Nexus Scholar Faculty Mentor Profiles: Summer 2023

Name Departments
Image of Mikail Abbasov Mikail Abbasov Assistant Professor Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Personal Statement

Prof. Abbasov is a chemical biologist developing new chemistries to understand how mutations and post-translational modifications modulate protein function and cause disease.

Project Description

Prof. Abbasov's highly interdisciplinary program at Cornell will advance innovative chemoproteomic technologies to modulate the function of proteins and interrogate signaling pathways associated with cancer and neurodegenerative disorders. Specific focuses include rescuing disease-causing mutant proteins with small molecules, targeting therapeutically vulnerable mutations in genetically defined cancers, and identifying the druggable ribonucleoproteome with lysine-reactive natural products.

Required Coursework

General and Organic Chemistry are helpful courses to have but not required to carry out experimentations in the Abbasov Lab.

Required Skills

Students should have passion and hard work mentality to be successful in the Abbasov Lab.

Image of Chloe Ahmann Chloe Ahmann Assistant Professor American Studies Program

Personal Statement

I am an environmental anthropologist studying the long afterlife of American industry. My current work is based in Baltimore, where I follow industrialism’s enduring traces in toxified landscapes, patchy regulation, quotidian expressions of white supremacy, and particular orientations toward time. I am also beginning work on far-right environmentalisms – sometimes glossed as "ecofascism" – and am seeking research support with this latter project.

Project Description

I am beginning research on the rising tide of ecofascist sentiments in the United States, focusing on the dark utopian visions that sustain them. Recent acts of mass violence by self-identified ecofascists (such as the Christchurch and El Paso shooters) have brought broad attention to this ideology, which countenances eugenic violence in the name of restoring spoiled nature. But they are only the most spectacular face of a pervasive set of structures and beliefs about what, and whom, the environment is for—and whose being counts as existential threat—which I aim to show are foundational to the United States. The RA for this project will have three main tasks: (1) to produce a rich, annotated bibliography of scholarly research on far-right environmentalisms, drawn from disciplines like history, anthropology, English, American Studies, and the environmental humanities; (2) to build a media library that gathers reporting on the rise of ecofascist sentiments in recent years, and (3) to draft on a report analyzing how white supremacist environmentalisms have figured in the popular imagination and how this has changed over time, based on both of the above. The RA should be reliable, communicative, and independent, and can expect to gain experience synthesizing scholarly literature in the humanistic social sciences – as well as familiarity with this pressing topic.

Required Coursework

Some research experience is preferred, as is a demonstrated interest in the humanities and/or social sciences. Introductory coursework in American studies, anthropology, and the environmental humanities would all be beneficial.

Required Skills

Familiarity with research on scholarly databases; reliable and communicative; able to work independently; good sense of limitations and ability to ask for support; ability to synthesize scholarly arguments into key points; ability to note and analyze trends in scholarly thought; ability to note and analyze trends in popular media; personal commitment to working against ecofascism and other white supremacist environmentalisms

Image of Christine Bacareza Balance Christine Bacareza Balance Associate Professor , Music

Personal Statement

Christine Bacareza Balance is a performance studies scholar who teaches and researches Asian American and Filipino/American performance, popular music, and popular culture in U.S. and transnational contexts, as well as arts/culture and authoritarianism. Derek Chang is an historian who teaches and researches the Asian American past, comparative racial formations in the United States, and American white supremacy and nationalism.

Project Description

The Cornell Asian/Asian American alumni oral history project collects, preserves, and shares the stories of Asian/Asian American students, faculty, and staff at Cornell to create an historical record and archive of the experiences and impact of Asians/Asian Americans throughout the university's history. It tracks the various academic and social/political efforts of Asian/Asian American students at Cornell, including the fight for and implementation of Asian American Studies on campus, to provide a more robust institutional record of this community's activities on campus and in the greater Ithaca area. Research will also result in a broader and deeper understanding of the role of diversity -- and diverse student bodies -- at Cornell and in higher education more generally. Work on this project includes preparing interview materials, interviewing Cornell alumni and community members, cataloging interviews, working with complementary archival materials, and preparing the presentation of research across various formats and media.

Required Coursework

Coursework in Asian American studies and/or ethnic studies fields, oral history/storytelling methods, and/or racial/ethnic community formations in the U.S.

Required Skills

We are looking for students who are organized with strong communication skills (both written & verbal), excellent interpersonal skills and ability to work with diverse communities. Oral history/interviewing experience not necessary but a plus. Bilingual proficiency not necessary but a plus.

Image of Andrew Bass Andrew Bass Horace White Professor of Neurobiology and Behavior

Personal Statement

Andrew Bass’ research focuses, in general, on the neural basis of vocal-acoustic communication. He uses fish as models to establish neurophysiological, neuroanatomical, and neurohormonal principles for evolution of more complex systems of sound production and hearing in birds and mammals.

Project Description

We are building a new vertebrate genetic model system for behavioral and neural studies of vocal-acoustic communication among species within the genus Danionella. This group of miniature fish remain transparent into adulthood and are closely related to zebrafish (currently one of the major model systems for studies of brain structure and function), making them amenable to genetic manipulations using tools that have been developed for zebrafish. Our behavioral studies show that Danionella produce robust acoustic signals and postural displays (extension of a hypertrophied lower jaw) during aggressive interactions. An undergraduate will have the opportunity to collaborate with a graduate student and postdoctoral scholar in ongoing studies using cutting-edge animal tracking, brain imaging and genetic tools to investigate neural circuits regulating aggressive interactions.

Required Coursework

Introductory Biology; course in data science and or statistics preferred but not required

Required Skills

Ability to work with a team and independently Punctual for all appointments Basic computer skills (e.g., use of search engines) Willing to carry out studies with live fish, including animal sacrifice Excellent manual dexterity

Image of Ernesto Bassi Ernesto Bassi Associate Professor & Director of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program (LACS) Africana Studies and Research Center, History, Romance Studies

Personal Statement

I am a historian of Latin America, the Caribbean, the Atlantic, and the world. I study the global circulation of people, ideas, and commodities to understand how people in the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Caribbean interpreted the world they inhabited and tried to imagine the future direction of that world.

Project Description

In collaboration with a Romance Studies colleague (Irina Troconis) and a history graduate student (María Corredor), I am working in creating two digital archives: the first one based on testimonies of Venezuelan migrants crossing the border to seek new lives in Colombia and beyond; the second one based on documents from the Secretary of War and the Navy of the early Republic of Colombia (1822-1831). The goal of the archive of Venezuelan migration is to make available to researchers and the general public invaluable documentation to understand the trajectories, circumstances, challenges, and hopes of Venezuelan migrants fleeing their home country in search for better lives abroad. Working with this documentation, the student will become familiar with testimonial literature as window to understand larger processes. The goal of the second archive is to process, transcribe, and make available to researchers and the public a digital repository for the study of maritime lives, cultures, and societies during the early years of Colombia's national period. As part of this project, the student will learn about one of the most important elements of the historian's craft (archival work, including some paleography) and become familiar with some of the technologies that are vital parts of the process of creating digital archives as mechanism of historical preservation of documentation.

