interns can begin doing lab work.

Tasks: The SIP interns will obtain a basic understanding of developmental biology, and how questions regarding development can be answered with available techniques in molecular biology. The interns will examine and analyze data, and perform experiments related to the mentor’s thesis work. Specifically, the SIP interns will take part in the following: (1) dissecting brains from mice; (2) sectioning and staining brains; (3) basic fluorescence microscopy and assistance with confocal microscopy; (4) data analysis: counting cells from obtained images, carefully examining brains and cellular morphology and gene expression to determine what changes are present in the wild-type versus the mutant brains; (5) taking care of mice colonies: this includes collecting tissue samples which will be used to look at the DNA of mice to determine the presence or absence of genes of interest; (6) reading primary papers from the field, and participating in related discussions at weekly lab meetings; and (7) understanding the logic behind the experiments being performed, and interpreting results from those experiments.

URL: https://mcd.ucsc.edu/faculty/chen.html
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Lab work; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON

Special age requirement: The applicant must be 16 years old by June 11, 2018.

Code Research Project Descriptions
MCD-05 Title: Researching the Mechanisms of Mammalian Brain Development
Primary mentor: David Tastad
Faculty advisor: Prof. Bin Chen
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: The mentor's research group aims to understand the mechanisms underlying the development of the brain. In particular, the mentor studies a region of the brain called the cerebral cortex, which is critical for the higher cognitive function of human beings. Defects in the development of the cerebral cortex lead to intellectual disabilities including autism and mental retardation. The SIP interns will assist the mentor in novel research about the proper development of the cerebral cortex. The findings of this work will contribute to the deeper understanding of brain development, therefore providing a foundation to better understand a variety of mental disabilities. The SIP interns will be given an in-person lab safety training provided by the mentor, and will need to complete a small number of online safety training courses prior to working in the lab. 

Tasks: Under close guidance of the mentor, this project will provide the SIP interns with a variety of useful lab skills and techniques. Initially, the SIP interns will learn how to isolate DNA from tissue, and then run a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to check the genotype. The SIP interns will then learn to perform tissue preparation, and subsequent immuno-labeling of the sample. They will then be able to perform microscopy on state-of-the-art fluorescent microscopes to visualize their tissue, and learn how to properly quantify the data that they will have collected. Throughout this process, the mentor will provide guidance with maintaining a clear and concise lab notebook, as well as help with reading and understanding scientific literature. This guidance will help ensure that the interns gain a clear and thorough understanding of the research they will be performing. 

URL: https://mcd.ucsc.edu/faculty/chen.html
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Lab work; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON

Special age requirement: The applicant must be 16 years old by June 11, 2018.

Microbiology & Environmental Toxicology

Code Research Project Descriptions
MET-01 Title: Exploring How a Bacterial Pathogen Protects Itself from the Mammalian Host Immune System
Primary mentor: Shuai Hu
Faculty advisor: Prof. Karen Ottemann
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a bacterium that commonly infects the stomachs of nearly half the world's population. H. pylori is recognized as one of the leading causes of stomach inflammation and ulcers, and even as one of the risk factors for stomach cancer. H. pylori bacteria can live within the mammalian stomach for their whole life, without activating a robust immune response. One of the mentor's research group's goals is to better understand how H. pylori evades the human immune responses. In this project, the mentor and SIP interns will focus on a specific part called the complement system, as this system presents a large challenge for H. pylori in early colonization. We will utilize genetic and microbial growth approaches to identify H. pylori mutants that survive better or less well than normal upon exposure to complement.

Tasks: The SIP interns will be trained in several concepts of microbiology research approaches, including working safely with BSL2 level pathogens, bacterial growth, sterile technique, transposon-based mutagenesis, forward genetic screens, single bacterial strain isolation, PCR, and sanger DNA sequencing. THe SIP interns will grow H. pylori, expose H. pylori to test conditions (complement), and isolate individual bacteria via single colony purification. They will determine bacterial growth kinetics, prepare DNA for PCR analysis or sequencing, and possibly perform PCR. The interns will learn how to analyze actual experimental findings.    

URL: https://www.metx.ucsc.edu/Individual%20Lab%20Pages/The%20Ottemann%20Lab/index.html
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Lab work; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON OFF

Special age requirement: The applicant must be 16 years old by June 11, 2018.

