Nexus Scholars Program

Students conducting research in a lab

Overview

The Nexus Scholars Program in the College of Arts & Sciences provides undergraduate students with summer opportunities to work side by side with faculty from all across the college (humanities, social sciences, and STEM) on their research projects. Along with the summer research experience, the program offers professional development workshops, career exploration events, and the chance to be part of a cohort from throughout the college who are passionate about learning.

Recipients may conduct research in any discipline in the College of Arts & Sciences and will be paid $7,000 for full-time work during the eight-week summer program on the Cornell campus in Ithaca. Nexus Scholars are selected based on their interest in research, their ability to work collaboratively, and their potential to contribute to the field. Students who are early in their academic careers and from a variety of backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

Eligibility

The Nexus Scholars Program is available to Cornell A&S undergraduate students who are planning to graduate AFTER the spring of 2022. The application asks students to select one to three faculty mentors whose research interests them and describe their interest in working in the selected research areas.

Applicants who have already identified a potential faculty mentor who is not included in this list can also apply.  Students will just need to describe their research project and have the faculty member approve their application before it is submitted.

Terms of the Program

  • We expect to support 25 Nexus Scholars for the summer of 2022
  • Students will be notified of acceptance in March 2022
  • Start date of the program is May 31 and the end is July 22
  • Students are expected to work 40 hours per/week on the Cornell campus in Ithaca
  • A $7,000 stipend is provided for the program
  • In addition, up to $1,000 will be provided for travel to a research meeting

How to Apply

The deadline for applications for Summer 2022 will be February 1, 2022.

First, browse the faculty profiles and project descriptions below, and then click here to apply to the Nexus Scholars Program.

Nexus Advisor and Project Descriptions

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

Personal Statement

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.

Project Description

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.

Image of Andrew Bass Andrew Bass Horace White Professor of Neurobiology and Behavior, Associate Department Chair 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.

Image of Alexandra E. Cirone Alexandra E. Cirone Assistant Professor Government

Personal Statement

I'm a political economist who studies the design of legislative institutions, with a regional focus on Europe (both 19th century and modern day EU). I use a combination of quantitative methods (natural experiments and causal inference) as well as archival research; at Cornell I teach advanced statistics and game theory.

Project Description

This project looks at the prevalence of political dynasties, in the supranational context of the European Union. The European Parliament, the only directly elected body in the European Union, has held elections since 1979 and provides a political arena that is multi-level and supranational. The project is collecting a comprehensive dataset of MEPs in the European Parliament from 1994-2014, and documents the extent to which MEPs hold supranational or national (domestic) dynastic links. The undergraduate research assistant would be assisting with biographical research and coding of European politicians and EU parliamentary support staff, and doing background research on public policy implications. Creativity and attention to detail are essential, a statistical background is not; the student will learn best data practices and how to work with data during the course of the project.

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

Personal Statement

My research is focused on investigating the early universe ( < 1 billion years after the Big Bang) through development and use of mm-wavelength instruments in our laboratory. These instruments are deployed on telescopes to study early galaxies during the epoch of reionization and the cosmic microwave background radiation.

Project Description

During this summer research experience students will be developing both hardware and software for one or more of three experiments TIME (the Tomographic Ionized Carbon Intensity Mapping Experiment), CMB-S4, and CCAT-Prime. Students will learn Python programming, mechanical design using Solidworks, optics, and cryogenics. They will develop mechanical components of the instruments and code for data analysis. The aim of this research will be to collaborate in building new instruments that can help us better understand the structure and evolution of our universe by measuring faint signals from about 1 billion years after the Big Bang.

Image of Alexander Hayes Alexander Hayes Associate Professor, Director, Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science, Director of the Spacecraft Planetary Image Facility CCAPS, Carl Sagan Institute, Astronomy

Personal Statement

My background is physics and engineering, and my research focuses on solar system exploration through participation on NASA and ESA spacecraft teams.

Project Description

Student would work with the MastcamZ instrument onboard the Mars2020 rover. Project is to help with in-flight calibration, and characterize the instrument's stray-light performance. The goal is to come up with a set up flight rules to help Payload Uplink leads design sequences to command the rover. As specific sun angles and camera orientations, glints from other part so the spacecraft can corrupt images. The project will look through images of the rover already acquired to map out where (mast azimuth / elevation) and when (time of day) the glints occur so that they can be avoided. Experience with imaging processing is not required, but it preferred. Some coding experience is required (Matlab and/or Python).