Required Coursework

Students with knowledge of (or interest in) Latin American history, migration, and maritime history are ideal for this work. Previous coursework in history and/or Latin American subjects is desired, but not required.

Required Skills

Both archives consist of documentation in Spanish, so I am looking for a native Spanish speaker or someone fluent in Spanish. Experience in digital humanities (including but not limited to QGIS, webdesign) and historical research would be a plus (but is not required).

Image of Derek Chang Derek Chang Associate Professor American Studies Program, Asian American Studies Program, , History

Personal Statement

Christine Bacareza Balance is a performance studies scholar who teaches and researches Asian American and Filipino/American performance, popular music, and popular culture in U.S. and transnational contexts, as well as arts/culture and authoritarianism. Derek Chang is an historian who teaches and researches the Asian American past, comparative racial formations in the United States, and American white supremacy and nationalism.

Project Description

The Cornell Asian/Asian American alumni oral history project collects, preserves, and shares the stories of Asian/Asian American students, faculty, and staff at Cornell to create an historical record and archive of the experiences and impact of Asians/Asian Americans throughout the university's history. It tracks the various academic and social/political efforts of Asian/Asian American students at Cornell, including the fight for and implementation of Asian American Studies on campus, to provide a more robust institutional record of this community's activities on campus and in the greater Ithaca area. Research will also result in a broader and deeper understanding of the role of diversity -- and diverse student bodies -- at Cornell and in higher education more generally. Work on this project includes preparing interview materials, interviewing Cornell alumni and community members, cataloging interviews, working with complementary archival materials, and preparing the presentation of research across various formats and media.

Required Coursework

Coursework in Asian American studies and/or ethnic studies fields, oral history/storytelling methods, and/or racial/ethnic community formations in the U.S.

Required Skills

We are looking for students who are organized with strong communication skills (both written & verbal), excellent interpersonal skills and ability to work with diverse communities. Oral history/interviewing experience not necessary but a plus. Bilingual proficiency not necessary but a plus.

Image of Peng Chen Peng Chen Peter J. W. Debye Professor Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Personal Statement

A major part of my group’s research focuses on understanding how bacterial cells handle metal ions through processes such as efflux, regulation, and trafficking. We use single-molecule imaging techniques, including single-molecule super-resolution imaging/tracking in live cells and single-molecule FRET, in combination with site-directed mutagenesis, genetic manipulation of the cell, and bulk biophysical and biochemical measurements.

Project Description

The research goal is to understand how metal homeostasis in bacteria monolayers is facilitated or impaired by the community they take part in. The prospective student will learn how to acquire fluorescent images and analyze the data they acquired. They will also get the opportunity to explore how to apply machine learning techniques to analyze and quantify genetically tagged fluorescent proteins to study metal homeostasis. They will also get the opportunity to work with microfluidics devices and explore new design ideas and considerations as well as execute experiments with them.

Required Coursework

Although it is not strictly required, it would be to the student's advantage to be familiar with coding (Python or Matlab), microscopy, and molecular biology. However, these are subjects the student will encounter and will have the opportunity to learn in the scenario they don’t have prior knowledge of.

Required Skills

The most essential skills the student should have are a willingness to learn and the ability to welcome challenges. Prior knowledge or skillsets about the topic isn’t strictly required. What is most important is that they are able to cultivate and demonstrate a positive attitude and a collegial spirit.

Image of Richard T. Clark Richard T. Clark Assistant Professor

Personal Statement

My research interests include international organizations and political economy. My ongoing projects examine when individual bureaucrats matter in international organizations and when international organizations pivot to climate change, among other topics.

Project Description

The goal of the research is to determine when the backgrounds (e.g., education, prior employment, race, ethnicity, and gender) of bureaucrats in international organizations shapes their willingness and ability to administer certain policies to member states. Field agents in development organizations, for instance, often face discrimination abroad on the basis of individual-level characteristics. Outcomes include the policy conditions attached to support from these institutions, the performance of programs, and bureaucrats' willingness to deviate from organizational goals. The student will help with collecting individual-level characteristics by examining organizations' websites as well as social media profiles (LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter). They will examine documents from international organizations on their programs. And they will assist with data analysis, both using Excel for collection and potentially R (if able) for analysis.

Required Coursework

Exposure to government and/or economics courses is preferred.

Required Skills

Some experience with statistical analysis in R or Python is preferred. Knowledge of Excel is required. But the most important prerequisites are interest in the research question and a willingness to learn by doing.

Image of Abigail Crites Abigail Crites Assistant Professor & Fred Young Faculty Fellow Astronomy, CCAPS

Personal Statement

I am a physicist studying cosmology particularly in the early universe, particularly how did our universe evolve. I build mm-wavelength instruments (for three projects, TIME, CCAT-Prime, and CMB-S4) to make observations of cosmic structure and signals to answer questions about fundamental physics and astrophysics.  

Project Description

This research project is focused on both hardware and software to build mm-wavelength instruments that are installed on telescopes to observe the signals from the early universe. This involves writing code in Python, doing mechanical design using CAD software, and assembling and troubleshooting instruments in the lab including testbeds for detectors and the receiver camera for TIME. The student will learn programming in Python, experimental physics techniques, vacuum systems, and cryogenics.

Required Coursework

No prior coursework needed.

Required Skills

No prior skills are needed to do this project successfully. The student will find success if they have interest in learning new things, working collaboratively with a group of experimental researchers at a variety of levels, and a willingness to struggle and overcome obstacles and share ideas.

Image of Antonio Fernandez-Ruiz Antonio Fernandez-Ruiz Nancy and Peter Meinig Family Investigator in the Life Sciences, Assistant Professor Neurobiology and Behavior

Personal Statement

We study the neural circuit mechanisms of learning and memory in rodents. We record and manipulate the activity of neurons across multiple brain areas while animals perform different memory tasks

Project Description

This project is focused in investigating the neural mechanisms of spatial learning, i.e. how mice can learn to take specific routes in a maze to collect rewards. We will record the activity of neurons in the hippocampus and cortex that form a map of the environment to guide animal navigation. We will activate or silence those neurons and asses the effect on behavior. The student(s) will be conduct behavioral experiments with mice, neural recordings and analyze behavioral and neural data.

Required Coursework

No specific coursework is required, but Introduction to Neuroscience (2220) is recommended

Required Skills

No particular skills are necessary but previous experience with mice would be helpful.

Image of Christine L Goodale Christine L Goodale Frank H.T. Rhodes Professor of Environmental Science

Personal Statement

I am a forest ecosystem ecologist. My lab group studies how forests cycle and store carbon and nutrients in trees, microbes, and soil, and how these processes respond to climate change, air pollution, and disturbances.

Project Description

NUTRIENTS AND STABLE ISOTOPES: WHICH TREES GET THE MOST NITROGEN? This Nexus project opportunity will contribute to a long-term field experiment examining effects of soil nitrogen availability and soil acidity on forest carbon storage. In this NEXUS project, an undergraduate will have the opportunity to collect and measure nutrient content and stable isotopic composition (naturally occurring, non-radioactive 13C and 15N) in canopy foliage and/or leaf litter. These measurements can be used to quantify how tree nutrient uptake, nutrient resorption, and vulnerability to drought respond to changes in soil nutrients and pH. These responses determine how forests store carbon and nutrients in response to changes in air pollution and climate.