Code Research Project Descriptions
MET-02 Title: Characterization of a Novel Photosynthetic Arsenite-Oxidizing Bacterium
Primary mentor: Sanjin Mehic
Faculty advisor: Prof. Chad Saltikov
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Arsenic is a poisonous element that can enter our water sources through naturally occurring processes, and pose risks to humans. Bacteria found in nature can transform arsenic from the more toxic form arsenite, to the less toxic form arsenate. Ultimately, these bacterial processes can influence water contamination, and eventually food contamination. By studying these arsenic transforming bacteria, we can better understand how arsenic is cycled in the environment, and how to best manage this naturally occurring problem. We have isolated a novel photosynthetic bacterium, Rhodobacter sp. str. ORIO, which has evolved an ability to do photosynthesis with arsenic. We wish to develop this strain into a model organism for this process, but first need to determine its physiological and genetic characteristics. 

Tasks: The SIP interns will gain an understanding of principles in microbiology and molecular biology, as well as basic data analysis. Lab work will include culturing, growing, and manipulating bacteria. The interns will directly help determine which energy sources, carbon sources, and physical parameters (pH, temperature, light source) our novel strain "ORIO" prefers for growth. In addition, the SIP interns will test "ORIO" for resistance to antibiotics and ROS. 

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Lab work; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON

Special age requirement: The applicant must be 16 years old by June 11, 2018.

Ocean Sciences

Code Research Project Descriptions
OCS-01 Title: Phytoplankton and Bacterial Communication in the Presence of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in the Santa Cruz Wharf
Primary mentor: Terrill Yazzie
Faculty advisor: Prof. Marilou Sison-Mangus
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) comprise a group of over 100 compounds that are ubiquitous in the environment and are found in the water and sediments of Monterey Bay. PAHs are generated from the partial combustion of petroleum products and/or organic matter. These compounds are carcinogenic to mammals, are not water soluble, and are persistent to environmental degradation. Several phytoplankton and bacterial species have been identified as potential PAH degraders, and utilize inter-communication chemical signaling to breakdown these organic compounds. Under stress, phytoplankton produces lipids that can interact with the PAHs and solubilize them which could make them accessible to the bacteria. The mentor would like to understand if the potential for marine bacteria to breakdown PAHs is mediated by a chemical signal from phytoplankton by way of their lipid production.

Tasks: The SIP interns will gain background knowledge of what processes microbes and phytoplankton carry out in the marine environment. They will also learn about some of the media used to grow these microorganisms in the mentor's lab, and will have the chance to prepare these nutrient sources to learn about bacterial nutritional requirements. The interns will also carry out the molecular biological technique of polymerase chain reaction, and learn how genetic sequences are used in identification and gene exploring. The SIP interns will also be exposed to lab functions, such as how to handle biological and chemical waste, aseptic technique, chemical storage and handling.

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Lab work
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON

Special age requirement: The applicant must be 16 years old by June 11, 2018.

Other

As of yet, no mentors have submitted projects for this field of research. Mentors are still in the process of submitting projects so please keep posted for more projects to be submitted.
 

Physics

Code Research Project Descriptions
PHY-01 Title: Function from Structure in Quasicrystal Nanomagnets
Primary mentor: Michael Saccone
Faculty advisor: Prof. Onuttom Narayan
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 3

Project description: From the natural wonders of aurora borealis and solar flares to technology such as medical imaging and data storage, magnetic interactions underly many wild and weird phenomena. A new way we can harness these phenomena is through custom designed nanomagnets. Scientists can print these magnets in virtually any configuration, drawing out complex behaviors through the structure of their interaction. A candidate for these functions are quasicrystals, patterns that do not repeat but are completely non-random. This project will focus on guiding these scientists as to what patterns to print.

Tasks: The SIP Interns will generate and simulate patterns of nanomagnets in a computer program. The crux of this project will be the interns' creative tenacity to imagine magnetic patterns, hypothesize their physics, and learn what's needed to test their predictions. The SIP interns will begin with a crash course in magnetism, thermodynamics, mathematics, and Matlab programming. They will simultaneously work on a personalized practice project. Once ready, they will modify an existing code for simulating magnetic systems to simulate their own structures. This project requires the SIP interns to have a strong math background.