Image of Tara Holm Tara Holm Professor and Chair Mathematics

Personal Statement

I study symplectic geometry, a topic derived from the physics of motion, and am particularly interested in questions which can be explored in several combinatorial and hands-on ways. In this project, we will also work together with my post doc Morgan Weiler, one or two graduate students in the Math Department.

Project Description

Our project will focus on symplectic embeddings of toric domains, which are regions in four-dimensional space equipped with a "symplectic form," a gadget that generalizes the concept of conservation of energy. Symplectic embeddings of 4D domains encode coordinate transformations of the phase spaces of 2D physical systems. These problems are very hands-on and students will be able to use cutting-edge geometric tools via combinatorial and number-theoretic methods. If students have prior experience with mathematical software (e.g. Mathematica), that will be useful but is not necessary.

Image of Maria Fernandez Maria Fernandez Associate Professor History of Art and Visual Studies

Personal Statement

I am an art historian whose research and teaching concern three areas and their intersections: Latin American art, the history and theory of digital art, and gender studies.

Project Description

This project entails: • Helping to build and catalog a visual library of works of art in modern and contemporary Latin American art. • Identifying a collection of images using a selection of texts. • Conducting bibliographic research on specific artists and works of art in Latin American art. • Researching the collection of Modern Latin American Art at the Johnson Museum. You will learn how to identify, catalog, and research visual images of works of art, and gain knowledge of recent scholarship in Latin American art.

Image of Christine L Goodale Christine L Goodale Frank H.T. Rhodes Professor of Environmental Science Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

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 changes climate, air pollution, and disturbances.

Project Description

Chasing carbon from trees to soils and air with stable isotopes: during the 2022 field season, we will be labelling young trees with isotopically enriched CO2. In this NEXUS project, an undergraduate will deploy 13C, a stable (non-radioactive) form of carbon to track how much carbon taken up by plants in photosynthesis moves into the soil directly through plant roots, how much becomes stable soil carbon, how much returns to the atmosphere, and how these fates vary over time. These questions are central for assessing the role of forests in taking up and storing CO2 from the atmosphere, and can now be tracked with exciting and powerful isotopic techniques. Useful skills include some coursework background in ecology, soil science, or related fields, and interest in both field and laboratory research.

Image of Ray Jayawardhana Ray Jayawardhana Harold Tanner Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Professor Astronomy, Carl Sagan Institute, CCAPS

Personal Statement

Prof. Jayawardhana's research focuses on the diversity, origins and evolution of planetary systems as well as the formation and evolution of stars and brown dwarfs. In particular, his group uses the largest telescopes on the ground and in space to do ‘remote sensing’ of planets around other stars (“exoplanets”), with a view to investigating prospects for life in the universe. He is a core science team member for the NIRISS instrument on the James Webb Space Telescope, and his group leads a Gemini Observatory large program on high-resolution spectroscopy of exoplanet atmospheres.

Project Description

We have access to photometric and spectroscopic observations of exoplanets and their host stars. Depending on the student’s interests and previous experience, we will choose a data set to analyze to further our understanding of exoplanets. Possible choices include: photometry from NASA's TESS mission to search for and characterize transit timing variations, high-resolution spectra of exoplanet atmospheres, and high-resolution spectroscopic analysis of host stars. Prior experience with Python/C++ would be helpful.

Image of Amy R. Krosch Amy R. Krosch Assistant Professor Psychology

Personal Statement

Hello! I'm a social psychologist studying how social and economic factors shape the way we see, think and feel about, and make decisions for others. Our lab takes a multilevel approach to research, integrating ideas and methods from experimental social psychology, cognitive neuroscience, behavioral decision-making, and psychophysics.

Project Description

This project will examine how threat facilitates intergroup discrimination through perceptual dehumanization (i.e., literally seeing someone from another group as less human). Participants will help develop stimuli, program experimental tasks, run participants through experimental paradigms, clean and analyze data, and present research findings to lab members. Experiencing with program languages (e.g., Matlab, R, or python) would be helpful. Students will learn research techniques from behavioral decision making (e.g., classic economic games and social neuroscience (e.g., fMRI or EEG).

Image of Jane-Marie Law Jane-Marie Law Associate Professor Religious Studies Program, Asian Studies

Personal Statement

My current areas of research concern the ways that religious paradigms can be employed to promote engagement in projects addressing the climate crisis, mass extinctions, and ecosystem collapse. Apocalyptic religious imagination often works against effective environmental regulation and action and my research explores the double edged sword of religion this critical juncture in our habitation of our planet.