Required Coursework

We encourage, but do not require, students to have some coursework in introductory ecology (BIOEE 1610), introductory plant biology, or related courses. Prior knowledge of local tree species identification is helpful but can be provided if needed.

Required Skills

Students do not need to have any prior technical skills to participate in this project. We do expect willingness to spend some long days in the woods for fieldwork, along with capacity for organization and attention to detail in sample processing and lab-work and interest in reading about ecosystem ecology in the primary literature.

Image of Alexander Hayes Alexander Hayes Associate Professor, Director, Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science, Director of the Spacecraft Planetary Image Facility, Louis Salvatore ’92 Faculty Leadership Fellow Astronomy, Carl Sagan Institute, CCAPS

Personal Statement

My research group focusses on Solar System Exploration, participating in several NASA and ESA missions. We are interested planetary surface processes and the identification and history of potentially habitable environments.

Project Description

Students would participate in the Mastcam-Z team of the Mars2020 mission. Tasks would primarily involve helping to refine in-flight calibration procedures and analyze image data acquired for that purpose.

Required Coursework

Math through calculus and basic physics.

Required Skills

Experience with either python or matlab. Specific experience with image processing would be ideal.

Image of Dan Hirschman Dan Hirschman Assistant Professor

Personal Statement

I am a sociologist interested in how expertise and politics work together (or don't). I'm especially interested in how economic statistics are created and how these measurements shape political conversations.

Project Description

This project looks at the history of discussions of climate change in the United States in the media. I am interested in how the costs of climate change are presented and especially the specific numbers that are reported on (percent of GDP lost, insurance losses from hurricanes, predicted deaths from future heat waves, etc.). The RA(s) will help assemble a corpus of newspaper articles and TV transcripts, develop a coding scheme for identifying costs, and code the articles.

Required Coursework

None required, but some experience with sociology or history research, introductory economics, and contemporary political debates (especially around climate change) would be useful.

Required Skills

Ability to read & summarize texts (in this case, newspaper articles) in English quickly. Not required, but if the student is interested in natural language processing/computational text analysis, we may be able to incorporate some of that into the project.

Image of Anna Y.Q. Ho Anna Y.Q. Ho Assistant Professor of Astronomy Astronomy, CCAPS

Personal Statement

I'm an astrophysicist interested in cosmic explosions such as supernovae and gamma-ray bursts. I use a combination of observations (using telescopes across the Earth and in space, ranging from fully roboticized ground-based observatories to space telescopes such as Swift and Chandra) and physics to learn about the cycle of stellar life and death.

Project Description

Context: Within the last few years, robotic telescopes became capable of making high-time-resolution movies of the night sky, enabling us to study phenomena that appear and disappear within just a few hours. These robotic high-speed cameras are essential for studying the most energetic explosions in the universe. Goals: The student will help discover new explosions. The student will also analyze data of explosions that were discovered within the last few years, to determine their origin. Expectations: The student will meet weekly with Professor Ho; an office in the Space Sciences Building will be provided. Skills/techniques: The student will learn a variety of data-analysis techniques in the rapidly growing field of time-domain astronomy, strengthen their programming skills (particularly in Python, the language most commonly used in astronomy), and gain experience applying math and physics to answer scientific questions about cosmic explosions such as supernovae.

Required Coursework

There is no required coursework for this project. It would be helpful to be familiar with astronomical observations (such as the magnitude system). It would also be helpful to be familiar with concepts from physics that are relevant to modeling the electromagnetic radiation from supernovae and other cosmic explosions, such as blackbody radiation, synchrotron radiation, and special relativity. Finally, it would be helpful to have some experience with statistics, such as error propagation and performing Monte Carlo simulations. However, the above are not essential, and the student would have the opportunity to improve on these skills over the summer.

Required Skills

Programming is a required skill for this project. In astronomy Python is the most commonly used language, so this is the preferred (but not required) language. It would also be helpful to have some experience with statistics, such as error propagation and performing Monte Carlo simulations.

Image of Natasha Holmes Natasha Holmes Ann S. Bowers Assistant Professor , Physics

Personal Statement

I am a physics education researcher, particularly studying student learning and experiences in undergraduate lab courses. We also collaborate with other education researchers on campus to understand student learning across disciplines.

Project Description

We are particularly looking for an undergraduate student with computer science and programming experience to work on a server and online system for administering assessments. The student will adapt an existing assessment system (primarily built in Python) to a new assessment and they will work to refine and streamline the existing system. In addition, the student will develop interactive dashboards (written in RShiny) that analyze the assessment data and present it to instructors to understand their course instruction. In addition to expanding programming skills, the student will gain experience with data analysis and statistics, data presentation and communication methods, and issues related to teaching and learning.

Required Coursework

Some programming coursework (e.g., Python) would be helpful

Required Skills

Some programming experience (e.g., Python) would be helpful

Image of Dong Lai Dong Lai Benson Jay Simon ’59 MBA ’62 and Mary Ellen Simon MA ’63 Professor Astronomy, Carl Sagan Institute, CCAPS

Personal Statement

I am a theoretical astrophysicist. I work on problems related to compact objects (black holes, neutron stars etc) and the dynamics of planetary systems.

Project Description

The project involves understanding the spin (rotational) evolution extra-solar super-Earths in multi-planet systems. The student will carry out calculations (and small numerical experiments) for various observed systems in order to predict the possible rotations of super-Earths. This will be important to confront with future observations. The student will develop problem solving skills using basic physics and computation.

Required Coursework

Calculus (including differential equations). Classical mechanics at sophomore/junior level or above. A strong physics background is preferred.

Required Skills

Computer programing using python, C or other languages. The ability to write simple programs to solve simple math problem (e.g. ODE) is important.

Image of Kyle M. Lancaster Kyle M. Lancaster Professor Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Personal Statement

My background is in bioinorganic chemistry. However, I have recently expanded my program to include more broad aspects of inorganic chemistry including synthesis and catalysis.

Project Description

Undergraduates would work on the synthesis of heterobimetallic complexes––complexes where there are two different metal ions. My group has shown that such compounds are capable of catalyzing the fixation of carbon dioxide to value added chemicals. Students would carry out sophisticated synthesis, chemical kinetics, and chemical analysis.

Required Coursework

CHEM4100 is an absolute requirement.

Required Skills

No skills required beyond learning rudimentary chemistry lab skills from e.g. organic lab courses.

Image of Jane-Marie Law Jane-Marie Law Associate Professor

Personal Statement

I am a scholar of Japanese religions, currently with a focus on how faith communities spearhead work for ecological health and social engagement surrounding climate change and ecosystem repair.