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: Strong math background
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON


Code Research Project Descriptions
PHY-02 Title: Deposition and Characterization of Ultra Thin Oxide Film
Primary mentor: Brian Giraldo
Faculty advisor: Prof. Nobby Kobayashi
Location: 2300 Delaware Avenue
Number of interns: 3

Project description: This research project will consist of growing ultra-thin metal (zinc, aluminium) oxide films on silicon, sapphire, and glass substrates by atomic layer deposition. These thin films will be investigated using atomic force microscopy (AFM), ellipsometry, and photoluminescense spectroscopy. AFM will be used to image the surface features of these ultra-thin films and analyze their surface charateristics. Ellipsometry will provide information about the optical properties of the thin films. Finally, photoluminescence spectroscopy will allow the mentor and interns to understand the bandgap type and energy of the material. Low dimensional films are very interesting to study due to the likelihood of finding structures small enough (nanometer scale) to show quantum mechanical effects. 

Tasks: The SIP interns will learn about atomic layer deposition and will help to clean and prepare substrates that they will use to grow thin films. The interns will learn about the working principles of atomic force microscopy, ellipsometry, and photoluminescence spectroscopy. They will learn to properly operate the various systems and use them to carry out the proposed investigation. The SIP interns will periodically report on their findings and will discuss what they are seeing with the mentor. This project is best suited to interns who have (or wish to develop) one or more of the following technical skills: computer programming, lab work, and/or statistical data analysis.

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; lab work; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON REM OFF REM ON ON ON ON


Code Research Project Descriptions
PHY-03 Title: High Energy Lightning Radiation
Primary mentor: John Ortberg
Faculty advisor: Prof. David Smith
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: In the last few decades, scientists have been puzzled by bursts of gamma ray radiation (normally only seen in far away galaxies) happening right here on Earth. So far, we've learned that these bursts are coming from lightning strikes, but don't understand why they come from some lightning strikes and not others. We've also connected this phenomenon to a peculiar fact about electric fields in the atmosphere: below a certain field strength a free electron's speed will be limited, but above that threshold an electron will be accelerated close to the speed of light. The mentor's group is collecting data on and running simulations of these events.

Tasks: There will be potential for the SIP interns to focus on one of the following: (1) running computer simulations of these gamma ray events; (2) going through data the mentor's group has collected during thunderstorms and connecting radiation activity with lightning strikes; and (3) helping to build small detectors for the mentor's group to use next year. It will help if the SIP interns on this project have some computer programming and/or data analysis experience but this is not required.

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: Computer programming/data analysis experience helps but not required
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON REM ON OFF ON ON ON ON ON ON

Local and out-of-area applicants will be considered for this project.

Psychology

Code Research Project Descriptions
PSY-02 Title: Urban Legends and the Spread of Information
Primary mentor: Allison Nguyen
Faculty advisor: Prof. Jean Fox Tree
Other mentors: Chris Kay
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Why do we share stories with each other, and what changes the rate at which we share things? It is possible that emotions play a large part in why we share stories. The mentor is interested in how and why information and stories spread through populations. The mentor is also interested in other aspects of spontaneous communication and how people talk to one another.

Tasks: The SIP interns will code data, run statistical analysis on data collected, transcribe videos, and with supervision, run human participants in psychological experiments. They will also be asked to read and discuss current literature in the area of cognitive psychology, especially in the area of communication and the spread of information. The SIP interns will be asked to write up brief reports and will be given training in APA-style writing. The interns will have the chance to learn about running psychology experiments using Google Forms and LimeSurvey and will get experience working with Excel and possibly Python. 

URL: https://foxtree.sites.ucsc.edu/
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Lab work
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON


Code Research Project Descriptions
PSY-03 Title: Skype Study
Primary mentor: Chris Kay
Faculty advisor: Prof. Alan Kawamoto
Other mentors: Allison Nguyen
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: This research project is a psycholinguistics study that will involve investigating the informativeness of the eyes and mouth during turn-taking. The project is ideal for SIP interns who are interested in cognitive science, psychology, linguistics, or speech-language pathology (speech therapy). When two people have a conversation, one person doesn't just keep talking and talking. When one person finishes speaking and the other wants to begin, a social negotiation has to occur. Is the first person really done talking? Does the second want to say something? People don't just ask each other if they want to change whose turn it is to speak. Instead, they rely on behavioral cues. This study will investigate how well people can take turns in conversation if they can't see the other person's eyes, mouth, or both.

Tasks: The SIP interns will have similar responsibilities to college undergraduate research assistants. They will be responsible for recruiting and scheduling human participants, administering the experiment program by computer, coding data to prepare it for analysis, and possibly carry out preliminary data analysis. The SIP interns can expect to become familiar with video editing (Adobe Premiere), phonetics software (PRAAT), as well as the daily ins and outs of what it is like to work in a psycholinguistics laboratory.