Project Description

In this project, conducted in both Japan and Central New York, students work directly with members of faith based communities who are engaging in (or wanting to support) sustainable practices, learning the skills that return people to a less physically alienated (and more ecological) way of having their basic needs met. Students will help teach hands-on courses on sustainable living practices and also engage members of the classes in exploring how the languages and imaginaries they are using to address what is happening to our planet may in fact be inadequate. The purpose of this project is to engage students in being leaders in a paradigm shift that addresses the very ways we imagine our responsibilities at this juncture. A knowledge of Japanese is not necessary but a plus, a deep intseeest in ecology and sustainability is a requirement and students must be comfortable working outdoors and in collective groups. We examine all aspects of a human occupied transition to sustainable living and this includes working with garbage, insects, compost, gardens, animals and plants. (Students with a fear or loathing of any of those things will not be a good fit.) This project is tied to the course ASIAN 2257: Vanishing Worlds: Religious Reflections on the Climate Crisis, Mass Extinctions and Ecosystem Collapse and is designed to help students become intellectual leaders for the future, recognizing the role of a solid humanities framework in addressing our most pressing real world problems.

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

Personal Statement

I am the recipient of Cornell's Engaged Scholar award for my work with the Phoenix Players Theatre Group, men incarcerated at Auburn Correctional Facility. I also teach courses coving the arts in incarceration and facilitate collaborations between Cornell undergraduates and justice impacted individuals who have returned home from prison.

Project Description

The project is to research and structure twelve years of work with incarcerated individuals in preparation for a book-length manuscript about prison through the lens of the theatre work of the phoenix Players. The expectations for the work include organizing unpublished material into an archive, interviewing formerly incarcerated members of the Players, researching other publications for useful supportive material, and interviewing additional social justice advocates working in arts-based programs with both incarcerated individuals and returned citizens.

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 am a professor in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics (MBG). 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.

Image of Vida Maralani Vida Maralani Associate Professor, Interim Director of the Center for the Study of Inequality Center for the Study of Inequality, Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program, Sociology

Personal Statement

I'm a quantitative sociologist and I study social inequality in the areas of education, gender, and health. Social inequality is a multidimensional and dynamic process and my work measures and explains how this multifaceted process changes over time and differs across subgroups of people.

Project Description

Our project examines the experience of sex discrimination in US higher education and university 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, and have constructed 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 full-time summer research assistant would help to analyze these data both qualitatively and quantitatively. Tasks include learning how to code text-based data, learning how to construct variables and summarize them, and coding open-ended questions. If the undergraduate has quantitative skills using Stata or R, they can participate in cleaning, coding, and analyzing the quantitative data. Our previous summer research assistants have used this research experience to secure excellent jobs after graduation.

Image of Doug McKee Doug McKee Senior Lecturer CDER, Economics

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

Do students find economics interesting and relevant? Do students identify as economists and think about how economics affects their daily lives? How are these attitudes shaped by the content of the courses students take and how these courses are taught? We will try to answer these questions and more by analyzing anonymized student survey data collected at the beginning and end of several economics courses. Some knowledge of econometric methods will be required, and these skills are sure to improve during the course of the project.

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

Personal Statement

I am a physical chemist who uses ultrafast laser spectroscopy to understand how organic semiconductors behave when they absorb and emit light. My main focus in the past has been on the processes behind organic solar cell operation, and now we work to control these behaviors using confined light.

Project Description

Carbon-based ‘organic’ semiconductors can be incorporated into many of the devices that underpin our information economy, but it can be challenging to tune and optimize their properties through molecular design. Instead, we can alter their functional behavior non-synthetically, by confining them in optical microcavities. Interactions with light trapped in these structures create entirely new states with enhanced properties for charge and energy transport, new behavior in light absorption and emission, and even altered chemical reactivity. This project seeks to understand how these surprising effects link to the molecular and microcavity structure so that they can be rationally designed, allowing us to rewrite the properties of organic materials at will. The student will design and optimize the fabrication of a series of high-precision structures using molecular materials available in the lab, gaining experience in optical simulation, organic semiconductor device processing, and optical spectroscopy techniques.