Project Description

Students will be working in a small ecology center in the town of Ithaca, Fallen Tree Center (a project under the auspices of the Center for Transformative Action at Cornell), learning principles of ecological repair on a small urban scale, helping to reach out to faith-based communities to study how they are addressing issues of climate change and ecology in their own environs, studying how religious communities and their ideas engage on a practical level the numerous crises faced by suburban and urban populations as climate change advances its affects on vulnerable populations. Students have a chance to teach small classes and workshops and are trained in the skills of small scale ecological repair, community engagement, interviewing, leading small classes, developing their own curricula based on models provided, and connecting the practical with the theoretical. Nexus scholars are required to attend two Saturday or Sunday preparation workshops in the spring and be available to daily research and training sessions from Monday through Friday during the NEXUS period.

Required Coursework

There are two weekend daylong training workshops before the start of the summer research. Students with a background in Religious Studies (at least one course) or Environment and Sustainability are encouraged to apply, though students from other disciplines will be considered.

Required Skills

The successful candidate must have strong community interaction skills, physical familiarity with hands on garden or farming work, a strong interest in the dynamics of faith-based communities, an ability to work directly with other people and small groups without needing a digital interface. All community based research in this internship is done in person and strong interpersonal skills are essential. The research in the community also involves physical labor in small groups. While not demanding, this labor requires that the successful applicant have a demonstrated strong work ethics. Fallen Tree Center has goats, bees and chickens, and so people with an allergy to any of these creatures will not be a good fit.

Image of Siu Sylvia Lee Siu Sylvia Lee Lecturer

Personal Statement

I am a professor in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics and I teach Introductory Genetics in the Fall semester. My lab's research focuses on using molecular genetic and genomic approaches to understand the molecular basis of aging biology.

Project Description

We have two projects that students can participate in. One project aims to understand how organisms respond to multiple stressful experiences, particularly how an initial dose of mild stress confers increased resilience to additional stress challenges. Another project aims to understand how reproduction is connected to overall metabolism and longevity. We use C. elegans as a model for these investigations and employ mainly genetic, molecular, genomic approaches.

Required Coursework

BIOMG1350 (or equivalent) is highly recommended. BIOMG2800 and BIOMG2801 (or equivalent) will also be helpful.

Required Skills

Being comfortable working with a microscope and handling nucleic acids in the lab will be helpful. We train all our students on specific experimental skills. The most important required "skills" are a positive attitude, attention to detail, and commitment to learn.

Image of James P. Lloyd James P. Lloyd Professor Astronomy, Carl Sagan Institute, CCAPS

Personal Statement

I am Professor in the department of Astronomy at Cornell University with a joint appointment in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. My research is in the study of the solar system, extrasolar planets and the development astronomical instrumentation.

Project Description

The planet Saturn is well known for its large ring system, but rings were largely thought of as being rare and tenuous in the solar system. Over the last decade three systems of rings have been discovered around asteroids/dwarf planets through serendipitous discovery observing occultations of stars. These ring systems were completely unexpected, and the fact that three have been found amongst a small sample of objects implies that they must be quite common. This project will search for ring occultations using the NASA SWIFT spacecraft which has recently developed a capability for rapid response target of opportunity observations that is uniquely suited for occultation observations. The student will learn skills in scheduling spacecraft observations, data processing and scientific analysis. There will also be opportunities to work with the Hartung-Boothroyd observatory on campus on instrumentation development and public outreach.

Required Coursework

Introductory coursework in Physics/Astronomy/Aerospace Engineering. Astro 3334 or Astro 4410 or Astro 6523/4523 particularly beneficial.

Required Skills

Familiarity with python programming. Some familiarity with data processed and scientific statistics.

Image of Bruce A Levitt Bruce A Levitt Professor Performing and Media Arts

Personal Statement

I am a theatre director, who for 1foruteen years has employed theatre techniques within the criminal justice system, collaborating with both those who are currently incarcerated www.phoenixplayersatauburn.com and those who have come home from prison, to demonstrate the power of the arts in the process of human transformation. I also collaborate with a group of social justice organizations under the Arts, Justice and Safety Coalition https://www.theconfinedarts.org/ creating programing for those who oversee the criminal justice system—prosecutors, judges, etc.—to spark conversations about alternatives to incarceration.

Project Description

The research will be multi-dimensional, from organizing the archives of the Phoenix Players to researching other prison theatre groups and practitioners. This may include visits to Auburn Correctional Facility to attend workshops with the members. You will also be assisting with the work of the Arts Justice and Safety Coalition which may include researching what other like-minded organizations are doing to include the arts in the move for criminal justice reforms in other areas of the country. You may participate in the creation of a work of activist performance and/or help create educational materials for the creation and use of such performances for social justice purposes. Finally, you may assist in the content and creation of digital material to expand the on-line presence of the Coalition.

Required Coursework

Any coursework in sociology or criminal justice or performing or creative arts would be helpful but not required. Courses within the electives of the Crime, Prison, Education, and Justice minor are also welcome but not required.

Required Skills

Some skills with updating or creating websites and PowerPoints would be useful. Writing abilities would be a plus

Image of Hening Lin Hening Lin Professor Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Personal Statement

My laboratory studies human enzymes that modify proteins and regulate protein activity. We use a variety of techniques, including chemistry, cell biology, and animal models to understand the function of the enzymes and develop small molecule inhibitors for the enzymes as potential therapeutics.

Project Description

Students can work on several different projects in the lab. For example, for students with chemistry background, they can work on the synthesis of enzyme inhibitors and test them. Enzymes that we are developing small molecule inhibitors for include SIRT2, SIRT3, SIRT5, HDAC11, and PARPs. For students with more biology background, they can work on the identification of the substrate proteins of some of the enzymes using proteomics and validate the substrate proteins through mutagenesis and biochemical studies.

Required Coursework

Students who have taken organic chemistry or biochemistry would be preferred. However, this is not required. The projects can be tailored based on the students' background.

Required Skills

Good altitude, great work ethics, great communications skills, and desire to learn.

Image of Jun Kelly Liu Jun Kelly Liu Professor Molecular Biology and Genetics

Personal Statement

I am the first in my extended family to attend college, and I obtained my PhD in Biochemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology at Cornell University. I believe that science is for everyone.

Project Description

The Liu lab uses the free-living nematode C. elegans as a model system for two areas of research: 1) to understand the regulatory logic of how pluripotent precursor cells divide to produce multiple differentiated cell types, 2) to identify new players and define their functions in a highly conserved signaling pathway, the BMP (bone morphogenetic protein) pathway (details can be found at https://blogs.cornell.edu/liuwormlab/research/). Our research findings will contribute to the general understanding of developmental processes, stem cell biology and cellular reprogramming, and fundamental mechanisms involved in cell-cell signaling. Students joining the lab will learn various molecular genetic techniques at the bench, develop problem solving and critical thinking skills, and work both independently and in a collaborative environment.

Required Coursework

BioG1500, BioMG1350.

Required Skills

No prior research experience is necessary.

Image of Vida Maralani Vida Maralani Associate Professor , Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, Sociology

Personal Statement

I'm a sociologist and I study social inequality in the areas of education, gender, and health. I'm especially interested in how different aspects of inequality are related to each other (e.g, education and health; or race, gender, and work) and how different groups come to have systematically advantaged/disadvantaged bundles or portfolios of resources.