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON


Code Research Project Descriptions
PSY-04 Title: Mind-Controlled Illusory Apparent Motion
Primary mentor: Allison Allen
Faculty advisor: Prof. Nicolas Davidenko
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Why do we experience illusions? For psychologists, studying illusions helps to reveal some of the properties and quirks of perception. One such illusion is Illusory Apparent Motion (IAM) where ambiguous apparent motion is elicited by randomly refreshing pixel textures. Previous research using other apparent motion illusions has found that motion ambiguity can be controlled mentally (for example, one can mentally will ambiguous motion to appear in a clockwise, as opposed to a counterclockwise, direction). The mentor’s line of research explores how IAM is similarly susceptible to mental control in different contexts, and we are running and designing experiments to measure this in the lab.

Tasks: The SIP interns will have the opportunity to learn about a variety of illusions and what each illusion reveals about the nature of the human sensory system. This will be done by reading scientific articles each week and discussing them with the mentor. They will also gain hands on experience running participants (supervised) in a laboratory experiment and will learn how to program and analyze data using Matlab.

URL: https://davidenko.sites.ucsc.edu/
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; lab work; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON OFF ON ON ON ON REM ON


Code Research Project Descriptions
PSY-06 Title: Interaction with Telepresence Robots
Primary mentor: Yasmin Chowdhury
Faculty advisor: Prof. Leila Takayama
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: With the creation of video-chatting platforms, remote communication has become common in many places. Furthermore, engineers have designed telepresence robots, a mobile video-chatting platform similar to Skype but with more user autonomy. Users can videochat as well as control the movement of the robot from their computer, thereby enabling them to "walk" around remote spaces. Due to the growth and use of this platform in offices, homes, and beyond, it is important to understand the ways this affects communication and how people view each other when interacting via telepresence robots. The goal of this project is to view the differences in how we communicate and perform in face-to-face interaction vs. telepresence robot mediated interaction. The mentor's research group has run an experiment that compares how people perform in a face-to-face vs. telepresence robot practice job interview setting.

Tasks: The SIP interns on this research project will be transcribing linguistic interactions and coding behaviors from video data from the experiment. Furthermore, they will be doing quantitative and qualitative data analysis using SPSS statistical software. They will also spend time throughout the internship reading research papers under the guidance of their mentor to better understand the broader context of the data they will be analyzing. It will be easier for the interns if they have some prior lab work experience. 

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: It will be easier for the interns if they have some prior lab work experience.
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Computer programming; lab work; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: REM REM ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON


Code Research Project Descriptions
PSY-07 Title: Do Siblings help First Generation College Students' Adjust to College?
Primary mentor: Paulette Garcia Peraza
Faculty advisor: Prof. Margarita Azmitia
Other mentors: Andrew Takimoto
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Being the first in your family to go to college (first gen) can be stressful. For first gen students who leave home to attend college, it can be both challenging and exciting to leave their families, friends, and home communities.  Often, first gen students who go to a four-year college enter an unfamiliar environment where they are surrounded by faculty and peers who have more knowledge about college than they have. Does having an older sibling they can talk to and feel supported by and a younger sibling that they are role models for help first gen students adjust to college? Do siblings help first gen students stay motivated and graduate from college? This research project will use survey data to answer these research questions.

Tasks: The SIP interns will learn to read research articles critically and search for additional articles electronically and at the UCSC library. They will also learn to write an introduction to a research paper using the writing conventions in psychology. The interns will develop hypotheses to test about how siblings support first gen students' college journeys and use survey data collected from first gen students attending UCSC to test them. The interns will also develop a presentation of their work that they will practice in the research group and deliver at the SIP conference at the end of the summer.

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Lab work; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON ON ON ON REM REM ON ON

This project is under the UC-CAS/SIP partnership.

Code Research Project Descriptions
PSY-08 Title: Exploring How Moral Reasoning Develops Over the Lifespan
Primary mentor: Charles Baxley
Faculty advisor: Prof. Audun Dahl
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Children, adolescents, and adults reason and make judgments about what is right and wrong. The mentor's laboratory investigates how individuals at different ages reason and judge about moral issues, and how their judgments relate to their actions. The mentor's group studies how children and adults behave in different situations and interview them about their thoughts and feelings. For instance, why do young children think it is good to help others and bad to harm others? Why do students sometimes decide to cheat in school, even though they think it is generally wrong to do so? The overall goal of the mentor's research is to understand how people make judgments and decisions surrounding right and wrong, and how one can help people make better decisions.