Image of Laura Niemi Laura Niemi Assistant Professor Philosophy, Psychology

Personal Statement

I am an assistant professor with a dual appointment in Psychology (Social & Personality) and in the Dyson School (SC Johnson School of Business) specializing in moral psychology. I study basic questions about moral cognition and social-moral psychology, as well as how findings might be applied to improve well-being for more people.

Project Description

The Applied Moral Psychology Lab uses psychological science to understand morality. We ask questions like “What are the psychological sources of clashing views about right and wrong?” “Do people’s values actually guide their behavior?” “What individual and contextual factors influence who is blamed when someone is hurt?” In addition to studies that look at moral psychology in terms of cognition, judgment and decision-making, and language, projects explore the broader relevance of moral psychology to social issues, human conflict, and everyday well-being. Useful experience/skills include statistics, text analysis, experimental design and programming (CIS skills), and moral psychology coursework. Students will have the opportunity to be involved with projects from conception to data interpretation.

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

Personal Statement

I am a behavioral ecologist and neuroethologist interested in how early life social experience and social environment impact reproductive decision-making, and brain and behavioral phenotypes in non-human animals.

Project Description

Different early life experiences can influence the types of social bonds an individual will form later in life. In laboratory studies of the socially monogamous prairie vole, how absent or present a father is in caring for pups determines how quickly the pups can form pair bonds as adults. However, it is not known if early life paternal involvement in pup care has a similar influence on the offspring's decision to be more or less monogamous under naturalistic conditions (i.e. different mating tactics). Fundamentally, whether more monogamous partners show an exclusive preference for each other (i.e., a pair bond) under laboratory conditions is also unknown. Students will contribute to research answering these questions in a dynamic research environment that merges both field and laboratory behavioral methods.

Image of Juno Salazar  Parreñas Juno Salazar Parreñas Assistant Professor Anthropology, Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program, Science and Technology Studies

Personal Statement

Juno Salazar Parreñas is a feminist science studies scholar who examines human-animal relations, environmental issues, and efforts to institutionalize justice. She is the author of the award-winning book Decolonizing Extinction: The Work of Care in Orangutan Rehabilitation.

Project Description

In the past twenty years, pandemics involving rabies, Coronaviruses, and avian flu have all raised awareness that human health, animal welfare, and environments are delicately linked. These outbreaks of planetary importance have fostered the emergence of new scientific approaches such as One Health and One Welfare, both of which study animals, humans, and environments together. This research project investigates the emergence of these new transdisciplinary approaches and how ideas of humanity, animality, research subjects, and research ethics are subject to change. The student researcher will learn to approach scientific literature as primary sources for discourse analysis and learn how to design open ended interviews for qualitative research. The student researcher would ideally know how to use EndNote (a citation management software).

Image of Jessica R. Ratcliff Jessica R. Ratcliff Assistant Professor Science and Technology Studies

Personal Statement

I am a historian of science, I work on Britain and it's former empire, and am particularly interested in the historical relationship between the growth of modern sciences and the growth of modern states.

Project Description

Scholars would be assisting in a research project on the history of museums and collecting, focused on the colonial legacies of Britain's major national museums (the British Museum (BM), the Natural History Museum (NHMUK), and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A)). Students will be working in particular on the question of which objects in those museums today were originally part of the museum and library of the British East India Company (Britain's major colonial power in Asia from 1600 to 1858). Research work would involve using the online databases of the BM, NHMUK and V&A, engaging with curators and other staff at those museums, and doing relevant literature surveys. Useful (but not necessary) skills include using reference software such as Refworks and databases such as Excel and website building. The goal is to complete a survey of the holdings of Company materials in these museums in order to "reassemble" the Company's collections as well as assess the influence the Company's colonial acquisitions on these institutions. There is the possibility of writing an Op Ed or public-facing article based on our findings.

Image of Kristin Roebuck Kristin Roebuck Assistant Professor and Howard Milstein Faculty Fellow History, Asian Studies

Personal Statement

Kristin Roebuck is a historian of Japan, East Asia, and trans-Pacific relations. My areas of expertise include human trafficking, race and sexuality, eugenics, and nationalism.

Project Description

Work as a summer researchers at the Laboratory on Human Trafficking, Its Origins, and Remedies. Our Lab proposes to research how laws from the Western legal tradition ostensibly designed to prevent human trafficking paradoxically help to promote unfree labor markets while at the same time constraining the agency of individuals most vulnerable to exploitation -- women and children of color. Our research is interdisciplinary, bringing together historical, legal, feminist, and sociological methods and insights. We are most concerned with establishing how U.S. and British legal traditions have shaped laws and markets in unfree migrant labor in East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa from the 19th century to the present; and with how unfree migrant laborers exercise agency in ways often at odds with international efforts to "protect" them.