Project Description

Our project examines experiences of sex discrimination and federal responses to claims of sex discrimination at 4-year universities from 1994-2014. With a team of undergraduate research assistants, we have been coding allegations of sex discrimination at the federal level under Title IX. We are constructing an original dataset to describe these experiences, how universities have responded, and how these experiences and responses differ by the race and gender of the complainant and the type of discrimination alleged. A Nexus scholar would help to code and analyze these data. Tasks include learning how to code text-based data, constructing variables and summarizing them, and coding open-ended questions. If RAs have quantitative skills using Stata or R, they can participate in cleaning, coding, and analyzing the quantitative data, but this is in no way required. Our previous summer research assistants have used this research experience to secure excellent jobs after graduation.

Required Coursework

None is required.

Required Skills

Our RAs need to have 1) excellent analytical skills so they can learn coding rules and apply them consistently; 2) be detail-oriented and meticulous at keeping records as they code; and 3) have strong communication and collaboration skills.

Image of Douglas Brent McBride Douglas Brent McBride Writing Seminar Coordinator & Senior Lecturer

Personal Statement

My background is in modernist literature and art of the early twentieth century. I am most interested in how modernism used periodical print media to build community, as well as propagate its poetry, art, and ideology.

Project Description

I teach an advanced German course in the library and art museum (Print Matters: German Print Culture from the Medieval to the Modern) that has identified a number of first editions of important literary works related to German Romanticism (ca 1800) that contain copious handwritten notes and correspondence. The most important of these is a first edition of the first European bestseller, Die Leiden des jungen Werther, by Johann Wolfgang Goethe, which contains eight pages of correspondence between two of the author's personal friends in an outdated handwriting known in German as Kurrentschrift. The project would involve 1) learning to read the antiquated cursive alphabet, 2) creating typoscripts of the handwritten texts, and 3) translating the German typoscripts into contemporary English for publication by the library or in an academic publication, depending on what kind of correspondence and commentary the student researcher uncovers.

Required Coursework

Basic knowledge of German history and literature would be helpful but is not required. Any German major or advanced German minor would be an ideal candidate.

Required Skills

The student would need to be proficient in standard German, B2/C1 in the Common European Framework of Reference.

Image of Doug McKee Doug McKee Senior Lecturer CDER

Personal Statement

Douglas McKee leads the Economics Department’s Active Learning Initiative where he works with other faculty to incorporate active learning methods into several courses. His research is primarily in economic education, where he tries to identify new methods of teaching that work well for a diverse population of economics students.

Project Description

A major goal of introductory courses in economics is to develop understanding and intuition about a range of economic concepts. These ideas are often presented through equations or static graphs in lecture slides and books. In this project we will develop a series of exercises and model visualizations that allow students to interact and experiment with the core ideas of economics. We will build on the success of a current project that uses the tools available at EconGraphs.org and KineticGraphs.org to develop exercises for our intermediate-level microeconomic theory course.

Required Coursework

Prospective scholars must have taken introductory microeconomics and/or introductory macroeconomics.

Required Skills

Prospective scholars should have strong writing skills. Some programming experience is useful but not necessary.

Image of Beth Frances Milles Beth Frances Milles Associate Professor Performing and Media Arts

Personal Statement

My focus is on the boundaries and explorations of experimental performance. I am a director/creator/scholar, who is curious about the interactions (and perceptions and discoveries) which occur in the space between performers and the audience- with special attention towards cross-disciplinary media, and discoveries of the unexpected- regarding the foundational intersections between text, movement and meaning.

Project Description

This project will engage an in-depth exploration into the history, development and initiative inspirations (background) of Toni Morrison's multi-layered adaptation, DESDEMONA. Next year (in PMA, and in collaboration with the commemoration of the anniversary of Toni Morrison's Nobel Prize) I will be staging Morrison's 2011 work, DESDEMONA, a poetic collaborative response to Shakespeare's play, OTHELLO. Morrison's work interrogates femininity, issues of gender and race, displacement, domestic abuse, and the afterlife. It is a complex interwoven text presenting myriad opportunity for research and discovery around iteration, generation, the source material, and the haunting musical score by Malian singer songwriter Nokia Traore. Research will include investigations into performance histories and narrative voice research, including artistic collaboration practices, aspirations of performance, focusing on the synthesis of visual imagery, music and complex text.

Required Coursework

Some introductory coursework in Performing and Media Arts. (for e.g., Global Stages, Intro to Acting, Dance, Design or Film) and/or Music Theory , world music highly recommended.

Required Skills

Students should be able to examine text, as dramaturgical researchers, to seek and secure related source material, acquire journal articles, and compose emails to collaborators. They should have the ability to work collaboratively, in a research room, to examine the initiating context surrounding performance, design, geographical and local/emotional displacement.

Image of Justin Moore Justin Moore Professor

Personal Statement

My research interests are in abstract algebra(group theory) and foundational aspects of math (set theory and logic).

Project Description

Recently my collaborators and I discovered new examples of piecewise linear homeomorphisms of the circle which have "rational descriptions" (coefficients are rational) but where the rotation number is irrational. Some preliminary computer assisted computations related to these homeomorphisms have both suggested some new conjectures and also suggested mysterious connections to number theory. The goal of the project is to expand the computations to fill in our understanding and to attempt to prove or at least make progress on these fresh conjectures.

Required Coursework

Students should have completed at least the prerequisites of the math major (including a course in computer programming). It would be helpful although not essential for students to have a solid background in at least one of the following subjects: abstract algebra (MATH 3340 or 4340), topology (MATH 4530) or real analysis (MATH 4130). Those student(s) without more advanced coursework should be very comfortable writing code to make mathematical computations. See next field.

Required Skills

The two components of the project - computations on a computer and proving theorems in order to better develop the theory - require different skill sets. Students should be able to either write effectively code for doing mathematical computations or be effective at writing proofs and have an understanding of abstract algebra (especially group theory), topology, or analysis. All students should work well in a group setting, collaborating with other students, sharing their ideas, and generally getting along.

Image of Andrew Musser Andrew Musser Assistant Professor Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Personal Statement

I am a physical chemist with a background spanning physics, materials science, nanoscience, and Russian. My research group studies how molecular materials can harness light to do useful work, from driving chemical reactions to providing clean electric power.

Project Description

In this project, we aim to establish how the functional properties of molecular materials can be changed non-synthetically by confinement between carefully designed mirrors. Specifically, we will study how the transport of energy between photoexcited molecules can be enhanced within such optical cavities, and under what conditions. The work will span from optical modelling to design the structures, through careful layer-by-layer fabrication with nanometer precision, to optical measurements. The student will gain experience in fabrication methods used in semiconductor devices, the basic principles of optical spectroscopy, and collaboration within a multidisciplinary team.

Required Coursework

Any chemistry (or equivalent) lab course that provides a foundation for safe laboratory practice

Required Skills

Attention to detail and curiosity are musts. Beyond sample fabrication, there are potential ways to contribute to the project from coding to data analysis to tinkering with the optical setups.