Tasks: The SIP interns will help develop a new research project, as well as work on existing projects. As part of this process, the interns will learn to develop theory by diving into the moral development literature and may also help develop interview protocol and materials. To gain experience with data analysis, the SIP interns will work with data from past projects which have explored topics such as academic misconduct. There will be weekly team meetings where the research group will discuss past literature related to the project and overarching theory. This project provides an excellent opportunity for learning about all stages of psychological research, from discussing scientific articles, to designing a project, and reporting results. 

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON


Code Research Project Descriptions
PSY-09 Title: The Role of Friendships and Self-confidence in First Generation Students' Adjustment to College
Primary mentor: Andrew Takimoto
Faculty advisor: Prof. Margarita Azmitia
Other mentors: Paulette Garcia Peraza
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: For students who are the first in their families to go to college (first gen students), going to college can be both exciting and stressful. First gen students can find it difficult to make new friends on campus because they feel stressed that their peers often know more about college than they do. First gen students can also lack the confidence that they will do well in college and graduate. This research project will use survey data collected from first gen students at UCSC to find out how making friends in college and staying in touch with friends from home can help first gen students feel confident that they will do well in college, find a major they feel passionate about, and graduate.   

Tasks: The SIP interns will learn to read research articles critically and search for additional articles electronically and at the UCSC library. They will also learn to write an introduction to a research paper using the writing conventions in psychology. The interns will develop hypotheses to test about the role of friendships and self-confidence in succeeding in college and use survey data collected from first generation students attending UCSC to test them. Finally, the SIP interns will develop a presentation of their research project that they will practice in the research group and deliver at the SIP conference at the end of the summer.

URL: https://psychology.ucsc.edu/faculty/singleton.php?&singleton=true&cruz_id=azmitia
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Lab work; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON REM ON ON ON ON ON REM OFF ON

Special age requirement: The applicant must be 16 years old by June 11, 2018.
This project is under the UC-CAS/SIP partnership.

Code Research Project Descriptions
PSY-10 Title: Memory and Education
Primary mentor: Kelsey James
Faculty advisor: Prof. Ben Storm
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Memory is an essential part of who we are as human beings. It is part of how we form our identities, how we communicate, and how we view the world. This research project involves memory as it pertains to education. The mentor's current line of research looks at how tests can improve our learning capabilities and under what circumstances testing can actually be harmful. This can also give us information about how the human memory system works. 

Tasks: The SIP interns will learn about psychology as a science and specifically about memory as it relates to education. They will run participants in psychological experiments (with supervision) and learn how to organize and interpret data. As required in all SIP research projects, the interns will be expected to read academic articles pertaining to this research. The interns will be encouraged to develop their own research proposal for future work. 

URL: https://people.ucsc.edu/~bcstorm/research.html
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Lab work; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: OFF OFF REM REM ON ON ON ON ON ON

Special age requirement: The applicant must be 16 years old by June 11, 2018.

Code Research Project Descriptions
PSY-11 Title: Latinx Youth, Social Biography, Community Healing, and Empowerment
Primary mentor: Sylvane Vaccarino
Faculty advisor: Prof. Regina Langhout
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: The mentor's research team teaches 4th and 5th grade Latinx students how to conduct social science research to create change in their community. Recently, the students have decided to focus on the impact of immigration enforcement on their community by sharing stories, analyzing a Photovoice project, and practicing critical dialogue. This summer, the students will research this new problem definition and continue the Participatory Action Research cycle by determining an action. The mentor's research team studies how the students move through this process in terms of their literacy development, empowerment, and connections to people in the community.

Tasks: The SIP interns will meet weekly with their mentor throughout the summer to read studies and receive instruction with social justice-oriented qualitative methods, participatory action research methods, biographical methods, and analyzing ethnographic fieldnotes. The interns will meet weekly to talk about the importance of under-represented youth’s voices in research and to learn about the qualitative coding process. The SIP interns need not have experience with qualitative data analysis.

URL: http://people.ucsc.edu/~langhout/cprat/Research.html
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Lab work; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON REM REM


Code Research Project Descriptions
PSY-12 Title: A Mixed Method Investigation of Cross-Ethnic Friendships within College
Primary mentor: Jason Dyer
Faculty advisor: Prof. Christy Byrd
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 3

Project description: This project seeks to investigate the dynamics of cross-ethnic friendships for peoples attending college. The project is a grant funded by the UC Consortium on Adolescent Science. This grant asked for participants from three different UC's to take part in this research. Collectively, the research aims to see how ethnic identity, dynamics within the friendship, and political climate affects the participant's relationship with their friend. The participants were recruited in friend pairs in that each friend brought their friend of another ethnicity and both participated in the project. This unique recruiting method allows us to also compare and contrast the friendship dynamics from each person's point of view. This reseach project has been designed and conducted in order to expand the psychological literature on friendship dynamics and race and ethnicity.