Image of Daniel R. Schwarz Daniel R. Schwarz Frederic J. Whiton Professor of English Literature & Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow Jewish Studies Program, Literatures in English

Personal Statement

I have been a Cornell professor for 54 years and written eighteen books and half of two others, My specific focus is on Twentieth Century British, American, and European Literature; narrative; humanistic approaches to literature; the relationship between art and literature, especially from 1800 to the present; the NYTimes (on which I wrote a book) and NYC culture, My web page will tell you more about me: http://courses.cit.cornell.edu/drs6 I am also focused on the Holocaust in the context of European history and working on a book about French collaboration and complicity in the Holocaust during the Vichy period.

Project Description

1) Students will do research and help prepare a manuscript--and get editorial experience-- for my book The Art of Narrative; The Story in Fiction and Films of French Complicity in the Holocaust. (This relates to my book Imagining the Holocaust. 2) A Related Project is research into the new genre of historical TV series, including the 72-episode A French Village about the German Occupation, Babylon Berlin about the Weimar period and the onset of Nazism, and The War is Over about Jewish children deported from Italy and returned after traumatic experiences in concentration camps. 3) Finally, I will continue my research on the relationship between art and literature, which was the topic of my book Reconfiguring Modernism: Explorations in the Relationship between Modern Art and Modern Literature.

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

Personal Statement

My research group studies animal behavior and the origin of species, in particular the evolution and genetics of sensory systems such as sound production and reception and olfactory communication, as well as other behaviors used in mating behavior. We study these questions in Hawaiian crickets which are a great model for these questions because of their wonderful behavioral tractability and rapid rates of speciation.

Project Description

Evolution of animal behavior: We are interested in identifying the genes underlying behavior and speciation and how they evolved. Specifically we are studying the mating signals that males generate and the female responses or preferences to those signals from different species. The student will be involved in quantifying these behaviors and testing predictions about the genetic process that causes evolution. The student would learn how to measure animal behavior, evaluate genetic inheritance of variable behaviors and use analysis programs such as Raven sound analysis software. Bioinformatics training and molecular lab techniques could be involved if the student is interested in learning those techniques.

Image of Deborah A. Starr Deborah A. Starr Professor Comparative Literature, Jewish Studies Program, Near Eastern Studies

Personal Statement

I am a professor in the Near Eastern Studies Department, where I write and teach about issues of identity and inter-communal exchange in Middle Eastern literature and film. This project grows out of research I conducted on 1930s and 40s Egyptian cinema for my book Togo Mizrahi and the Making of Egyptian Cinema (2020).

Project Description

In 1937, African-American actor Paul Robeson starred in a British film, Dark Sands (also known as Jericho), playing opposite an actor billed as “Princess Kouka.” Kouka (1917-1979) was a Cairo-born actor who was often cast in Egyptian cinema as a Bedouin princess. In this project, I seek to understand how race, gender, and nationality intersect in the coverage of this film, with particular focus on the construction of Kouka’s image. Complementing research I have begun into the coverage of Kouka’s early career in the Arabic-language press, the student researcher will use print and digitized English-language newspapers and magazines from the 1930s to document publicity about the film in the US and UK. The student will also analyze how the press coverage constructs and reflects politics of race, gender, and national identity in the US and UK of the 1930s. Note: All research will be conducted in English. If matched with a student with knowledge of Arabic, I would be happy to provide opportunities for the student to conduct research in Arabic sources, as well. Keywords: Media Analysis; Cinema History; Middle East Studies; Race; Gender; Egypt; United States; United Kingdom

Image of Katherine Tschida Katherine Tschida Assistant Professor Psychology

Personal Statement

My lab studies the neural circuits that underlie vocal communication, using mice as a model. To communicate effectively, animals must vocalize in the right way at the right time, and we measure and manipulate the activity of defined populations of neurons to understand the neural circuits that control vocal communication across development, in different social contexts, and following changes in social experience.