Image of Azahara  Oliva Azahara Oliva Assistant Professor Neurobiology and Behavior

Personal Statement

We study the neural circuit mechanisms of learning and memory in rodents. We record and manipulate the activity of neurons across multiple brain areas while animals perform different memory tasks

Project Description

This project is focused in investigating the neural mechanisms of spatial learning, i.e. how mice can learn to take specific routes in a maze to collect rewards. We will record the activity of neurons in the hippocampus and cortex that form a map of the environment to guide animal navigation. We will activate or silence those neurons and asses the effect on behavior. The student(s) will be conduct behavioral experiments with mice, neural recordings and analyze behavioral and neural data.

Required Coursework

No specific coursework is required, but Introduction to Neuroscience (2220) is recommended

Required Skills

No particular skills are necessary but previous experience with mice would be helpful.

Image of Alexander G. Ophir Alexander G. Ophir Associate Professor

Personal Statement

My lab is motivated to understand the proximate control of social behavior (brain and behavior) and the ultimate consequences of variation in social and cognitive systems. We focus on three central questions: (1) how does the postnatal social environment shape adult behavior (e.g., social cognition & reproductive decisions) and neural phenotype (e.g., oxytocin and vasopressin signaling systems), (2) how does the social brain shape mating decisions, with a focus on monogamy and alternative mating tactics, aggression, and parental care, and (3) what are the genomic and neural correlates of individual variation in behavior?

Project Description

We have a broad range of projects using rodents (mainly prairie voles) underway, and the specific projects available might change depending on the applicants specific interest or the opportunities available this summer. At the moment we anticipate opportunities to work on a project investigating the impact of ambient temperature and thermoregulation on parental care and offspring development. Work in this area is likely to involve manipulation of temperature, behavioral observation of nesting site decisions, and might involve DNA/RNA measurements from brain tissue. A second project we anticipate having available will focus on the neural control of 'cheating' on mating partners (i.e., extra-pair copulations). This set of experiments will involve neural manipulation of specific limbic structures in the brain (the lateral septum and/or nucleus accumbens) and the observations of these consequence on reproductive decisions to 'cheat' and/or preferentially affiliate with a monogamous mating partner. This work might involve surgical manipulation, brain tissue sectioning, and/or behavioral observations.

Required Coursework

none is required, though preference will be given to students with a background in psychological or biological brain sciences and non-human animal behavior.

Required Skills

Any experience with the possible tasks listed above will be preferred, but training will be provided as needed.

Image of Frank Pugh Frank Pugh Professor Molecular Biology and Genetics

Personal Statement

I received my BS from Cornell, PhD from U. Wisconsin, Postdoc at UC-Berkeley, then have been a professor at Penn State until recently moving my professorship to Cornell. Our research aims to uncover the protein/DNA architecture of chromosomes that regulate genes.

Project Description

Students were learn molecular biology and genomic analysis skills by mapping sites of protein interactions along yeast or human chromosomes. Typically this involves growing up cells, then performing ChIP-exo/seq, and analyzing genomic datasets. A comprehensive genome-wide map of protein-DNA interactions will reveal fundamental mechanisms by which genes are regulated.

Required Coursework

Laboratory course in genetics, molecular biology, or biochemistry.

Required Skills

Be conformable working at a lab bench pipetting liquids.

Image of Rachel Beatty Riedl Rachel Beatty Riedl Professor, Director of the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, the John S. Knight Professor of International Studies Government

Personal Statement

Rachel Beatty Riedl is a political scientist in the Government Department, and director of the Einaudi Center for International Studies. Her research interests include institutional development in new democracies, local governance and decentralization policy, authoritarian regime legacies, and religion and politics, with a regional focus in Africa.

Project Description

In cases of democratic backsliding, how do we understand when and why opposition coalitions form and/or succeed around pro-democracy mobilization? What are the social, institutional, and political factors that allow or inhibit democratic resilience through regime cleavage mobilization? This project will include a literature review, particularly focused on political parties and coalitions and how they function in relation to other institutions of horizontal and vertical accountability (legislatures, courts, electoral systems, watchdog agencies, etc). The focus will be on how backsliding occurs from actors who are internal to the democratic process itself, and use such institutions and organizations to pursue undue advantage and power accumulation to limit future competition. The project will then undertake original research on specific cases of successful formation and or election of pro-democracy opposition coalitions. The student will learn research design and analysis techniques, literature review summaries, and potentially text analysis.

Required Coursework

Recommended: Comparative Politics or Democracy and Autocracy

Required Skills

Creativity and attention to detail are essential, a statistical background or empirical knowledge of a particular set of cases is not; the student will learn best research analysis practices and how to work with qualitative and text data during the course of the project

Image of Ben Sandkam Ben Sandkam Assistant Professor Neurobiology and Behavior

Personal Statement

My lab works to understand how changes in genetic sequence, structure, and expression alter mating behavior. We primarily focus on small livebearing fish in the family Poeciliidae.

Project Description

In the fish species Poecilia parae there are five male morphs that differ in body size, coloration, and reproductive behavior. These different morphs are always passed from father to son, and we have found the Y chromosome of these morphs differs dramatically. This project will continue work to explore where and when genes from these different Y chromosomes are expressed and how they alter expression from the rest of the shared genome. Students will learn fish care, and molecular techniques for measuring gene expression.

Required Coursework

An introduction to genetics course would be helpful but is not required as relevant concepts can be learned during training.

Required Skills

No specific skills pre-required.

Image of Daniel R. Schwarz Daniel R. Schwarz Frederic J. Whiton Professor of English Literature & Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow

Personal Statement

For 55 years,I have been privileged to teach and work with students and to have won teaching recognition here and beyond. As to research, I work on many topics and have written 18 books and half of two others, edited many others, and contributed many articles and chapters; my books' subjects include James Joyce's Ulysses, Wallace Stevens, the NY Times, the relationship between Modern Art and Modern Literature, the European Novel (2 volumes), NYC culture between the world wars, literary theory with a focus on narrative, the changes in universities and literary study, undergraduate education, Conrad, Disraeli, Woolf and more. See, please, my web page: Web Page: http://courses.cit.cornell.edu/drs6

Project Description

I have 3 projects: 1)a monograph entitled the Power of Narrative: The Story in Fiction and Film of French Complicity in the Holocaust. 2)a wide-ranging monograph on the Nature of Narrative--my lifetime subject-- with examples from literature (The Divine Comedy, George Eliot's novels, etc.) film, TV series with major historical impact (A French Village, Babylon Berlin, The War is Over) and major painting. 3)Continuing my work on Ekphrasis--art/lit connections which is the subject of my very well-reviewed book Reconfiguring Modernism and other chapters and articles.

Required Coursework

For the Holocaust project, some historical awareness. For the narrative project, some literary or film background. For the art/lit project, some background in art history but not essential. But the most important is the required skills.

Required Skills

Enthusiasm, diligence, curiosity, joy in learning.

Image of Kerry L Shaw Kerry L Shaw Professor Neurobiology and Behavior

Personal Statement

I am a professor of animal behavior in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior. In my lab, we study the evolution and genetics of mating behavior and how it relates to sexual selection and speciation.