Tasks: The role of the SIP interns will be to listen to audio recordings of the project's interview portion and to verify these transcripts. The interns will be responsible for quality control of transcripts and will be asked to reflect on the content of the transcripts. Additionally, the SIP interns will be allowed to ask a specific research question, related to the data's content, in order to answer a research question that they might have. Training and instruction will be given to the interns in regards to transcription work and research question analysis of data.

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Lab work
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON ON ON ON ON ON ON REM REM

Special age requirement: The applicant must be 16 years old by June 11, 2018.
This project is under the UC-CAS/SIP partnership.

Code Research Project Descriptions
PSY-13 Title: Metaphor in Games and Technology
Primary mentor: Christopher Karzmark
Faculty advisor: Prof. Benjamin Storm
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 3

Project description: The mentor's general research is focused on how people think metaphorically and how that can be reflected in their interactions with technology, especially video games. The mentor is considering two experiments for the summer. The first experiment will involve participants playing two different versions of a video game, then testing whether opinions about a public policy have changed. The second experiment will involve participants getting different metaphorical framings of how memory works, and then testing how much they rely on outside tools (e.g., their phones) in a memory task. The SIP interns will have some input in the design of these projects. The SIP interns will need to take online CITI training to work with human subjects.

Tasks: The SIP interns will learn about expanding psychological theories, including embodiment theory and conceptual metaphor theory. The interns will aid in some initial planning of one or both projects. During their research project work, the SIP interns will run participants through studies (with supervision) and analyze responses. During the analysis, the SIP interns will use Google Sheets and other spreadsheet systems. During preparation, the SIP interns may also use game editing software or coding languages, such as Python.

URL: https://people.ucsc.edu/~bcstorm/research.html
Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Lab work; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON OFF ON ON OFF ON ON ON ON


Code Research Project Descriptions
PSY-14 Title: Improving Sexual Education Curricula: Voices from Elementary, Middle, and High School Students
Primary mentor: Sam Hughes
Faculty advisor: Prof. Phil Hammack
Location: UCSC Main Campus
Number of interns: 2

Project description: Sexual education is an important element of education in preparing children and teens for adulthood. It can help students make responsible choices with their sexual behavior, and avoid potentially serious consequences like unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. However, sex education courses are usually designed with input only from adults. As a result, there is little research on whether sexual education courses are actually answering the sexuality-related questions that students want answered. The project will focus on analyzing anonymous 5th grade, 8th grade, and (likely, though we are still collecting data) high school student sexual education questions submitted by students in Santa Clara County to their sexual education teachers, in order to determine what is missing from the sexual education curriculum there, and make reccomendations for how to improve the curriculum.

Tasks: The SIP interns will carry out the following tasks: complete Human Subjects Ethics Training through CITI in order to be able to work directly with data coming from people (week #1); read and take notes on several hand-selected academic and news articles to both give interns exposure to the content area, and build skills relating to how to read an academic study (weeks #1–#3); watch several documentary films on sex education to further build skills in the content area, and think critically about how the readings in the first few weeks (week #3); and attend weekly meetings with the mentor and the mentor's research assistants to gain exposure to discussing an academic paper, and hear about progress on other projects the lab is engaged in (weeks #1–#10). Attending short class-style seminars will give the SIP interns background on some of the theoretical influences of the study, training in using the computer program NVIVO, presentation skills, library research skills, college application advice, and descriptive statistical skills. For weeks #4–#8, most of the work time will be spent doing qualitative coding (creating categories, and sorting the data into categories) using the computer program NVIVO. The SIP interns will help the mentor conduct basic statistical analyses on the data, and prepare a powerpoint presentation on the project (week #9), and present the research conducted this summer to an audience, participate in debriefing  from the experience, and celebrate with the lab at a restaurant (week #10).

Required skills for interns prior to acceptance: None
Skills intern(s) will acquire/hone: Lab work; statistical data analysis
Program Week Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Mentor's availability: ON ON REM ON ON ON ON ON REM ON

Special age requirement: The applicant must be 16 years old by June 11, 2018.