Project Description

Humans are social creatures, and social isolation has profound effects on our mental and physical well-being. To understand the brain circuits through which social isolation impacts our social behavior, we're conducting a series of experiments to understand how acute social isolation impacts the brains and behaviors of mice. In recent work, we found that acute isolation exerts sex-dependent effects on behavior, driving large changes in the social behavior of female mice. We're following up on that study to understand whether stress and hormonal signaling underlie these effects, as well as to understand where in the brain social isolation exerts effects to impact female social behavior. Students working on this project would (1) learn how to record and analyze vocal and non-vocal social behaviors of mice and (2) perform immunohistochemistry and confocal imaging to examine neural changes that correlate with and predict individual susceptibility to social isolation.

Image of Felix J. Thoemmes Felix J. Thoemmes Associate Professor Psychology

Personal Statement

I am a quantitative psychologist, interested in statistical methods for social scientists. My main area of research is causal inference, and missing data.

Project Description

Missing data are an ubiquitous occurrence in real-life data. I am currently developing a novel method to recover unbiased estimates in the presence of missing data, that relies on qualitatively different assumptions than existing methods. Students have the opportunity to participate in the development and evaluation of this method. Programming experience, especially in R, is highly recommended.

Image of Samuel Tilsen Samuel Tilsen Associate Professor Linguistics

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 this project is to better understand how speakers plan and produce sentences when describing simple visual scenes which change over time. The 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 programming experience in R, Python, or Matlab is a plus.

Image of Alexander Vladimirsky Alexander Vladimirsky Professor Mathematics

Personal Statement

I am an Applied Mathematician, building mathematical tools and using them in "real world" problems. The areas that I have worked in include robotic navigation, turbulent combustion, seismic imaging, transportation engineering, security applications, and more recently biology (mostly ecology and oncology).

Project Description

Equations describing optimal behavior often present serious computational challenges. The need for efficient algorithms becomes particularly obvious once you add to the mix the uncertainty about your environment, conflicting goals, and multiple (competing or cooperating) participants. Students participating in this project will investigate the theoretical properties and build fast algorithms for optimal control problems and differential games -- primarily for applications in robotic navigation, ecology, and oncology. Successful candidates will need good programming skills, previous exposure to ordinary differential equations and numerical computing. Some background in the following areas will also be helpful, but is not expected or required: partial differential equations, design and analysis of algorithms, probability theory. The Nexus Scholar(s) participating in this project will join a group of non-Cornell REU students working on campus from 6/6/2022 till 7/29/2022.

Image of John B. Whitman John B. Whitman Professor Linguistics

Personal Statement

I'm a professor in the Department of Linguistics specializing in syntax (the structure of languages) and historical linguistics (how languages change). Recently I've been working with speakers of Gayogohó꞉nǫʔ (Cayuga), the original language of the area where Cornell is located.

Project Description

I would like to develop an online dictionary development tool for Gayogohó꞉nǫʔ. Gayogohó꞉nǫʔ presents the challenge posed all polysynthetic languages to the lexicographer: the vast majority of words are made up of a root, one or more prefixes, and one or more suffixes. Roots almost never occur without affixes. Lookup by root or by affix are both imperfect solutions: the ideal dictionary will allow lookup by any piece of information. I'm looking for a student with some programming experience and a love for language. This project cannot be completed in a summer, but our objective will be to create a template that the Gayogohó꞉nǫʔ community will be able to build on.

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

Personal Statement

Research in my group is broadly focused on the use of inorganic chemistry for different biomedical applications. This research spans the fields of synthetic inorganic chemistry and biology.

Project Description

The undergraduate would work on the synthesis and characterization of new metal-based drug candidates. This research would entail using synthetic chemistry techniques to make new molecules, as well as analytical chemistry techniques in characterizing them. With the compounds characterized, students would evaluate them in cell biological models.

Image of Xin Zhou Xin Zhou Associate Professor Mathematics

Personal Statement

I am an associate professor at the Department of Mathematics, and my research focuses on Differential Geometry, Calculus of Variations, and General Relativity.

Project Description

I propose a summer research project on Holographic Entanglement Entropy in Quantum Gravity. The holographic entanglement entropy is defined as the reduced area of some minimal surfaces in anti desitter spaces. This is an important field that connects my expertise on minimal surfaces and quantum gravity. The ideal candidate would have a solid background in quantum field theory and differential geometry.

Support the Nexus Scholars Program

Making a gift to support the Nexus Scholars Program will help to ensure that research opportunities are available to all students, regardless of their financial situation.

If you would like to discuss other opportunities to support undergraduate students in the College, please contact the A&S Development Team.

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