Project Description

The student would be working on the genetics and evolution of cricket song and associated mating preferences. We are studying genetic variation in the song that males use to attract females during mating and reproduction. We are conducting a selection experiment to evolve the male song and ultimately identify what genes underlie this change. The research the student would be participating in could involve learning how to collect behavioral data, conduct mating experiments, and/or do DNA manipulations to study the potential genes involved in song differences.

Required Coursework

Introductory course work in Introductory Biology and/or Chemistry classes would be helpful.

Required Skills

We would be able to teach the student any necessary skills. Experience in common software programs such as Excel would be useful. Experience in a wet lab would be useful but not required. Computational skills would be helpful but not required.

Image of Michelle Smith Michelle Smith Ann S. Bowers Professor; Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education, College of Arts and Sciences CDER, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Personal Statement

My research focuses on biology education at the undergraduate level. Broadly, my lab studies how undergraduate students learn and make connections, and how instructors can help students during this critical time.

Project Description

We are looking for an undergraduate researcher to join an exciting opportunity that will help shape the future of undergraduate biology education. The research project will focus on synthesizing data from peer-reviewed biology education resources and studying how students’ identities shape their experiences in field biology courses. This research will involve analyzing quantitative and qualitative student survey and interview data; extracting information from education resources; and connecting work to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. The most important qualifications include a passion for teaching and learning at the undergraduate level, and a desire to work collaboratively with an interdisciplinary team.

Required Coursework

Because this work involves human subjects, all members of the lab take a brief online course on ethical and responsible conduct related to human subjects research before they are permitted to work with data. No introductory coursework is expected, although a familiarity and interest in teaching and learning, basic statistics and/or qualitative analysis can be helpful.

Required Skills

The most important skills for this project include an interest in participating in an education research community, teamwork skills, attention to detail, and organization.

Image of Jed P. Sparks Jed P. Sparks Professor Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Personal Statement

I am an isotope ecologist and my laboratory uses information stored in the tissues of organisms to explore their ecology and historical responses to past climate, exposure to pollution, and other changes to their environment. We have studied everything from how fish populations have responded to pollution through history to the recent movements of human murder victims prior to their deaths.

Project Description

The Cornell Museum of Vertebrates (CUMV) contains vast historical collections of many different vertebrate species (birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fishes) collected from the same location over time. This allows us to ask how these organisms have changed over time as humans have altered their environment. Students participating in this project will use a combination of isotopic and morphological measurements to ask questions about how animal morphology and behavior have changed because of pressures such as climate change, pollution inputs and other changes in the environment. The isotopic work will be conducted in the Cornell Isotope Laboratory (COIL) where students will be able to use cutting-edge techniques involving ratio mass spectrometers with experts and the morphological work will be conducted in the CUMV in collaboration with expert curatorial staff.

Required Coursework

Prior coursework in Ecology, Chemistry or data analysis would be useful for students conducting this research. However, we are willing to take students of any experience level as long as they are passionate about research.

Required Skills

By and far the most important skill to bring to this project is curiosity and passion for natural history research. A basic introduction to the scientific method and data analysis would be helpful, but can also be learned on the job!

Image of David Strang David Strang Professor Sociology

Personal Statement

I am a sociologist whose work focuses on innovation and diffusion in organizational, political, and scientific worlds. I have an interest in applying natural language processing and machine learning to textual data.

Project Description

This project analyzes obituaries featured in the New York Times from 1851 to the present day. Collective memorialization provides insight into America’s evolving ethos of achievement; the changing place of class, race, and gender; and the growth of mass media and a culture of celebrity. We have collected the texts of 66K obituaries and are analyzing who is featured in them and how their lives are remembered. Depending on the student's programming background, we have many opportunities to assist in acquisition of variables from obituary text, automated coding, retrieval of data from other online sources such as Wikipedia, and alignment of automated and hand coding.

Required Coursework

Introductory computer science coursework, at minimum. Familiarity with Python.

Required Skills

Students with a modest programming background could make valuable contributions to the hand coding of obituaries. Those with a strong programming background in Python and experience with online data sources and information science techniques could contribute to the automated textual analysis and machine learning sides of the project.

Image of Peidong Sun Peidong Sun Distinguished Associate Professor of Arts & Sciences in China and Asia-Pacific Studies Associate Professor of History , History

Personal Statement

I am Peidong Sun, Distinguished Associate Professor of Arts & Sciences in China and Asia-Pacific Studies, Associate Professor of History at Cornell. I have a Ph.D. in sociology from Sciences Po Paris and another Ph.D. in Law from China, but I work as a historian; my research focuses on the history and long-term influence of Mao Zedong’s Communism revolutions and Deng Xiaoping’s Capitalism openness on the Xi Jinping generation.

Project Description

Students will work with me on ten French interviews I have done from 2021 to 2022. They will have first-hand experience on how to design research, theoretically and methodologically, interact with interviewees, finalize the transcripts, and do content analyses. Much of their work focuses on French-English transcripts/translations. Learning Outcomes 1. Analyzing and evaluating historical texts and arguments. 2. Pose original research questions. 3. Develop innovative research designs. 4. Constructing and substantiating historical arguments of your own 5. Developing our skills in critical thinking, reflection, and communication.

Required Coursework

It is OK if students have not taken some introductory courses about post-1949 China. If students have a strong willingness to achieve excellent performance in the summer project, I would like to suggest they take one or two related courses in the spring of 2023, such as "Tyranny and Dignity: Chinese Women from the Cultural Revolution to Hong Kong Protests"(HIST2575/CAPS2575/FGSS2575)or "Global Maoism: History and Present"(HIST2435/CAPS2435/GOVT2435)

Required Skills

-Native or quasi-native in French -High Proficiency in English -Prefer some basic knowledge of post-1949 China, which is not mandatory.

Image of Khena M. Swallow Khena M. Swallow Associate Professor Psychology

Personal Statement

I am a cognitive neuroscientist examining how people perceive and understand everyday experiences, and how changes in those experiences shape attention and memory. My lab takes a broad approach to this question, investigating everything from the neuromodulatory systems involved in regulating attention and arousal to how people perceive changes in other's emotions and goals.

Project Description

Memories of one's past experiences are made of events. An ongoing goal of our work is to characterize how the brain represents events as they are first experienced, and how the brain responds when the event changes. Student researchers will contribute to a project that utilizes neuroimaging, eye tracking, and behavioral data to address this question. The project will involve learning how to collect data and prepare it for analysis, how to identify critical brain structures in brain scans, and, if time permits, how to perform basic analyses of behavioral and neuroimaging data.

Required Coursework

Coursework in related areas (e.g., cognition, neuroscience, statistics, or programming) would be helpful, but is not necessary.

Required Skills

Either (a) prior experience using Linux operating systems, programming in R, Python, Matlab, or JavaScript, and/or research with human subjects, or (b) an interest in quickly picking up programming skills, which are needed to get the most out of this experience.

Image of Noah Tamarkin Noah Tamarkin Assistant Professor Anthropology, Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, Jewish Studies Program

Personal Statement

I'm a cultural anthropologist working in South Africa on the social politics of genetics. My research takes a broad approach to how genetics matter socially, culturally, politically, and legally, especially in relation to citizenship, race, and justice.

Project Description

My current research investigates South Africa's national investment in forensic genetics through the 2013 passage of a law that created a national forensic DNA database and tasked the police with building it. Your work on this project would entail organizing and analyzing a media or legal case archive. You would develop curation, content analysis, and indexing skills.

Required Coursework

Course work in Anthropology is preferred but not required.

Required Skills

Some work with spreadsheets will be required. It would also be helpful to have some familiarity and comfort with library resources, but these can be developed as part of the research.

Image of Samuel Tilsen Samuel Tilsen Associate Professor

Personal Statement

I am a linguist who specializes in speech production and experimental phonetics. The goal of my research is to understand how language is represented in the mind and how linguistic representations are translated into speech.

Project Description

The goal of the study is to better understand how speakers plan and produce sentences when describing dynamic visual scenes. This project is a collaboration with another Prof. Helena Aparicio in the Cornell Linguistics Department, who specializes in experimental semantics and is the director of the Linguistic Meaning (LiMe) Lab in Morrill Hall. Dr. Aparacio and I will jointly train the student researcher in conducting experiments which combine eye tracking and audio recording of speech. Students will learn how to use a research-grade eye tracking system and specialized software for acoustic analysis of speech. No specific skills are required, but familiarity with computer programming is a plus.

Required Coursework

none

Required Skills

The student should have good attention to detail.

Image of Katherine Tschida Katherine Tschida Mary Armstrong Meduski '80 Assistant Professor Psychology

Personal Statement

My background is in systems neuroscience, and I'm broadly interested in social behavior and communication. My lab uses mice to study the neural circuits that regulate vocal communication, as how mouse vocalizations influence social success and fitness.

Project Description

Nexus Scholars can work on various ongoing projects in the lab, including: (1) the effects of social isolation on the brain and on social behavior, (2) the neural circuits that allow mice to vocalize appropriately according to social context, and (3) the role of mouse vocalizations in mate choice and mating success. Students will learn how to acquire and analyze mouse behavioral data, as well as how to process brain tissue sections and image them on a confocal microscope to visualize recently active neurons, virally-labeled neurons, etc. We are an inclusive and collaborative group, and we love working with undergraduates!

Required Coursework

Introductory coursework in biology, animal behavior, and/or neuroscience is helpful but not required.

Required Skills

No specific skills are required- we will teach students what they need to know.

Image of Kim Weeden Kim Weeden Jan Rock Zubrow ’77 Professor of the Social Sciences, Director of the Center for the Study of Inequality Center for the Study of Inequality, Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, Sociology

Personal Statement

I am a sociologist who studies inequality and social mobility using quantitative methods. I am especially interested in inequalities by gender, race/ethnicity, and social class background in the higher education system and in the labor market.

Project Description

The summer research project will examine how students from different sociodemographic backgrounds (defined by self-reported gender, race or ethnicity, and family socioeconomic status) are distributed across courses within a large university. The goal is to try to understand the lived experience of gender, racial, and family SES in the day-to-day lives of college students. To what extent are students from different sociodemographic groups enrolled in courses with other students like, or different from, themselves? How common is it for students to be the “only one”, and how is this structured by major? A Nexus scholar will contribute in two ways. First, they will help construct a bibliography of relevant social science literature on segregation in higher education and on the experiences of being a (numeric) sociodemographic minority in a given social space. Second, they will help clean and analyze data on course enrollments and on the features of courses that are associated with under- or over-representation of a given demographic group.

Required Coursework

none

Required Skills

RAs should have strong interest in quantitative research on inequality. Excellent organizational skills and attention to detail. Prior experience with Stata or some other statistical software (R, Python, Matlab) is helpful, but a willingness to learn the basics of Stata is more important. Excellent written and oral communication skills. The student will be the only RA on the project this summer, so they must be able to work independently (between meetings with me).

Image of April (Xinzhu) Wei April (Xinzhu) Wei Assistant Professor

Personal Statement

I am a computational biologist focusing on developing accurate and scalable inference methods using large genetic data sets. My lab integrates population genetics and statistical genetics, with an overarching goal to understand the genetics and the evolution of complex traits in natural populations.

Project Description

We develop more accurate and scalable computational methods that utilize large genomic datasets to gain new insights into fundamental evolutionary processes. Recent work in the lab focuses on understanding demographic history, natural selection, complex traits evolution, genetic interactions, and recombination. Students in my lab are generally given options to choose among a few projects and directions that fit the overall theme of the lab. The student will then dive into the project, learn the background, and the scope of the project, develop skills needed, and code for one or two modulated tasks. Students will learn a combination of the following skills: getting information from literature, using a high throughput computing system, writing simulations for genetic or phenotypic data, performing sensible tests on data, and interpreting results from statistical analyses.

Required Coursework

BIOMG 2800/BIOEE 1780, or equivalents; BTRY 3080/BTRY 3010, or equivalents

Required Skills

Good coding skills in Python or C++. Ability to read probabilistic equations, and comfortable with linear algebra.

Image of Justin J. Wilson Justin J. Wilson Associate Professor Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Personal Statement

I am a bioinorganic chemist. Our research is broadly focused on developing new metal-based therapeutic and diagnostic agents.

Project Description

This project will focus on synthesizing ruthenium coordination complexes that can deliver hydrogen sulfide to eukaryotic cells. These compounds will be used as chemical biology tool as well as potential therapeutic agents. Students will learn synthetic chemistry and cell biology.

Required Coursework

Freshman chemistry

Required Skills

Wet lab chemistry skills

Image of Mariana Federica Wolfner Mariana Federica Wolfner Professor and Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow Molecular Biology and Genetics

Personal Statement

My lab and I use genetic, molecular, and evolutionary methods to understand how eggs begin to develop once fertilized and (separately) how male proteins that accompany sperm trigger changes in females. Most of our experiments are done with fruit flies, but the results are relevant to fertility in all animals, including people, because the processes we study (and many of the molecules) are conserved.

Project Description

We have several project options, that can be tailored to our Nexus Scholar's interests and background. Examples are: using CRISPR to construct a mutation in a fruit-fly gene that is regulated in early development, using fluorescence or confocal microscopy to determine how such a mutation affects egg and embryo development, testing mutations in male proteins for their effects on sperm or on reproduction, analysis of the evolutionary changes in the sequences of some of these genes. We can offer projects that give students experience with genetics, with molecular biology, or with evolutionary analyses - and a project on our egg/embryo studies or in our male-protein studies.

Required Coursework

Some biology background is necessary. At minimum, BioMG1350 and BioMG1500 (and BioEE 1780, for students who want an evolutionary biology project). Further biology coursework, such as genetics or molecular biology, would be great (but that would only be expected for students in their latter years at Cornell).

Required Skills

Most important: enthusiasm about the science, curiosity, and dedication. Being organized and able to work with others are also essential. If a student has laboratory experience beyond BioG 1500, or with fruit flies (Drosophila), that'd be great but it is not necessary. We can teach them the techniques that they need.